Archive for December, 2008

The God Cookie-Geoffrey Wood

December 31, 2008

The God Cookie

Geoffrey Wood

Waterbrook, Feb 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9781400073443

Coffee shop owner John Parrish enjoys debating anything and everything with his best friends, his employees Mason and Duncan. He especially relishes their arguments over faith and Heeding God’s voice. At a Chinese restaurant, Parrish opens up his fortune cookie to a bizarre message: “Take the corner.” Whereas his buddies believe this is some cookie cutter nonsense, John believes God is calling him to take a leap of faith.

Although he has doubts and expects he will end up humiliated in the eyes of his two friends and several strangers, John heeds the note to go to the nearest corner to obtain further divine guidance. There he picks up a mysterious letter from the ground by the bus stop. John decides his heavenly quest is to deliver the note to its rightful owner. His odyssey has begun.

The story line starts slow until Parrish’s quest leads him to meet people who react differently to his heavenly need to deliver the letter. His mission enables him to see what others need as if he is wearing their shoes. The interaction between the lead character and the support cast makes for an unusual inspirational tale that fans will enjoy trekking along side Parrish on his journey of the soul.

Harriet Klausner

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Love and Other Natural Disasters-Holly Shumas

December 31, 2008

Love and Other Natural Disasters

Holly Shumas

5 Spot, Jan 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446504775

During Thanksgiving with her spouse and their five years old son Jacob, eight months pregnant Eve thinks her Jonathon is having an affair, sort of. She sees how friendly he is on the phone with some unknown female and concludes where there is smoke there is fire. He denies her accusations.

Eve opens his e-mail, which affirms he never physically touched the other woman, but shared a deep emotional relationship with her. However, Eve and Jon also realize how much they had drifted apart when both considers whether it is worth saving their marriage for themselves and not just the kids.

This is a thought provoking deep look at what is cheating in a relationship especially in the electronic age. Fans will ponder whether one is stepping out on a spouse although there is no physical contact between the mate and the other person. Holly Shumas also raises the ethical question of whether it is ethically acceptable to perform domestic spying when a spouse suspects their mate of an affair; especially to check the personal email to find evidence they are cheating. Although the story line is a bit slow as the focus is deeply on the emotional behavior of the lead couple, readers will appreciate this fascinating sharp tale that asks what denotes cheating in the modern age.

Harriet Klausner

We Take This Man-Candice Dow and Daaimah S. Poole

December 31, 2008

We Take This Man

Candice Dow and Daaimah S. Poole

Grand Central, Jan 2009, $14.99

ISBN: 9780446501835

In Florida Dwight and Tracey Wilson seem to have the perfect marriage as they raise their two children in their new home. They are euphoric when Dwight has a chance for a major promotion, but Tracey changes her mind when she learns the job is in Maryland. They talk and argue over relocating until Dwight takes the position and leaves on own with plans to return to Florida on weekends; while Tracey remains behind with the kids. That arrangement fails.

Dwight ends his marriage with Tracey and soon afterward has an affair with his work peer Alicia Dixon. When she becomes pregnant, Dwight marries her, but he is unaware that his divorce from Tracey is not finalized. Instead his legal wife arrives in Maryland hoping to save their marriage.

This is a well written entertaining extended family drama starring three people with personal issues that make each struggle with relationships. However, most readers will have a problem with the basic premise that each of the two women wants Dwight as their mate to help them raise their kids although he comes across as emotionally feeble and unable to cope with one family let alone raising two. Fans will enjoy this intriguing tale of a bigamist caught between two women, three children, and his inability to decide what to do; leaving it up to Tracey and Alicia to come up with an alternative family arrangement if the two strong women can stop their bickering and compromise.

Harriet Klausner


Houston, We Have a Problema-Gwendolyn Zepeda

December 31, 2008

Houston, We Have a Problema

Gwendolyn Zepeda

Grand Central, Jan 2009, $12.99

ISBN: 9780446698528

In Houston twenty –six year old single Jessica Luna is perhaps the most superstitious person in Texas; she will argue otherwise insisting it is a survival technique to dealing with her family especially her mom and older sister. She depends totally on psychic Madame Hortensia for guidance and buys special good luck gizmos from the spiritualist especially after the clairvoyant makes three predictions that all happen.

Jessica has decisions to make as she loathes her job in insurance even with a promotion coming her way when she would prefer to use her Art History degree. However, it is the two men recently in her life who represents her work vs. her vocation whom she must choose from. Guillermo the lazy flaky Latino artist and a prim and proper white businessman Jonathan are attracted to her. Jessica turns to her advisor Hortensia for her job decision and for which man she should select.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEMA is an entertaining lighthearted Latina chick lit romp focusing on the metamorphosis of a young woman lacking confidence in herself so she depends on amulets, horoscopes, and psychic reading, etc. to boost her esteem. Readers will root for her while enjoying the amusing antics of Madame Hortensia, the psychic whose objective is contact with dead presidents on official government paper yet has a consciousness. Fans will enjoy this fascinating coming of age tale with a psychic dependence twist starring a passionate believer who relies on undependable forecasts to make her decisions.

Harriet Klausner

The Bishop’s Daughter-Tiffany L. Warren

December 31, 2008

The Bishop’s Daughter

Tiffany L. Warren

Grand Central, Jan 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780446195140

After his mom praised Bishop Kumal Prentiss with increasing fervor, freelance journalist Darrin Bainbridge moves to Atlanta with plans to investigate the celebrity minister. He figures he will not have to dig far to find dirt for a story and in turn obtain accolades from his father.

However, Darrin quickly realizes that God works in mysterious ways when Darrin visits Bishop Prentiss’ Freedom of Life Church to join the congregation as an undercover reporter. There he meets THE BISHOP’S DAUGHTER Emoni Prentiss. As he falls in love, Darrin uncovers the scandal that would make him famous and get his father’s praise, but he must weigh that with being the righteous person his beloved pious Emoni warrants.

THE BISHOP’S DAUGHTER is a terrific inspirational romance starring two fully developed wonderful lead characters. This fine duet is nicely supported by solid family members and the congregation. The story line is loaded with scripture as “Honor thy father” becomes increasingly difficult to achieve but the biblical references enhance the tale of love between the cynical undercover reporter and the title character. Their rotating perspective to include his blog augment a delightful realistic romance as doubting Darrin falls in love with the enemy’s daughter.

Harriet Klausner

Scandal-Carolyn Jewel

December 31, 2008

Scandal

Carolyn Jewel

Berkley, Feb 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425225516

Gwilym, the Earl of Banallt, relishes his reputation as a rake of the first order. However, he has one clink in his roguish armor; he loves Sophie Evans, wife of a womanizing friend and sister to another. In other words, she is untouchable even if her marriage was scandalously over the anvil elopement.

In 1814 Sophie has become a widow, so Gwilym decides to pursue the intelligent independent Sophie. However, she rejects his advances, not wanting a tryst or two with any man as love failed her once already. Gwilym knows what he wants is not a short affair, but a lifetime with his beloved while Sophie hides her deepest love for him; he no longer fancies his reputation as he must overcome his bad reputations She illogically fears if she submits to her desire he will use her like Evans did and go on to his next conquest while she knows if he stays she will lose her independence.

Sophie makes this character driven Regency romance into a great story as she has learned her lesson re falling in love with rakes as unlike the myths that they make the most faithful dedicated spouses, they remain rogues charming to others while ignoring their wives. Thus Gwilym knows he has an extremely difficult task ahead to prove to his beloved he is just like the legends of reformed rakes and not like her late spouse. Fans will relish this jewel of a historical.

Harriet Klausner

Made to be Broken-Kelley Armstrong

December 31, 2008

Made to be Broken

Kelley Armstrong

Bantam, Mar 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780553588385

 

To finance her Red Oak Lodge in the Kawathas, two hours from Toronto, she is a part time hit-woman contracted mostly by the Tomassinis mob. Nadia Stafford’s partner on her current job is a Federal Agent, but Quinn sees that justice is done by playing vigilante. Nadia’s mentor in how to be a successful hit-woman is Jack, a mercenary for hire with few scruples.

 

When Nadia returns to her prime business she has a fight with her employee. Seventeen year old Sammi Ernst lives with her little daughter Destiny who accompanies her on her job. Sammi pays more attention to her child than her work so a frustrated Nadia explains her duties to the teen mother. When the mother and daughter vanish, Nadia searches for a grave. With Jack’s help she finds it, but Destiny remains missing. Since the cops believe Sammi ran away, they refuse to look for her. Nadia, Jack, and Quinn discover there are other crimes when a disenfranchised teenage mom with a baby disappears. Mindful of an incident in her past, Nadia wants to take out those who caused Sammi’s death and find the still missing infant. Jack and Quinn assist her on her avenging quest for justice.

 

Known for her Otherworld tales, Kelly Armstrong also writes exciting refreshing and enthralling sagas that are every bit as great as her urban fantasy sagas. The protagonist believes everyone she kills deserves their fate so when the Canadian legal system fails she becomes an avenging Lady Justice if the case is personal. However, she is not someone to role model after as she also kills in cold blood as a means of making money. Though not admirable, she is refreshing and fascinating as are her two cronies. MADE TO BE BROKEN is filled with twists and blind cul de sacs, but it is the lead trio especially the lodge owner who turn this into an entertaining thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

Mortal Touch-Inanna Arthen

December 31, 2008

Mortal Touch

Inanna Arthen

By Light Unseen Media, Jul 2007, $16.95

http://bylightunseenmedia.com

ISBN: 9780979302800

 

In 2004 in Sheridan, Massachusetts psychic Regan Calloway owns a quaint shop while hiding from her gift. Several years ago she helped law enforcement catch killers by using her ability to see things by touching objects held by a murderer or a victim, but the cost to her mind was too great for her to cope with.

 

Her friend Dr. Hiram Clauson, who worked with her when she lent a hand to the cops several years ago, asks for her help as there has been a serial attacker who leaves victims with scars on their necks, a major loss of blood, and no memory of an assault. Regan reluctantly agrees to assist with the investigation. As she begins to touch objects to try to fathom what the victims can no longer remember, writer Jonathan Vaughn moves into Sheridan; Regan’s best friend Veronica Standish seems attractedto the reclusive author. When Regan meets Jonathan, her touch of him reveals to her his connection to the unsolved mysterious assaults and much more as if he has lived for centuries and something illogical about blood. As the psychic and the vampire become attracted to one another, Veronica begins to lose her mind turning dangerous and suicidal.

 

This is an intriguing paranormal investigative thriller with a touch of romance that grips the audience from the moment Dr. Clausen asks a reluctant Regan to use her psychic skills on the strange case he works. Thus the readers meet the heroine, immediately after the call her flighty best friend and soon afterward the vampire-author. The small New England town is a Frisbee toss away from Rhode Island, making a perfect atmosphere for this engaging supernatural mystery in which Regan suspects the man she is attracted to is the neck biter. Although the font size is tough on the eyes, Inanna Arthen provides an interesting Vampires of New England tale as the lead pair must make difficult even perilous choices that endanger them, loved ones, and semi-innocent.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Long Fall-Walter Mosley

December 30, 2008

The Long Fall

Walter Mosley

Riverhead, Mar 2009, $25.95

ISBN: 9781594488580

 

Albany, New York private investigator Ambrose Thurman hires Manhattan based sleuth Leonid McGill to find four black men who were close friends to two decades ago.  He gives Leonid their nicknames as that is all his client gave him.  Leonid has turned over a new leaf about being morally correct when it comes to working cases to include no jobs for the mob and being straight with his wife Katrina to include no more affairs with Aura and raise his three children; two not sired by him.

 

He learns James “Big Jim” Wright is dead; Frankie “Jumper” Tork is in the Tombs awaiting sentencing for B&E; Theodore “Toolie” Nelson is doing 86 years; and Roger “B-Brain” Brown is a successful financier.  He reports the information to Ambrose, but soon afterward Jumper and B-Brain are killed; Toolie is stabbed; followed by Ambrose whose real name is Norman Fell also being murdered.  As NYPD Detective Kitteridge tries to nail him, Leonid works on finding who the client was as he feels he owes B-Brain for exposing him; he also works a case involving a mobster seeking an accountant hiding in Coney Island and his teenage son Twill planning to kill an abusive pedophile father.

 

This is an intriguing private investigative Noir starring a man who in his fifties has found scruples that makes his job that much more difficult.  The prime investigation is action-packed as Leonid realizes he indirectly caused the murders and almost dies too; yet feels he must uncover the truth even flying in a prop to Albany to do so.  The other two sleuthing subplots, some musings by the hero into his unprincipled past and his family drama are well handled and enable the audience to better understand Leonid’s motives.  Although the king of the city seems over the Empire State Building, fans will enjoy this Walter Mosley’s fine opening Manhattan (and Albany) murder mystery.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Funeral Planner Goes to the White House-Lynn Isenberg

December 30, 2008

The Funeral Planner Goes to the White House

Lynn Isenberg

Mira, Feb 2009, $13.99

ISBN: 9780778327356

Much of the country regardless of political affiliation is in shock with the unexpected sudden death of the charismatic First Lady Haley Stone; not only was she widely loved and respected, this was a first for a FLOTUS. Even before Americans can move on, the Secretary of State Jonathan Darcy having worked diligently and successfully forged a Middle East accord died from a broken heart three months after his terminally ill fifty-two years old wife did.

Funeral planner Madison Banks of Lights Out Enterprises had tastefully handled Mrs. Stone’s memorial and that of the Darcy couple; earning the appreciation of the nation and the widower President Andrew Stone. He appoints Maddy on the hastily created House Bereavement Specialists Committee, a temporary group to help the nation obtain closure and move on in the grief cycle. Called “The Grief Czar”, Maddy struggles with her assignment especially being there for Andrew as his “grief buddy”. She sets up a special government sponsored event, My Grief Day while her boyfriend Victor Winston works on the legacy of his former boss, Darcy, on implementing the peace accord in the Middle East.

There are too many “stand up comic” type jokes and chick lit asides that subtract from what otherwise is a superb satirical political thriller. The story line is fast-paced as Madison is drafted by POTUS to help the country work its way through the stages of grief. Fans will agree that Maddy has come a long way since her first foray into the Adam Smith world as THE FUNERAL PLANNER.

Harriet Klausner