Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by C. Alan Bradley

You are going to love Flavia de Luce, the 11-year-old narrator, aspiring chemist and heroine of The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. She's plucky, quirky, smart and independent. She lends a fresh and interesting voice to this classic mystery story.

Could this be the first of a series? I hope so.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nothing Right by Antonya Nelson

Nothing Right consists of 11 engaging short stories, encompassing themes of love, loss, family, addiction, conflicts, affairs of the heart, and struggles in everyday life. It is reader friendly. If your time is limited, you can pick one story randomly and start reading. Once you begin, you will want to finish the whole book. Nelson has created some very believable characters. Sadness, hope and humor infiltrate each of the stories. In Shauntrelle, a hilarious divorcee who tries to reinvent herself found a temporary roommate in Houston. She reminded me of Dustin Hoffman in the movie Tootsie. Another one of my favorites was We and They, a mini family saga of the nontraditional Landers, told from the perspective of their teenager, whose language, world view and understanding of his adopted younger siblings, Otis and Angel, are astonishing. You will feel his joy and pain. I enjoyed this novel and hope to read more of Nelson's books.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Roadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver

California Bureau of Investigation agent and body language expert Kathryn Dance is hot on the trail of a killer who telegraphs his intent to kill by leaving roadside memorials before he takes a victim. Although I usually enjoy Jeffrey Deaver, I was disappointed by Roadside Crosses. The plot twists weren't very surprising, the romantic side plot wasn't very interesting, and I felt the book's momentum was slowed by the unnecessary explanations of blogging and gaming. Ho hum.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Relentless by Dean R. Koontz

Relentless is about author Cubby Greenwich, who has just published the latest in a string of successful novels. It gets panned by one particularly vicious critic, who turns out to be more than just a critic. Cubby and his family end up on the run, relentlessly pursued by the murderous critic.

I have been a fan of Dean Koontz for more than 20 years and I'm happy to say he just keeps getting better. Relentless is classic Koontz--a genuine thriller with quirky characters you care about (including a great dog), plenty of humor, and just a touch of science fiction. It's very well done.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Moment Between by Nicole Baart

The Moment Between is about the relationship between two sisters, one of whom is emotionally troubled. The novel opens with the older sister, Abigail, discovering the body of younger sister Hailey after she has committed suicide. The rest of the book follows Abigail as she searches for answers, reflects back on her family life, and struggles to come to terms with the loss of her sister. It's very well written, engrossing, and thought-provoking.

This is the third novel for Iowa writer Nicole Baart, and she just keeps getting better!

The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

Los Angeles Times reporter Jack McEvoy gets downsized by his newspaper but is determined to end his career with a great story. He latches onto the story of a white girl killed in a black neighborhood, which turns out to be the work of a serial killer (or killers?). McEvoy teams up with FBI agent Rachel Walling to track down the killer--who turns out to have formidable resources and technical skills. The Scarecrow is a decent thriller and a good summer read.