Monday, February 27, 2012

One by One by Gilbert Morris

One secret links twelve strangers. One secret that could cost them everything. Danielle Ross's life keeps slipping out of control. First she must abandon her education to take over her ill father's floundering detective agency. Then, while pursuing a new case, Dani becomes a victim herself. She awakens in a strange place and finds herself surrounded by eleven other people. Among them are a doctor, a dancer, a German submarine commander, and a former Death Row inmate--all clueless as to why they have been brought together. The culprit relentlessly insists they are united by one dark secret and that their lives depend on their confessing it. Can Dani find the link between these strangers before time runs out?

My take: 4 looks
You all know how I feel about Christian fiction, and that I am no real fan. This book is a keeper! It has the Christian basis, but is not overwhelming or overbearing, and just works it in as part of the story nicely. A non-Christian would not be threatened at all reading this book, and isn't that what it's all about?

This is a series about a private investigator/ex-cop/seminary student Danielle Ross who gets in a very tough situation. What drew me to this book was a comment from a friend of mine that this was much like Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians", aka "And Then There Were None". That is one of my favorite mysteries of all time, and I was intrigued about this one.

After reading it, I have to admit that she was correct. Without some of the twists and turns, this was a very engaging read. I was fully invested in the characters and couldn't wait to pick it back up once I had to put it down for one reason or another. Before I finished it, I had the other already waiting on the side table. 

Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Long Lost by Harlan Coben

An old flame wakes Myron Bolitar from sleep. Terese Collins is in Paris, and she needs his help -- no questions answered. In her debt, Myron makes the trip and learns of a decade-long secret: Terese once had a daughter, who died in a car accident. Now it seems as though that daughter may be alive -- and tied to a sinister plot with shocking global implications.

My take: 4 looks
I love these books! They are like getting on a crazy roller coaster ride, then getting back in line as soon as it's over. The characters are not overly developed and none of these books will probably make you tear up, but you will enjoy yourself immensely and wish you had a friend just like Win! These books would make a GREAT series of movies, much like the Jesse Stone made-for-TV movies.

This is book 9 in the Myron Bolitar Mysteries by Coben, so I have got some catching up to do! Here is the order:

Deal Breaker (1995)
Drop Shot (1996)
Fade Away (1996)
Back Spin (1997)
One False Move (1998)
The Final Detail (1999)
Darkest Fear (2000)
Promise Me (2006)
Long Lost (2009)
Live Wire (2011)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd

Lexi Stuart is at a critical crossroads. She’s done with college but still living at home, ready to launch a career but unable to find a job, and solidly stalled between boyfriends.

My take: 3 looks
That's all of a summary that this cute book deserves?! I couldn't believe that's all there was.

Allow me to elaborate: Lexi is a French major from a good university who can't seem to hold a job; lives with her parents who just sold their house; her brother is a successful attorney who is marrying another successful attorney; she just signed a lease on an apartment she can't afford; and, she has a crush on her engaged boss at a French pastry shop. What's not to love?!

Oh, yes...and she is trying to find her way to God. She doesn't want her grandmother's faith, doesn't want her mother's faith, but wants to find her own relationship with God and what He wants for her.

Cutely written, but a bit sophomoric at times, this is a nice, light beach-read. Interspersed in the pages are recipes, notes, forms and ice-breaker games, making the journey from page 1 to page 310 an interesting one. This is the first in a series of three, and I will probably add the next one to my list. I'm curious as to what Lexi will do next!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Brother Odd by Dean Koontz

Loop me in, odd one. The words, spoken in the deep of night by a sleeping child, chill the young man watching over her. For this was a favorite phrase of Stormy Llewellyn, his lost love, and Stormy is dead, gone forever from this world. In the haunted halls of the isolated monastery where he had sought peace, Odd Thomas is stalking spirits of an infinitely darker nature

Through two New York Times bestselling novels Odd Thomas has established himself as one of the most beloved and unique fictional heroes of our time. Now, wielding all the power and magic of a master storyteller at the pinnacle of his craft, Dean Koontz follows Odd into a singular new world where he hopes to make a fresh beginning—but where he will meet an adversary as old and inexorable as time itself. St. Bartholomew’s Abbey sits in majestic solitude amid the wild peaks of California’s high Sierra, a haven for children otherwise abandoned, and a sanctuary for those seeking insight. Odd Thomas has come here to learn to live fully again, and among the eccentric monks, their other guests, and the nuns and young students of the attached convent school, he has begun to find his way. The silent spirits of the dead who visited him in his earlier life are mercifully absent, save for the bell-ringing Brother Constantine and Odd’s steady companion, the King of Rock 'n' Roll. But trouble has a way of finding Odd Thomas, and it slinks back onto his path in the form of the sinister bodachs he has met previously, the black shades who herald death and disaster, and who come late one December night to hover above the abbey’s most precious charges. For Odd is about to face an enemy who eclipses any he has yet encountered, as he embarks on a journey of mystery, wonder, and sheer suspense that surpasses all that has come before.

My take: 4 looks
I love this series. It is so cleverly written, and on an adult level (you may have to look up some words, unless you are a wordsmith!). I had to jump from book one to three because the library didn't have the second one (Forever Odd) available. No worries, though, this book is a standalone and I didn't miss a beat. I look forward to reading the others in this series, and highly recommend them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

life on the refrigerator door by Alice Kuipers

Claire and her mother are running out of time, but they don't know it. Not yet. Claire is wrapped up with the difficulties of her burgeoning adulthood—boys, school, friends, identity; Claire's mother, a single mom, is rushed off her feet both at work and at home. They rarely find themselves in the same room at the same time, and it often seems that the only thing they can count on are notes to each other on the refrigerator door. When home is threatened by a crisis, their relationship experiences a momentous change.

Forced to reevaluate the delicate balance between their personal lives and their bond as mother and daughter, Claire and her mother find new love and devotion for one another deeper than anything they had ever imagined. Heartfelt, touching, and unforgettable, Life on the Refrigerator Door is a glimpse into the lives of mothers and daughters everywhere.

In this deeply touching novel told through a series of notes written from a loving mother and her devoted fifteen-year-old daughter, debut author Alice Kuipers deftly captures the impenetrable fabric that connects mothers and daughters throughout the world. Moving and rich with emotion, Life on the Refrigerator Door delivers universal lessons about love in a wonderfully simple and poignant narrative.

My take: 4 looks
I am giving this book 4 looks based solely on the clever idea of writing an entire book on notes stuck to the fridge. Not one element is missing here. The characters are clear, the day-to-day lives are clear, and the gentle wave of time and the toll it carries is clear. Beautifully, beautifully done. Highly recommended.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

What's the real truth behind the legend of the hound of the Baskervilles? Is it really a devil-beast with crushing teeth and supernatural strength that's haunting the lonely moors? Enter Sherlock Holmes' world to find the answer, in this, the only full-length novel ever written by the creator of one of the most popular and enduring detective series ever written.

My take: 3 looks
It was good, but not great. One of the most popular and enduring detective series ever written? Well, I would rather read an Agatha Christie, I think. I still think about Ten Little Indians...

Don't get me wrong, I liked the book and enjoyed reading it, but it doesn't make me want to run out and get another Sherlock Holmes book. However, nor will it keep me from reading another one, should it be recommended.

As for recommending this one, I would say that yes, you should read it. If for nothing else than it is of some repute and should be added to your read list based solely on that merit.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

Can God’s Love Save Anyone? Bestselling author Francine Rivers skillfully retells the biblical love story of Gomer and Hosea in a tale set against the exciting backdrop of the California Gold Rush. The heroine, Angel, is a young woman who was sold into prostitution as a child. Michael Hosea is a godly man sent into Angel’s life to draw her into the Savior’s redeeming love.

This remarkable novel has sold over a million copies and is among the top twenty on the ECPA fiction bestsellers list for four years running.

California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep. Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside.

Then she meets Michael Hosea. A man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything, Michael Hosea obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation until, despite her resistance her frozen heart begins to thaw. But with her unexpected softening come overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she can no longer deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael Hosea does…the One who will never let her go.

A powerful retelling of the book of Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

My take: 2.5 looks
That is quite a summary, huh? Written by either the author or a groupie, I would say that the above is a bit more of a love fest that I would give it.

The story of how I came upon this book: in my women's Sunday school class last week, someone was talking about the book and how her husband told her that it was making her cry so much that it was upsetting their children. I asked about the book and a member of the class took life and limb in hand to run to the church library to get me the book.

The first thing I noticed, of course, was the cover and it just made me chuckle. It is very obviously the female equivalent of Fabio and I commented that it looked like a Baptist Harlequin Romance. Well, I have to tell you, it reads like one, too. At a robust 464 pages, I never even thought of shedding a tear. Instead, I wanted to slap the heroine of the book, named Sarah/Angel/Marah/Amanda/Mandy/Tirzah. A retelling of the book of Hosea, yes, but with much more running. She flees once, her husband finds her. She flees again, her husband finds her. She flees again and probably again ... honestly, I lost count. At some point, I would have just let her work it out with God without my help. Which he did, praying for and waiting on her for three years while she sought and found God thanks to a totally different man. Poor Micheal (her husband) never got to see the joy of her accepting the Lord as her Savior.

Yes, yes, I know the moral is that I run away from God numerous times and He seeks me, forgives me and loves me just the same. I get it. I just don't want to read a tome about it. And good grief with the names in this book! Michael, Hosea, Sarah, Elizabeth, Miriam, Ruth, Paul. I would say that a light hand is not a strength of Francine Rivers.

This is the second book that I have read by this author, and will more than likely not read another.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

“The dead don't talk. I don't know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn.

Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15. Today is August 14. In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe.

As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll.

His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares—and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

My take: 4 looks
What a ride! I picked this one up on a recommendation from a friend, and knew nothing about it. It proved to be a page-turner with surprises at every corner. I loved all of the characters, the premise, the action and even the surprise ending. I did NOT see that coming! I look forward to the movie they are releasing this year.

I will read ALL of this series!