Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Worth Dying For by Lee Child

Worth Dying For by Lee Child

Nothing beats an engrossing audiobook when you’re snowed in and cleaning up after the holidays! All those clean up chores didn’t seem quite so bad.

Again, Jack Reacher is righting wrongs and taking names, this time in a tiny Nebraska town. The townsfolk are under the thumb of the local shipping company run by the Duncan family: if the Duncan’s are upset with you, your harvest doesn’t get to market. Reacher thinks the townspeople just need to get a backbone where the Duncan’s are concerned, but he is intrigued by presence of city thugs in the area. What exactly are the Duncan’s shipping when corn isn’t going to market? And who is responsible for the disappearance of a little girl more than 25 years ago?

Even though this book is fifteenth in the series it can easily be read as a standalone. If you’re a fan of the Clint Eastwood Man-With-No-Name westerns you’ll really enjoy these. These truly are modern day westerns. A stranger comes to town, sees the plight of the locals, and takes on the bad guys. A thrilling and fun ride.

Blown Away by Sharon Sala

Blown Away by Sharon Sala

While gale force winds and snow are slamming into the sides of your home, reading about a tornado and its aftermath probably isn’t the best idea – it makes one a wee bit nervous. But the weather does contribute to the reading experience!

Cari North is walking through the woods by her Louisiana home thinking about her next mystery novel when she comes upon a man, her neighbor and ex-fiance, digging a grave, quite obviously for the dead man on the ground beside him. Needless to say, she panics and runs home, just as a tornado devastates her family home and kills her entire family. To protect herself from the murderer as she hunts for proof of his crime she assumes the identity of her cousin who was killed in the tornado. Will she manage to catch a killer before he catches her?

This is a romantic suspense book with undertones of grief. Cari has lost all she knows and is falling in love all in the same week. The author does an admirable job making Cari’s reactions believable and at the same time plots an engaging suspense story.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin

I’m on a bit of a chick lit kick since I haven’t read too many of them and needed some light listening this holiday season. One thing to remember about chick lit, it’s not romance. Yes, chick lit may have the typical boy meets girl romance in it, but the main element of chick lit is that the main female character falls in love with herself; she rediscovers herself and learns to embrace who she is. That said, this book is definitely chick lit. Ellen has been happily married to Andy, the man of her dreams, for 100 days when she bumps into her ex, Leo, in the middle of a busy crosswalk in New York City. Many of us have “the one that got away” and that is who Leo is to Ellen. Should she try to discover what went wrong with her relationship with Leo? Should she just forget about Leo and enjoy married life with Andy? Can she live with unanswered questions?

While this is a light story, it does ask a lot of deep questions. Even though you may not agree with the choices that Ellen makes (and doesn’t make) you can identify with her and struggle along with her decision making process. Also, the reader is excellent. Her introspection and personal turmoil come across well so you really empathize with Ellen.

Remember Me? By Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me? By Sophie Kinsella

Imagine going out to the clubs with your girlfriends from work, fellow low women on the totem poll, falling down a flight of stairs and waking up in the hospital to discover that you’re rich, married and the boss! That’s what happens to Lexi Smart. She’s lost three years of her life. She actually lived them, but she can’t remember anything after smashing up her Mercedes convertible. (Which she seriously can’t believe since three years ago she didn’t even know how to drive.)

In this fun and perky tale which proves the adage “money can’t buy happiness” we learn about one woman’s rise to greatness and loss of self and what she does to get back in touch with what is important. I listened to this book and the reader’s British accent and sarcastic tone really makes this great fun to listen to.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Very Simple Crime by Grant Jerkins

A Very Simple Crime by Grant Jerkins

In the mood for a dark, really dark, mystery? Like your noir, very, very, well, noir? Look no further. This is a twisty, suspenseful, psychological tale that keeps you guessing. The simple summary is a man is accused of killing his wife. He swears on the stand that he loved his wife. Did he? Or did he not?

I can’t say anything else without ruining the whodunit factor. Let’s just say the author is great at making you look one way, then another, then another until you don’t know where to look anymore.

This book has already been optioned for the screen, and I really hope they make this movie.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cold Pursuit by Carla Neggers

Cold Pursuit by Carla Neggers

One of the added bonuses of reading this book is you won’t feel quite so cold venturing outside in the next few weeks when you’re reading about people near death from hypothermia. It gives you a little perspective. Granted, I’m not about to go winter camping on the side of a mountain in Vermont during a snow storm, but I’m also not on the run from assassins either. Again, it’s all about perspective.

There are two storylines that meet up in this book. In Washington D.C. an ambassador is killed in a hit and run, but the circumstances seem a little fishy. In Vermont, the ambassador’s stepdaughter takes off to the mountains fearing for her life. Also in Vermont, Jo Harper, Secret Service Agent recovering from the bad press of a viral video, and Elijah Cameron, Green Beret injured in Afghanistan and also recovering in his home town, meet up again fifteen years after their parents intervened and kept them apart. Here we have our steamy romance in our romantic suspense. Of course Jo and Elijah get involved in searching for the missing stepdaughter and trying to find out what the assassins are after. There are unanswered questions at the end of the book, and I have to admit to being curious about what will happen next!

Why am I reading a lot of romantic suspense? I’m getting ready for our Mysterious Mornings program on Wednesday, January 5th at 9:30am at the Bridgewater Library. If it’s a mystery and it has a touch of romance, then it fits this month’s sub-genre of Crimes and Passion. If you stop by the Bridgewater Library after Tuesday (December 21st) romantic suspense books will be on display.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tough Customer by Sandra Brown

Tough Customer by Sandra Brown

Looking for an edgy edge-of-your-seat thriller with a bit of romance to listen to? Look no further!

If you were a fan of the rough around the edges trash-talking PI Dodge from Smash Cut, you’ll be thrilled to find out that this book is centered on him and his estranged family. His daughter, the child he hasn’t set eyes on since the day she was born about thirty years ago, is in a bit of a bind. Her stalker shot and injured a male co-worker who was staying over at her lake house working with her on a PR pitch for a client. Of course the rumor mill is in full swing (the male co-worker is a married man who was shot wearing only his underwear) and Dodge’s daughter is under loads of suspicion from all sides.

Sandra Brown’s writing is grittier than most romantic suspense and definitely sexy. The thing I like most about her books are her villains. They are some of the scariest deviants I have read about and this time is no exception. These guys are so scary you are applauding inside when they get their comeuppance at the end. (It’s romantic suspense: guy gets girl and bad guy gets caught – I’m not ruining anything!)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Proofiness by Charles Seife

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathmatic Deception by Charles Seife

Like math? Or do you find math completely puzzling? Either way, this book will appeal to you.

Remember a few years back how it was reported that natural blondes would be extinct in the next couple of hundred years? Or how female competitive runners will soon out run their male competition? Now, do you remember how this was all proved to be completely wrong? Of course the reality (that it was all bunk) wasn’t as widely spread as the “news” – but how was this blatantly wrong “news” reported in the first place? That’s what this book explores: how numbers can be manipulated to say whatever you want them to say.

This is an easy read for the math lover and hater. It’s an easy to read book that explains through relevant and interesting stories. It will be an especially interesting read for those that were fascinated with the voting recounts of the 2000 election in Florida. If you enjoyed The Drunkard’s Walk you’ll really like this book.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

Make fun of James Patterson and his rapid release of books, but the man has a winning formula. He’s also great at picking extremely talented co-writers. Liza Marklund definitely lent a bit of Swedish noir to the latest Patterson standalone.

Young lovebirds are being murdered throughout Europe and the authorities are stumped. A postcard of a famous place in a city is mailed to the crime journalist of a local paper. Then, a day or two later, a Polaroid of a dead couple is sent to the journalist as well. Only one man has been tracking the killers from city to city. He is a New York City cop determined to find out who killed his daughter and her boyfriend in Rome and why. We enter the story when a journalist in Sweden receives a postcard from the killers, and we know that a Polaroid is on the way.

I listened to this book and the multiple narrators really made the main characters come to life. We hear the story from three viewpoints: the female Swedish journalist, the male New York cop, and the killers. Yes, we know who the killers are from the very beginning, but we don’t know why they are killing or how they are choosing their victims. This book really moves and really keeps you guessing. Even if, like me, you’ve read a lot of thrillers I guarantee that there will be twists and turns you didn’t see coming your way.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue

What if your whole life was lived in an eleven foot by eleven foot room? Room is all that five year old Jack knows. All the things he sees on Television are not real. How could they be? His reality is Room and Ma and his bed in Wardrobe where he stays when Old Nick visits in the night.

In this story, told entirely by Jack, his upbeat and innocent narration keeps you completely absorbed. I’m not ruining anything by saying that Jack and Ma will eventually leave Room, it is how they leave, and what happens when they do, that is surprising.

This is a psychological study which will appeal to those fascinated by the recent news stories of Jaycee Dugard and the Elizabeth Smart trial. It is also a story that illustrates the strength and creativity of the human mind.

The Popular Fiction Book Discussion Group will be meeting at the Bridgewater Library on Tuesday, February 15th at 7:00pm to discuss Room.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

A Kiss at Midnight by Eloisa James

I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for any type of fairy tale retelling. I love them. I must admit I really don’t like The Wizard of Oz (I know, the horror!) but I really enjoyed reading Wicked. Same with the Cinderella myth. I have a serious problem with a dude that can only recognize his true love (because that nasty dress she’s wearing disguised her so well) when the glass slipper fits on her dainty little foot. Whatever. This is why I like the movie Ever After so much, as well as this book, A Kiss at Midnight.

Things haven’t been the same for Kate since her father died ten years ago. Her stepmother and stepsister have been whiling away the hours at the dressmaker as Kate slaves away maintaining the family holdings. Then, disaster strikes. Kate needs to impersonate her stepsister at the prince’s betrothal ball.

Let’s face it, we all know how the story will end and some of the stops the story will take along the way. Yet the author really makes the story exciting, fresh, sassy and sexy. If you’re in the mood for a Regency romp, you can’t do much better than this.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fiction and Funeral Homes

Funeral Homes and mortuaries figure prominently in these two thrillers. In the first, John Wayne Cleaver grows up in a house attached to the family funeral home and assists in embalming bodies. In the second, a funeral home director is paid lots of money to store remains in his mortuary’s freezer in preparation for a catastrophic hurricane.

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells

John Wayne Cleaver knows that one wrong move will put him over the edge and transform him into the monstrous serial killer he knows is lurking inside him. But this 15-year old sociopath has rules; rules that will prevent him from becoming a killer. Unfortunately it looks like his hometown has become home to a serial killer and now John has to decide what to do… Hunt the hunter? Or join in on the fun?

While identifying with a sociopath is not something most people can do, you can completely identify with the teen angst John encounters while battling his inner demons. He is a likeable character with a unique and interesting voice. This fast paced story takes twists and turns that I certainly didn’t see coming and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel that was recently released,
Mr. Monster.

Damaged by Alex Kava

A large fishing cooler is found in the waters of the Gulf filled with carefully wrapped human remains. It is obvious that the remains belong to at least two different people since three hands are found in the cooler. Is it a serial killer? Or something even more devious? Time is not on the side of the good guys as a Cat 5 hurricane is headed their way.

I’m a big fan of FBI Agent Maggie O’Dell who returns in Alex Kava’s latest. Kava is great at taking topics in the news and making it into a great thriller. This one is no exception.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name…

…couldn’t possibly be much more exciting!

Juliet by Anne Fortier

I was expecting a retelling of the Romeo and Juliet story with a touch of romance and (hopefully) a happy ending. And yes, I did get that from Fortier’s debut novel, but I also got a whole lot of action and suspense. I read somewhere that this was the “thinking woman’s Da Vinci Code” and I couldn’t agree more.

Julie Jacobs heads to Italy after the reading of her aunt’s will to open her late mother’s safety deposit box. So starts the hunt for the treasure! It turns out that Romeo and Juliet was based on actual star-crossed lovers from Siena, and that Julie is a descendant of the real Juliet. (Shakespeare made-up the Verona part plus quite a few other details.)

If you want an edge of your seat story with a lot of history, puzzles and a touch of romance, you can’t go wrong with this one.

Small Town Life

Fragile by Lisa Unger

One of the great things about living in a small town is that everyone knows everyone else. One of the worst things about living in a small town is that everyone knows everyone else. That is the case with The Hollows, a small town in upstate New York, about a hundred miles from the city. It’s hard to grow up and be a different person when everyone knows you as the person you were in high school. Were you a jock? A goth? A nerd? And if you try to grow out of your high school self, can you ever do that in your home town?

This is a suspenseful story about life in a small town and the secrets that can hide even there. When a young girl goes missing it looks like history could be repeating itself. The tranquil safe life that has been cultured in The Hallows suddenly shows itself for being extremely fragile.

Friday, November 12, 2010

History Books

Some of the librarians at the Bridgewater Library decided to read some non-fiction this month that fell into the categories of history and biography. Maybe you'll find something in this list that will interest you too.

This could be labeled "The smart-aleck guide to American history" and not be too far off. An example that sums up the book, and that I am totally not using just to fill up space: "But as the central catastrophe of American history, [the Civil War] still inspires debate: could the North and South have worked out some kind of compromise? And could the South have won with a different strategy? (Basically, no.)" The book is divided into sections each focusing on an era of American history, most covering 20-30 years (the first, however, covered close to 25,000). Each section starts with a timeline giving important dates in that era, and ends with a "by the numbers" summation that gives important quantitative facts on the era (ex.: 11,000: number of prostitutes in NYC in 1839; 50,000: number of prostitutes in NYC in 1850; 78: bushels of wheat shipped east by Chicago in 1838; 2,000,000: bushels of wheat shipped east by Chicago in 1848). Further sections include "Lies your teacher told you", correcting commonly-held erroneous beliefs; "Trendspotting", the major fads of the era; and "Made in the USA", the major products of the time. Recommended for people willing to have their beliefs challenged and enjoy a rather snarky sense of humor.

North of the Rariton Lotts: A History of the Martinsville, New Jersey Area by Members of the Martinsville Historical Committee of the Martinsville Community Center; edited by Edward J. Maas

Blurbed by Jane

The title of this book refers to the “Rariton River lotts” which were laid out in 1682 by the General Board of Proprietors of the Eastern Division of New Jersey. They comprised six tracts of land of approximately 877 acres each and stretched from the north side of the river from Bound Brook to Raritan. The book is fascinating for residents of Bridgewater, as well as anyone interested in New Jersey history, because it covers the early industries of the area, families, houses, the American Revolution and the Middlebrook encampment, schools, churches, the Great Fire of 1923 which destroyed a large portion of Martinsville, and recent history up to 1975. Maps and interesting photographs, some of which are quite old, are included.

Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory by Ben Macintyre

Blurbed by Yvonne

Operation Mincemeat reads like a cheesy spy thriller. Think James Bond. Since Q was based on a real person, and so was M, both people that worked for British Intelligence and talked about in this book, it is amazing to know that Graham Greene and other novelists worked there as well. Until you read about the plans that they came up with. They wanted to BE James Bond and tried to make him reality. The book focuses mainly on one mission – getting a dead body with important misleading documents on his person into the hands of the Nazis. Basically we wanted them to think the Allied troops were focused on invading Sardinia and not Sicily. This is how it worked.

There are pages on the debate on what should be in the dead man’s pockets that are amazing – the thought and detail behind this mission is mind boggling. And absurd. Because for something so intricately thought out, there were a few things they forgot to think about at all…

There are great tidbits on other things going on in the espionage world. Like how the Nazis thought the English had hundreds of spies, but in reality a number of them were made up and run by “handlers” so it seemed like the spies were EVERYWHERE.

Passing Strange by Martha A. Sandweiss

Blurbed by Kay

The setting is New York City in the 1880’s – America’s Gilded Age. The storyline is a secret marriage between a well-known white geologist and a black woman born a slave in 1861. The twist is that that Clarence King passed as black across the color line and maintained two separate lives- one as a white scientist with famous wealthy friends and the other as a black man pretending to be a light-skinned Pullman porter. He deceived his wife and children about his true identity until his death in 1901.

This is a fascinating and well-documented biography of both Clarence King and his wife, Ada Copeland. The book paints the racial prejudices and injustices of that time. Interracial marriage was taboo and even illegal in some states. A detailed account of Clarence King’s life and a sketchy outline of Ada Copeland‘s life weave an interesting chronicle of the time and strange portrait of a man tied to social conventions.

A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen
Blurbed by Chris (Full disclosure: blurb writer is a liberal.)

This weighty tome is not afraid to ask the hard questions: "America: greatest country in the world, or greatest country in the world EVER?" Unabashedly conservative (Schweikart would later distill the basic concepts of the book into "48 Liberal Lies about American History"), the book is written as a direct rebuttal to the liberal, blame-America-first textbooks that have come into vogue in recent years. Like their liberal rivals, Schweikart and Allen relentlessly cherry-pick data to prove their own stated bias and handwave issues that go against it; unlike their rivals, however, many of their conclusions are peppered with ad hominem attacks on said authors. (An example: the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II is given half a paragraph; the rest of the page and most of the next are a screed against "liberal historians"* who focus on this misstep as evidence of America's misguided ideals).

Recommended if you are a staunch conservative; not really recommended to non-conservatives, unless you don't mind reading about "how the liberals got it wrong" every three pages.

*This is, in fact, written in the book

A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell

Blurbed by Brendan

This is the story of America as experienced and witnessed by the people at the lower echelons of society, detailing the realities of slavery, the abundance of drinking and debauchery in Colonial Philadelphia and other cities, the difficult assimilation of various ethnic groups into the mainstream, the negative connotations of jazz and dance, and much more. Much like Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, Russell’s work refutes schoolbook myths, telling what really happened at the Boston Massacre, for example. Chapters on the Irish, African-Americans, the Jews, and the Italians will change the way you think about the history of our nation.

One might not agree with all of the author’s assertions but there is plenty here to consider. The book is well researched and chock full of interesting stories and analysis.

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush

Blurbed by Jane

In this well-written book, Laura Bush describes growing up as an only child in Midland, Texas, a hot, dusty, but friendly, small town. After college, she became an elementary school teacher in inner-city schools and later a librarian. Her descriptions of university life, student unrest, and the beginning of the women’s movement in the 1960s will resonate with many baby boomers.

The book is not overly political, but rather tells Mrs. Bush’s story and her reactions to the many events she witnessed as First Lady of Texas and First Lady of the United States. She also includes many interesting and sometimes humorous anecdotes.

Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer

Blurbed by Ken

In December of 1776, much of New Jersey was occupied by the preeminent military power of the day. As British and Hessian troops were setting up winter quarters in towns, such as Brunswick, Princeton, and Trenton, the American forces were still smarting from devastating defeats on Long Island and in Manhattan. Simply put, the rebellion was near collapse and needed something to breathe life back into it. That “something” started with Washington crossing the Delaware. Washington’s Crossing by David Hackett Fischer recounts the military history of the New York and New Jersey campaigns, culminating with the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. Fischer’s comprehensive analysis looks at each participating army, its leadership, living conditions, attitudes and values, and specific movements. He also shows the impact of each event on the American cause and British resolve.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What is Friendship?

If you’re a fan of mysteries, or just a well-written story, look no further than this one.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

This is the story of a missing girl and the man accused of killing her in the minds of the townspeople in rural Mississippi. Larry Ott has proclaimed his innocence for years, but even without a body, he is guilty of murder in the eyes of the town. Now, twenty years later, another girl is missing and Scary Larry is under suspicion once again.

I can’t give away too much in this blurb without ruining the wonderful mystery the author crafts, but I can tell you that this story is about racism, life in a rural town, and the definition of friendship, both one-sided and true. Normally I can’t stand dialect in novels, but the author does a wonderful job using dialect to keep you rooted in Mississippi without overdoing it. He also illustrates what life for a man ostracized by a small town must be like, and what a lonely existence it must be. This is a thought-provoking mystery that focuses on the motivations and emotions of the people forced to interact because of the missing girl because they are either in law enforcement or have become a suspect.

Why such an odd title? In Mississippi school children are taught how to spell their state’s name in a song that goes: M – I – Crooked Letter – Crooked Letter – I – Crooked Letter – Crooked Letter – I – Humpback – Humpback – I.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Because I Wish Halloween Wasn’t Over

My favorite holiday is Halloween and I’m having trouble saying goodbye, especially with all the great new horror and suspense books out there. Here’s one I just finished…

The Caretaker of Lorne Field by Dave Zeltserman

For three hundred years the first born son of each generation of the Durkin family has become the Caretaker of Lorne Field. Being the Caretaker is a backbreaking job. Imagine a field the size of a football field and a half, now imagine weeding it of two inch high plants, three times a day. That’s how fast the Aukowies grow. They get harder and harder to weed as they grow bigger. And you don’t want to know what happens if the weeding isn’t done.

Unfortunately times are a-changing. The contract the Durkin’s have with the town, for the Caretaker to go out every day from the first thaw to the first frost and clear the field of Aukowies, is under scrutiny. Jack Durkin knows that he’s saving the world every single day, but the town, even his own family is beginning to doubt that the Aukowies are real.

This book is a great character study. You work alongside the Caretaker as he slaves through the pain of his aging body, the ridicule of all those he knows, and the burden of believing, knowing, that the fate of the entire world is on your shoulders. It’s a great story of tradition clashing with the modern world. Sometimes traditions exist for a reason…sometimes they are just traditions without a real reason at all…

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Touch of Whimsy

Ghosts, special powers and fairy tales all add a certain whimsical element to fiction. Here are three books that add the whimsy well.

Fan of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society? You may want to give this tale a try. Many reviewers are suggesting this tale for fans of Guernsey because of the lighthearted look at serious issues.

It’s a typical day at the Tower of London. The Beefeaters are donning their uniforms to go out and answer tourist questions (most popular, just like at the library, where’s the loo?) leaving their marital problems, writer’s block, nighttime ghostly visitations and other personal catastrophes in their stone walled homes. Life as a Beefeater isn’t easy. And with the move of the Royal Menagerie to the Tower from the London Zoo things are about to get even more exciting.

As I mentioned, there are serious issues at the core of this story, but there are also touches of whimsy to bring a smile to your face. There are frightened monkeys with interesting fear reactions, the London Underground’s Lost Property Office (with a varied collection of false teeth and magician props) and Sir Walter Raleigh who just won’t leave the Tower.

The Popular Fiction Book Discussion Group will be meeting at the Bridgewater Library on Tuesday, December 21st at 7:00pm to discuss The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

What would eating be like if you could taste the emotions of the bakers of your food? And not just the bakers, but the people who harvested the apples which went into your apple pie? What if you were able to tell what factory your processed food came from based on the emotions, or lack of emotions, your food brought out? This is the gift/curse that Rose Edelstein learns to live with, and eventually enjoy, after hiding from eating most of her young life.

This tale of magical realism is not as light as I thought it would be. I was expecting a lighthearted tale with some romance thrown in. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe the bright cover? Instead, this is a by turns dark coming of age story about life in a dysfunctional family. An interesting read, but not what I was expecting!

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

I was talking over this tale with some friends and we were trying to decide what genre it is. It’s not a love story (although there are romances that come and go); it’s tragic (but not overwhelmingly); and it is gothic (but again, not completely). My friend Fran (thank you Fran!) nailed it down – it’s reminiscent of the family sagas of the seventies and eighties. This is a tale you can get lost in as a family mystery is discovered and unraveled over three generations over two continents.

This is a gripping novel told simultaneously through three different timelines. It is a bit confusing in the beginning as a number of characters are introduced, but as you get absorbed in the mystery the story moves quickly and unfolds in twists and turns.

So where’s the whimsy? One of the main characters is a masterful fairy tale author. A few of her stories appear in the novel and the tales are definitely reflections of the mystery surrounding her life.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mysterious G-Men

The Mysterious Mornings group met this morning and talked about their favorite mysteries starring FBI Agents. If it was mystery or thriller and it featured a main character who was employed by the FBI, it fit this month's subgenre.

Here are the group favorites:

  • Catherine Coulter – FBI Series
  • Ted Dekker – Standalone Thrillers
  • Michelle Gagnon – Kelly Jones Series
  • Lisa Gardner – Pierce Quincy Series
  • Kay Hooper – Special Crimes Unit Series
  • Alex Kava – Maggie O’Dell Series
  • Paul Lindsay – FBI Series
  • Kyle Mills – Mark Beamon Series
  • April Smith – Ana Grey Series
  • Mary-Ann Tirone Smith – Poppy Rice Series
  • Mariah Stewart – FBI Series

Interesting in joining in on a Mysterious Morning discussion? A list of suggested authors and titles are available at the Bridgewater Library and books will be on display about a month prior to the discussion. (If you’re a voracious mystery reader you can read more than one.) Our next theme/subgenre is Crimes & Passion: Romantic Suspense.

If it’s a mystery and it has a touch of romance, then it fits this month’s sub-genre. Just keep in mind how the love story affects the unfolding of the mystery because that’ll be a major talking point at our discussion Wednesday, January 5th at 9:30am at the Bridgewater Library.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just in Time for Halloween Part III

This one wasn’t pulled from the massive book pile, but it was on my massive holds list. Nothing like your friendly neighborhood serial killer to put you in a dark and devilish mood.

Dexter is Delicious by Jeff Lindsay

Poor Dex. He’s got a new baby daughter, a tribe of cannibals is on the loose in Downtime Miami, and he just doesn’t feel like killing anyone. Dex is now seeing himself as Dex-Daddy, not a killer driven by his Dark Passenger.

It’s hard to make horror amusing, but Lindsay does just that. While these are dark and sometimes gory books, there is a lightness and levity to them. You don’t want to admit that you like a serial killer, but since Dexter lives by the “Code of Harry” and only kills other serial killers that look like they will get away with murder, it’s kind of okay to like him.

I have never read a Dexter book; I will only listen to them. They are great on audio. There’s something about a serial killer actually speaking his inner thoughts to you that makes it creepier than reading it…

If you’re a fan of the television show know that you’ll be confused. You may want to start at the beginning of the series if you want to read them. Almost all the characters that have died in the television show are still alive!

Satisfying Curiosity

Sometimes we want to get the inside scoop on what life is like somewhere else. Sometimes it’s an exotic locale, or a politically charged area, or somewhere right around the corner that you wonder at as you drive by…

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Piper took a walk on the wild side right after college but she’s put that all behind her. But ten years later, her foray into drug trafficking rears its ugly head and Piper is off to prison.

This is an unflinching look at what Piper experiences during her time at the minimum security correctional facility in Danbury, CT. She shares her fears, her joys and her shame at what she’s putting her loving and wonderful family through. This is a glimpse into a life that thousands of women are experiencing every day.

It’s interesting to learn what these women do with their copious amounts of time and the strange prison etiquette that Piper has to learn, and learn quickly. (You can ask your bunkie how much time she has left on her sentence, but you can never ask what crime landed her in prison.) While all these women look forward to their freedom, some are more prepared then others. What do you do with no education and no family waiting to welcome you on the outside?

This book raises a lot of questions that make it an interesting book discussion book. Of course, I chose it for my non-fiction group. We’ll be meeting at 1pm on Thursday, January 13th (that’s in 2011!) at the Bridgewater Library.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Just in Time for Halloween Part II

Yet another book pulled from the massive book pile! A friend of mine was wonderful enough to wait on a long line and get me a signed copy of this one. (Thanks Cassandra!) This book proves that mad scientists can be really creepy and scary.

The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry

Crazed geniuses are threatening to recreate the world we know through the wonders of genetics. Dragons live, bottled water is suspect and eugenics is a mad scientist’s evil plan.

Of course there is an Extinction Clock, and of course it’s counting backwards. Will our heroes foil the evil plot in time? (Hint: the author is currently writing book three in the series…)

Think Tom Clancy meets Michael Crichton – there is a lot of science, a lot of action and a lot of violence. I must admit I don’t know the difference between one large gun and another, but for those that do they’ll get a little added something from this read. There’s a lot of new military hardware in this book.

This is the second Joe Ledger book, but you don’t need to read Patient Zero (zombie plague!) to enjoy this one.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

When Reviews Lead You Astray…

The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

Somewhere, on some blog or review site, I read that this book was hilarious. I almost stopped listening to it because, frankly, it wasn’t funny. It’s intriguing and well-crafted, but not funny. Yes, there are some periods of biting dark humor that make you chortle despite yourself, but hilarious it is not. Typically I would stop listening to something that isn’t “as promised” but it was so good I kept going, and I’m glad I did.

The book is comprised of a number of short stories. Each is a glimpse into the life of a person working at an English language international newspaper in Italy. Some stories are touching, a few are tragic, and some are just plain absurd. It’s interesting how the author interweaves these stories so you have recurring characters, but not like you would in a typical novel. The structure of the book reminded me of Olive Kitteridge. The newspaper itself is a character in the novel. As a reader we follow the newspaper from day one to the last day of publication, although not in chronological order. It’s more like building block order since one person’s story somehow relates to another, and another, and so on.

Again, if you’re looking for funny, go elsewhere. But if you’re looking for glimpses of interesting lives, you’re in for a treat.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Just in Time for Halloween Part I

I’m going to try to catch up on some of the scarier books hanging around my house in the next month to get ready for my favorite holiday.

Feed by Mira Grant

Very rarely do I read a book that I have enjoyed so much. It’s a shame that it’s going to be a hard sell, but I’m sure going to try to get you to want to read it.

This book is funny, thought-provoking, emotional and thrilling. You’re on the edge of your seat one moment, laughing the next, and getting a little teary-eyed now and then. The year is 2040 and we’ve got a first person perspective of a blogging newsgroup as they follow a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. The author does an interesting job figuring out what the future of news reporting will be – how bloggers running independent sites will be mainstream sources for breaking news.

Here’s the part that’s going to be a hard sell for some, there are zombies. There is a huge zombie problem actually. Twenty years or so in the past (or in our case, the future) the dead started to come back to life. If you’re bitten, you too become a zombie. Unlike some zombie books and movies the science behind the dead walking around is plausible and a wee bit frightening when contemplated too closely. (Yes, I’ve pondered it and gotten a little freaked out.)

If you are a fan of zombie movies you’ll get some of the references that others may miss. To test if you’re up on your cheesy horror movie references, the main character’s brother’s name is Shaun and his blog is Hail to the King. If you get these references, this book is definitely for you. If not, send me an email (yselande@sclsnj.org) and I’ll let you in on the fun, especially if you promise to read Feed.

This is book one in the Newsflesh trilogy. Part two, Deadline, will be released in May 2011.