Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Heart and the Fist/ Eric Greitens / 309 pages

   This is an adult memoir about Eric Greitens experiences leading to becoming a Navy Seal.  I started this book to see how it would be different from the YA memoir.  The book was word for word the same except for extra chapters about deployment to the Philippines, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  Even though he added details about some missions, there was nothing in there about actual fighting, death, attacks, or secret operations.  Instead, he describes a "crossing the equator celebration" that navy men do. I am sure that he must have been in some dangerouse situations where he had to fire his gun or blow something up like he does in his commercial.  He still amazingly turns up with a connection to events like chasing the terrorists that had abducted Graciela Burnham earlier in the Philippines.  Another was that he finished his Seal training right after 9/11.
    His non-profit "The Mission Continues" is about getting veterans to volunteer somewhere after they come home so that they can re-connect and feel useful in society and move on with life.  The web site shows that there are groups in quite a few states.

The Warrior's Heart / Eric Greitens / 264 pages

     Missouri governor candidate Eric Greitens has written a YA memoir of how he became a Navy Seal.  Most of the book is the story of how he got there.
He started to travel as a volunteer after his freshman year in college.  He goes to China only a few years after Tiananmen square protest.  He actually gets pulled in by the police for talking with students about rights of free speech.
The next year, he goes to Bosnia (actually Croatia) to refugee camps as an observer.  He goes to Africa and Bolivia. Luckily, he can play soccer.  It's a universal game for kids.
     He goes to Cambridge on a Rhodes Scholarship and finally joins the Seals.
He really details the training.  He stops the narrative before deployment and then talks about his non-profit, the Mission Continues.
     If I heard about this in a novel, I would think that it was over the top like Forrest Gump showing up at all those historic moments.  However, it appears that Greitens really did do the things that he talks about. 

The Water Knife / Paolo Bacigalupi / 371 pages

This book takes place in an American future where the water is running out in the southwest.  California, Nevada, and Arizona are competing for the remaining water rights.  Cities that don't get the water will die.  People are desperately trying to reach any destination with water.  States patrol their borders to keep migrants out.  In the mix are companies, like vultures, preying on the weak and trying to get the water by any means.

Angel is a water knife.  He does whatever is necessary to secure water for his boss Catherine Case of Nevada.  She has created a habitat for the rich with unlimited water and climate control.  She needs to keep control of the water as do other competing groups.

This is a violent, dystopian book with lots of action.  The main characters are flawed (especially Angel), but you root for them anyway.  There is a lot of bad language in Spanish.  I truly hope that we never have a world like this, but I'm afraid it is already here in some other countries. 

Silver Swan / Benjamin Black 288 p.

The events of Christine Falls are two years in the past.  Quirke has moved on.  His daughter sees him for lunch on Tuesdays where they share a bottle of wine carefully portioned over the course of the meal as Quirke no longer the heavy drinker.  His curiosity draws him in when a old acquaintance, Billy Hunt, contacts him about his young wife's apparent suicide.  Things are revealed about Diedre that perhaps would be better off left uncovered and lead to danger to the ones he loves.  Her story along with the silver-tongued con man Leslie White are told in episodes as the characters become intertwined with Quirke and his family.  Quirke's family becomes an integral part of the story in the slow paced, mystery set in post-war Dublin.
Silver Swan / Benjamin Black 288 p.   Quirke mysteries no. 2            

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Log Cabin Quilts / Rita Weiss Linda Causee 160 p.

The log cabin quilt is expanded and amended to create unique variations.  Using the basic block, designs feature the Chicago skyline, New York remembered and gone fishin'.  Stars and curves may be added. Nine patch incorporated into the center square.  Interesting is the turning the center square on point and surrounding it with trapezoidal strips.
Log Cabin Quilts / Rita Weiss Linda Causee 160 p.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Girl's Guide to Moving On/Debbie Macomber/339 pages

Nichole and her mother-in-law, Leanne, divorce their husbands who have been having affairs during their marriages.  This book tells of how they support each other as they "move on" with their lives.  The story is very predictable, the plot was shallow, and the characters seem very stereotypical - and not in a good way.  It wasn't one of Debbie Macomber's better works.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

First Star I See Tonight (Chicago Stars) / Susan Elizabeth Phillips 384 p.

Let me start by stating, "This is my favorite author!"  Susan Elizabeth Phillips's books are so fun to read!    First Star I See Tonight is the eighth book in the Chicago Stars Series.  Cooper Grant is a recently retired quarterback from the Chicago Stars football team who owns a night club and is looking to expand his investments.  Piper Dove is the daughter of the late Duke Dove who owned a detective agency.  Piper's father never wanted her in the business, but Piper has the bought the detective agency from her step-mother.  Her first big job is investigating Cooper Grant.  It's not long before Piper's cover is blow and now she's working for Cooper himself.  Sarcastic comments are being exchanged and the sparks are flying!

Wake: Dream Catcher #1/Lisa McMann/224 pages

I will definitely read the rest of this series. Wake follows a teenager who can see into other's dreams. Anytime she is in a room where someone is dreaming, she sees what they see. She is learning to help people control what they dream and rid themselves of terrible nightmares.

Port Chicago 50/Steve Sheinkin/208 pages

This is an interesting true story of African Americans in the Navy during World War II. After an explosion due to unsafe work conditions at Port Chicago, many men refused to go back to work. Fifty of these men, all African American, were charged with mutiny. This story tells of their fight and what changes were made in the U.S. military due to their courage.

Friday, August 26, 2016

After Midnight / Teresa Medeiros 370 p.

Caroline, the eldest of the three Cabot sisters, uses up the last of their savings to go to London to discover Viscount Trevelyan intentions towards her sister Vivienne.  Portia, another sister, astonishes Vivienne with her conviction that the viscount is a vampire.  After all, he is never seen in daylight and his castle is curtained at all times; and, he goes on nightly excursions to who knows where.  Caroline doesn't believe in vampires and puts off Portia's conviction.  When she meets the handsome viscount, she is attracted to him.  The more she learns about him the more she is drawn to him and the more Portia's belief seems to be true.

Do read this book before reading The Vampire Who Loved Me.

After Midnight / Teresa Medeiros 370 p.

Once Upon a Tower / Eloisa James 487 p.

Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross values order.  He organizes his trips to London via a longer but better road.  He stables horses at every stop; and, he knows precisely when that stop will be.  He gets daily reports from everyone of his properties (a footman makes a daily journey).  It is logical to have each bedroom in his castle a different color so that everyone knows who is getting the blue room, the red room, etc. When he plans a visit with the Earl of Gilchrist to consult about the banking issues there is a ball and as he is somewhat in need of a wife and heir that he comes to the ball.  There he meets the earl's daughter and is so taken by her that he very shortly proposes marriage.  Little did he know that the true Edie would not appear until she was recovered from her fever.  All he knew is that he was so smitten that he had the marriage ceremony moved up.  What a surprise when they had their first falling out!  He takes himself to a distant estate leaving her alone with loads of self-doubt.  She, too, takes herself away to a nearby tower.  And he doesn't get admittance, that is until he finds himself crawling up the stones to her window much like Rapunzel.  

Once Upon a Tower / Eloisa James 487 p.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer / Rick Riordan / 497 p.

Having read the Percy Jackson series (and loving it!) I was happy to see this new series from Riordan: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard.  This one features Magnus Chase (cousin to Annabeth Chase in the Percy Jackson series) and Norse mythology.  Magnus has been homeless for two years at the start of the book.  While pointing out how the homeless are often treated (or ignored), he makes it clear that he doesn't feel sorry for himself and no one else should either.  He's sarcastic and irreverent and the kind of person I'd love to hang out with.  As always in Riordan's books, this 16-year-old is a bit surprised to find out he is descended from a God.  Readers of YA Fantasy will love this book.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mr. Mercedes/Stephen King/437/Suspense Fiction

Loved it!  Loved it!  Loved it!  Thank you Mr. King, once again, for giving me characters that I will  remember for a long time.

William Hodges, a retired detective, or as our villain refers to him, "the ret det", is considering ending his life.  He lives alone, watching TV, and stares a great deal at his service revolver.  Until...he receives a letter from a past case that haunts him to this day..the Mercedes Killer.

The Mercedes Killer, otherwise known as Brady Hartfield, plowed through a group of people waiting in line for a job fair with a stolen Mercedes Benz.  Nine people were killed and many were injured.  Hodges and his partner were lead on the case, and unable to close it out.

When Bill receives the letter, he keeps it a secret from his old partner and goes back to the one loose thread that never made any sense: the owner of the stolen car, and the means by which Mr. Mercedes managed to gain access.  As Hodges'  investigation progresses, so the madness that drives Brady Hartfield grows.  Hartfield's original plan to help the "ret det" to permanently retire is replaced by something bolder and more public, something that would make his trick the Mercedes look positively innocent in comparison.

Overlook / Michael Connelly 224 p.

Newly recruited from cold cases to LAPD's Homicide Special Squad, Harry Bosch with his new partner draws a murder case that looks like an execution-style shooting, Dr. Stanley Kent has two bullet holes in the back of his head.  Dr. Kent does not seem to have ties to gangsters.  He was a medical physicist with access to radioactive materials used to treat cancer patients all across Los Angeles.  What begins as homicide investigation turns into a potential terrorist attack.  In come the FBI including Bosch's former lover Rachel Walling.  Bosch follows his leads relentlessly in this fast paced murder mystery.  He irritates LAPD brass along the way.  And, is irritated by the FBI shutting him out of his own murder investigation.

For those readers who enjoy the Bosch fast-paced mysteries, they may enjoy the Jeffery Deaver's Lincoln Rhyme books.

Overlook / Michael Connelly 224 p.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sweet Tomorrows/Debbie Macomber/337 pgs.

This is the concluding entry in Macomber's "Rose Harbor" series. The Rose Harbor Inn is owned and operated by the young widow, Jo Marie Rose. During her ownership, troubled people have come and gone at the Inn, and have found peace in their lives. In Sweet Tomorrows, the story revolves around Jo Marie's relationship with Mark Taylor--and its resolution. In addition, there is a budding love story between one of Jo Marie's boarders, Emily Gaffney, and Cedar Cove resident, reclusive Nick Schwartz. All-in-all, it's a satisfying ending to this five-book series. Recommended!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Between a Book and a Hard Place/ Denise Swanson/ 288 pages

Between a Book and a Hard Place by Denise Swanson is the next installment of the Deveraux's Dime Store series.  Deveraux Sinclare is attending a city council meeting when her long absent Mother shows up married to a rich Texan who is willing to support the town library for multiple years in exchange for using archived resources.  The Texan is found dead by Dev's mother and father and Dev must step in and solve the crime before her parents become murder suspects.  All the while Dev is balancing her relationships with Noah and Jake.  Dev and friends solve both the murder and a century old treasure hunt.

Dark Matter: A Novel/ Blake Crouch/ 340 pages

The book opens in Chicago.  Jason Dessen and his wife Daniela and son Charlie are finishing dinner.  Jason's college friend had won a prestigious award and Daniela urges Jason to stop in at his celebration party.  An apparent mugging turns Jason's life upside down.  He is the genius who has the prestigious award.  Daniela is not his wife and Charlie was never born.  Jason finds himself questioning what is real and is he really who he thinks he is.  As things become clear, Jason enters a search for his reality.  Danger builds the closer he gets to home.  This story of alternate realities will appeal to readers who like action adventure as well as sifi.  The author's use of quantum mechanics and Schrodinger's Cat should not put off the less science oriented reader.  The end concludes this book, but it also leaves the door open for more adventures.

Flyover Nation: You Can't Run a Country You've Never Been To / Dana Loesch / 256 pgs

In her second book, St. Louis-raised TV and radio political pundit Dana Loesch, explains how politicians on the coasts have no clue how to run a country they've never really visited or understood. Flyover Nation consists of all of those states in the middle of the country, including Missouri. The values and lifestyles of these Flyover States are completely different than the states on the coasts. Mrs. Loesch takes aim not at just one political party, but at both Democrats and Republicans, accusing both of betraying the nation's citizens.

Dana Loesch, raised both in the southern area of Missouri and in St. Louis, married and started a family in St. Louis before starting the Tea Party in the St. Louis area. After starting on 97.1 FM with a radio show, Glenn Beck hired her for his Blaze network and she moved her family down to Dallas, where she now lives and works. Her radio show has about 80 affiliates across the country.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child / J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne / 328 pgs

Harry Potter, 19 years after the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, is an overworked employee of the Ministry
of Magic and father to James, Albus, and Lily. When Albus goes off to Hogwarts, however, and befriends the son of Draco Malfoy, the rift between father and son grows too wide with devastating consequences.

I think the most surprising thing about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was how quickly I finished it. Obviously, a play is only dialogue and a few stage directions, taking up far less space on a page than a novel would, but it still surprised me that I read the book in only a little over two hours. For that reason, I'm quite pleased I resisted buying the book.

I'm so mixed about what to rate this. It just wasn't quite enough for me. Obviously, like I said, it's a play, and perhaps seeing it live would make it enjoy it more than I did. I don't want to spoil the major plot points, so it's hard to say more. Some have said that it reads more like an average-written fan fiction, and I would heartily agree with that assessment. I'm not even sure if I accept the story as canon.

Hide Away/Iris Johansen/322 pgs.

This follows the last Eve Duncan series entry, Shadow Play, which left Eve in the hospital in Carmel, California. In the newest series entry, Eve and Joe are trying to protect young Cara Delaney from ruthless assassins. Cara is being used as a pawn in a battle between two deadly families. Eve and Joe's adoptive daughter, Jane MacGuire enters the picture, and the mystery/suspense takes the action to Scotland. It's one of Johansen's better entries in the series, and leaves the reader anxiously awaiting the next installment in the series! Highly recommended.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Gerald's Game/ Stephen King/ 445 pages

Awesome story.  Don't let the jacket cover fool you into thinking this is a 50 shades kind of story.  It's not.  This is a story of a woman's ingenuity and courage.  How would you survive being abandoned in a remote location and handcuffed to a bed? Told how only Stephen King can tell it.

Orphan Train / Christina Baker Kline / 278 pgs

In 1927, Niamh Power and her family leaves Ireland to make it in New York City, but when a fire claims the lives of Niamh's family, she is left an orphan. Two years later, at the age of 9, she is placed on an orphan train and shipped to Minnesota in hopes of finding a family to take her in and make her one of their own. What happens instead is far more sad and typical of what really happened for hundreds of orphans who were shipped to the middle of the country between the 1850s and 1920s.

The story goes back and forth between Niamh's life and 17 year old Molly, a foster child, who has also had a rough time of it, being shuffled around from family to family. Molly and 91 year old, Vivian Daly, form a bond over similarities in their life while Vivian reminisces about a time when her name was quite different than it is today.

I really enjoyed "Orphan Train" and was really surprised when I finished it. I felt like I wanted the story to keep going, to learn more about Vivian's life, but I understand that the story was supposed to focus more on Vivian's childhood and less on her middle-aged and elderly years. I was annoyed with Molly for most of the book, but enjoyed how it all came together in the end. Definitely recommend for history buffs, and those who like to research historical events after reading a good book.

Christine Falls / Benjamin Black 352 p.

Dublin pathologist, Garret Quirke, returns to the morgue late at night after an office party to encounter his brother-in-law obstetrician physician in his office writing up a report about his patient who died of a pulmonary embolism after delivery.  Too many small things about this patient, Christine Falls, irrevocably triggers Quirke's interest.  The more he learns, the more he wants to find out more and the more he learns the broader the conspiracy that seems to involve babies that vanish.   Black develops complex family relationships that are revealed as he delves deeper.  Falls caretaker during her pregnancy is murder and Quirke is brutally attacked.  And still he keeps looking for answers in this first of the Quirke mysteries.

Christine Falls / Benjamin Black 352 p.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Art of Taming a Rake / Nicole Jordan 399 p.

Venetia Stratham enter's a bordello to accost a rake who is courting her sister.  Venetia doesn't want her sister to become the social outcast that she is because of the actions of Quinn Wilde, Earl of Traherne.  As he escorts her to her carriage, after a somewhat sensuous meeting, he is assault by ruffians intent on taking his life.  Venetia enters the fray swinging her reticule.  Once again Venetia finds her name bandied about by the blue stocking crowd, causing Quinn to propose and enter into a hasty marriage.  There is some suspense as Quinn, aided by his family, seek the master behind the attempted murders, yes there are several attempts.  Of course, all ends happily in this very very steamy romance.  Considerable amount of the plot is devoted to the love affair between Venetia and Quinn.

This is the fourth in Jordan's Legendary Lovers series.
Art of Taming a Rake / Nicole Jordan 399 p.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Missing, Presumed/Susie Steiner/350 pgs.

Edith Hind is a Cambridge graduate student, and has gone missing. Her live-in boyfriend, Will Carter, comes home to an unlocked door, a broken glass, and some blood. He notifies Sir Ian Hind, Edith's father, and also surgeon to the Royal Family, who notifies the police.  Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw finds herself on the case, along with her boss,  DI Harrriet Harper, and DC Davy Walker. The novel is told in chapters reflecting various characters' viewpoints. There are twists and turns, and in addition, the reader gets an insight into the personal aspects of the characters' lives. It has a satisfying conclusion, and I highly recommend it!

The Magician's Lie/Greer Macallister/342 pgs.

It is 1905 in Waterloo, Iowa. The Amazing Arden (Ada Bates) has finished the show with her signature "Halved Man" illusion. Little does she know that later that evening a man will show up dead in the theatre she performed in, and that she is the number one suspect. Young policeman, Virgil Holt, comes across the fleeing illusionist, and takes her into custody. Being a small town, the police station is a one room affair--so Virgil and Ada are its only occupants. Ada has just the night to convince Virgil that she is innocent, and should be given her freedom. It's an engrossing tale, but the ending is somewhat disappointing. That being said, I would recommend it for its suspense, and unusual subject matter.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Poets' Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family / John Lithgow / 280 pgs

I'm not much of a poetry lover. There is a sparse few poets that I like (Shakespeare's sonnets, Robert Burns, Robert Frost, and Edgar Allan Poe) but I am so glad I read this book. It introduced me to names I had only heard before, but did not really know. Mr. Lithgow provides a great introduction and short biography on each poet he profiles. All forms of poetry was represented in this book, including the nonsense poetry I forgot that I loved (Lewis Carroll, limericks), the pretty romantic poetry of Byron and Shelley, and some of the more modern stuff that I could do without.

I was surprised to find that Mr. Lithgow was such a poetry lover and I'm thankful he did such a good job picking out poetry examples from such a wide range of poets. I feel a hundred times smarter just for reading it. Most Highly Recommended , especially to those, like me, who could stand to be educated on poetry.

Make Today Count / John C. Maxwell / 160 pgs

It's been a long time since I've cracked open a John Maxwell book. I remember really liking the Leadership Devotional I did back 10 years ago when I was a Christian bookstore manager. However, I found parts of the book sort of boring, especially the "Ask yourself these three questions. 1. Have you already decided to do this certain thing? 2. Why did you decide to do this certain thing? 3. What ways can you make sure to make this certain thing happen?" On the other hand, there were parts of the book that did help me become more introspective on bad habits, or lazy habits, I've fallen into. I have started journaling and making sure to make time for devotions and prayer. I did make the mistake of listening to this on audio, rather than reading the book, and I think this is a sort of book that would have been far better to read than listen. The narrator's voice was a bit of a snore.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hillary:the Other Woman/ Dolly Kyle/ 304 pages

Hillary: the Other Woman is the first nonfiction book written by Dolly Kyle.  The bulk of the book is written in a conversation-like style and deals with Dolly's relationship with Bill Clinton.  There is little content supported by outside corroboration.  There is very little information about Hillary, and what is presented is subjective in nature regarding choice of clothing and hairstyle.  Dolly is quick to point out Bill's failures, but does not see herself and a partner in crime.  The book does present insight into the attitudes of Arkansas politics and if Dolly is to believed, those closely reflect the Chicago 'machine' of the senior Daley years.  Perhaps Hillary fit in better in Little Rock than what Dolly would believe.  There is probably some truth to what is written, but little substance to back up the claims.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Poet / Michael Connelly 434 p.

Jack McEvoy, crime reporter for the "Denver Post", just cannot believe that his twin brother, head homicide detective for the Denver PD, "ate" his gun while depressed over a horrific murder investigation that had stopped for lack of leads. His research into police suicides hits gold and gives the cops good leads as he finds the path of a serial killer. His inside knowledge gets him a berth with the FBI unit that is headed up by Bob Backus, son of the legendary FBI man who wrote the book on murder investigations. The Poet as he is dubbed leaves pithy Edgar Allen Poe as suicide notes. Jack falls for FBI team member Rachel Walling. Connelly intricately moves the plot along all the while concealing expertly the final twist.

Continued by The Narrows.
Poet / Michael Connelly 434 p.

End of Watch/ Stephen King/ 429 pages

Well, Stephen King has nailed it! The 3rd book in the Detective Hodges series was just as fantastic as the first two. Not sure if this is supernatural or science fiction, but it crosses both lines, I'd say.  Suspenseful--maybe even more so since some of the characters you've really gotten to know over the past 3 books. It starts out with a double suicide--one victim being a survivor of the tragedy surrounding events in the first book.  So, it really comes full circle.  Anyway, loved this series.  Don't want to put out spoilers...