Hi All!Here is the most recent batch of books that I have read. There is a lot in this batch because I have been reading, reading, reading AND this is the tail end of the cruise where I had lots of time to read.Since I thought I had Blogger's picture organization mastered and was totally WRONG, these are in the reverse order of reading. The most recently finished is first and the first read is last. Oh well!Here we go!First up is The Winner by David Baldacci. This is the third book by Baldacci that I have read and - so far - they have all been good. I can't remember where I got this book but chances are good that I picked it up at the school book sale.The plot of this book revolves around a dirt poor, country girl, LuAnn, who is approached to take a "job" which is better paying than her current job as a waitress at the truck stop. However, this "job" really isn't a job. It is a scheme to win the lottery. The man who is the mastermind behind the scheme is a master of disguise and a genius. He can "fix" the lottery. And does.Suddenly, LuAnn is in the middle of a lifestyle which she never dreamed of - jetting around Europe with her young daughter and "Uncle" Charlie with more money than she could ever imagine. Not only did she get out of her bad, dead-end situation but, she also escaped a possible murder charge.That's right! LuAnn is wanted in her home town for the murder of her live-in boyfriend and another man she didn't know. However, LuAnn didn't kill anyone - the mastermind just wants her to think she did so she will be more agreeable to his plan.Everything goes well until LuAnn, now known as Catherine Savage, decides to return to the United States and a reporter starts sniffing around the lottery story. Then, the mastermind will do almost anything to keep his lottery scheme a secret. And I mean anything.
This is an enthralling story even though, at times, I wanted to hide my head under a pillow to escape what would happen next. The suspense was that great! Baldacci is a masterful writer who adds delicious twists and turns and unexpected complications to the plot which only serve to heighten the suspense. I didn't want to put the book down but, at the same time, didn't want to know what happened next. What a dilemma!
Next is Dream Makers by Nora Roberts. This is really a compilation of the books Untamed and Less of a Stranger by Roberts. The first book, Untamed, follows Jo, a lion tamer in a traveling circus, as she meets the new owner of the circus and faces the possibility of him selling the circus where she has grown up. I won't tell you more but, I'll bet you can guess a part of the plot yourself!
The second book, Less of a Stranger, follows Megan, a sculptor who works with her Grandfather at the family amusement park, as she meets a handsome stranger who is determined to have both the amusement park and Megan for his own. Again - guess what happens next!
As you can probably tell, the plots are not that original. They follow the general romance storyline. However, Roberts does add her own, unique style to keep the stories fresher than you would expect. These are not books which will take you weeks to read but, they are a good, relaxing read for when you just want to "zone out."
Contrasting nicely with the romance of Nora Roberts is Worst Fears Realized by Stuart Woods. I picked up this book on the advice of my "favorite Aunt Donna." She has been telling me to read some Stuart Woods and so I searched and found a couple. This isn't my first Stuart Woods book but I am still acting on her suggestion.
This book is a Stone Barrington book. Stone is the main character - an ex-cop who is now a lawyer doing just enough work to be comfortable and to keep busy. However, he gets wrapped up in police business when a woman he met at a party is murdered while he goes out for Chinese food for the two of them.
This is followed by more murders - his faithful secretary is bludgeoned to death, a neighbor who he watches sweep in the nude is murdered in front of him. Stone is certain that the murders have something to do with him. He and a policeman friend begin investigating while trying to keep themselves and their loved ones from being the next target.
Let me tell you, Stuart Woods writes a good suspense novel. I enjoyed this book with all of its twists and turns. It wasn't quite as suspenseful as Baldacci's book but, it was still good enough to keep me from wanting to put it down. I can't wait to read some more of Wood's books.
Taking a break from the suspense genre, the next book is Some Kind of Miracle by Iris Rainer Dart. The two main characters, Dahlia and Sunny, are cousins who grew up bound together by the love of music. From the time they were little, they would sit around the Steinway Sunny's parents had originally bought for their son and create wonderful songs with Sunny's tunes and Dahlia's lyrics.
Fast forward to when Dahlia and Sunny are both adults. Dahlia is a struggle songwriter who is a massage therapist to make ends meet while Sunny is in a care facility for the mentally ill. Dahlia sees an opportunity to sell a song that the two had written years ago but is faced with the need to have Sunny's signature to sell it. Unfortunately, Sunny is in no shape to sign anything.
Dahlia's desire to sell songs leads to a life changing decision. She takes Sunny out of the facility to live at her house. Sunny's mental illness causes Dahlia to doubt both her sanity and her motives for taking care of her cousin. Through the course of their time together both cousins learn a lot about life, love, and each other.
This is a heart warming book which makes you both horrified at the conditions of people in mental illness facilities and cheered by the people who try to make a difference. I enjoyed the unusual plot of this book - it was something totally different from anything else I have read. It really makes you think about your own ideas and attitudes towards mentally ill people as you read. Definitely worth the time!
Broken by Martina Cole returns my reading to the mystery/suspense genre.
The content of this book can be a bit un-settling. It concerns the murder and exploitation of children. At times, I really had problems with the topic since I am someone who spent most of her life working with children. However, the main character, Kate Burrows, an investigator for the police, is so outraged by the situation that it made me feel like she shared my own thoughts and feelings.
Set in a small English town, this thriller leads the reader through the twists and turns of a criminal investigation while delving into the seedy underworld populated by mobsters and low lives. Throughout all of it, Kate holds onto her need to find the person or people responsible for the crimes being committed on children. She will stop at nothing to solve the case - even when being questioned herself for her association with her lover - a player in less than up-right endeavors.
This book was really, really good! In fact, it is so good that I have been looking for more books by Cole. I have so far only found one other book at Half-Price books but . . . I can't wait to read it. If you find this book in your stores - buy it! You will certainly enjoy it. Two thumbs up!
The Sapphire Sea by John B. Robinson is next. Advertised as "First-Rate," "Gripping," and "Startling," this book follows Lonny Cushman, an American in Madagascar chasing sapphires, as he discovers a legendary gem and then works to find his way home with both the gem and his life.
Okay - I didn't personally think that the book lived up to the hype. It was a rather slow start and even when it got to the "suspenseful" part of the book - it just didn't do that much for me. Compared to Stuarts and Baldacci this book was very, very mild.
I can't really recommend this book but - if you HAVE to have something to read and this is the only book around . . . it would do.Next is a book I purchased while in Kodiak, Alaska, A Cold, Dark Place to Die by G. William Yngve.You need to know that Hubby and I met the author personally and this is a signed copy. Yngve was at the same craft area that Jeff Barnhart, the salmon leather guy, was at. Since I am all about buying local - I jumped on this book. Yngve told us that Trenton Territino was interested in making a movie out of this book and, let me tell you, we were very skeptical.
Then I read the book. Now I think it might - just might - make a good movie.
The book is based in Alaska, of course, and deals with the apparently rampant drug trade. A private investigator, Danny, is called into service by a local task force to help stem the traffic of drugs into the area. In the process, Danny is trying to clear the name of a friend who is accused of murder.
The plot is interesting and has enough action that a movie would be plausible. While it took me a while to get into the book, by the end I found myself interested. At times, Yngve's writing seems like he is trying too hard. There is a plethora of adjectives and he never refers to any of the secondary characters as anything other than their full names. Yngve even manages to get several references to himself into the book!
I don't know if you will see this book on the best seller list (or the movie screen) any time soon but, all in all, it was worth the price. If you go to Kodiak, Alaska, pick up a copy and get it signed by the author. It is a neat souvenir and not too bad of a read.
Finally is Lake News by Barbara Delinsky.
Lily Blakes, a Boston lounge singer, is accused, falsely, of having an affair with a newly appointed Cardinal. This drives Lily out of her home and back to her childhood home of Lake Henry where she has a house left to her by her grandmother.
Hounded by the press and fired from her jobs - as a lounge singer and a music teacher at a local school - Lily retreats to Lake Henry to hide. Unfortunately, she is discovered by the local newspaperman, John.
While Lily and John warily circle each other trying to figure out what they will both do about the situation, Lily slowly begins reaching out to her old hometown again.
This book is very good. Not full of suspense (okay, there is a little!) or murder (ummm - none that I can remember!), it is the kind of book which makes you feel good inside. By the end of the book you are rooting for Lily and John, as unlikely as that seems.
If you are looking for a good read with less suspense, pick up this book. It is well worth it!
Okay - I am FINALLY finished with this batch of books! YEAH! Thanks for sticking with me through all of that. I just decided to get them done in one shot rather than dragging it out over two or three posts. Now I will have a chance to read some more without getting such a HUGE pile to tell you all about!
Voice Update: I got a massage from Susan yesterday- my voice is doing really well!