Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mum's the Word by Kate Collins

Released: 2004

Kate Collins' Mum's the Word is a cozy flower-shop mystery featuring Abby Knight, law school dropout and owner of Bloomers flower shop. Abby's canary-yellow vintage Corvette is the victim of a hit-and-run outside her flower shop, which is then found out to be a link to a local murder happening around the same time. Abby teams up with bar-owner and hottie Marco Salvare, who is also a former cop, to solve the mystery around Abby's dinged Corvette and the murder.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Challenger Park by Stephen Harrigan

Released: 2006

Challenger Park by Stephen Harrigan is an AMAZING novel about a woman astronaut named Lucy Kincheloe as she prepares for her first space mission.

Lucy is a mother of two children and married to another astronaut, Brian, whose ego threatens his own future career as an astronaut. In the midst of dealing with her husband's animosity and her son's serious asthmatic problems, Lucy finds herself drifting closer to the trainer for her space mission, Walt Womack. In addition to Lucy's life drama, readers are indulgently treated to the vast details surrounding preparation and training for an actual mission to outer space!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ebony Arose by Vicky J. Siegrist

Released: 2009

Ebony Arose by Vicky J. Siegrist is the story of a young girl who escapes death and runs away from her abusive father with hopes of starting a fresh new life, free of pain. After the initial hardships that come with running away, Ebony Arose is welcomed into a new family who love and care for her as she deserves. Many years later as a teenager, Ebony is blessed with finding true love and is about to marry handsome, rich Nicholas Vance. Before the wedding and much to her disadvantage, Ebony's past comes back to haunt her. The following events that transpire for Ebony include intrigue and danger, as well as more romance.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy

Released: 2005

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy is a book I wish dearly that I could have gotten into because I'm well aware of how the Walker Papers has gained popularity over the years...

Sadly, I lost interest in the near beginning.

Initially, I fell in love with Urban Shaman when Murphy makes a wisecrack about the vulgarity of Austin Powers' teeth in the very first paragraph! I thought to myself how could I not appreciate Murphy's humor?!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Writer's Love Story by Robert E. Wacaster

Released: 2009

A Writer's Love Story tells the story of how best-selling author Robert Wacaster meets Katie Benson, the executive assistance of Wacaster's editor, and sweeps her off her feet. Unfortunately, Robert is only in New York City for business, and eventually must separate himself from Katie to return to California. Their long-distance relationship must stand the test of real love.

I am still unsure at this point if this contemporary romance novel is meant to be fiction or a biography about Robert Wacaster, especially since both the author and his main character share the exact same name. This fact alone made it difficult for me as a reader to enjoy the magic of A Writer's Love Story's romantic and fictional elements.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Smoke and Shadows by Tanya Huff

Released: 2004

Tanya Huff's Smoke and Shadows features Tony Foster, a street-smart homosexual production assistant for a TV series called "Darkest Night". People on the set of the show start dying, and Tony begins to notice creepy shadows everywhere he goes within the studio. Tony then approaches the special effects "wizard" Arra, and learns much more is going on concerning the shadows than he originally thought.

Because I didn't finish Smoke and Shadows, I presume Tony tracks down the shadow menace to put a stop to the killings.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hello to the Cannibals by Richard Bausch

Released: 2002

Hello to the Cannibals by Richard Bausch is such an expansive book and took me awhile to read, and I definitely wouldn't do it again. The synopsis of Hello to the Cannibals is much more interesting than what it actually turned out to be.

Hello to the Cannibals is about a young woman named Lily Austin who is mature, intelligent, and incredibly insightful for her age. At her 14th birthday party, Lily receives a biography about Mary Kingsley, an adventurer in the 19th century who traveled the world over. For the next 10 years of Lily's life, she drowns herself in Mary Kingsley and uses the woman as comfort and inspiration to help herself through her own hard times. Descended from playwrights, Lily also writes a play with Mary Kingsley being the focal point. The book spans back and forth between Lily's life and Mary's life until we are greeted with Kingsley's early death at the end.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff

Released: 2010

Isabel Wolff's style continues to improve as the years pass, and A Vintage Affair is her best book to date.

A Vintage Affair tells the story of a new beginning in Phoebe Swift's life after her best friend dies. At the height of her career, Phoebe opens Village Vintage, a shop specializing in selling authentic and vintage clothing made by the most coveted labels in the fashion world. Elements of her new life weave quite the intricate web of new friends, new men, and new revelations which all intertwine at some point in the novel. Along the way, readers are treated to anecdotes of history tidbits dating back as far as the 1920s with vintage clothing playing a large role in the plot.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan

Released: 2006

The Unknown Terrorist is Richard Flanagan's fourth novel.

The Unknown Terrorist is about a young pole dancer and stripper known as Doll, who apparently goes to bed with a handsome stranger and wakes up the next day with no recollection of the previous night. Doll then sees herself on television as being the prime suspect and most wanted criminal behind a terrorist attack!

Sadly, I couldn't get into The Unknown Terrorist far enough where the aforementioned accident takes place. The book is too choppy, impersonal, and jumps all over the place, so it's hard to care about what happens. I'm sad to say that because I'm also American, I couldn't catch on to the Australian lingo fast enough, and I was left in the lurch as to what the characters were talking about!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Chances Are by Barbara Bretton

Released: 2004

Barbara Bretton is my favorite contemporary romance author. Her books are always guaranteed to please when a realistic romance and pick-me-up is needed. Chances Are was no exception, and once again, I am disappointed in myself in letting this book sit on my shelf for years before reading it!

Chances Are is centered around a group of women in a small Jersey shore-town called Paradise Point. The women consist of Maddy, a woman about to be married; her entrepreneur mother Rose; Claire, a widow and mother of five; and Kelly, Maddy's teenage soon-to-be stepdaughter. While the town focuses attention on Maddy and her wedding, Claire stands by jealous on the sidelines at Maddy's good fortune, while responsible Kelly suspects she may be pregnant.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Collector Collector by Tibor Fischer

Released: 1997

The Collector Collector by Tibor Fischer is definitely one of the odder books I've read lately; too bad the story took a nosedive, causing me to give up.

The Collector Collector is narrated by a bowl, which makes the novel one of a kind. The bowl is a priceless antique that has been in existence for thousands of years, and shares its history tidbits throughout the book. The bowl tells us stories about how the novel's current characters remind it of people who have owned itself in the past.

In addition to the bowl being the main character, we get to know a con-artist cum nymphomaniac named Nikki and an art appraiser named Rosa who has current ownership of the bowl. Among Nikki and Rosa are other wacky and zany characters who I'm sure just add craziness to the book's plot.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

Released: 2003

Carolyn Parkhurst's The Dogs of Babel is one of my favorite books written in recent years. The Dogs of Babel is about a man who mourns his wife's accidental death, with their dog being the only witness to her falling off a ladder while picking fruit out of their tree.

The husband in distress, a linguistics professor named Paul Iverson, becomes obsessed with trying to teach his dog to speak so he can find out what really happened on the day his wife Lexy died. Adding to the grief are various clues Paul's wife left around the house before she died, leading Paul to believe Lexy's death was more suicidal than accidental. As Paul's memories of Lexy are revealed to the reader throughout The Dogs of Babel, we learn that she was impulsive, moody, and displayed common signs of someone who was depressed and troubled enough to maybe commit suicide.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Released: 1979

Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is probably one of the most ridiculous, most goofy books I have read in ages. It was so random to the point where random events (such as crashing into a sperm whale in outer space) just weren't funny anymore.

A young man named Arthur Dent leaves Earth with his friend and galaxy-born traveler Ford Prefect before Earth undergoes a type of apocalypse. In a nutshell, both men get picked up by a spaceship and encounter other random, weird events.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John C. Maxwell

Released: 2010

John C. Maxwell's latest installment focuses on improving speech and presentation to connect with people. Although we may be great at our careers and niches, some lack the skills to connect with people, which can make or break our advancement.

Maxwell's writing style always flows and reads like a story we'll remember as opposed to a boring business lecture, and this is what makes his books great! Maxwell incorporates personal stories and experiences that make reading the book fun to those who stray away or are intimidated by business tomes. Maxwell's message is so simple and sinks in, the knowledge easy enough to understand without note-taking.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank

Released: 2005

The Wonder Spot by Melissa Bank is unique chick-lit in that it combines extreme sarcasm, humor, and wit with your typical coming-of-age novel.

Our heroine is Sophie Applebaum, a Jewish girl with two brothers, a judge for a father, and a scatter-brained mother. We meet Sophie initially when she is about twelve years old, and we join her in growing up well into her late thirties or so. Along the way we encounter and share with Sophie her many boyfriend experiences, as well as adventures with schooling and careers.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Syrup by Maxx Barry

Released: 2000

Maxx Barry's Syrup is an absolutely HILARIOUS satire about marketing and Corporate America. Barry's first novel is so sarcastic and unique that readers won't help but love it!

Scat is a young twenty-something man who develops a new brand of soda called Fukk. While preparing to have it officially branded and presented to a massive corporation leading in soda products, his roommate Sneaky Pete steals his invention and tries to pass it off as his own.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town by Ron Franscell

Released: 2007

Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town is a true crime story about two girls who are abducted, raped, and murdered in the small town of Casper, Wyoming in 1973. The book is written by Ron Franscell, a Casper native who eventually became a newspaper journalist and knew the girls personally. Because of this very fact, Ron Franscell's account is well-researched and questions surrounding the crime have been thoroughly answered because of Ron Franscell's interest. The book is severely impacting from a personal standpoint and well-written.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy

Released: 1985

Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassedy is one of the best pieces of literature a young adult could read. The book is detailed, emotional, and magical, and I've kept the copy I've had as a young girl myself for over twenty years! I recently decided to read it again and found it to be timeless and engaging even as an adult.

Behind the Attic Wall is about the life of Maggie, a young girl who is orphaned and sent to a boarding school run by some distant relatives. Maggie is a typical troublemaker; ill-behaved, distraught, and admirably adventurous. With no friends, and no love lost between her distant relatives running the school, Maggie is alone most the time. While exploring one afternoon, Maggie discovers a secret hidden room within the expansive, old boarding house full of history. Entering the secret room, Maggie befriends some life-like dolls and finally begins to learn what real love and friendship is all about.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet by Elliott Hester

Released: 2003

Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet is the one of most hilarious travel books I have ever read! As opposed to reading about one long trek through Africa, or one long hike through the Appalachian Mountains, Hester has written a series of short stories and his funny experiences as a flight attendant. From stories of the infamous mile-high club to irritating passengers and other unbelievable events, this book is guaranteed to entertain all sorts of readers; not just those interested in the travel genre.

Hester's sense of humor is very intelligent, and his witty, sarcastic remarks throughout the book are laugh-out-loud hilarious.

I would place this book on the border of the humor and travel genres. Nicely done, Elliott Hester!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella

Released: 2009

Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella is definitely loads of fun! Although it exceeds the average length at about 430 pages, the book is so fast-paced that people enjoying themselves will breeze right through it and not realize it.

Remember Me? is the story of Lexi Smart, who in 2004 is a nerdy loser with bad hair, ugly teeth, a depressing job, and a lame boyfriend. One night out while drinking with her friends, she trips down some stairs, hits her head on the pavement, and walks up in the hospital. Only she finds herself waking up in 2007; with beautiful hair, fixed teeth, a job high up on the corporate ladder, and a handsome, rich husband!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Released: 1865

With the Alice in Wonderland movie directed by Tim Burton launching, I decided it would be a great idea to revisit this classic novel. I've had a copy of Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass sitting on my shelf for years, but never picked it up to read. I figure watching three movie versions of Alice in Wonderland growing up was enough to get the main gist.

The novel itself is much shorter than I remember, and the writing is not as colorfully zany as I hoped; however the book does require the reader to have a vivid imagination. The riddles are silly and unsolvable and Alice talks too much. We are asking ourselves what lesson is she going to learn in the end?

Vampire Diaries Return: Nightfall by L.J. Smith

Released: 2009

L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries Return: Nightfall is written about 15 years after the author wrote the first four books of the series; The Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, and Dark Reunion. This is GREAT for fans like me, who read the series years ago and have been praying for it to pick up and continue! (Thanks to the onslaught of novels such as Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series). Despite the 15 years passed in real life, the book actually just picks up and leaves off where Dark Reunion did, in which Elena is human again, and back with special powers after her numerous transformations in the aforementioned novels.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lost Futures by Lisa Tuttle

Released: 1992

Lisa Tuttle's Lost Futures is the story of Clare Beckett, who finds herself jumping from one alternate reality to the next through a whirlwind of different lives she could have led. The alternate realities are also, in a sense, dreams in which Clare cannot tell if the current life she is leading is a dream or reality.

Lost Futures is extremely well written, and isn't so much part of the horror genre as one would expect picking up this novel. The book reads more as suspense fiction or literature.