31 July 2011

At His Command

(Love Inspired #460; Homecoming Heroes #3)

BRENDA COULTER

First line: Texas attorney Jake Hopkins was severely allergic to two things: peanuts and a sweet young army nurse named Madeline Bright.

That  first line reeled me in. It told me the heroine was going to be a young, dewey eyed, probably sunshiney girl, loved and adored by everyone she meets. Not my favorite kind of heroine (probably because I'm an old, weary eyed, well, you get the point). But it also told me we would get the story from both the heroine and the hero's point of view, which I'm a big fan of. And it told me there would be plenty of amusing lines and humor infused in the story, which I'm also a big fan of.

Jake and his best friend, Noah, who was Maddie's older brother, were in the army together, flying Apache helicopters. They were shot down by insurgents, and Noah was killed. Jake was severly injured, and still suffers pain in his leg, and has to use a cane to help him walk. He also blames himself for Noah's death. Not because they were shot down, but because of decisions he made immediately after. He suffers from flashbacks and nightmares, but he stoically keeps his feelings bottled inside and refuses to talk to anyone about what happened.

Maddie adored Jake from the first time he came home with Noah, when she was in the first grade, and they were Cadets at West Point. She grew up and pursued her dream of becoming a nurse, then, after hearing Jake express admiration for doctors and nurses who served at army combat hospitals overseas, she joined the army. She wanted to be a hero. But she soon realized serving as a combat nurse just wasn't for her, and now she's in Priarie Springs, working as a nurse in the maternity ward.

Maddie very much wants to talk with Jake about Noah, and about what he's been through, and she worries about him and prays for him. Jake lost his faith in God after the accident, and he is determined to fight his feelings for Maddie, convinced that he would not be good for her and would end up hurting her. And that if she knew the truth behind Noah's death, she might never forgive him. So he continually puts her off, and she doggedly continues to advance on him. If she can't have him romantically, she still wants to be his friend.

I'm not a very religious person myself, and I'll admit to you now that I was pretty far into this book before it hit me that the tile was a reference to God, not just a military reference. I've never read anything by Brenda Coulter before now, but I enjoyed her breezy style while addressing a serious topic, and her humor. I particularly liked this passage:
"You both turned up your noses because I put beans in it. And you like beans."
"Not in chili. No self-respecting Texan does." He couldn't believe she didn't know that. She might have been raised in Alabama, but that was no excuse. Not when she'd been married to a Texan - a retired rodeo cowboy, no less - for almost as long as Jake had been alive. Was Leland  Ridge aware that his wife was going around putting beans in chili?
(I purchased this book at a library book sale in March 2011.)

28 July 2011

Zombies and Shit


Carlton Mellick III

Publisher's Synopsis: Twenty people wake to find themselves in a boarded-up building in the middle of the zombie wasteland. They soon realize they have been chosen as contestants on a popular reality show called Zombie Survival. Each contestant is given a backpack of supplies and a unique weapon. Their goal: be the first to make it through the zombie-plagued city to the pick-up zone alive. But because there's only one seat available on the helicopter, the contestants not only have to fight off the hordes of the living dead, they must also fight each other. 

This book was a little like reading a graphic novel without the graphics. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. It took me a long time to really get into it, and I considered putting it down a couple of times and moving on to something else. By the middle of the book though I really did want to know what happened to each contestant and how the reality show would end, so I stuck with it.

I think the writing style just wasn't for me. And sometimes the ick factor was almost too much, and I've never felt that way about a book before.


(I received this book through BookCrossing.)

23 July 2011

Mini Reviews

 A few quick thoughts about various books I've read....


Flirting With Forty, by Jane Porter

 I put this book on my wish list after seeing the Lifetime TV movie, and I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed this. As a single mother in my 40's, I can't imagine getting involved with a younger man the way Jackie did, but it was fun to read about her adventures. But the book was so much more than that. Jane Porter really gets inside the head of a divorced woman and all those thoughts and feelings and fears that you experience. So in lots of ways I could still relate to Jackie.  (Received through BookCrossing.com and read in July 2009.)

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

 I loved this book! Compared to the Anita Blake books this was definitely lighter fare and a welcome contrast. I don't get HBO so I haven't seen True Blood. I've only seen Stephen Moyer in The Starter Wife and am not really a fan, but I did picture him in my head all through this book! I'm really looking forward to continuing the series and hoping I can wait for the next one without getting too impatient! (Received through BookCrossing.com and read in January 2010.)

Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 10), by Laurell K. Hamilton

Not my favorite of the Anita Blake books. In fact, sometimes when reading, I wonder why I'm still reading them. At times it seems like the books are about nothing now but sex and violence and gore. And I was sad that Edward was not in this one, he's one of my favorite characters. I think I like Micah though, better than Jean-Claude or Richard. So I will continue with the series. (Received through Title Trader and read in January 2010.)


Agnes and the Hitman, by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

You know those great old screwball comedies from the 30's and 40's? Fast paced, snappy dialogue, players running in and out of the scenes, everybody getting mixed up with everybody else? "Agnes and The Hitman" was kind of like reading an old screwball comedy. Like all of Crusie's heroines, Agnes is funny and quirky - always a great combination. Shane is the strong silent type, with the perfect partner in Carpenter. In fact, all the secondary characters are just as entertaining. I'm really glad I came across this at the USB, usually when Crusie has a new book out I buy it as soon as it's released so I'm not sure how I missed this one! I've loved everything she's written. I've not read anything else by Mayer (other than Don't Look Down), but I do have one of his books, Dragon Sim-13, in my TBR pile, so one of these days...  (Purchased at a USB and read in August 2009.)

The Catsitters, by James Wolcott

I loved this book. It's like chick lit, but not fluffy, and from a guy's point of view. Wonderfully written and amusing. I'm gonna have to google the author and see what he's done since this. (Received through BookCrossing and read in June 2009.)





A Kiss to Remember, by Teresa Medeiros

I really enjoyed this book. It's been a long time since I've read a historical romance, though I have lots of them in my TBR and used to read them a lot. But lately I've been reading more contemporary stuff and chick lit. I've been following Teresa Medeiros on Twitter and she's just delightful, so when I was browsing the books at Wal-Mart and saw her name I grabbed it. I'm so glad I did, and now I defintely want to read more of her stuff. (Purchased at Wal-Mart and read in October 2009.)


The Lady, by Anne McCaffrey

This was an enjoyable book. I read all of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books many many years ago, but had never heard of this until it came into my possession. It's completely different, being set in the world of Irish horse breeding and showing. The characters are very well drawn and it's easy to get caught up in the story (Purchased at a USB and read in December 2009.)



Manhunting, by Jennifer Crusie

I think this is one of her earlier books, and in the beginning it just seemed like another standard romance story. Not bad, but not exceptional. Then Kate goes to the resort and begins interacting with the staff, other guests and townspeople, and it took off fast and became exceptional. Like all of Crusie's books, it was quick paced, funny, and the story kept me involved and turning pages. This is why she's one of my favorite authors, one of the few who, when a new book is released, I actually go out and buy in hardback. I'm glad I stumbled across this! (Purchased at a USB and read in July 2009.)

The Honey Badger, by Robert Ruark

This sat on my shelf for a long time, and then on a whim one weekend I decided to pick it up and read it. And I'm really glad I did! After the first awkward sentence I almost stopped:  "It was that hot -- steaming, stinking, sewer-vaporous, New York -- humid, solid, soul-smiting hot."  But fortunately I continued on, and found it a very enjoyable read. In fact, in my head I could picture all the snappy dialog in a movie from the 30's or 40's, being spoken by Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and their peers! (Receieved through BookCrossing and read in July 2008.)

20 July 2011

The Language of Flowers

VANESSA DIFFENBAUGH

I hate to start a review by saying “OMG I loved this book!”. But that’s the first thought that comes into my head. Because I did LOVE this book.

The writing flows across the pages, and the characters are vivid and realistic. The book opens with Victoria waking up on her 18th birthday, and leaving a group home and the foster care system behind for emancipation. The chapters then alternate between her life in the present day, and her life as a nine year old, living at a vineyard with Elizabeth, her last foster mother. The one who wanted to actually adopt her and be her mother for real.

Victoria has never loved, never felt loved. She can’t stand to be touched, and will vomit when someone places a hand on her. She does not trust anyone, including herself.

Through Elizabeth, she learned to love flowers and their meanings, and she uses them to communicate with others, despite the fact that the people she gives flowers to do not know the messages behind them. Her knowledge and gift for putting together the perfect bouquet leads her to a job with a florist and an unsettling encounter with a vendor at the flower market.

You so want the young Victoria to be adopted by Elizabeth and live happily ever after, but we know from the first chapter that she spends eight years in a group home. As the two stories unfold, Victoria’s past and her present collide. At times it’s beautiful, at times it’s heartbreaking.

This is an enchanting story of love and loss, of redemption and forgiveness, of finding ones way in the world. I sat up in bed long past the time I should have been asleep, racing to the end of the book, and yet when I reached the last pages I wanted to linger, not quite ready to leave Victoria and her flower dictionary behind. 

Vanessa Diffenbaugh will definitely be on my watch list, and I look forward to more from her.

(I received this ARC from Random House.)

17 July 2011

Mini Reviews

A few quick thoughts about various books I've read...

An Improper Proposal, by Meg Cabot

I loved this book. I adore Meg Cabot, who wrote this one early in her career under an assumed name so her father wouldn't know what she was writing! I love the humor in her books. How often, in a romance, is the hero described shuddering and making faces when having to drink something he doesn't like? (Purchased from Better World Books in February 2010.)



Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates

When I first started reading this book, it was just another book. It was okay, but not gripping. But then at some point I became so immersed in the story and the writing that I didn't want to put it down. Especially when I was about 100 pages from the end. I'd seen the movie already, so I knew what happened, and yet I was on pins and needles. And at the very end, I even felt a slight chill come over me and had goosebumps. Now that's some damn fine writing. (Received from a BookCrossing member in June 2009.)


American Gods, by Neil Gaiman

I enjoyed it, yet at times I seemed to slog through it. I loved the ending. But I'm not sure if I care about reading any further books from Gaiman. I guess the writing just didn't quite capture me. (Received through BookCrossing.com in December 2009.)





The Millionaire's Convenient Bride, by Catherine George

Wonderful! Catherine George is my favorite Harlequin author and I think this is my new favorite of her books! The characters are likable and real, and the love and affection between Connah and his daughter is very refreshing. Often in these types of books the hero seems stand-offish and aloof in the beginning, but Connah isn't. How could Hester not love them both? (Received through BookMooch.com in June 2009.)



Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert A. Heinlein

I thought I'd read this a long time ago but I didn't remember or recognize any of it, so I think not. And frankly I had a really hard time getting into it, and then staying in it. So much so that, with 140 pages left to go, I decided to just quit and pass it on. (Received through BookCrossing.com in March 2008.)




Washington, D.C., by Gore Vidal

Took me a long time to get through. I had trouble staying interested in it, and I think part of the problem was that I didn't find any of the main characters particularly likeable. In fact, they were all a little detestable to me. (Inherited when my grandfather passed away a few years ago.)




Life Swap, by Jane Green

I loved this book about two women who swap lives for a magazine story. I was a little surprised at how long the book went on before the actual swap happened, but I didn't really mind as I enjoyed reading about both Vicki's and Amber's lives. The fact that the swap section seemed shorter also seemed very realistic to me from what I'd read. But I really would have liked to find out what happened later with Vicki and how her life turned out! I also thought that the writing style seemed a little different from previous Jane Green books I've read, but it very much suited the story. (Received through BookCrossing.com in June 2009.)

15 July 2011

In The Shadow Of Man

JANE VAN LAWICK-GOODALL

This was an incredibly riveting, interesting, amusing, amazing book. In the 1960s, Jane Goodall left secretarial work to travel to the Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve (now the Gombe National Park), along with her mother because officials there did not believe a young woman her age should be unaccompanied, to begin studying chimpanzees. The author's love for her work, for the chimps, for nature, for the reserve, come through fiercely. This is a very detailed and impressive account of her time there, and we, the readers, along with Jane and her various assistants (and future husband) become emotionally invested in the individual chimps. It is a fascinating look into the lives of chimpanzees, which are very very different in the wild than what we see in zoos. An excellent book. Excellent.

(I received this book from a BookCrossing member in August 2005.)

06 July 2011

lost book

Friday night, as I was getting ready for bed, I discovered that my book was not in my bag. I emptied the whole bag out and searched around my room where it was sitting, but to no avail. I figured I must have left my book at the office. So I picked another book to read over the weekend.

Tuesday, when I arrived at work after the 4th of July three-day weekend, I discovered that my book was not in my office. I searched all around my desk and in the drawers, and even dug through the trash can, in case it might have fallen off the edge of my desk. No luck.

I then went outside and searched my car. Again, no luck. Last night, I searched at home again, and again, I came up empty handed.

I'm really really bummed! I was only about 4 or 5 chapters in, but was really enjoying this new-to-me author. I have about $9 on an Amazon gift card, so I guess I'll have to see if I can find a copy to order. How frustrating. I just can't imagine where it could be!

05 July 2011

Size 12 Is Not Fat and Size 14 Is Not Fat Either

MEG CABOT

1st and 2nd book in the Heather Wells Mysteries.

I read Size 12 Is Not Fat in February 2008, and have finally gotten around to reading Size 14 Is Not Fat Either over this past weekend.

In Size 12, Heather Wells is a former pop star who is working as an assistant dorm director at a New York college. She's broken up with her fellow pop star boyfriend after he cheated on her with another rising pop star, her dad has been in jail since she was very young, and her mom has run off with her manager, and her life savings. Despite all this, she loves her job and her new life. Not to mention having a major crush on Cooper, a private investigator who is her exboyfriend's brother, as well as her landlord/roommate.

One day, a student's body is found at the bottom of an elevator shaft. Her death is written off as an accident, the result of "elevator surfing", but Heather is convinced the girl was murdered. Since the police aren't pursuing an investigation, she takes it on herself.

When I started the first book, I wasn't sure about it. Even though it was written for adults rather than teenagers, it still read like a teen book, but with more grown up language and sexual references. For some reason that kind of bothered me in the beginning. But once I got past that, I really enjoyed it. I was disappointed not to have a resolution with Cooper, but then remembered that it was the first book in a series, so of course that storyline would probably be played out further in the next book.


In Size 14 Is Not Fat Either, life has gotten back to normal at New York College. Until a cheerleader's head is found in a pot on the stove in the kitchen. Since this time it's obvious a murder is involved, the police do investigate, while everyone warns Heather not to get involved. Of course, she keeps finding herself dragged into the investigation anyway, especially when she feels the police aren't doing a proper job of it.

In addition to the chaos caused by the murder, her ex-boyfriend keeps calling her and trying to convince her to come to his wedding, and her dad suddenly shows up, having been released from jail. And of course, Heather is still crushing on Cooper, who seems oblivious.

As with all of Meg Cabot's books, the writing is breezy and amusing. This still feels more like a Young Adult read than an adult book, but it's still enjoyable. I'm still rooting for a resolution with Heather and Cooper. Good thing I've got the next book, Big Boned, in my TBR pile somewhere.

(I received the first book through BookCrossing in February 2008, and purchased the second book at a used book store in July 2009.)