Thursday, June 23, 2016

From Bad to Wurst/ Maddy Hunter/ 289 pages

From Bad to Wurst is the 10th book in Maddy Hunter's 'Passport to Peril' series.  In the latest installment Emily and the gang are touring Bavaria with multiple oompah bands for the Sounds of Music Festival.  While making their way to the hotel, one of the tour member/musicians is killed in an explosion.  Emily's dad steps in to take the musicians place by playing her accordion.  Memory loss, miracle face creams, and more fill out the story as the group checks out the sights.  This is book is a lighthearted mystery that takes place in an interesting location.

What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) / Kat Zhang / 343 pgs

I listened to this book on audio, and I have to admit, it bored me to tears. Had I not been using this book in my #ReadHarder challenge, to read a first book in a series by a person of color, I would have dropped this like a rock before hitting the halfway point.

The book is about a teenage girl living in some sort of alternate reality of Earth in present day. In this world, the Americas (North and South America) are one big country. Not a whole lot about the rest of the world is known since some huge Hybrid Wars occurred a century before. Computers are very rare and it doesn't seem like there's an internet. Everyone is born with two souls, essentially two separate personalities with separate names within one body. Through the early years of childhood, the souls take turns controlling the body, until the recessive soul eventually dies out or fades away, leaving only one soul to control the body. However, some people end up being Hybrids, where no settling occurs, and both souls remain. Those people are usually taken away to God knows where. The book's main character is one such person (or persons), Addie and Eva. They are also taken away to a hospital where experiments are done to try to remove the recessive soul, Eva. It is Eva who narrates the entire book.

This is only the first book in a trilogy, but I've read the reviews of the 2nd and 3rd books, and I know that the author, Ms. Zhang, does a horrible job of explaining how things work. For instance, if there are two souls in a body, how does the persons figure out what to do career-wise? What if each soul falls in love with a different person? What is going on in the rest of the world? Supposedly the Americas are the only country that bans hybrids, and most of the rest of the world is made up of only hybrids. How does that work?

I have no plans of reading the rest of the series. I don't recommend this book to those who are looking for YA Dystopia/Science Fiction books.

Whiskey and Charlie / Annabel Smith / 336 pgs

I read this book because it is next month's book club book and I doubt I would have picked it up if not for that fact. However, I really enjoyed the book. I loved the set up of the chapters. There are 26 in all, for each letter of the alphabet, but not just the alphabet - the international phonetic alphabet. I learned that alphabet when I was a kid because I got my ham radio license at the age of 10. The phonetic alphabet starts with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India.....

Each of those words show up somewhere in that chapter, and it's that alphabet that ties the story of twin brothers, Whiskey (William) and Charlie. In the story, Whiskey is in a coma in present day, but the book goes back to the beginning to tell the story of Whiskey and Charlie, their relationship as brothers, from childhood to adulthood. Along the way, their relationship fractures and breaks. The reader is given reasons why. My only complaint is that although we are told that they were nearly inseparable as kids, the reader is not given a whole lot of a glimpse into their happy childhood. It seems that Charlie was jealous of his brother from nearly the very beginning.

Nevertheless, this book will speak volumes to anyone who has ever had a less than perfect relationship with a sibling, so I do recommend it highly.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Echo Park / Michael Connelly 416 p.

In this 12th Harry Bosch mystery, a killer accused of 2 murders plea bargains for life in prison and avoid the death penalty by confessing to multiple murders including one Bosch has been ruminating on for over 10 years.  He and Kiz Rider are brought in to interview the killer, when the prosecuting team agree for the killer to show where the body of Marie Gesto is buried.  There everything goes to awry and the killer escapes, police are murdered, and Bosch begins to suspect all is not what it seems with the escaped killer.  Bosch hooks up with FBI agent Rachel Walling (first seen in the Poet), to find the truth in this police procedural with multiple twists and intricate plots and political shenanigans. 

Echo Park / Michael Connelly 416 p.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I Let You Go/ Clare Mackintosh/ 369 pages

I Let You Go written by Clare Mackintosh introduces us to Jacob and his mother.  When Jacob is killed by a hit and run driver, his mother abandons her life.  Jenna flees leaving behind all but a small bag of her possessions.  At the same time, Bristol DI Stephens and his assistant Kate try to solve the hit and run.  In her new home, Jenna encounters Bethan and Patrick.  With their help she slowly begins to put her life back in order.  Just as things come together, Stephens and Kate solve the crime.  Now Jenna must once again deal with Jacob's death.  This book will appeal to the reader who enjoyed Gone Girl and the Girl on the Train in that it contains both physical and mental components.

Temptations of a Wallflower / Eva Leigh 370 p.

Handsome Jeremy Cleland's father gives him a mission at which he must be successful or lose his family's income.  Sending a clergyman to find the Lady of Dubious Quality, author of steamy sexy fiction, seems rather ironic but that is Jeremy's father.  Jeremy is drawn to Lady Sarah Frampton, society's "Watching Wallflower".   He enjoys her wit and intelligence--a change from the usual society debs.  She likes him because he stands up for her when her society friends play a rude trick on her.  Little does Jeremy know that his bride is the lady his father has charged him to find.  Will Sarah's secret bring about his and her downfall?  A very very steamy sexy novel with Lady Sarah's latest novel prefacing each chapter.

Temptations of a Wallflower / Eva Leigh 370 p.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Wilde Lake/Laura Lippman/352 pgs.

Luisa "Lu" Brant has been elected state's attorney for Howard County, Maryland. She has decided to prosecute a case in which a seemingly homeless man has been charged with the murder of a woman in her home. It's not a case to warrant making headlines, but Lu feels she has something to prove, especially since she will be going against her former boss--the man she beat in the election. However, all is not what it seems on the surface, and the reader is given a look into past events involving Lu and her family. It's an interesting book: the plot and story held my attention. That being said, I just didn't like any of the characters in the story, which makes it difficult for me to give a strong recommendation!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Girl from Krakow/ Alex Rosenberg/ 442 pages

The Girl from Krakow is the first novel written by Alex Rosenberg.  The story begins in the midst of World War II  in Poland.  It quickly back tracts to the life of Rita Feuerstahl just prior to the German invasion of Poland.  Rita is a Jewish university student in Krakow set on finding freedom through philosophy.  Before she can achieve that, she finds herself married to one man and in love with another.  As war comes to Poland, Rita finds herself under the control of the Soviets, evading the Germans and desperate to stay alive.  The book deals mainly with the daily hazards of living in an occupied country while trying to not be noticed.  Rita's journey from Karkow to Karpatyn, to Lvov, back to Krakow and finally into Germany itself traces the persecution of the Jews, first by the Soviets and then by the Germans.  Poland was in a bad way from either invader.  Along with the history, the novel also deals with the philosophy of communism, sexual identity and self preservation.  Over all it was  an interesting and thought provoking read.

Taking the Lead:Lessons From a Life in Motion/ Derek Hough/ 189 pages

Taking the Lead: Lessons From a Life in Motion is part biography, part life lessons, written by Derek Hough.  The book follows Derek from childhood in Utah, to ballroom dance competition in Europe, to his success on Dancing With the Stars.  This book is an easy read that skims brief segments of Hough's life.  At the end of each chapter the author shares the life lesson he learned from the events in that chapter.  This book does not deal with technical aspects of dance and as such would be interesting to almost anyone looking for a lesson in self improvement.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Before the Awakening / Greg Rucka / 216 pgs

After having finished The Force Awakens companion novel a couple of weeks ago, I got my hands on this nice little book. It is comprised of three short stories, each featuring a main character from the movie/book. Finn's story is of his time as a Stormtrooper cadet, his rise in the ranks, and his friendship with three other Stormtrooper cadets. You get a feel for when he begins to have conflicts between the orders of Captain Phasma and his conscience. In Rey's story, you discover how she became such a good pilot and her harsh life on Jakku. In Poe's story, you learn how he meets General Leia Organa and goes on pursuit for information that will lead to Luke Skywalker. I definitely recommend for anyone who wants to become more immersed in this new Star Wars universe. The stories keep the continuity of the movie/novel, which is super important to me. The stories are quick. I would definitely call this light reading, so it's a perfect book for the summer.

Luke Skywalker Can't Read and Other Geeky Truths / Ryan Britt / 224 pgs

This book of geeky essays talks about a myriad of different subjects from the apparent functional illiteracy of the Star Wars Universe, to the huge use of literature in the Star Trek Universe, to the sexual awakening from watching Barbarella. I will complain that the shortest essay was about my fan favorite, Doctor Who, with just a quick little talk about kicking depression while watching a Doctor Who marathon on Netflix (of course, now, one must have Amazon Prime to do that). I really enjoyed the book and hope the author comes out with a Part 2 once the new Star Wars trilogy is finished. 

***Beware*** This book is not for the gentle reader. There's quite a few F Bombs dropped and talk about sex, pornography, etc.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ordinary Grace/William Kent Krueger/307 pgs.

It's 1961 in New Bremen, Minnesota. Frank Drum is 13 years old, and doesn't yet know how life changing the summer will be for him and his community. The novel is told in Frank's voice, reflecting on events that happened about 30 years ago. The author paints a picture of a small town impacted by tragedy, and how it rises above it. It's a compelling read--highly recommended!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Rushed to the Altar / Jane Feather 450 p.

When no word comes from her brother after he is removed to London by his impoverished guardian/uncle/heir, Clarissa Astley goes to London.  While following her uncle through the seamier areas, she is caught by Jasper Sullivan, Earl of Blackwater who believes he has a prostitute on the prowl for his pocket contents.  He proposes as Clarissa fits his particular needs since his uncle will only include him in the will if he rescues a fallen woman and marrys her.  A steamy romance that introduces the Sullivan brothers.  The twists come as Jasper doesn't realize that Clarissa is the daughter of a prosperous merchant.

Book 1 of the Blackwater Brides
Rushed to the Altar / Jane Feather 450 p.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Good Earth / Pearl S. Buck / 357 pgs

I just finished "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck when I am using for the "Oprah's Book Club" challenge. I loved this book so much. In fact, it's one of my favorites so far this year. It's all about a young Chinese farmer, Wang Lung, who marries, O-Lan, a plain looking slave from the rich house of Hwang in the town near where he lives. O-Lan works hard and together they have children and make enough money that he can buy more land. As the years go by, there are famines and floods, but central to the story is Wang Lung's love for the earth. However, the story spans decades and as the farmer's fortune changes and he grows rich, he lets other things steal his attention away from the land he loves.
It's a beautiful story and I completely recommend it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Narrows / Michael Connelly 352 p.

Warning: Read this after reading the Poet.  Contains spoiler.

In this 10th Harry Bosch police procedural, Terry McCaleb's widow calls Harry in to investigate what she believes is his murder.  Strands from an earlier mystery, The Poet, are interwoven when FBI agent Rachel Walling, a protege of The Poet as was Terry McCaleb, is called back to investigate a serial murderer who left his calling card directed at her.  So begins a race to find The Poet before he strikes again.  As they join forces, it is clear that The Poet has had time to use all his skills to devise an intricate murder plan.

Narrows / Michael Connelly 352 p.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Armageddon Code / Billy Hallowell / 224 pgs

I really enjoyed this book so much. I have read a lot on end times prophecy over the years, to the point where I became oversaturated, and had to cut back, so it has been quite a few years since I've delved back in again. I'm so glad I did with Mr. Hallowell's book.

Unlike most books that concern the Tribulation, the Rapture, Revelation, Daniel, Ezekiel, et cetera, Mr. Hallowell's book is not one man's best educated guesses on the subject. Rather, Mr. Hallowell interviewed multiple Christian theologians and compared and contrasted their views. Except for a couple of short pages at the end of the book, Mr. Hallowell is careful not to reveal his own opinion on whether the Tribulation is going to be a real event, or it is only allegory, or whether there will be a Rapture; and, if so, when.

The Spindle Chair / Shellie Arnold / 300 pgs

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy of The Spindle Chair because I am a judging the book for the Maggie Awards***

I was surprised by this book because it is not what I would categorize as a romance, therefore I am unsure if it should have been included in the Georgia Romance Writers' Maggie Awards contest. The book was well-written and had a compelling story of a couple, Laurie and Pierce, who has to cope with a particularly hard miscarriage that almost took Laurie's life. Laurie becomes pregnant again, and her already distant husband, who is a pastor, becomes more distant as he deals with all the fear he has over the new pregnancy. Meanwhile, new memories of Pierce's life before he was adopted resurfaces, making an already tenuous relationship even more strained. So, the story is about some heavy marital issues, not so much about romance.

Nevertheless, it's a beautiful and hard story to read. I would recommend it with some tissues on hand.

The Friends We Keep/Susan Mallery/375 pgs.

Three friends--Gabby Schaefer, Hayley Batchelor, and Nicole Lord--all living in Mischief Bay, and each dealing with problems on the home front! Gabby has been looking forward to going back to work part time now that her twin daughters will be starting kindergarten. Unfortunately,  her stepdaughter, Makayla, throws a wrench into her plans. Hayley has wanted a baby of her own as long as she can remember, but some things just aren't meant to be--she's resistant to her husband's suggestion of adoption for a variety of reasons. Nicole has pretty well been raising her son, Tyler, by herself, for years. Her ex-husband has been less than stellar as a father, so Nicole has trust issues concerning men. The women's friendship ties the three "stories" together, resulting in a rather predictable ending. Recommended.

The Obsession/Nora Roberts/453 pgs.

Naomi Bowes, as a young girl, discovered her father's dark secret--which landed him in prison for life. Changing her last name to Carson, Naomi becomes, as an adult, a successful free lance photographer. After years of moving from place to place, Naomi falls in love with a rambling home in need of much repair in the town of Sunrise Cove. She begins to know the residents of Sunrise Cove--in particular, Xander Keaton. Naomi is beginning to settle in, and thinks that perhaps the past is behind her when females begin disappearing--ending up murdered. It's a fast read, and typical Nora Roberts. Recommended.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Code of Honor / Alan Gratz / 278 pages

Kamran is on the fast track to success.  He is a star on the high school football team; is Homecoming King while his girlfriend in queen; is popular and has many friends; has been nominated to West Point; and plans to attend after graduation.  His older brother, Darius, who also attended West Point, is an army ranger stationed in Afghanistan.  The night of the big dance, Kamran's world implodes.  His brother has appeared on an international news feed proclaiming himself a militant Muslim with Taliban ties and claims responsibility for a recent terrorist attack.  His defection bleeds onto the entire family.  Kamran refuses to believe his brother is capable of such duplicity.  Using codes and stories from their childhood and displaying true heroism, he accomplishes the seemingly impossible.

Love Lies Beneath / Ellen Hopkins / 305 pages

Tara is a player.  Once a widow and twice divorced, she has profited from each relationship and now lives in a mansion in San Francisco and enjoys fringe benefits at a local upscale gym.  She is no one to mess with.  Her early years in Idaho with a drunken, irresponsible, promiscuous mother has made her world wise.  A Tahoe ski accident lands her in the ER for a blown knee.  There she meets the attractive DR. Cavin Lattimore...and her life is forever changer...but is it for the better?  Ms. Hopkins has described the perils and pitfalls of love in narrative and poetry, emphasizing the importance of trust...and the impact of family.

"Having a clear understanding of the past is vital to a healthy future."

The Girl I Used To Be / April Henry / 229 pages

Olivia Reinhart used to Ariel Benson. She grew up believing her father killed her mother, stabbing her nineteen times, dropping her three year old self at Walmart, then disappearing forever.  She had been adopted after some years in foster care after her grandmother died - hence the name change, but that didn't work out.  At seventeen, she is emancipated, has her GED, and works at a grocery store.  When a police officer and chaplain show up at her Portland apartment and tell her that her father's jaw bone has recently been found in the same forest where her mother was murdered; that they believe that he, too, was murdered at the same time; and that the investigation is being reopened, her life is forever changed.  Determined to find her parents' killer, she returns to Medford.  What happens next is an edge-of-your-seat whodunit with multiple suspects, compassionate confidants, and a cast of odd characters.  Loved the cover and although it is catalogued YA, it would be appropriate for middle schoolers and loved by them.

Trial by Fury / J. A. Jance / 374 pages

Detective J. P. Beaumont leads the investigation into the death of a high school basketball coach.  The coach, a black man, had been lynched and tossed amid the garbage at a local grocery store.  Following protocol, Beaumont informs and interrogates the coach's very pregnant wife.  He follows two very interesting  and unusual clues...Girl Scout cookies and a cheerleader hit list... and uncovers the perpetrator.

Keeper's Reach / Carla Neggers / 313 pages

This is a Sharpe and Donovan novel and perhaps because I have not read any of the other books, I felt the characters to be a bit transparent.  With additional back story, I believe they would come to life more.  The story opens with an attack on an elderly gardener in the Cotswolds of England, then spirals and expands to include numerous FBI agents (two of whom are engaged), an ex-nun, a fledgling security company, vets, a reformed art thief, and, of course, the four Donovan brothers.

Bitter Season / Tami Hoag / 408 pages

Minneapolis detective Nikki Liska has transferred from homicide to the new cold case unit.  Theoretically, she won't have to work the long shifts required by active cases and she will more available to her young sons.  Her ex, also a police officer, is an intermittent, immature cog in the family wheel.  Nikki's first case is a twenty-five year old murder of a cop whose family and former detective do not want the case reopened.  Why not?  Concurrently, her old unit is working on the brutal murders of a university professor and his wife.  Facts uncovered by Nikki lead to a resolution of both cases in a nonstop, can't-turn-the-pages-fast-enough whodunit.

Shoot / Don't Shoot / J. A. Jance / 281 pages

Joanna Brady #3
Joanna Brady is the first female sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona.  She was elected after her husband, a deputy was killed in the line of duty and was running for the sheriff position.  Joanna decides to attend classes in law enforcement to aid her performance in her new position.  At the school, she encounters an impossible instructor, a fellow female officer, a serial murderer, and an incredible family surprise.

Rough Justice / Lisa Scottoline / 344 pages

Marta Richter, a high-powered attorney, has partnered with the law firm of Rosato and Associates to defend a millionaire businessman on trial for murder.  He claims a homeless man accosted him at a traffic light and cut him on the face in an attempted robbery.  Elliot Steere shoots him dead, claiming self defense.  Marta believes the jury will vote for acquittal, asserting Steere acted in self defense.  As the jury begins to deliberate, Steere admits to Marta that he deliberately killed the man.  He fires Marta as his attorney, but she is determined to prove his guilt.  A hit man is sent to eradicate this threat endangering the entire law firm as well as some members of the jury.  Great suspense, plenty of action, and a well scripted climax made this an exemplary Scottoline.

Murder on Wheels / Lynn Cahoon / 181 pages

Jill Gardner, owner of CBM (Coffee, Books, and More) in the small California coastal town of South Cove; Greg King, lead detective and main squeeze of Jill; Amy, executive assistant to the mayor and Jill's best friend; and Justin, Amy's vest surfing buddy and a history professor, meet Kacey Austin, Dustin Austin's wife, at a geocaching event.  Jill was determined to dislike the woman.  Austin had neglected to tell Jill's friend Sadie that he was married while he wooed her and stole her recipes to sell in the gluten-free dessert bus.  Kacey is found dead on the beach and the death is suspicious.  Did Austin, the owner of the local bike rental shop, kill her?  Although Jull is determined to stay out of the investigation, she is inexorably drawn in.  Water shortages and relationship issues flesh out this final...for now...until August, in the series.

Dressed to Kill / Lynn Cahoon / 200 pages

A Tourist Trap Mystery
Jill Gardner watched her boyfriend, Greg, South Cove, California's chief detective, stride out of Lille's Diner, wondering when she would see him again.  Dinner, if Kent (who was found dead during practice for a local murder mystery) had been called up naturally by Saint Peter's list, next month, if someone had moved him up on the list intentionally.  No matter what Greg said, when murder happened on his watch, Jill's life was always involved, even when she tried to stay out of it.  Greg's ex-wife, Sherry, has opened a new vintage clothing store in town and makes no secret about her desire to take Greg back.  Kent, a banker, was Sherry's two-timing boyfriend.  Did she kill him?  The cast of characters...and Jill's love of eating flesh out this clever whodunit.

"Money's no good sitting in a bank.  It needs to be spread around to make a difference in this world."

Hell Hole / Gina Damico / 350 pages

It all started with the theft of a cat - an ugly plastic, bejeweled, fake, atrocity,... and an affinity for dinosaurs.  Max Kilgore stole the cat from the shop where he works for his critically ill mom.  His affinity for dinosaurs prompted him to forego Friday night football games, etc. in favor of excavating on Ugly Hill, the site of a dinosaur bone discovery.  He would either dig or work in his secret dinosaur lab.  After he purloins the cat, as he is digging on Ugly Hill, the hole he is digging expands exponentially and allows a Satan to scape - one Burgundy Cluttermuck.  Burg demands a house with a hot tub. In exchange, he will vacate Max's basement where he foregoes pants, pigs out on junk food, and watches endless TV.  Max bargains to include his mom's health in the deal.  Max is aided in his devil dealing by a weird girl with an odd reputation, Lore Nedry, and his best friend - the girl next door, Audie.  This cautionary tale portrays the slippery slope of poor moral decisions.  Although Kirkus Review claimed the book was "hilarious...all the way through," I take issue with this.  A mother bedbound in need of a heart transplant and fourteen dead are definitely not hilarious.  There is a great deal of humor that would appeal to middle graders, but mature language and references definitely require a YA classification.

The Passenger / Lisa Lutz / 304 pages

"The best part of running full speed is not having time to look back."  Nora Jo Glass has been on the run ten years and circumstances have caused her to commit unspeakable acts.  "If you murder someone once, even with a tenuous argument for self-defense, you can blame it on chance, being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong name.  But the next time you kill someone, you have to start asking all the hard questions.  Is it really self-defense or lifestyle choice?  When you kill another human being in cold blood, you kill part of yourself."  Ten years on the run and she was finally the cold-blooded murderer they'd always said she was.  "In the tradition of Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, The Passenger's scorching pace, unforgettable heroine, and ingenious plot will keep you turning pages deep into the night toward a stunning conclusion that will quite simply blow you away."

"When you're not sure what the future holds, you choose to stay in the present."

Think Twice / Lisa Scottoline / 374 pages

This Rosato and Associates mystery features Bennie Rosato and her dastardly twin sister.  Bennie had come to Alice's rescue many times in the past.  Alice repays her by kidnapping her and burying her alive and impersonating her to transfer her considerable assets to offshore banking facilities.  Mary Dinunzio and Judy are drawn into the plot with Judy insisting that Bennie is just not herself.  Mary is granted partnership in the law firm - by Alice. Will that stand?  Mary and Bennie realize how important Anthony and GRady are in the grand scheme of things.

See How They Run / Ally Carter / 323 pages

This is part two in what must at least be a trilogy as the reader is left hanging at the end with problems unresolved and questions unanswered.  Grace Blakely witnessed her mother's murder three years ago.  She is plagued by nightmares and references that she might be crazy.  When she learned the truth of that fateful night, she felt worse, not better.  She has returned to the small country where her grandfather is US ambassador, where she spent her summers all during her childhood.  Her brother, Jamie, comes to visit from West Point with his friend Spence to check up on her.  When Spence is found dead after an altercation with the Russian ambassador's son, Alexie - Jamie's best friend, Alexie is, of course, the prime suspect.  Secrets abound in Adria.  Can Grace decode them in time?

Dead to Rights / J. A. Jance / 373 pages

Joanna Brady #4
Joanna Brady is still new to the job of sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona.  When she investigates a demonstration at a local vet's office she has no idea of the violence that will occur before the day is over.  The protester believes the Doc has escaped justice.  Years ago he ran over and killed the protester's wife while driving drunk.  His life was altered little by the light sentence, while the protester's life was ruined.  He is carrying signs to let the public know the vet is a convicted drunk driver.  When the vet is found dead inside his burning barn, the unconscious protester, also found in the barn, is, of course, the prime suspect.  Great suspense, clever plot twists, and Joanna's difficult relationships with her somewhat resentful co-workers make this a profitable read.

Conviction / Kelly Roy Gilbert / 342 pages

Wow!  I have never read a book more fraught with moral dilemma.  Young Braden is a sixteen year old pitcher with designs on a major league career.  His dad has a local radio talk show, is much admired and respected in the community, and has definite plans for Braden's future.  Braden's life is far from perfect.  His mother dropped him off as a baby so she could pursue a career as a dancer.  She was a one night stand and Braden's dad didn't even know she was pregnant.  His older brother, Trey, dropped out of school and left for New York where he owns and operates a restaurant.  He hasn't been home or talked to his dad since.  But things are about to get much worse.  Without warning, the best man Braden knows and the person who taught him right from wrong, is arrested at gunpoint on the street outside their home.  How Braden copes with the situation fate has dealt him is awe inspiring, thought-provoking, and encourages one to examine faith, our relationship with god, and our responsibility to others...and ourselves.

"A person's worth is measured by what he does."

"Faith always makes more sense when you look back on it later."

"Baseball's nothing if not proof of all the ways history matters to you."

All Fall Down / Ally Carter / 310 pages

An Embassy Row Novel
"Diplomatic relations are like an iceberg, about 90% of them exist beneath the surface, unseen by the world at large, but they are still there, and if you are not careful, they will sink you."  Grace Blakely is the granddaughter to the US ambassador to Adria, a country forgotten by time.  The embassy itself was built by a spice baron in 1772, became the US embassy after World War II, and was the only home her mother ever knew, and Grace's home every summer...until three years ago when her mother was killed.  Grace insists she was murdered and she saw the assassin, a scar-faced man.  Now she has seen the man again, but her grandfather insists he is not a murderer.  Grace follows him through underground tunnels and overhears his declaration that he will kill again.  Can Grace stop an assassination by an international hit man?  Although the ending is somewhat predictable and the happenings a bit unbelievable, this first book in the Embassy Row series is a tense page turner sure to please the YA audience.

"Eventually, everybody falls."

Friday, June 3, 2016

Closers / Michael Connelly 416 p.

Harry Bosch is back on the LAPD after a 2 year retirement working with his former partner Kiz Rider.  There has been a shake up at the top and there is a new police chief who is re-hiring former detectives.  Bosch and Rider are working on the cold case murder of a 16 year old daughter of a white mother and a black father.  There is DNA link to a lowlife and White Supremacists.  The investigation is in the details and that is what Bosch is best at.  A good police procedural that shows Connelly at the top of his form.

Closers / Michael Connelly 416 p.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Force Awakens / Alan Dean Foster / 260 pgs

If you haven't already seen the movie, I'll try not to give anything away. In the first Star Wars canon book/movie in 10 years, we learn that the Rebels now have a new dark sinister government organization to fight against. From the ashes of the Empire, the First Order has arisen. Luke Skywalker is missing, and a very large weapon that makes the Death Star look like a picnic is almost operational. New characters like Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren, and BB-8 are introduced, and old favorites like Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Leia are back.

I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed it. Besides doing a great job with the voices by the narrator, there were background noises and music which gave it a radio drama feel that I appreciated.