Monday, October 23, 2006

'Motor Mouth' by Janet Evanovich

ISBN: 006058405X
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 376pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $7.99

This is the second Barnaby novel in the series, the first being Metro Girl. I picked Motor Mouth up because the first one was so great. The story is told by Alex Barnaby, nicknamed Barney. She is a mechanic who likes pink and indulges in the occasional manicure. Not your run of the mill girl, she still has all those feminine qualities that men can appreciate.

In Metro Girl Barney hooked up with Hooker, the superstar NASCAR driver. In the beginning of Motor Mouth they have split because Barney found Hooker in bed with a salesclerk. There were pictures on the net so it isn't like he can say it wasn't him. Barney is still on the race team and spotting for Hooker. Somehow they have managed to still be friends, which I find a little hard to believe, but it does make for some nice sexual tension throughout the book as Hooker tries to win Barney back.

A Janet Evanovich novel would not be complete without a dead body. When you go back and read everything else of hers you find a common thread such as dead bodies, large drooling dogs, and little old ladies with very large handguns. Two out of three ain’t bad when you have a huge Saint Bernard named Beans and several dead bodies. I guess those make up for the old lady with a gun.

The action kicks off right away with the possibility of cheating in a race and a gigantic car crash. It only moves on from there with a plastic-wrapped body, dog-napping, and the possibility of illegal race technology.

Barney bumbles around at one point trying to rescue Hooker, which is just a shade too close to the first book for it to feel original. I have to admit that this book feels like it was hurried through and held together by the humor.

The conversations are sharp and quick, everything you expect to find in a Janet Evanovich novel. The humor is a little morbid at times, but often of the laugh-out loud variety, too. I have to admit that this isn't the best but it isn't the worst. I would just recommend waiting for paperback.

Friday, October 20, 2006

'Rogue Angel- The Spider Stone' by Alex Archer

ISBN: 0373621213
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 352pp
Publisher: Harlequin
Price: $6.50

The third book in the Rogue Angel series comes out November 7, 2006 and I am telling you right now that you need to preorder a copy. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy and it is by far the best installment of Annja and her adventures. It’s my favorite of the three to date.

It picks up with Annja being called in to Atlanta to help excavate the remains of slaves in an abandoned building dating from the Civil War. When she gets down to Atlanta she finds that there is more to the story than she expected. On the site she finds a carved piece of tiger's eye called The Spider Stone, a gift from the Spider God Anansi to the Hausa people of Africa. The stone was a promise that the Hausa people, as long as they carried this stone, would always have a home.

While Annja is trying to decipher the language carved on the stone, the archaeological party is attacked by gun-toting bad guys. By now, this being the third book and all, we know that Annja isn’t going to let herself be pushed around. The fight scene is great and at the end Annja tackles a man into a moving car. The imagery was just fantastic. I’m not a very violent person but it just feels so good when the bad guys get what’s coming to them.

Annja finds out that the men who attacked her at the dig site have ties to a warlord in Africa who is after the stone. She deciphers the writing and discovers that the stone is carved with a map leading to buried treasure and the records of the Hausa people. Homeland Security gets involved and offers to pay her way to Africa to look for this buried treasure hoping that she will draw out Tafari, the horrible war lord, who has ties to Al Qaeda.

Once in Africa the chase, which never slackens, picks up. Clues all start to point in one direction and Annja and Tafari are headed for a head-on collision. Annja has learned that sometimes it is kill or be killed, but she struggles with it. She is growing and learning that the sword she has been claimed by isn’t going to give her an easy path.

Annja is a very human character; she’s the person you would like to think you would be if you had to step up to the plate and fight absolute evil with a broad sword. All in all, it is great entertainment mixed with some interesting facts that you might not come across everyday. The author has really done his research about the period of time involving slave trade as well as some of the ancient African cultures. It was nice to have some facts tied into all the fantastic adventure.

Monday, October 16, 2006

'Rogue Angel- Solomon's Jar' by Alex Archer

ISBN: 0373621205
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 352pp
Publisher: Harlequin
Price: $6.50

I finished reading Solomon’s Jar this morning and I have to admit I am slightly disappointed. The basic story was good. It contained lots of action and even a romantic interest, unlike the first in this series, but it relied too heavily on the action to keep it together.

Some parts of the story weren’t explained very well. From the beginning the villains were lacking in backbone. You didn’t see enough of them to really feel like they were a threat and when they did show up they were just one-dimensional, not fully realized at all.

The book picks up with Annja in the Amazon basin running for her life from mercenaries. She has found an ancient book of medicine that everyone wants. This part of the story has nothing to do with the rest of the story. For the first 26 pages you bite your nails as she is chased through the jungle by bad guys, never really knowing who sent them and why. But she prevails, kicking butt and living to fight another day.

With no transition she is in New York, home finally, coming back from the grocery store. This was the biggest problem I had with this book; there were no transitions between her destinations. The author went from New York, Amsterdam, Rio, and England with nothing to let you know that Annja is flying on an airplane eating bad food. I found myself wondering if Amsterdam was a street in New York.

In Amsterdam Annja is looking for Solomon’s Jar. She’s not sure what she is going to do with it but knowing she must find it. Instead she finds a dead shopkeeper. She is caught going through the caller ID by Aidan Pascoe, another archeologist who is after the jar. They in turn get interrupted by the Russian mafia. They escape together, Annja saving Aidan’s life only to have him tell her to leave him alone.

In England Annja is almost killed by a cult called The White Tree. It’s a brief encounter and Annja hacks her way out of it with her sword. The White Tree leader is one of the villains of the story, but you only see him twice in the book, at the beginning and the end.

Another big jump and Annja is in Jerusalem getting chased by an angry mob of half-crazed men for no reason. She is saved when a door opens in a wall and a little old lady pokes her head out and tells her to come inside. The woman helps Annja, giving out good advice like a kind of mystic guide. Later in the story that same old woman shows up, only she isn’t as old that time.

Annja leaves the old woman and runs into Aidan getting beat up on the street. She kills all of the attackers and Aidan is sick for a moment. Having saved his life again, they have coffee and talk. They part ways once again with Aidan telling her to push off.

Eventually Annja and Aidan side together, but only after he saves her life. By the end of the book though, she saved his life at least four times. They run around together trying to find the jar before three other groups do. The problem is that you never really get the sense of that. The fact that other people are looking for this jar just isn’t explained very well. At the end they all end up together in a smelting factory in the Amazon and it’s almost a surprise. You wonder why all these people are here with guns.

Overall it was fair. It was hard to get into because of all the inconsistencies. I expected much more after reading Destiny, but it doesn’t stop me from reading the next one.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

'Rogue Angel - Destiny' by Alex Archer

ISBN: 0373621191
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 352pp
Publisher: Worldwide Library
Price: $6.50

This book is the first of the Rogue Angel series and I have to say I can’t think of a better way to kick off a series. Full of butt-kicking, sword-wielding action as well as a great mystery, the story keeps you involved and turning pages.

Annja Creed is an archaeologist working part time for a TV show about chasing down history’s monsters. She is the serious, intelligent, college graduate of the show while the other girl who works there just tends to lose her top quite a bit. This makes for some very funny dialogue throughout the book.

While working in a small town in France tracking the legendary monster Le Bete, Annja is attacked by two black leather-clad men. She finds out that they are the goons of a crime boss who believes that she has become too close to the mystery of Le Bete. She sends one to the hospital; the other escapes to his boss.

Up in the mountains the next day Annja meets an old man who calls himself Roux. There is something strange about him, even though she can’t quite put her finger on it. Suddenly the earth begins to shake and buckle, throwing Annja to her knees. Roux helps her to her feet, directing her to his car down the mountain, but before she gets very far the earth opens up before her feet. Annja falls into the hole, the darkness swallowing her completely.

In the enveloping cave Annja discovers a small charm, the size of a coin, with signs etched onto both sides. The crime boss has sent more goons after her, determined to find out exactly what she knows about Le Bete that he doesn’t. They find her in the cave and Annja gets cornered. Roux comes to the rescue and they escape.

Not everything is what it appears to be as Annja quickly learns; Roux double crosses her and black-robed monks show up armed with guns. The monks as well as the crime lord want the charm that Roux has stolen from Annja. But before she gets abducted at gunpoint a tall, dark, and handsome man dressed all in black shows up to save her. “Annja Creed I’ve come to help you!” he yells as he shoots down a monk who is about to shoot her.

Garin saves her and takes her to Roux, who turns out to be a very old friend, to recover her charm. Once at Roux’s home Annja discovers that her charm is part of something much bigger and that it is her destiny to bring all the pieces together.

This was a fun and fast read. I wished that I could have called into work so that I could have finished it faster, it really was that hard to put down. Next on my list is Rogue Angel: Solomon’s Jar, the second book in the series and I hope it will be just as good

Sunday, October 8, 2006

'For One More Day' by Mitch Albom

ISBN: 1401303277
Format: Hardcover, 206pp
Publisher: Hyperion
Price: $21.95

“This is a story about family and, as there is a ghost involved you might call it a ghost story. But every family is a ghost story. The dead sit at our tables long after they have gone.” (For One More Day)

Chick Benetto is a man who tried to kill himself. This is the story about his attempted suicide and the one day it gave him with his deceased mother. Through the book we see bits of his childhood; Chick’s absentee father, nurse mother, and Roberta, his sister. We see his parents fighting over dinner, his father claiming that it just isn’t right. The father turns to him and asks him what he thinks of the food. Chick sides with his father because his father always says, “You can be a momma’s boy or a daddy’s boy, but you can’t be both.”

When Chick’s mother dies of a massive heart attack his life crumbles. He feels as if suddenly he is alone, no one backing him, no one on his side. The family he has built, a wife and daughter, quickly falls apart with his drinking.

He leaves them, just like once upon a time his father left him, turning his life over to alcohol. One day he receives a letter from his daughter with pictures of her wedding. He suddenly realizes that he has been exactly what he never wanted to be. He gives up then and decides to kill himself. All he wants is to have someone on his side again; he wishes that he still had his mother, the one person who always believed in him.

Chick drives out to his home town, full of alcohol and memories of his past. We see through the mind's eye the house he grew up in, the school he went to, and the unhappy or happy memories attached to each. On the off ramp to his small town Chick causes a car accident, but he walks away from it. Walking the rest of the way to his home he passes the familiar, aching and hurting he climbs the water tower he once climbed as a teenager and throws himself off of it. At the bottom he opens his eyes and a little way in the distance he sees his long-dead mother, standing in a lavender dress waiting for him.

This book is only 197 pages long. From start to finish you are wrapped up in this family story: the small hardships, the not so small hardships, and the give and take that goes on in all families. It is heartbreakingly beautiful and in the end uplifting. You come away with a desire to pay closer attention to the world around you and what you have. Not to mention the desire to go and hug your mom, just in case.

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

'I See You' by Holly Lisle

ISBN: 0451412214
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 320pp
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
Price: $6.99

I picked up I See You by Holly Lisle because it came highly recommended by a friend. I don’t venture into the romance section of a bookstore too often, but this book was well worth the woman sniggering at me in the aisle. It has lots of action, suspense, and two very hot sex scenes. Not to mention the really nice human details that just make you smile while you read.

Dia is an EMT in Florida and she loves her job. Four years previously her husband, Mac who was also an EMT, died in an ambulance wreck caused by a car stopping suddenly to avoid hitting a child on a bike. She was the first on the scene, she couldn’t save her husband or her co-workers, but she could save the man in the car. She worked the scene like a professional. Years later, Dia still works with the same crews and wouldn’t ever think of leaving; they have become her family.

Brig is a detective who is working car accident scenes that aren’t exactly what they appear to be. He sees Dia for the first time on a huge wreck and notices her immediately. She is strong, confidant, and in control; he’s drawn to her even though after a bad marriage ending in divorce, he’s sworn off woman.

Brig goes to Dia’s station to explain bombs are causing the car accidents that have been happing. He asks if they have seen anything and passes business cards around. When he gets to Dia he makes sure to include his personal numbers as well as the professional. She just smiles and brushes it off, still not dating since the premature death of her husband.

That night when Dia gets home, she finds flowers on her doorstep with a note saying, “Thank you for saving my life.” No name signed, nothing. The next night a letter shoved under her door says, “I love what you did for me” freaks her out just a little and she calls Detective Brig.

Things heat up and speed up from there. We find out Dia is being stocked by a crazy psychopath who is obsessed with keeping a balance between light and dark. The psychopath is convinced Dia has upset the balance. Throw in some really scary nightmares, a ghost leaving notes on fogged up mirrors, and some alligators and you have a great afternoon read.