Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Things That Keep Us Here

By Carla Buckley

From the book jacket:

“A year ago, Ann and Peter Brooks were just another unhappily married couple trying – and failing – to keep their relationship together while they raised two young daughters. Now the world around them is about to be shaken as Peter, a university researcher, comes to a startling realization: A virulent pandemic has made the terrible leap across the ocean to America’s heartland.”

Gosh, what can I say about this book that would describe how much I liked it? I read this book for an author discussion at Author Exposure Book Club on March 17 and we had a great discussion.

First off, Ms. Buckley takes the recent bird flu scare and turns it into a pandemic. But she doesn’t focus on the entire world or country. Her story revolves around a little neighborhood in the Midwest where people’s only concerns are providing a good family life for their children. Suddenly, they are faced with something so horrific – their children could all die – and they must make some tough decisions to ensure their survival.

I just can’t believe how well this book is written. It’s amazingly candid and I was totally gripped by the story. In fact, I couldn’t put it down and finished it within a couple days because I picked it up whenever I could squeeze in a few minutes to read.

This is, indeed, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and I highly recommend it to all my reading buddies.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday Mail Call

Well, it certainly was a busy weekend here. It was our annual Sandhill Crane Festival. Not only do I cover it for the local newspaper every year, I'm also a committee member, so I'm on the go constantly. I also write the registration brochure and a special section for the paper.

Now that the festival is over, I can mark that off my list of things I need to do.

This week is spring break for many of the public schools here, including the one my grandson attends. So, he is spending this week with us. Fun!

Here's a couple books I received this past week:

1. Sleep No More by Susan Crandall
2 When Will There Be Good News? by Kate Atkinson (audio book)

There are a few more, but I haven't had the chance to get them out of the packages and on may list. I'll include them next time.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Short story review: Almost Home

By Mary Eason

Kellie is returning home to Texas, but not by choice. Having lost her job in Denver, she has nowhere else to go … except to the house her grandmother left her. No one has lived in it for a long time, so she has no idea what she will find.

As she drives through sleet and black ice, hoping she will make it in one piece, she remembers the reasons why she left to begin with. Those reasons included the realization that her marriage had been a fraud.

Now, out of sheer desperation, she drives to her grandmother’s house, spins on the slippery bridge and plunges into the creek.

You'll have to read the rest of the story to find out what happens. And -- how fun -- you can get your own copy free on Mary Eason's Web site. Just follow this link, look around, read the story and enjoy the fun you'll find there.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Short Story Review: A Bargain With Death

One of my favorite writers is Hywela Lyn and her short story "A Bargain With Death" is one example of her extraordinary talent.

Here is a young woman who trades her soul with Death so her wounded lover will live. It's nothing short of lovely the way this is written. This story, only 8 pages, gives a great example of this author's ability.

Hywela lives in England and writes mainly futuristic stories (she has a very vivid imagination).

To find out more about Hywela Lyn stop by her Web site or blog and check out her books.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lion's Pride

By Debbie Jordan

From the back of the book:

“In 1911 Arizona, as Sheriff Paco Alaniz investigates the murder of Don Santiago Castillo de Leon, he must deal with the priest who seems to be more than a confessor to the distraught widow, a runaway teenager who’s promised as the tenth bride to the leader of renegade Mormon polygamists, an ex-Mormon gambler who wants to save his sister and the woman he loves from the husband they both share, and a vicious mountain lion threatening inhabitants of the Territory.”

Debbie Jordan did a great job writing this book because she obviously did her homework. She takes the reader back in time 100 years ago when the west was still considered “wild.” Arizona wasn’t a state as yet and marshal law ruled. Even though the law was directly tied to the U.S., there were still discrepancies.

I enjoyed reading this book and most people who like historical fiction should get something out of the story. It’s well written and fast-paced. It’s also an interesting tale of “murder, runaways, gamblers, adultery and mountain lions.”

I do wish, however, that Ms. Jordan has written two separate books rather than telling two stories in one. That would have allowed her to focus more on each and provide additional details. True, the two are interconnected, but there were times when the switching back and forth was somewhat confusing and redundant.

All in all, though, it’s a good read and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Mail Call

Here are the books I've received this past week in my mailbox!

1. Lamb Bright Saviors by Robert Vivian
2. Legacy of a False Promise by Margaret Fuchs Singer
3. The Life O’Reilly by Brian Cohen
4. The Male Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D.
5. The Clouds Roll Away by Sibella Giorello

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sign up for Spring reading challenge

Be sure to sign up for the Spring into Short Stories challenge, which begins tomorrow!

You can jump in at any time, but today is the deadline if you want to get in the running for the prize package that will be awarded at the end of the challenge.

Rules are posted at the challenge site.


By Ted Dekker and Erin Healy

From the back of the book:

“Janeal has long felt trapped in her father’s Gypsy culture. Then one night a powerful man named Salazar Sanso promises her the life she longs for – if she will help recover a vast sum of money tied to her father. When the plan implodes, Sanso and his men attack the gypsy settlement and burn it to the ground. During the blaze, Janeal is faced with a staggering choice.”

I’ve read mixed reviews about this book, but I did pick it up with an unbiased opinion. I was curious about reading something about the gypsy lifestyle as my ancestors were among the early wanderers in Romania.

This book started out very intriguing and I was enjoying it immensely … until I got past the fire. At that point, it turned very unusual and unbelievable. The twists and turns were just too hokey for me.

But the book is well written and I do believe many people will enjoy it.

This review is very short, but I’m at a loss as what to say about this book. I really think readers need to pick it up and make their own decisions.

These are two very popular authors and they do have their followers. I would like to try a different book by them to see if I like it better than this one.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


By Craig Larsen

From the back of the book:

“Seattle newspaper photographer Nick Wilder has snapped his fair share of gruesome homicide scenes. But when a serial killer dubbed the Street Butcher takes his sick crimes to new depths of depravity, Nick finds the case suddenly getting to him in more ways than one.”

I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy reading books where the characters are journalists. I love reading how authors portray the passion that comes with the business of reporting.

Why? Because it’s what I do. It’s how I make my living and it’s what defines me as a writer. It’s in my blood and I can’t ever imagine doing anything else with my life.

That said, I now turn to “Mania.” This book puts the reader right into the crime scene so he or she can view it from a reporter’s eyes.

Granted, Nick Wilder doesn’t carry a notepad. He carries a camera, which makes him a PHOTOjournalist and, from the description, a good one at that. His job isn’t that different than the reporter end. He just uses a different way to capture the scene – with pictures rather than words.

Nick gets sucked into the crime scene himself as he becomes the accused. How could this happen? How could his life get so turned around in a brief moment?

Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? Indeed!

And to top it off, this story takes place almost in my own backyard. I’ve been to the areas of Seattle where the book is set and I could picture the darkness, the stairs, the crumbling streets. Wow!

So, how do I rate this book?

Take the great contemporary mystery writers of today – Lee Child, Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell, you name it! – throw in some of the macabre of Stephen King and you get “Mania.” Undoubtedly one of the best books of 2009, this one will be hard to beat when the awards come out! And to think … this is only his first book. He says his second one promises to be darker than “Mania.” Amazing!

All I can say is: Bravo, Mr. Larsen, bravo!