Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"When a Man Loves a Weapon" by Toni McGee Causey

"Living single in her trailer was great for a time. But now Bobbie Faye's officially engaged to, and has purchased a home with, the hottest FBI agent on the beat: Trevor Cormier. Even though she still has no idea what he really does on the job, Bobbie Faye has never been happier...until Trevor gets called away on an urgent assignment and leaves her in the care of bodyguard-slash-babysitter Riles. As it turns out, Bobbie Faye could use a little extra security. The man she helped put behind bars, the murderous Sean MacGreggor, has escaped from prison and is dead-set on revenge. With still no word from Trevor - who was only supposed to be gone for three days - Bobbie Faye finds herself reluctantly turning to her detective ex-boyfriend Cam for help. He's willing to do whatever it takes to protect Bobbie long as Trevor stays out of the picture. For good."

Yep, the one-woman disaster known as Bobbie Faye Sumrall is back, and the third time is a charm. Well, not for those around her, and certainly not for the state of Louisiana, but for readers, most definitely. It's the usual antics from BFS - explosions, misunderstandings, cussing, and, thanks to her good friend and employer Ce Ce, voodoo. Her family makes an appearance, too, including her Aunt V'rai, the one who has the visions of Bobbie Faye's doom. And yes, there are the two men in her life: her hotter-than-hot fiance, Trevor, and her still hot but ex-boyfriend, Cam. The tension between those two guys is ever-present, as they accuse each other of putting Bobbie Faye in danger, etc.

Trevor's disappearance puts the whole story into motion, but really, it's a story about revenge. Sean MacGreggor wants revenge against Trevor, and he's going to use Bobbie Faye to get it. He's also a bit smitten with out hapless wonder, but still going to go after her since she's what Trevor loves most. More interestingly, Sean is using another man to build some bombs, a man who is also seeking revenge. But this man has a very good reason - his wife was killed in a "one-person accident" not long after she threatened to blow the whistle on a company rampant with safety violations. This man has been grieving for several years, and he's not only looking for revenge on the company, he wants everyone to remember his wife (her friends don't talk to him much anymore, and his own family rarely asks about how he's doing, either). He's got a very grand plan, one that will guarantee his wife will never be forgotten; he knows he'll be caught, since he left little fingerprints and clues all along the way. That's OK, though, as he doesn't plan on being alive when it's all over. This is what really kept me interested in this story, this subplot. And when the reveal is made as to who exactly this man is - WOW! I was caught totally off guard. Great writing on that front.

As for the rest of the book, it's the usual fare from TMC. She's sort of got the Evanovich thing going, especially this time around with Riles, the baby-sitter. He and Bobbie Faye constantly go at each other, which is alternately cute and annoying. I think my biggest problem with TCM's books are that they are a bit too long, and definitely too heavy on the italics to indicate everything from sarcasm to personal thoughts. Feels a bit too much, you know? Overall, I did probably like this one as much as the other two. If there's a fourth book, I'll probably read it, too. But I don't know - this feels like it's wrapped up pretty well. Sure there's the very slight chance that Cam has given up on getting his ex back, but I think Bobbie Faye's mind is very much made up, a done deal. And that - well, that I liked very much!
PS - if you're buying these books online, BE CAREFUL! The publisher or someone took the first two titles, which were originally released as trade paperbacks (those are the bigger, more "book"-like soft cover books) and re-released them as mass-market paperbacks (those are the ones that fit in your hand, or a purse!) UNDER DIFFERENT TITLES. It can be confusing, so read all the print very carefully, OK?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Rescue Ink: How Ten Guys Saved Countless Dogs and Cats..." by Rescue Ink and Denise Flaim

I got this book for hubby dearest who has watched the show "Rescue Ink" on TV. He's talked about it quite a bit, so getting the book was a no-brainer. What was interesting was how much he talked about the book, too, so much that I decided I would read it myself.

This is a great book if you're an animal lover, and a great book if you're not - it's going to tell you how to treat your animals right. The guys are basically a bunch of softies when it comes to dogs, especially pit bulls, which several of them have as personal pets. But they also rescue cats, pigs, turtles, horses, etc; if someone is mistreating an animal or can no longer care for it in the way it should be cared for, they'll step in and take over.

I thought the set-up was perfect, too; each chapter is devoted to one of the main guys that make up the group Rescue Ink. There's the oldest member, Batso, who certainly doesn't look his age (I won't tell you how old he is, but I bet you'll be surprised, too). There's the two "tough guys", Joe and Big Ant, who look like they should be linebackers on a football team somewhere. G is a quiet black man. Des is actually a cat guy. There's also Johnny O, Eric, Robert, Bruce, Angel, and the one brave woman who works the phones, Mary. Most of the guys have tattoos (some have a lot of them), and several of them are into motorcycles and classic cars.

What makes them different is their collective passion to rescue animals and to train their owners. As more than one of them comments, there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. The guys use their intimidating looks to convince owners to do the right thing, including giving up the animals when they are in dire need of medical attention. Some of the stories are just heart-breaking, and too many of them involve starving dogs and animal abuse. I found it hard to read some of the cases involving fight dogs, mostly because the ones Rescue Ink responds to are the "bait" dogs, the ones used to train the others how to be aggressive and not back down until the other dog is dead. How anyone can do that sort of thing is just beyond me.

Rescue Ink is a state of mind, not just about being a big guy with a lot of tattoos and attitude. I just wish they could be all over the country, not just in New York. Maybe if they're successful enough they'll expand!

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Book Shopper: A Life in Review" by Murray Browne

This is one of those little books that just sounded really, really neat. The author loves to shop in used bookstores, and he wants to let others know how to relish in the hunt for a great title in a little, out of the way shop. I couldn't agree more; there's nothing like finding a true gem in a pile of junk. Plus, I worked for a used bookstore not all that long ago, albeit a larger, slightly more commercial one, and I had really enjoyed it.

Well, after reading Mr. Browne's book, I can advise you that there are one or two chapters that are delightful, and several that are not. Read "Book Lovers are not Necessarily People Lovers", "Books as Gifts", "How I Became a Reader", and "Amazon Uncovered". The chapters that comprise Part II of this little work were quite the shock to me - Browne is what I call a Book Snob. (I should have picked up on this when he was talking about his time as a reviewer, but I guess I just glossed over that part). He has lists of titles that he believes every "good" used bookstore should carry, and they would all be considered literary. That's OK to have in a store, any bookstore, really, but what Browne fails to acknowledge is that those titles are usually not what keeps a store in business. For example, one of the authors he insists a "good" store carry is Oscar Hijuelos; when I did my time at my particular chain of stores, I couldn't give those things away. Browne won't read "bestsellers", nor does he do most genres, and guess what folks - those are the books that SELL. The last time I checked, stores were still in business to make money, too.

Overall, I was disappointed with this "guide", as I was disappointed by Browne's literary snobbery. I look at books the way I look at all the arts - enjoy what you like, but also be willing to branch out and try something new. You never know when you'll find a new favorite author (or singer, or artist, etc). If you limit yourself to certain areas of books, songs, or works of art, you really just limit your own enjoyment. Be brave!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"The Fire King" by Marjorie Liu

"Long ago, shape-shifters were plentiful, soaring through the sky as crows, racing across African veldts as cheetahs, raging furious as dragons atop the Himalayas. Like gods, they reigned supreme. But even gods have laws, and those laws, when broken, destroy. Zoufalsvi. Epatoivo. Asa. Three words in three very different languages, and yet Soria understands. Like all members of Dirk & Steele, she has a gift, and hers is communication: That was why she was chosen to address the stranger. Strong as a lion, quick as a serpent, Karr is his name, and in his day he was king. But he is a son of strife, a creature of tragedy. As fire consumed all he loved, so an icy sleep has been his atonement. Now, against his will, he has awoken. Zoufalsvi. Epatoivo. Asa. In English, the word is despair. But Soria knows the words for love."

I've been following Liu's Dirk & Steele series from the start and have rarely been disappointed in any of the books. This one has to be one of my favorites, though, a very moving story, quickly paced, with great character development. Also, a very real love story, with almost little to no sexual content, which surprised me. Oh, there's kissing and attraction, don't worry! But no real "sex scenes" as the case may be. Then again, most of Liu's books aren't big on the physical relationship between the characters, which may be why I enjoy them so much. I love to read what I consider a real romance book, one where the characters are falling in love, rather than into bed!

Soria hasn't been working with the group for the last year, placing herself in a sort of self-exile after a horrifying night that left her literally a broken woman. And Karr, well, he hasn't been anywhere for the last 3,000 years or so, having asked a friend to kill him after a tragedy of his making. Both are, without a doubt, the most flawed and vulnerable people to grace a page written by Liu. And yet, both obviously have a great deal of inner strength - they've just lost touch with it. Soria is asked by the head honcho of D&S, Roland, to take on this case due to her abilities with language. No matter what someone says, no matter what language they say it in, Soria can understand it. And since Karr has been away from the world for so long, no one speaks his language anymore. As soon as they're introduced (and not formally, of course!), Soria senses that Karr is not a bad man, just misunderstood (not a cliche in his case).

The duo are on the run before long, and they're in jeopardy almost non-stop. It's hard to know who to trust; indeed, they're not even sure they can trust each other. As more time passes, though, they are drawn to each other. They also learn each other's deepest secrets, including the circumstances that led them both to darkest moments. I was pretty sure I understood Karr's situation before he spoke of it, but Soria's caught me completely off guard. I was very impressed in Liu's ability to bring her ordeal to life without running into Lifetime movie territory.

As usual, I definitely recommend you check out Liu. Pick up a Dirk & Steele book if you prefer a good romance with lots of action and some supernatural elements. Or try her Hunter Kiss series, if you prefer something a bit darker and more fantasy related. You won't be sorry on either count.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Unbound" by Kim Harrison, Jeaniene Frost, Vicki Pettersson, Jocelynn Drake and Melissa Marr

Short story time! And this one wasn't bad as short story collections go; I've read three of the five authors before, and indeed, follow their series. The tag line on the back of the book says "Not all hunters are bound by human laws...", so you have an idea what each story will be about. And it's always nice to have some light reading that doesn't involve romance!

"Ley Line Drifter" by Kim Harrison was quite the treat. No sign of Rachel, our favorite witch/demon here, only her pixie partner, Jenks. He's been contacted by another pixie to investigate what's killing his children. If you know anything about pixies, you know this is extremely rare, one asking for help from a member of his own species. It's a good little mystery, and Bis, the young gargoyle, gets enlisted to be Jenks' sidekick. Definitely worth picking up.

In "Reckoning" by Jeaniene Frost, immortal hitman Bones must solve a mystery involving a very infamous pair of serial killers. The story is set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, a perfect time for any serial killer to hit town. I've never read Frost before, but I'm much more inclined to pick up her Night Huntress series after reading this story. She has good character development, nice touches of humor, and a darn good little mystery.

"Dark Matters" was very enlightening, if not one of my favorites here. Pettersson writes the Sign of the Zodiac series, which I've been following, although it requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. I like the characters and the action enough to mostly ignore how darn impossible a lot of sounds. Anyway, this piece delves into the background and history of one of the key players in that series. No, I won't tell you who - because it truly came as a surprise to me when I realized the twist. Definitely good for filling in that back story. Not great, however, as a short story overall.

The fourth entry was the one I read last, due to how much I love the author's work. Like saving something for dessert! "The Dead, the Damned, and the Forgotten" shows us our favorite fire-starting vampire Mira before she meets Danaus, the vampire hunter. A nightwalker has been killed in Mira's domain of Savannah and she's got to investigate and bring the killer to justice. Her right-hand man, Knox, is on the page quite a bit, and that was great; you don't get much info on him in her Dark Days series, and I like Knox. The Council plays a role here, too, in the form of Bishop, a vamp from Mira's past. If she can't control her city, the Council will demand her return to Europe, something she does not want. I'm so glad I saved this story for last because it was fantastic! I just can't say enough good things about Drake - you really, really need to check her out!

Finally we have the first adult offering from Melissa Marr, who's famous for her Wicked Lovely young adult series. "Two Lines" is about Eavan, a glaistig (which read very much like a succubus, but I'm still not clear on that). She's still human at this point but will become a full-blooded glaistig if she hunts and kills a human, and has sex, not necessarily at the same time (but they usually do). The glaistigs normally all live together (hmmm.... sounding like the Valkyries from Kressley Cole's Immortals After Dark series); Eavan has been "allowed" to live away from her kin for now. It's sort of confusing and I wasn't very impressed by the characters. I don't know if that's because Marr usually writes for teens, or if I just didn't like the story.

Overall, a good collection to pick up, with some great stories from some great authors.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November releases

OK, rather than go week by week as I've been trying to do, I'm just going to hit the highlights for this month. I have a coming up, some field trips to handle, and at least one meeting to attend, so The Bookbabe doesn't have much time for anything other than work. Yes, please feel sorry for me! LOL! Anyway, there's not a whole lot coming out unless you want to go thru the endless "holiday" titles, and we all know how I feel about those. I will, however, list them just so you can look for them in the store, should you choose to part with your hard-earned money on the little buggers.

Week of November 2nd
"Ford Country" by John Grisham. No, it's not a legal thriller. No, it's not a novel. Yes, it revisits his setting for his first book, "A Time to Kill". Yes, it's a collection of short stories by him, all about said setting. No, I don't think people are going to be happy when they read it.

"The Audacity to Win: the inside stories and lessons of Barack Obama's historic victory" by David Plouffe. I don't know about this. It's being talked about on all the news shows and such, and I guess it could be interesting - if you like our current president. I sort of think it's a bit too soon to be writing a work like this, but that's just me. That, and I can't get over the guy's last name! Sounds too much like "poof" - the sound of something suddenly disappearing...

"A Christmas Blizzard" by Garrison Keillor.

"It's Your Time: activate your faith, achieve your dreams, and increase in God's favor" by Joel Osteen. I have a big, big, big problem with the leaders of the so-called mega-churches. I think they've achieved the spiritual equivalent of rock stardom, and it goes to their heads just as easily as it does the guy singing about his last groupie. Osteen seems a bit less smarmy than some, but just as wrong. Plus I don't think you need to buy a book to "increase in God's favor".

"Kindred in Death" by J. D. Robb. #29 in the series by Robb, aka Nora Roberts. I am becoming suspicious that Roberts has others writing for her, sort of like James Patterson (who puts out a "new" book almost every month). At least Patterson gives the other authors credit.

"The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver. Her first novel in nine years, according to Publisher's Weekly. I've never read her, but I remember when one of her books kept getting assigned in high schools. Doesn't seem to have much of a fan base here in my library.

"Rainwater" by Sandra Brown. Another wunderkind that will sell out her title, no matter how good or bad it is.

Week of November 9th
"Under the Dome" by Stephen King. Always up for a new King book, especially one with a promising plot. However, this one clocks in at almost 1100 pages, which is awfully long. I'll probably wait and try to get my reserve set for sometime around Christmas, when we're closed for 4 days!

"Fly by Wire: the geese, the glide, the Miracle on the Hudson" by William Langewiesche. This is the book to pick up if you only want to read about Captain Sullenberger's flight and landing back in January of this year. If you want to read about Captain Sullenberger's life, pick up his book "Highest Duty" instead.

"Ice" by Linda Howard. Romantic suspense, highly popular, never read her, don't plan to.

"Last Words: a memoir" by George Carlin. The world lost a great guy when Carlin died. I can't wait to read this, and I hope there's some comedic gems in it. Mostly, I just think he had a fantastic way of pointing out the obvious, especially when it came to human stupidity. RIP George.

"Open: an autobiography" by Andre Agassi. I was surprised to see someone in our system suggest purchasing copies of this book for our branches. Agassi? Would anyone even remember who he was? Then I started seeing a few reviews and read an excerpt, and now I have to admit, it might be worth it. Not for our whole system, but yeah, at least two copies at our main branch. Turns out Agassi says he hates tennis, would even go so far to say he loathes it. Well, it certainly made him a lot of money, didn't it?

"Wishin' and Hopin': a Christmas story" by Wally Lamb.

Week of November 16th
"Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin. Hmmm. I'd heard that part of the reason Palin quit her govenor post was to write a memoir, saying that she'd be able to make a lot more money writing than running Alaska. And here it is! Guess this is one rumor that's true. I don't consider her to be much of a rogue, though.

"How to Be Famous: our guide to looking the part, playing the press, and becoming a tabloid fixture" by Heidi Montag. Lord save us from inane "reality" stars. Heidi is the "idi" part of Speidi, aka Spencer and Heidi Montag, from The Hills. Or the OC. Or one of those TV shows that I don't watch. How on earth people can be famous for pretty much just existing is beyond me. And after watching her on "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Outta Here!" this summer, I really, really don't get why she's "famous". Sigh.

"I, Alex Cross" by James Patterson. Another entry in his famous and well-loved Alex Cross series, which used to use children's games and nursery rhymes for titles. Sadly, the last 4 or 5 entries have all used "cross" in them somewhere, which just smacks of laziness to me. I think these are the only books of his that he's still actually writing.

"The Wrecker" by Clive Cussler. Action-adventure sort of tales. Not to my taste.

Week of November 23rd
"Pirate Latitudes" by Michael Crichton. Proving yet again that you don't have to be alive to publish a book. This is supposedly from a manuscript that they "found" after he passed away. We'll see if this is the only one, or if there will be more.

"Breathless" by Dean Koontz. You'd think as much as I enjoy reading horror/paranormal/just plain weird books, I would have picked up a Koontz title by now. But I have not. Strange, isn't it? And so many of his have sounded pretty good...

"First Lord's Fury" by Jim Butcher. This is book 6 in the Codex Alera series, and according to one of our patrons, this is a very good series. Much more sci-fi than his Harry Dresden series, but she said it's still good. I haven't tried any of them - yet. One of these days!

"KISS Kompendium" by Gene Simmons. Oh, how I wanted to be able to get this for our library system! But, it's also very pricey, say around $75 or so. Sigh. If you've got the money, and you're a KISS fan, I would say this is worth it. Better yet, buy your library system a copy!

"Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog: the amazing adventures of an ordinary woman" by Lisa Scottoline. I love the title. I have no idea if it will be any good, but patrons like her fiction.

OK, people, wich me luck getting through November! Good reading!