Archive for August, 2012

The Other Half of Me-Morgan McCarthy

August 31, 2012

The Other Half of Me

Morgan McCarthy

Free Press, Sep 4 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9781451668230

 

In 1988 the Anthony siblings (seven year old Jonathan and his six years old sister Theo) are best friends as they live in Evendon Manor in Wales.  Both know their mom Alicia and their nanny Miss Black dislike and for the most part ignore them.  Still they have each other as they explore the estate especially the secret garden with its mysterious pool.

 

Brother and sister know their family has many secrets, but this pair cares about one in particular; what happened to their father.  When their alcoholic mom collapses, their maternal grandmother Eve arrives.  Eve insists their father died years ago, but Theo thinks she lies to them.  Over the years Jonathan worries about his sibling.  Theo seems to behave increasingly mentally ephemeral as slowly she is losing her grip on reality. 

 

The Other Half of Me is a dark character driven family drama as the past haunts the present in vivid rustic Wales.  Effortlessly rotating between 1988 and 2008, the storyline grips the reader who needs to know what happened to each member of the extended Anthony family. 

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Space Between Us-Megan Hart

August 31, 2012

 The Space Between Us

Megan Hart

Mira, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313083

 

Tesla Martin enjoys serving lattes to her loyal regulars at Morningstar Mocha.  Though she likes all her customers, her favorite is charismatic Meredith.  The woman can charm a story from anyone; for instance Carlos the writer admitted to jerking off to old people porn.

 

Meredith turns her magnetism on Tesla.  Like all the caffeine addicts at Morningstar Mocha, Tesla relates her wild child history, who along with her brother Cap, is the offspring of commune living swingers.  Magical Meredith and Tesla begin seeing the town together.  Eventually Meredith persuades Tesla to sleep with her husband Charlie while she watches as a Peeping Thomasine.  Tesla is attracted to both of the married couple; while Charlie wants both women; and bored Meredith remains a thrill seeking watcher who lives precariously through the lovers.

 

The Space Between Us is a deep but strange character study that looks closely at the wants and desires of each person in a threesome.  Childhood flashbacks enable readers to understand Tesla’s imprint while Charlie’s need for two women is also understandable.  However, it is the enigmatic charismatic Meredith who makes the contemporary fresh through her obsessive need for an emotional high from the stories of others.  “There are eight million stories in the Naked City…” (Naked City) and Meredith needs to hear every one of them even as she leaves her narrators emotionally nuked.

 

Harriet Klausner

In Between Days- Andrew Porter

August 31, 2012

In Between Days

Andrew Porter

Knopf, Sep 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307273512

 

On Houston, Elson the highly regarded architect and Cadence are divorced after three decades of marriage.  Their two college aged children Richard and Chloe are not dealing well with their parents’ breakup. 

 

Cadence calls Elson to inform him that their daughter is flying home tonight as Stratham College has expelled her for an act of violence involving her boyfriend Raja.  Elson’s ex-wife also tells him that Richard, a graduate student at Rice, will pick up his sister as Chloe does not want to see her dad until tomorrow.  With his family falling apart, his lover Lorna increasingly distant, and his career collapsing; Elson turns to alcohol to numb the pain of failure.

 

This is an intriguing family drama in which a monumental event (the end of a long marriage) has lasting impact on the couple and their children.  Although reading more like four interrelated novellas, the Harding quartet are fully developed characters.  Elson filled with thoughts of loser acts increasingly irresponsible; Cadence filled with self-pity and regret for marrying him struggles to find an identity besides ex and mom; Richard living at home feels torn between poet and supporting himself; and Chloe stunned by her parents’ divorce makes bad relational choices that hurt her and her family.  Fans will appreciate this deep look at the impact on people when a key identifier (family role) becomes extinct.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Courageous-Diana Palmer

August 30, 2012

Courageous

Diana Palmer

Harlequin HQN, Jun 26 2012, $24.95

ISBN-13: 9780373776726

 

To reward former Special Forces Major Winslow Grange for leading the rescue of his kidnapped wife Gracie, billionaire Jason Pendleton gave him a ranch near Comanche Wells, Texas.  Winslow hires Ed Larson as his foreman and the man’s daughter Peg as his housekeeper.   However, Winslow spends a lot of his time on causes he believes in, but when home he avoids his attraction to Peg who loves him.

 

His current mission is to help General Emilio Machado regain leadership of Barrera, a tiny nation in the Amazon rainforest.  While he is in South America, Peg fears for his life.  Photojournalist Clarisse Covington arrives at the ranch and tells her that she just saw Grange and he wants to see her.  With Clarisse paying for het flight, Peg travels with the reporter to Barrera where her actions place the women in peril and jeopardize the liberation operation.

 

The two women are stereotypical of the good and bad girl respectively; while Grange is a unique hero who adheres to his values though it would have helped to better understand his motives with whom and what influenced him in his past.  The prime romance is slow to develop while ironically the storyline is at its best when Clarisse and deadly mercenary Roarke are the lead.  Diehard fans of Diana Palmer’s Jacobsville tales (see Renegade) will enjoy this entry.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Dead Ends-Sandra Balzo

August 30, 2012

Dead Ends

Sandra Balzo

Severn, Sep 1 2012, $28.95

ISBN 9780727881748

 

Wisconsin police reporter AnnaLise Griggs takes a month long leave of absence to help her ailing mom Daisy in their hometown Sutherton, North Carolina.  Noting her mother’s failing memory; AnnaLise suggests the town create a website with a blog. 

 

Urban County, Wisconsin D.A. Benjamin Rosewood, his wife Tanja and their teenage daughter Suzanne arrive in Sutherton.  Having had a tryst with Rosewood, an abashed AnnaLise stays out of his way as much as feasible in the small town.  Tanja dies in a car crash when she drives her Porsche off Sutherton Mountain.  AnnaLise and Daisy came close to following her over the edge.  Police chief Chuck Greystone and his team learn someone shot Tanja with AnnaLise a major suspect.  A second homicide and a failed attempt to kill Daisy follow.

 

The second Main Street Murders (see Running on Empty) is a great regional rural whodunit.  The action never slows down as a killer stalks victims whose only seemingly connection is AnnaLise.  Dead Ends is a terrific mystery.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Edge of Nowhere-Elizabeth George

August 30, 2012

The Edge of Nowhere

Elizabeth George

Viking Juvenile, Sep 4 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780670012961

 

Her raging psychopathic stepfather pursues fourteen-year-old Becca who needs to silence her since he learned of her uncanny ability to hear people’s thoughts that he is a vicious criminal.  Becca takes the ferry from Seattle to Whidbey Island with no resources or support.  Kindhearted recovering alcoholic Debbie takes Becca into her home as they connect on a psychic plane.

 Becca makes friends on the island while attending high school as she and Ugandan expatriate Derric become buddies as well as she and Seth the musician.  When he takes a nasty fall and ends up in a coma, his adopted father an undersheriff and other law enforcement officials investigate who pushed the teen off a hiking trail ensues.

 

With Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley (see Believing the Lie) taking a respite, Elizabeth George writes her first young adult thriller.  The teen paranormal mystery is entertaining due to the likable and believable heroine.  Although the engaging storyline feels too long especially the overly-extended Derric subplot, readers will enjoy the mystery of Whidbey Island.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Miracle Inspector-Helen Smith

August 30, 2012

The Miracle Inspector

Helen Smith

Tyger Books, Sep 4 2012, $12.99

www.tygerbooks.co.uk

ISBN: 9780956517050

 

In London, Lucas and Angela are a twentyish couple in love.  However, while he works for the government Ministry the Inspector of Miracles (he has not found any so far); she due to her gender must stay at home at all times with few exceptions.  Angela is discontented with the ennui of her existence, but knows the all-male government rules makers will kill or incarcerate female rule-breakers.  The one exception that matters to women is the allowance to visit other family females, which Angela and others claim a wide pool of relatives.

 

Lucas’ godfather Jesmond gives Angela a journal written before the government crackdown.  She cherishes the love letters and romantic poetry and pleads with her spouse for them to relocate to the freer Cornwell.  He considers her request, but Lucas is busy investigating whether little Christina is his first miracle.  Increasingly desperate, Angela plans to travel top Cornwell with or without her spouse.

 

The Miracle Inspector is a timely dark horror satire that uses hyperbole as men protect women from their weaker nature.  The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as she wants more than just his loving protection and he is clueless as to why she wants more.  Though British in writing style, Helen Smith’s jocular dystopian seems apropos to America where small government advocates legislate laws to control a woman’s body. 

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Breed-Chase Novak

August 30, 2012

Breed

Chase Novak

Mulholland Books/Little Brown, Sep 4 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316198561

 

In Manhattan affluent Alex and Leslie Twisden want children, but so far failed to have any.  Leslie suggests adoption, but Alex prefers their DNA.  Researching what is available, Alex learns of the success of fertility specialist Dr. Kis in Slovenia.  Though reluctant, Leslie travels to the European nation with her spouse.  Using animal extractions on the Americans, Dr. Kis manages a miracle when Leslie births twins, Adam and Alice though the two parents suffer horrible side effects.

 

A decade later, the mutant siblings, frightened by the behavior of their cannibalistic parents, run away from home.  Alice and Adam seek Dr. Kis to learn what happened to their parents.  Alex and Leslie follow their children.

 

Over the top of Mount Triglav and with a much darker and gorier nod to the movie Splice and the Wells’ novel Dr. Moreau, Breed is an exciting thriller.  Though Alex’s obsession is never understood, fans who enjoy a fast-paced horror tale will relish this entry; while those with squeamish demeanors will either need to pass or diet.

 

Harriet Klausner

In Between Days-Andrew Porter

August 30, 2012

In Between Days

Andrew Porter

Knopf, Sep 4 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307273512

 

On Houston, Elson the highly regarded architect and Cadence are divorced after three decades of marriage.  Their two college aged children Richard and Chloe are not dealing well with their parents’ breakup. 

 

Cadence calls Elson to inform him that their daughter is flying home tonight as Stratham College has expelled her for an act of violence involving her boyfriend Raja.  Elson’s ex-wife also tells him that Richard, a graduate student at Rice, will pick up his sister as Chloe does not want to see her dad until tomorrow.  With his family falling apart, his lover Lorna increasingly distant, and his career collapsing; Elson turns to alcohol to numb the pain of failure.

 

This is an intriguing family drama in which a monumental event (the end of a long marriage) has lasting impact on the couple and their children.  Although reading more like four interrelated novellas, the Harding quartet are fully developed characters.  Elson filled with thoughts of loser acts increasingly irresponsible; Cadence filled with self-pity and regret for marrying him struggles to find an identity besides ex and mom; Richard living at home feels torn between poet and supporting himself; and Chloe stunned by her parents’ divorce makes bad relational choices that hurt her and her family.  Fans will appreciate this deep look at the impact on people when a key identifier (family role) becomes extinct.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Space Between Us-Megan Hart

August 30, 2012

The Space Between Us

Megan Hart

Mira, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780778313083

 

Tesla Martin enjoys serving lattes to her loyal regulars at Morningstar Mocha.  Though she likes all her customers, her favorite is charismatic Meredith.  The woman can charm a story from anyone; for instance Carlos the writer admitted to jerking off to old people porn.

 

Meredith turns her magnetism on Tesla.  Like all the caffeine addicts at Morningstar Mocha, Tesla relates her wild child history, who along with her brother Cap, is the offspring of commune living swingers.  Magical Meredith and Tesla begin seeing the town together.  Eventually Meredith persuades Tesla to sleep with her husband Charlie while she watches as a Peeping Thomasine.  Tesla is attracted to both of the married couple; while Charlie wants both women; and bored Meredith remains a thrill seeking watcher who lives precariously through the lovers.

 

The Space Between Us is a deep but strange character study that looks closely at the wants and desires of each person in a threesome.  Childhood flashbacks enable readers to understand Tesla’s imprint while Charlie’s need for two women is also understandable.  However, it is the enigmatic charismatic Meredith who makes the contemporary fresh through her obsessive need for an emotional high from the stories of others.  “There are eight million stories in the Naked City…” (Naked City) and Meredith needs to hear every one of them even as she leaves her narrators emotionally nuked.

 

Harriet Klausner