Archive for January, 2010

Spring Break-Kayla Perrin

January 31, 2010

Spring Break

Kayla Perrin

St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 2 2010, $14.99

ISBN 9780312547288

On Artula, following a break up with her boyfriend Ryan Sinclair, college student Ashley Hamilton vanishes.  Her disappearance occurs just after she meets New York editor Jason Shear who had come to the Caribbean island to investigate human trafficking; his sister had disappeared without a trace while on spring break here in 1987.  Jason finds out that nineteen women have disappeared in the last seven years.

Ashley’s best friend Chantelle Higgins searches for her after the local authorities ignore her plea for help.  On the other hand Jason agrees to assist her in her investigation into what happened to Ashley.  At the same time Ashley’s frantic family arrive on the island; someone murders an informant willing to talk to Chantelle.

This is a superb romantic suspense that looks deeply into human sexual trafficking through the constant questioning by the courageous Chantelle who refuses to stop asking the why.  The story line is fast-paced throughout as the frantic desperation of the heroine and the family of the abductee turns into a frenzy of extreme anxiety due to hopelessness as what increasingly looks like a lost cause.  Although several late twists detract from an otherwise strong thriller, fans will enjoy this cautionary tale of being smart and safe while on Spring Break.

Harriet Klausner

A Different Light-Mariah Stewart

January 31, 2010

A Different Light

Mariah Stewart

Pocket, Jan 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439155103

In Woodside Heights, New Jersey, although she tries to put on a good pretense for her daughter Callie’s sake, Athena Moran has not been able to move on past the death of her police officer husband John; killed in the line of duty.  Nothing seems to turn her on anymore although she hides her grief and lethargy for the sake of their child and their friends who see the grieving widow as a reminder of what could happen to them.

Since she is the daughter of a former councilman and the wife of a slain cop, Mayor Dante Rossi offers Athena work in his office.  She accepts.  However, Athena is stunned when Dante asks her to run as his replacement.  Although she wins, Dante still runs the city.  Reporter Quentin Forbes is attracted to Athen, but detest that she is just Dante’s puppet.  He attacks her in the paper, which hurts her as she cannot understand his vendetta.  Everything changes when Her Mayor meets Ms. Evelyn, who mentors Athena on redevelopment and living with gusto, which angers her puppeteer and his cronies.

Although this is a reprint of a Clinton Era political romance, A Different Light remains relevant with its simplistic instead of Mr. Smith goes to Washington, Ms. Moran remains in New Jersey.  Initially blind to the corruption that surrounds her, Athen matures in political savvy without losing her idealism as she sees the town in A Different Light.  Fans will enjoy this fun tale even if there are no instant blogger twitting on everything.

Harriet Klausner

Warrior Ascended-Addison Fox

January 31, 2010

Warrior Ascended

Addison Fox

Signet, Mar 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451229380

Enyo the Goddess of War plans to steal five Egyptian Summoning Stones that will enable her to rule the world.  Themis the Goddess of Justice to abate the mass destruction that Enyo has set in motion creates immortal warriors to fight for her cause of balancing the scales.

One of Themis’ fighters Leo warrior Brody Talbot is assigned to protect museum curator Ava Harrison.  She is grieving her father’s murder, but excited over running his exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan where the ancient summoning stones her dad found are going to be displayed.  Her only concern besides her father’s death is the hunk of an archeologist Brody working with her.  As they fall in love, she has horrific visions that she believes are stone induced.

The first Sons of the Zodiac saga is a superb urban fantasy romance starring an eons old warrior and a mousy curator.  The story line is action-packed as the Goddesses battle through minion over possession of the stones.  Fans will enjoy the Fifth Age of Man as the Leo Warrior Ascended with the mortal he protects to fight the forces of Enyo.

Harriet Klausner

Bride of the Wolf-Susan Krinard

January 31, 2010

Bride of the Wolf

Susan Krinard

Harlequin HQN, Mar 2010, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373774777

 

In 1881 in Pecos County, Texas, Holden Renshaw finds his boss, owner of the Dog Creek Ranch, dead in what looks like a riding mishap.  Holden has doubts about it being an accident as Jedediah McCarrick was a superb rider.  He finds the bags that Jedediah hid as if the man knew he was going to be killed.  Inside the bags are his three wills with the unsigned last one giving the ranch to a mail order bride Rachel Lyndon coming from Ohio.  The first dated will gives the spread to Jedediah’s nephew Sean while the last signed will bequests all to Holden.

 

Rachel arrives and insists she is Jedediah’s wife; Holden knows that is a lie, but says nothing.  Holden and Rachel are attracted to one another, but distrust each other.  However, she proves to be really good with his baby recently dumped on him by a dying prostitute.  Each has secrets as she was kicked out of her home by her grandma and rejected by her lover, but a miscarriage left her barren.  He is wanted as the dangerous Heath Renier and can change into the wolf without blinking.  Neither expected how far Sean will go to manipulate everyone to do what he wants.

 

This is an exciting werewolf historical romance starring two likable but fragile (mentally that is) individuals who feel love arrived at an inappropriate moment.  Ironically, Sean, in spite of being over the top of the Guadalupe Mountains, is the most fascinating character in the fast-paced story line.  Although a late Ranger twist seems wrong even considering paranormal justice, fans will enjoy this fine tale while wondering what will happen when everyone learns Jedediah is dead.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

I’m Still Standing-Shoshana Johnson with M. L. Doyle

January 30, 2010

I’m Still Standing

Shoshana Johnson with M. L. Doyle

Touchstone, Feb 2 2010, $23.99

ISBN: 9781416567486

In 2003 in An Nasiriyah, Iraq, six soldiers (including Jessica Lynch who became the prime celebrity of the incident) assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company were captured by the enemy during an ambush.  One of those taken in the firefight was unit cook Shoshana Johnson, who became the first ever African-American female POW.  After three plus weeks as a prisoner, moving from place to place, the marines rescued her and the others (except Lynch previously rescued).

The key to this memoir is how profound Johnson describes her ordeal during captivity and even more so as a sudden celebrity of sorts.  She makes the case that her abductees were kind giving her medical aid to her ankles hit by bullets and fed and clothed her.  Yet throughout she lived in fear as a Black woman POW in a country in which gender and race matter.  After being freed, her fame left others angry and resentful so she left the military.  With a strong conviction, Ms. Johnson and M.L. Doyle tear into her accusers that she and the others deserved being prisoners and were no heroes as they simply made a wrong turn.  Well written with the predominance of the memoir being her POW 22 days and her PTSD that still haunts her since becoming free; fans of military chronicles will want to read I’m Still Standing.

Harriet Klausner

Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy-Dani Shapiro

January 30, 2010

Slow Motion: A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy

Dani Shapiro

Harper, Jan 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061826696

Raised by Orthodox Jewish parents in the New York City suburban part of New Jersey, Dani Shapiro gave up Sarah Lawrence to be a trophy girlfriend to an older married attorney though Lenny Klein is the stepfather of her BF.  One call while she enjoys a San Diego spa changes everything into before and after.  Aunt Roz tells her that her mom and dad were in a car accident; both are in ICU at Overlook Hospital in Summit; no one has called her father’s other daughter from his first marriage while a blizzard shuts down the airports.  Uncle Hy tells has that her dad is in a coma and her mom may never walk again.  Adding to her fears and suddenly found maturity is the blizzard has shut down the New York airports.

This is a fascinating heart wrenching memoir because the tragic incident proves a revelation for Dani Shapiro as no miracle saves the day yet she rises to the occasion with a maturity her family would not have believed she possessed prior to the accident.  Readers will cry on at least two occasions re her father seeing her mother for the first time after the accident and her chat with her father in the cemetery obviously after his death. She realizes what her parents taught her about what matters in life and death is the truth.

Harriet Klausner

Stephenie Meyer: The Unauthorized Biography of the Creator of the Twilight Saga

January 29, 2010

Stephenie Meyer: The Unauthorized Biography of the Creator of the Twilight Saga

Marc Shapiro

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 2010, $12.99

ISBN 9780312638290

With the popularity of the Twilight saga – books and movies (aside to my niece Ashley – how many times have you read and seen Twilight?), it is not surprising to find an unauthorized biography of the author Stephanie Meyer.  As he did with his J.K. Rowling bio, Marc Shapiro researches the literature and conducts interviews of peripherals associated with Stephenie Meyer.  Although well written and fun to read, no major new revelation surfaces as most fans know that for instance the Twilight concept was created during a dream and the impact of the saga on Forks, Washington.  Somewhat less known is the religious beliefs of this wife and mom writer.  Still those fans ready to travel to Forks will enjoy this bio-lite.

Harriet Klausner

Petals From The Sky-Mingmei Yip

January 29, 2010

Petals From The Sky

Mingmei Yip

Kensington, Mar 2010, $15.00

ISBN: 9780758241818

Thirteen year old Meng Ning fell into a well.  She survived her ordeal, but also had a revelation that she was fated to be a Buddhist nun.  Now an adult Meng has not yet taken her vows as her mentor encourages her to take some time and study abroad, which she does in Paris while her mother is horrified with her daughter’s decision.

At the Summer Buddhist Retreat, a fire places Meng in jeopardy until American Dr. Michael Fuller, who rescued her when her black-market monetary exchange proved counterfeit, carries her to safety.  They become friends and companions.  However, that ends when he proposes and she refuses as her dream is to be a nun not a wife.  Although she changes her mind and accepts, she still wonders if she is making a mistake until a car accident opens her eyes.

This is an intriguing look at Buddhism in mostly Paris and Hong Kong; so there is a western flavoring.  The story line is profound as Meng must choose between spiritual and mortal loves; while coping with pressure from others trying to influence her selection.  Although Michael seems more like a stereotype of a westerner involved with an Asian woman whose belief system differs from his, fans will enjoy Petals From the Sky as Meng must determine the path her devotion leads her to.

Harriet Klausner

The Endless Forest-Sara Donati

January 29, 2010

The Endless Forest

Sara Donati

Delacorte, Jan 2010, $27.00

ISBN: 9780553805260

In 1824 the Sacandaga River overflows its banks flooding what had been Paradise, New York.  The devastation is everywhere with no family immune from what is described as the hundred year flood.  However, after the storm comes calm as people go about the business of surviving, caring for one another and hopefully rebuilding.

Elizabeth and Nathaniel Bonner are sad about the destruction but euphoric that their thirty years old daughter Lily accompanied by her husband Simon has come home from Italy.  Also adding to their elation is their adopted daughter Martha is back in town too.  However, following Martha to Paradise is her biological mother Jemima, who abandoned her daughter over a decade ago.  A cruel woman, she apparently caused the end of her daughter’s engagement to Peyton.  Lily’s twin brother Daniel offers to marry Martha, but though she no longer sees him as a sibling but much more she does not want a pity marriage.  He does not either as he sees her as a wife not a sister.  Neither does his brother Ethan who proposes to family friend Callie.

The final Bonner family historical saga is an interesting tale that provides readers with a glimpse of Upstate New York around the time James Fennimore Cooper was writing the Leatherstocking classics.  The story line ties up major loose ends, but the key cast next generation pale next to the villainess who steals the show from the Bonner brood who seem two dimensional in comparison.  Still fans will enjoy The Endless Forest.

Harriet Klausner

The Weight of Heaven-Thrity Umrigar

January 29, 2010

The Weight of Heaven

Thrity Umrigar

Harper, Feb 2 2010, $14.99

ISBN: 9780061472558

Following the death of their seven years old son from meningitis, psychologist Ellie Benton persuades her spouse Frank that he should accept a position to run a HerbalSolutions factory in Girbaug, India as it will be easier to move past their grief if they leave Ann Arbor.  He agrees.

In the small village, Ellie adapts rather easily working at a clinic while Frank remains filled with grief and drifts away from his wife.  His only solace is tutoring his housekeeper’s son Ramesh, which is resented by the lad’s father Prakesh.  Meanwhile Ellie and Frank are on different sides of the issue of the trees as she defends the locals’ use and he claims his company owns them under a lease agreement with the government.  Investigative reporter Nandita meets Ellie and they become friends, which further alienates the American woman from her mate.  Tragedy seems imminent as hostilities in the village over the trees grow.

This is an entertaining tale of two kindhearted caring people whose outlook is different; as one adjusts while the other turns into the Ugly American who can only buy friendship with a replacement local child.  The story line is fast-paced for the most part although a flashback to the Benton courtship feels like unnecessary padding as it adds nothing since the audience knows the couple is educated and liberal until a year or so passes in India.  Still readers will appreciate this fine tale as the Benton couple serve as a microcosm of capitalist interests with opposite directions in how each adapts to residing in Girbaug.

Harriet Klausner