Thursday, August 15, 2013

best friends forever

best friends forever
jennifer weiner
fiction/chick lit
atria books
published 2009

Addie Downs and Valerie Adler were eight when they first met and decided to be best friends forever. But, in the wake of tragedy and betrayal during their teenage years, everything changed. Val went on to fame and fortune. Addie stayed behind in their small Midwestern town. Destiny, however, had more in store for these two. And when, twenty-five years later, Val shows up at Addie’s front door with blood on her coat and terror on her face, it is the beginning of a wild adventure for two women joined by love and history who find strength together that they could not find alone.

I had a hard time with this book.  I didn't like it until nearly the end.

The story has been told time and time again.  Two little girls become best friends until one grows into a beautiful, thin cheerleader and the other doesn't.  But this one starts out a little differently when the popular beauty Val comes to Addie after getting her revenge at their high school reunion.

It had lots of promise, but it was just so out there.  Valerie was just this side of delusional.  She's constantly bowling right over Addie and just as when they were kids Addie finds herself just going along with whatever Val wants.  I didn't like Val, not really ever.  She never changes, never grows.  Never sincerely apologizes to Addie for the way she treated her, how she betrayed her, abandoned her.

There were interesting characters throughout.  I ached for Addie's family.  Her broken parents who despite the trials they've endured loved each other and their children deeply.  Jon, the golden son who loses himself.  The born again, the reverend, the cop & the jock.  Everyone had a story, but we were meant to care more about Val & Addie and I just couldn't do it.

daring to dream

daring to dream
dream trilogy #1
nora roberts
severn house
published 1998

Margo, Kate and Laura were brought up like sisters amidst the peerless grandeur of Templeton House. But it was Margo whose dreams first took her far away . . .
Margo Sullivan had everything a young woman could ask for. But while growing up along the rocky cliffs of Monterey, she couldn't help but dream of bigger things. The daughter of the Templeton's stern Irish housekeeper, Margo had been treated like a member of the family. Deep down, she knew that money could not but the thing she craved most -- her mother's acceptance.

Maybe things would be different if she could be sweet like Laura -- or had Kate's shrewd head for business. But all Margo knew how to do was be Margo, and that meant doing things her own way -- no matter what the consequences . . . 

There is not much more to this than a fluffy, fun romance novel.  Like the Born in trilogy.  Though I do like the characters, the story, the idea of the trilogy, what I always liked best about this trilogy is the setting.  Monterey/Big Sur is where I spent much of my childhood so it's fun to picture Pretenses on Cannery Row nestled along the touristy shops I grew up with.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

darkest mercy

darkest mercy
wicked lovely #5
melissa marr
published 2011

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey. 

Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life. 

Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.

It seems impossible that so much happened in such a short book.  This felt like it should have been epic, like Game of Thrones size epic, but it wasn't.  And yet, still, I'm reeling still from everything that happened.

I've never been a fan of Keenan.  Well, not with Keenan being with Aislinn, but after the first book I didn't really like Keenan at all.  Here I found him to be more true.  He wasn't what he thought he should be he was what he was meant to be, maybe?

Except for the fae in Faerie we get closure from just about everyone.  We lose a few I wish didn't have to go, but it is war.  It did feel a little too tidy at the end and I thought with a laugh that Marr really did get things just this side of convenient, but it's ok.

This was a great ending to a brilliant series.  Finally finishing this I can say that while I did like Carnival of Souls it hasn't grabbed me the way Wicked Lovely did.  Nonetheless, these are books I can see myself picking up again in a year or so.  Definitely worth it!

learning to swim

learning to swim
troy chance #1
sara j. henry
published 2011

"If I'd blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn't, and I saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry: a small, wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment, as it plummeted toward the water."
When she witnesses a small child tumbling from a ferry into Lake Champlain, Troy Chance dives in without thinking. Harrowing moments later, she bobs to the surface, pulling a terrified little boy with her. As the ferry disappears into the distance, she begins a bone-chilling swim nearly a mile to shore towing a tiny passenger.

Surprisingly, he speaks only French. He'll acknowledge that his name is Paul; otherwise, he's resolutely mute.

Troy assumes that Paul's frantic parents will be in touch with the police or the press. But what follows is a shocking and deafening silence. And Troy, a freelance writer, finds herself as fiercely determined to protect Paul as she is to find out what happened to him.  She'll need skill and courage to survive and protect her charge and herself.  

Troy Chance is a very intriguing character.  I'm not sure that I really liked her, could see myself as friends with her and I definitely can't say that I understood her, but she was very interesting to read about.

The story is really slow, but it is so well written that I didn't mind.  I was wrapped up in Troy's life.  Trying to figure her out, trying to make sense of the strange and sometimes awkward decisions she made.  I could understand her fierce love for the boy she saves and I loved how self aware she is.  Recognizing her faults and when she's gone too far.

The story itself is a bit predictable.  Nonetheless, I was interested enough to continue to go back to it!

12th of never

12th of never
women's murder club #12
james patterson & maxine paetro
little brown & co.
published 2013

Lindsay Boxer's beautiful baby is born! But after only a week at home with her new daughter, Lindsay is forced to return to work to face two of the biggest cases of her career.

A rising star football player for the San Francisco 49ers is the prime suspect in a grisly murder. At the same time, Lindsay is confronted with the strangest story she's ever heard: An eccentric English professor has been having vivid nightmares about a violent murder and he's convinced is real. Lindsay doesn't believe him, but then a shooting is called in-and it fits the professor's description to the last detail.

Lindsay doesn't have much time to stop a terrifying future from unfolding. But all the crimes in the world seem like nothing when Lindsay is suddenly faced with the possibility of the most devastating loss of her life.

This was the biggest mess of a WMC book ever.

There was so much going on that I forgot about certain parts.  Nothing felt completely fleshed out and nothing was interesting because it was all over the freaking place.

We start out with Lindsay going into labor and of course she can't just have a normal delivery *eyeroll*.  Then there's a case of a woman getting shot in her car, a man who can predict future murders, a serial killer who wants to take Lindsay to the bodies he's buried, Lindsay's baby possibly being ill, Richie & Cindy's relationship woes, Claire's job misfortune, the kidnapping/murder case that Yuki is trying.

They just tried to shove too many things into one book and then rushed the ending after dragging everything out for the entire book.  It was, by far, the worst WMC book I've ever read.

And while I'm on the does Yuki still have a job?  Has she ever won a trial?  Can she maybe take a case to trial that has been resolved?  Where there's evidence besides circumstantial hearsay?

The most interesting part of the book was the professor who could predict the future.  And that was resolved in two lines at the end as an afterthought and it still doesn't make sense.

Ugh.  Worst.  Book.  Ever.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

the warlock

the warlock
the secrets of the immortal nicholas flamel #5
michael scott
ya/historical fiction/fantasy
published 2011

In the fifth installment of this bestselling series, the twins of prophesy have been divided, and the end is finally beginning.

With Scatty, Joan of Arc, Saint Germain, Palamedes, and Shakespeare all in Danu Talis, Sophie is on her own with the ever-weakening Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. She must depend on Niten to help her find an immortal to teach her Earth Magic. The surprise is that she will find her teacher in the most ordinary of places.

Ok.  First of all there are too many characters.  Let's make a list, shall we?
  1. Sophie
  2. Josh
  3. Nicholas
  4. Perenelle
  5. Scatty
  6. Joan of Arc
  7. St. Germain
  8. John Dee
  9. Isis
  10. Osiris
  11. Tsagaglalal <---which a="" be="" li="" name="" really="" shouldn="" t="">
  12. Virginia Dare
  13. Mars
  14. Odin
  15. Hel
  16. Palamedes
  17. Shakespeare
  18. Niten
  19. Prometheus
  20. Abraham
  21. Machiavelli
  22. Billy the Kid
  23. Mars Ultor
  24. Black Hawk
  25. Zephaniah
25.  I'm sure I'm missing someone.  While it's true that we only might see a brief glimpse at a few of these, most of them have some history we have to learn about.

And it is so goddamn boring.

Can we just be done already?  Can we just kill off John Dee and Josh and be done with it?  Maybe?  Yes?

The only person I really care about at all is Machiavelli.  I liked him from the beginning and was kind of bummed that he was evil, but he's evil in a subtle way.  I like Scatty & Joan of Arc too I suppose, but they're getting the raw end of the deal.

The four main characters, Josh, Sophie, Nicholas & Perenelle are my least favorite.  How does that happen?  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

good in bed

good in bed
cannie shapiro #1
jennifer weiner
fiction/chick lit/romance
washington square press
published 2002

For twenty-eight years, things have been tripping along nicely for Cannie Shapiro. Sure, her mother has come charging out of the closet, and her father has long since dropped out of her world. But she loves her friends, her rat terrier, Nifkin, and her job as pop culture reporter for The Philadelphia Examiner. She's even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body.

But the day she opens up a national women's magazine and sees the words "Loving a Larger Woman" above her ex-boyfriend's byline, Cannie is plunged into misery...and the most amazing year of her life. From Philadelphia to Hollywood and back home again, she charts a new course for herself: mourning her losses, facing her past, and figuring out who she is and who she can become.

There are times when a review of a book does not need to be detailed and pondered upon.  This is one of those times.

I loved it.  You should read it.  Go now.

silken prey

silken prey
lucas davenport #25
john sandford
published 2013

Very early one morning, a Minnesota political fixer answers his doorbell. The next thing he knows, he’s waking up on the floor of a moving car, lying on a plastic sheet, his body wet with blood. When the car stops, a voice says, “Hey, I think he’s breathing,” and another voice says, “Yeah? Give me the bat.” And that’s the last thing he knows.   

Davenport is investigating another case when the trail leads to the man’s disappearance, then—very troublingly—to the Minneapolis police department, then—most troublingly of all—to a woman who could give Machiavelli lessons. She has very definite ideas about the way the world should work, and the money, ruthlessness, and sheer will to make it happen.

No matter who gets in the way.

Two words:  Kidd & Lauren.

I know, right?!?!

It's always been kind of sad to me that the Kidd series was only 4 books long.  Just like with Lucas & Virgil's series I could read books about Kidd forever.  So it was really exciting when they not only made an appearance in Silken Prey, but they actually contributed for more than just a token 'hello'.

Sandford always makes me laugh even when I'm biting my fingernails and sitting on the edge of my seat.  This time, my laugh out loud moment came from Jenkins & Shrake.
"The big question is: Is he gonna talk, or is he gonna stonewall, or is he gonna shoot, or is he gonna run?" Jenkins said.  "That's four questions," Shrake said.  "It irritates me that you can't count."
God I love them boys.

Another one in the win column for Sandford.  He makes political intrigue fun and interesting.  My only complaint is with the conclusion, but he's done this to his readers before and I expect he'll do it again.

spider bones

spider bones
temperence brennan #13
kathy reichs
pocket books
published 2011

John Lowery was declared dead in 1968—the victim of a Huey crash in Vietnam, his body buried long ago in North Carolina. Four decades later, Temperance Brennan is called to the scene of a drowning in Hemmingford, Quebec. The victim appears to have died while in the midst of a bizarre sexual practice. The corpse is later identified as John Lowery. But how could Lowery have died twice, and how did an American soldier end up in Canada?

Tempe sets off for the answer, exhuming Lowery’s grave in North Carolina and taking the remains to Hawaii for reanalysis—to the headquarters of JPAC, the U.S. military’s Joint POW/ MIA Accounting Command, which strives to recover Americans who have died in past conflicts. In Hawaii, Tempe is joined by her colleague and ex-lover Detective Andrew Ryan (how “ex” is he?) and by her daughter, who is recovering from her own tragic loss. Soon another set of remains is located, with Lowery’s dog tags tangled among them. Three bodies—all identified as Lowery.

And then Tempe is contacted by Hadley Perry, Honolulu’s flamboyant medical examiner, who needs help identifying the remains of an adolescent boy found offshore. Was he the victim of a shark attack? Or something much more sinister? 

There was so much going on in this book it gave me a headache.  So many names, so many bodies and it was truly just too much of a stretch that everything was related.

You can't just skim over stuff in the book, otherwise you'll find yourself completely lost.  There's so much information and so much of it technical that I swear I'm at least 10 IQ points higher than I was when I started.  While I like learning the ins and outs of forensic anthropology this one started to lose me after a bit.

I did like the human interest part of it.  Lily & Katy were a breath of fresh air, but Tempe's hesitation with Ryan and Charlie is starting to get kind of old.  There was a Patricia Cornwell moment that I hope never happens again.  At a climactic part of the book Tempe runs out to help and I have to wonder, what does an intelligent woman think she's going to accomplish out there?  She's unarmed, untrained and unnecessary.  All she would do is become a distraction and a liability.  It was a bizarre way to keep eyes on the action since the story is told from her point of view I suppose, but it read as 'Tempe is an idiot' to me.

deeply odd

deeply odd
odd thomas #6
dean koontz
published 2013

How do you make sure a crime that hasn’t happened yet, never does? That’s the critical question facing Odd Thomas, the young man with a unique ability to commune with restless spirits and help them find justice and peace. But this time, it’s the living who desperately need Odd on their side. Three helpless innocents will be brutally executed unless Odd can intervene in time. Who the potential victims are and where they can be found remain a mystery. The only thing Odd knows for sure is who the killer will be: the homicidal stranger who tried to shoot him dead in a small-town parking lot. 

With the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock riding shotgun and a network of unlikely allies providing help along the way, Odd embarks on an interstate game of cat and mouse with his sinister quarry. He will soon learn that his adversary possesses abilities that may surpass his own and operates in service to infinitely more formidable foes, with murder a mere prelude to much deeper designs. Traveling across a landscape haunted by portents of impending catastrophe, Odd will do what he must and go where his path leads him, drawing ever closer to the dark heart of his long journey—and, perhaps, to the bright light beyond.

This was one book in this series that I truly feel you could not read on its own, but only after having at least read the first Odd Thomas book.  He refers back to the events in Odd Thomas frequently and there is a hint that the events here have something to do with the horrific events in Pico Mundo 18 months ago.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  I love how it seems to feel much more like the first (and my favorite) Odd Thomas book.  I love the characters he meets along the way, hinting we will see them in the next (and hopefully last) installment.  Alfred Hitchcock's surprising revelation was an interesting twist as well.

What I didn't like is this never ending commentary on how the world is going to hell in a handbasket.  At least a quarter of the book is spent with Odd going on some inner monologue tangent so long that sometimes I forget where we are in the story.  I appreciate Koontz's attention to detail, but even taking that into consideration his descriptive nature tends to get on my nerves.  I found myself oftentimes bored and skimming through entire pages.

I miss the spirits.  What initially drew me to Odd Thomas was here was this person who helped the dead.  Now, it's just him getting strange advice from long dead celebrities.  The Bodachs have not made an appearance in so long that I almost forgot about them until their quick mention in this book.

I'm not sure how long Koontz plans on writing Odd Thomas, but it felt like he's finally getting to somewhere he is meant to end up.  Hopefully, because the mysteries surrounding Odd's companions are no longer charming, but tiresome.

the necromancer

the necromancer
the secrets of the immortal nicholas flamel #4
michael scott
ya/historical fiction/fantasy
published 2010

San Francisco:
After fleeing to Ojai, then Paris, and escaping to London, Josh and Sophie Newman are finally home. And after everything they've seen and learned in the past week, they're both more confused than ever about their future. Neither of them has mastered the magics they'll need to protect themselves from the Dark Elders, they've lost Scatty, and they're still being pursued by Dr. John Dee. Most disturbing of all, however, is that now they must ask themselves, can they trust Nicholas Flamel? Can they trust anyone?

Dr. Dee underestimated Perenelle Flamel's power. Alcatraz could not hold her, Nereus was no match for her, and she was able to align herself with the most unlikely of allies. But she wasn't the only one being held on the island. Behind the prison's bars and protective sigils were a menagerie of monsters-an army for Dee to use in the final battle. And now Machiavelli has come to Alcatraz to loose those monsters on San Francisco.
Perenelle might be powerful, but each day she weakens, and even with Nicholas back at her side, a battle of this size could be too much for her. Nicholas and Perenelle must fight to protect the city, but the effort will probably kill them both.

Having been unable to regain the two final pages of the Codex, Dee has failed his Elder and is now an outlaw-and the new prey of all the creatures formerly sent to hunt down Flamel.

But Dee has a plan. With the Codex and the creatures on Alcatraz, he can control the world. All he needs is the help of the Archons. But for his plan to work, he must raise the Mother of the Gods from the dead. For that, he'll have to train a necromancer. And the twins of legend will make the perfect pupils. . . .

At this point the most amusing thing about these books is the author's name.  Michael Scott.  Every time I read that I think of The Office.

If you didn't know if from the beginning of the series you have to know now that the downfall of Josh & Sophie Newman is not Nicholas & Perenelle Flamel.  It is Josh.

When being Awakened Sophie is nervous & scared, but determined.  Mastering Air, Fire & Water she is amazed, but reserved.  She understands the great responsibilities that come with the gifts she's been given and yet wishes she could give them all back.  Josh on the other hand says 'cool' and crows to himself how his fire tattoo is so much cooler than his twins.

So it is no wonder when all is said and done that Dee continually targets Josh to weaken his opponents.  And it is no wonder that it works.  Josh thinks that he knows better than anyone, including his twin, including the Elders who pass on their knowledge.

There are still two books in left in the series, not counting the two short stories centering around Billy the Kid & Joan of Arc.  I imagine we'll have to learn more of Virginia Dare and her backstory and then we'll come to the culmination of this mess.

Not a fan.

sushi for beginners

sushi for beginners
marian keyes
fiction/chick lit/romance
william morrow
published 2003

Prada-wearing magazine editor Lisa Edwards thinks her life is over when her "fabulous" new job turns out to be a deportation to Dublin, launching Colleen magazine. No more jet-setting to the fall collections. No more fabulous parties and photographs in the society pages. The only saving grace is that her friends aren't there to witness her downward spiral. Might her new boss, the disheveled and moody Jack Devine, save her from a fate worse than hell?

Ashling Kennedy, Colleen's assistant editor, is an award-winning worrier, increasingly aware that something fundamental is missing from her life -- apart from a boyfriend and a waistline. And then there's her closest, oldest friend Clodagh "Princess" Kelly, who is apparently living the domestic dream in a suburban castle. So why, lately, has Clodagh had a recurring urge to kiss a frog -- sleep with a frog, if truth be told?

Set in the sparkling -- and serpentine -- world of women's fashion magazines, as well as the hilarious underground comedy club circuit, Sushi for Beginners is about searching for happiness. And how, if you let things bubble under the surface for too long, sooner or later they'll boil over.

It's been quite awhile since I read a Marian Keyes book and I forgot how much I love her.  She seems to effortlessly write realistic and over-the-top characters.

Lisa is the Miranda Priestly of Colleen magazine, except less nutso and more believable.  Sure, she was a bitch and all about how she was ruined by this move but even in her bitchiness I found something to like.  As she grew into her own self-discovery I liked her more and more.

Ashling is the everyday girl.  She's everyone's friend, always trying to make everyone else happy and so desperate not to be her mother that she finds herself there anyway.  Her slow descent into depression was painfully heart wrenching.  It happens, just like that and I didn't want it to happen to her.

And, minor spoiler*****Clodagh deserved everything she got.

****Spoiler Over.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  This is only the second non-Walsh family book of Keyes that I've read and I found that I could love the characters as much as I love the Walsh sisters.

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