Archive for June, 2011

Happy Birthday-Danielle Steel

June 30, 2011

Happy Birthday

Danielle Steel

Delacorte, Jul 19 2011, $28.00

ISBN: 9780385340304

 

Valerie Wyatt is the leader of home decoration.  She has a popular television show and several bestselling books.  Everyone in the media wants her as a guest or interviewee. 

 

Her daughter April works as diligently as her mom.  April is a master chef and owner of a popular trendy Manhattan restaurant.  She is pregnant carrying Mike Steinman’s child, but is unsure whether to tell her lover or not.  Besides the successful pair working extremely hard, they share in common the encroachment of an undesirable milestone birthday.

 

Jack Adams is a former NFL quarterback but retired a dozen years ago to become a diligent successful TV sports analyst.  Women still want him, but as he turns fifty he feels his age after a night like none before leaves him in pain as if blindsided by a middle linebacker.  He and Valerie meet and are attracted to one another.

 

Happy Birthday is an entertaining contemporary romance that fans of Danielle Steele will enjoy due to the two couples who garner reader empathy especially aging boomers.  Although the story line is thin, readers will relish the birthday presents as two pairs of relationships are forged, but surviving in tact for the next milestone birthday remains to be seen as each person’s idiosyncrasies places some doubts on this occurring.

 

Harriet Klausner

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The Traitor’s Emblem-Juan Gomez-Jurado

June 30, 2011

The Traitor’s Emblem

Juan Gomez-Jurado

Atria, Jul 19 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9781439198780

 

In 1919 Munich, fifteen years old Alys Tannenbaum is the daughter of a wealthy Jewish businessman.  Her parents keep a close watch over her.  At a birthday party for insufferable aristocratic Jurgen von Schroeder, Alys meets Paul Reiner, the poor cousin of the guest of honor; Paul is working as a waiter at the gala.  Repugnant Jurgen makes Alys dance with him, but when she asks him to let her go he refuses. Paul, who is Aly’s age, rescues her. 

 

Raging at the pauper’s affront, Jurgen and several punks assault Paul.  This brawl encourages Paul, who already wanted to know what happened to his naval captain father whose death is allegedly tied to Jurgen’s family, to seek the truth.  As Jurgen joins the Nazis, he remains steadfast with his obsession to break his relative while Paul remains obsessed with learning what happened to his dad even at the cost of losing his beloved Alys.

 

This is an enjoyable between the World Wars in Germany romantic thriller though the story line follows a seemingly inevitable path of destructions.  The cousins loathe each other so much that nothing else matters; their perspective over the Brandenburg Gate obsessive compulsive disorder will have readers wondering about nature over nurture.  Although the story line is very thin and obvious, fans will enjoy the epic look at an expanded family who during a time of relative peace in Europe are at war with each other.

 

Harriet Klausner

Inspector Singh Investigates: Bali Conspiracy Most Foul-Shamini Flint

June 30, 2011

Inspector Singh Investigates: Bali Conspiracy Most Foul

Shamini Flint

Minotaur, Jul 19 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780312596989

 

A bomb explodes in Bali.  Singapore police supervisors see this as an opportunity to get Inspector Singh a Sikh out of their hair as they did with A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder case; though he has a strong record of solving cases.  This time they ship him to Bali to assist the locals with their antiterrorism efforts.

 

Though he wonders if it is because he is a Sikh, Singh is confused by his being assigned to antiterrorism as his expertise is homicide.  Richard Crouch’s corpse with a bullet is found amongst the ruins.  Singh and Australian Detective Bronwyn Taylor, also being stonewalled by her superiors, team up on the case in which he brings his homicide investigation skills and she her Indonesian language and cultural awareness expertise.

 

Although conceptually similar to Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, as the detective is “exiled” to another country, the freshness comes with the new set of cultural clashes.  The protagonist, the Australian sidekick cop, the locals and the expatriates bring diverse backgrounds that Shamini Flint explores without fingering any as inferior.  The whodunit is entertaining with a stunning climax and coda as Singh takes Bali just like he did Malaysia.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Herring In The Library-L. C. Tyler

June 30, 2011

The Herring In The Library

L. C. Tyler

Felony & Mayhem, Jun 16 2011, $14.95

www.felonyandmayhem.com

ISBN: 9781934609767

 

In Findon, West Sussex, England third level list mystery writer (under two aliases) and romance author under another name) Ethelred Tressider runs into university pal Sir Rob “Shagger” Muntham.  After a brief chat, Shagger invites Ethelred and his agent Elsie Thirkettle to a dinner party at Muntham Court.  They agree to attend the gala. 

 

As soon as they arrive, Elise makes it clear to her client that they are to sit near the exit so they can gracefully leave.  From the moment they step inside Shagger’s young wife tense Annabelle outrageously flirts with Ethelred in front of everyone.  However before they can flee into the night, someone strangles Shagger inside the locked library.  Annabelle demands Ethelred investigate.  Being chivalrous, he agrees but Elsie refuses to leave alone with the not so grieving widow and the snooty crowd he investigates.

 

The latest ET to the second power amateur sleuth (see The Herring Seller’s Apprentice and Ten Little Herrings) is a wonderful locked-room mystery that has a throwback feel to the Agatha Christie country house whodunits (see Endless Night, And Then There Was None and Peril at End House) though in a contemporary time.  The fun is the interplay between the perfect English gentleman and his in your face agent who insists if he worked diligently and applied his talent he could attain a level two.  Readers will enjoy the antics of this pair has they investigate the murder of Sir Shagger.

 

Harriet Klausner

My Lunatic Life-Sharon Sala

June 30, 2011

My Lunatic Life

Sharon Sala

Bell Bridge, Jul 25 2011

ISBN: 9781461087717

 

In their latest move, high school senior Tara Luna and her Uncle Pat move to Stillwater, Oklahoma.  They are accompanied as always by two ghosts (Millicent and Henry) that she sees and talks with but her only living relative cannot.   Although she would prefer settling in one place Tara loves her eccentric uncle who took her in before her first birthday when her parents died in an accident.

 

At school Tara is called the “Lunatic” by everyone but Flynn O’Mara who calls her “Moon Girl”.  They start dating.  While in a classroom, Tara’s psychic skills erupt as a boy is dying in the bathroom.  She leads the teachers and coach to the spot where Corey Palmer suffers a seizure and dies.  When Corey’s spirit asks her if he is dead, she says yes, but tells him to return to his body if he desires, which he does.  His GF Nikki makes Lunatic one of her BFFs.  Someone abducts head cheerleader Bethany Fanning who was one of the trio that treated Tara with disdain.  While a ghost buried in the backyard of their new home pleads with her to find her body and her killer, Tara and Flynn try to rescue Bethany.

 

OMG, Book one of the Lunatic Life young adult series is a fun teenage Ghost Whisper (and more psychic skills) amateur sleuth.  Tara is a wonderful lead character who holds the entertaining story line together.  The cast is solid (that is figuratively as there are two prime ghosts and other hauntings) although the cheerleaders trio and the jock are too stereotypical.  My Lunatic Life is a delightful tale that combines the heroine’s adjustment as the newbie at the high school with her investigating paranormal scenarios.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Light of Epertase-Douglas R. Brown

June 30, 2011

The Light of Epertase

Douglas R. Brown

Rhemalda, Aug 1 2011, $15.99

www.rhemalda.com

ISBN: 9781936850105

 

In Matthew 1012, Epertase warrior Rasi is filled with regret and sorrow for the atrocities he committed under the guise of war though he tries to rationalize he was only following orders of his commander Prince Elijah.  Epertase desperately conceals from his pregnant wife his despair and guilt he feels from his combat experience.

 

Rasi joins a celebration honoring Prince Elijah as the Light of Epertase shines on him.  When he feels he can properly leave the coronation, Rasi heads home.  He intercedes in an attempted rape but the hooligans kill the women.  Authorities blame Rasi for the homicide and cut out his tongue and dump him into a pit to fight the rashta; shockingly he kills the beast.  However the tentacles from the rashta discharge into his back.  Over the next seven years he hides in the shadows until five years ago a woman began traveling with him. 

 

The Teks invade Epertase and Lithia to take the oil they need to run their machines.  Their superior firepower leads to many massacres.  Although few know it in beleaguered Epertase, Rasi is the only hope but that is contingent on Princess Alina replacing her corrupt father King Elijah on the throne.  Others prefer sacrificing the royal daughter to the Light of Epertase.

 

This action-packed military fantasy is a strong tale that hooks the audience from the onset and never loosens that grip until the final confrontation.  The Epertase world is established on solid footing in the first few chapters; once the foundation is anchored, the story line turns into an extremely fast-paced read.  Though the plot goes down the path readers will expect Douglas R. Brown provides an entertaining gripping thriller that is difficult to put down.

 

Harriet Klausner

Water to Burn-Katherine Kerr

June 30, 2011

Water to Burn

Katherine Kerr

Daw, Aug 2 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756406912

 

In San Francisco psychic Nola O’Grady works for a top secret government agency so secret the CIA never heard of them.  She runs the Apocalypse squad whose mission is to support Harmony in the combat with Chaos across the multi-earths.  Her staff consists of two stringers and a bodyguard spying for the Israelis.  Having been successful in her last endeavor against the Chaos Masters (see License to Ensorcell), Nola and her bodyguard Israeli and Interpol agent Ari Nathan understand that was just one battle in a great war that crosses dimensions.

 

She is proven right starting with a strange wave coming out of nowhere that drowns a tweener child.  The Prophet Reb Ezekiel, who ran the Kibbutz where Nola grew up, has been seen stalking the city; the problem with the sightings is Reb Zeke is supposed to be dead.  On top of this on the personal front someone seems to be blackmailing Nola’s brother-in-law. To Nola none of these events connect until she finds the core is the enigmatic Peacock Angel cult.

 

With a nod to DC comics Infinite Earths (before the “Crisis” and subsequent reinventions) Water to Burn is a terrific urban science fiction with fantasy and police procedural elements.  The story line is loaded with action as Nola and Ari investigate strange phenomena in a world where other worlds collide and cultural anthology is the most important socials science (wonder what personality type some of these others would turn up under Myers-Briggs).  Nola is a great protagonist holding the story line focused.  However, the key is the Katherine Kerr universe that readers will enjoy exploring as long as the heroine and her bodyguard provide protection.

 

Harriet Klausner

Burnt Mountain-Anne Rivers Siddons

June 29, 2011

Burnt Mountain

Anne Rivers Siddons

Grand Central, Jul 19 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780446527897

 

In Atlanta, seventeen year old Thayer Wentworth is pregnant, but prenatal tests show that her unborn is severely malformed.  Though she is heartbroken, she chooses an abortion.  Thayer goes on to college where she meets and is attracted to extroverted storyteller Dr. Aengus O’Neill.  They marry.

 

When Thayer’s affluent grandmother dies, she inherits her incredible Atlanta home not far from Burnt Mountain’s Camp Edgewood where her father died in a car accident.  She and Aengus take up residence in the luxurious mansion.   However, he begins to recall upsetting memories from his childhood in Ireland that disturbs Thayer who fears her husband is losing his mind.  At the same time she looks into has past at her mom and her first love Nick Abrams who broke her heart at Camp Sherwood Forest in North Carolina.

 

Burnt Mountain is an entertaining southern drama that fans of the author will enjoy.  Thayer is an intriguing individual facing relationship issues.  The story line is at its best when the focus is entirely on the heroine’s inner turmoil although too many subplots are left dangling.  Still she has decisions to make even if happenchance assists her on the most critical.  Although not Anne Rivers Siddons’s best work, readers will still appreciate touring the North Carolina Mountains with Thayer as their guide.

 

Harriet Klausner

Redeeming Love-Francine Rivers

June 29, 2011

Redeeming Love

Francine Rivers

Multnomah, May 9 2005, $14.99

ISBN: 9781590525135

 

In 1835 eight year old Sarah became an orphan when mama died; she was sold into sexual slavery to an affluent citizen the Big Man who preferred little girls.  He changed her name to Angel, but by the time she could escape she only know how to use her body to make a living.

 

In 1850 the prostitute arrives in California where she joins the stable of the infamous Duchess.  Each night she is auctioned to the highest bidder as the most popular Cyprian.  Michael Hosea the farmer heeds God’s words to redeem the whore.  He spends his money to talk to Angel in hopes of persuading her to give up hooking. At first he fails on his mission, but Angel begins to slowly find self esteem and basks in God’s unconditional love that has her believing she can be more than a hooker.

 

This is reprint of a groundbreaking inspirational historical romance that uses real issues of pedophile, other depravities and prostitution to tell the heroine’s story of redemption.  Angel makes the tale work as she is sold into prostitution but at the first opportunity becomes her own woman so she sets the foundation for her later belief in God and the love of Hosea.  Although her repetitive running to and from Hosea makes sense for this doubting Thomasina soiled dove, these reiterations slow down the pace.  Still, based on the Prophet Hosea’s relationship with Gomer the prostitute who God had him marry and show unconditional love for her even if she sleeps with other men, Redeeming Love remains an entertaining tale of the healing power of the Lord encouraging love.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Killed at the Whim of a Hat-Colin Cotterill

June 29, 2011

Killed at the Whim of a Hat

Colin Cotterill

Minotaur, Jul 19 2011, $24.99

ISBN: 9780312564537

 

Thirtyish Jimm Juree feels euphoric that the Chiang Mai Daily Mail is about to make her the second female senior crime reporter in Thailand.  However, her mother destroys her professional dreams when she sells the family home and business without warning.  The matriarch moves the extended family which includes Jimm’s retired cop Granddad, her body builder younger brother and her transgendered beauty pageant queen former older brother from the north to the south to Chumphon Province none of them has heard of.  The journalist fears her mom might be going senile.

 

All is not lost when two skeletons of hippies are found buried inside an interred Volkswagen van.  Soon after the farmer Mel Phumihan found the gruesome remains, someone brutally kills a Buddhist abbot with a monk and a nun the only viable suspects.  Granddad mentors Jimm on investigations as she learns to dig beyond the surface layer of dirt.

 

Though he switches generations and locale from Laotian coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun (one could argue Granddad is the equivalent to Paiboun) to thirtyish Juree in Thailand, Colin Cotterill provides an engaging investigative tale that shines an intelligent spotlight on the country.  Jimm and Granddad are a wonderful team as he teaches her how to conduct a proper inquiry.  Readers will enjoy Mr. Cotterill’s exciting investigation that is a family affair.

 

Harriet Klausner