Books I am reading

Monday, December 30, 2013

Thirty years ago, Sharon and I were contemporaries

W is for Wasted (Kinsey Millhone Mystery) (Kindle Edition)
Sharon McCone has been a friend for over 30 years. I want to figure out a way to expand the alphabet so that I can keep meeting with her each year. I was about her age when the series began, and she is now the age of my daughter. So I have a sentimental attachment to her.
I don't believe this relationship would have last for me if Sue Grafton was a less skilled writer. Sharon has grown and changed, more and more of her history has been revealed over time, and there are sacrosanct elements that appear over and over.
This books begins with a body found dead on the beach with Sharon's name and phone number on a piece of paper in his pocket. When she goes to the morgue to try to identify this John Doe, she realizes she has never scene before. Sharon has no pending investigations so she decides to put some time into discovering who he is, why he had her name, and how he died.
Asecond plot devlops when a former co-investigator if shot to death. She pays little attention until her former love, Dietz, shows up flaming mad about her referral od him to the murdered PI.
Sharon is more reflective and has less of a hard edge. She is more forgiving, and notices her loneliness more. She is not as sarcastic and more kind and forgiving. Our dear Sharon is growing up. I am a romantic, so I hope she finds her soul mate (or recognizes him if she already knows him) before the series ends.
Iwas in grad school when the series began, and I am now retired. I hope the whole series will be available on Kindle so that I can ready the series over. If you have never read an Alphabet Mystery, I suggest that you start at the beginning of the series. While each book can stand alone, the richness of the characters can be lost if you don't know the history. Another winner in my book. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Tenth Circle by Jon Land

     Buckle your seat belt and hang on! This is a bumpy ride with more twists and turns than a roller coaster!
Blaine McCracken and his friends, Johnny Wareagle and Sam Belamo, are back in a fast paced novel of modern day home terrorists exciting religious warfare against American Muslims as a cover for an even more diabolical plan to destroy the government with a weapon of mass destruction. This weapon has gone undiscovered until recently, but was the reason for the Roanoke colony and ship crew of the Mary Celeste disappearance.
     Enter an assassin trained in Russia for Iran, a cult leader offering salvation through mutilation and sex, and government leaders who want to overthrow the current government. McCracken flies all over the country tracking down clues from various bombing sites, the first of which injured his "sons's" son (complicated). As McCracken checks in with an old Vietnam, bong smoking buddy and a retired, sometimes lucid, operative, the plan of the bad guys becomes more and more evident. They all begin to converge on Washington.
     I have never read any of the books by Jon Land, but I will be looking up his other novels. His writing is clear, imaginative and creative. He began the black-ops, spy, out-in-the-cold genre before it was popularized by other authors. His devotion to technical detail makes his books so believable and terrifying. I give The Tenth Circle a resounding 5 stars. Enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Stop Hoping...Start Hunting! by Jennifer K Hill

     I do not often read nonfiction unless it is for work, so I am not sure if I would have picked this up on my own, but I am glad I did. Ms Hill is a job recruiter who shares her insights and experiences with job seekers.
     The book follows a logical progression from looking at your reason for job hunting and articulating what you feel is you ideal job, to resume writing, phone interviews, in person interviews, follow-up and starting your new job.      While I didn't learn anything new, Ms Hill has packaged it in a clear, forthright manner with lots of examples to illustrate the points she is making. She strongly emphasizes the need to maintain a positive attitude during a difficult process. Her enthusiasm is contagious! I'm not job hunting, but I updated my resume' and my LinkedIn account. 
     There are two issues that I found a bit annoying, but most others probably wouldn't notice. First, too many sentences ended with a preposition. This is certainly more acceptable currently than when I was taking English classes. But I feel that when you put all the time into researching, outlining and then writing a book, it should reflect the educated intelligence of the writer. 
     The second observation is that too many points were repeated several times throughout the book. While some repetition is understandable, the number of times it occurred felt to me as if Ms Hill was "padding" the writing to turn a monograph into a book.
     My concerns are far outweighed by the excellent advice for job seekers. If you have been out of work, discouraged by little or no responses to you job search, this book is for you! Ms Hill is a knowledgeable cheerleader who will support you right into your ideal job. And the suggestions for developing a positive attitudes is useful for anyone.

Unraveling Raveled

     Raveled by Anne McAneny is an excellent story. It starts slowly and gains momentum as it moves along. Allison Fennimore is called to her small, southern hometown by her brother, Kevin, who is currently in addiction rehab and a ward of the court. Mom has begun "slipping" mentally, and has been troubled for the last 16 years since her husband stood trial for killing a teenage boy, son of the mayor, and accused of also killing a young teenage girl. Kevin want Allison to reopen their father's case. He is haunted by nightmares of the night before the boy was found tied to a bumper in the garage owned by their father, Artie, and shot in the abdomen. 
     Allison is hesitant to stir things up at this point. The trail is cold, and she was only 14 years old when the murders took place. She finds out that the prime players that fateful night are in town cor a class reunion. Allison decides to ask a few people some questions and see if anything new emerges. The town reaction is strong and leads Allison to more purposefully find out what happened that night. Many unforeseen  actions occur as Allison delves deeper. I thought I had figured things out, and then another piece of evidence would prove me wrong.
     This book is well-written, with an adult vocabulary (not dummied down for a 5th grade reading level), multi-layered characters, and, plot worthy of Byzantine twists and turns. I will be looking for Anne McAneny's other books. Definitely worth reading!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Liz Paxton: Murder Inspector Extraordinaire

Hacked is the debut novel of Geri Hosier. I felt I was on a literary roller coaster for the first 20% of the book. The protagonist was a lady and all of a sudden turned into a potty mouth. She was a self-assured, strong woman, a cop, and became all batting lashes around the object of her affections. But then it seemed to take off and I couldn't put it down.
Liz Paxton is the head of London's largest murder squad, and her best friend is the publisher of a leading London paper. So there is plenty of glamour. What initially appears to be a revenge killing becomes ever more complicated. Enter one Afghan war hero, a Russian underworld boss, a very nasty bad man, and international intrigue ensues.
There was more brutal behavior than I tend to want spelled out, but that's just my preference. The story was a bit formulaic: beautiful cop; mysterious, handsome war hero; super bad, bad guy. It was a little too obvious that the war hero was more than he claimed to be.
This book is advertised as the beginning of the series. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing as the story progressed, and will definitely check out the next installment.