Monday, January 28, 2008

ANGELS FALL By Baron R. Birtcher

I enjoyed this book on a couple of levels. First of all, it's set in Hawaii. Is there anyone who is not captivated by this beautiful state if you have had the pleasure of going there? Secondly, I like the main character, a former LAPD detective, Mike Travis.

The novel has a plot involving ancient Hawaiian burial grounds, a missing teenage girl, drugs, and the growth of the human spirit. Mike Travis retired from the LAPD and wound up living on a boat in Hawaii! Wait a minute, are you thinking, "I don't think police work pays that well!" You'd be right! Travis comes from money with a capitol $$$$$. His father passed away and left Mike and his estranged brother, Valden, wealthy men. Travis is a cop with a past he can't leave behind and a brother he won't speak to. The complex plot flips over memories for our hero he would rather forget.

This is another action filled detective novel, but Birtcher gives Mike Travis a tormented soul that makes the reader like him even more. Yup, there's the obligatory murder, attempted murder, a beautiful woman and all of the goodies that make detective fiction so much fun to read. This is a real roller coaster and you won't know "who done it" until the very end. I enjoyed the novel. What do you think?

Friday, January 18, 2008

This is a most unusual book. The author shares her inner most desire with you dear reader. Her inner most desire, ever since she can remember, was to be a princess. Yes, many girls have similar dreams, but Jerramy Fine carries her dream to the nth degree! She identifies her prince in the family tree of the Windsor family, Peter Phillips,( the Queen's oldest grandson) when she is 6 years old. She spends her childhood writing love letters to Peter c/o Buckingham Palace, and she actually moves to London to try to make her dream come true! Once in her beloved England, she discovers that life is not the Hugh Grant movie she thought it would be.

This book is an often hilarious, and is a heartwarming true story about following your heart and having the courage to pursue your childhood dream no matter how impossible it may seem. The author has many adventures including meeting Princess Ann (Peter Phillips mum), befriending Earl Spencer and partying with the Duchess of York. Not bad for a girl born of hippie parents in Colorado! What do you think?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

THREE SHIRT DEAL:  A Shane Skully Novel By Stephen J. Cannell
Okay, I admit it.  I love action fiction.  Stephen J. Cannell is one of my favorite writers.  His fast-paced detective fiction never disappoints.  He is a true craftsman of words and action. 

Detective Shane Skully  is a bit of a maverick within the Los Angeles PD.  His marriage to his boss, Alexa Skully, is in trouble and he finds himself in trouble professionally as well.  A small time crook is convicted of killing his mother and sent to the brutal prison facility Corcoran, but the felon claims that he is innocent.  The path to determining the guilt or innocence of thisman  leads Skully into a dark underworld where police corruption and Hispanic gang violence are connected to millionaires and top of the political food chain.  Lives literally hang in the balance.  

The plot is complex as are the characters.  I loved this book.  I found myself having trouble putting this one down.  I think this one of Cannell's best Shane Skully works.  If you like action, you'll enjoy this one!  It's a real roller coaster!   

LET BUSTER LEAD:  Discovering Love, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Self-Acceptance By Deborah Dozier Potter
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an often under diagnosed illness, affecting an estimated 6-7 per cent of the U.S. population.  This inspirational book is the story of how the author's beloved dog, Buster, helped her reclaim her life from PTSD.  

The author's life is filled with a whirl of social engagements, meetings, and all of the activities associated with a the life of someone married to an attorney.  Tragedy for Potter struck when she suffered a major trauma after a horse accident.  After the accident, Potter found herself unable to function among people and developed an aversion to being touched, even by the husband who loved her.  As her panic and reclusiveness increased, Potter found that Buster was her only comfort.  Potter was diagnosed with PTSD.  She turned to Buster for help as a service dog.  He helped her manage her PTSD symptoms and become an active member of society again, and he even helped save her marriage.

The book is well-written with an equal measure of laughter and tears.  I enjoyed reading the book.  My hope and the author's, is that through the story of Buster, more people will find out about PSTD and get help.   

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Monday, January 14, 2008


Joseph P. Frisbie, Roy Jacuzzi, Jules Leotard and a dozen more are all people who have everyday items named for them. Philip Dodd takes the reader on 15 interesting journeys tracing the origins of these items. Dodd's writing style makes each journey unique and interesting.

This is one of those books that will constantly have the reader saying "I didn't know that!", or "Wow, so that's where that came from!" The book is a treasure trove. Dodd gives objects we take for granted a "heartbeat." All of a sudden we see the object in an entirely different way.

I found this book such an interesting read. It's almost like watching the PBS television show "Antiques Roadshow." As you read Dodd's book, you find yourself enjoying learning. I loved it. What do you think?

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PEOPLE OF THE BOOK By Geraldine Brooks

To quote Geraldine Brooks, "this is a book about a book." The novel is fiction, but is inspired by actual events that took place when Geraldine was a war correspondent working for the Wall Street Journal covering Sarajevo reporting on the Bosnia war. She heard about the Sarajevo Haggadah, a priceless, exquisitely beautiful, six-hundred-year-old Jewish book that was saved from destruction by a Muslim.

The novel opens when book conservator, Hanna Heath, is given the job of a lifetime, to analyze and conserve the famed Sarajevo Haggadah. Hanna discovers small remains in the book, (a butterfly wing, a wine stain, etc) that lead the reader on a journey to discover the "life" the book has led. Hanna is changed in the process. Brooks uses flashbacks to give us insight into the many lives touched by this magical book. I enjoyed it very much. The novel gives a peek into a fascinating profession and tells a magical story about a magical book. This one is not to be missed. What do you think?

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Sunday, January 6, 2008

MURDER WITH RESERVATIONS: A Dead-End Job Mystery By Elaine Viets
Elaine Viets has done something I find interesting. In her dead-end job mystery series, she populates the novels with people who are often "invisible," even though they stand right in front of us doing their job. These are the people we take for granted like the hotel maid, Helen Hawthorne, in this novel. Viets actually goes "inside" the dead-end job and works to get a feel for how the job and the people feel. I think it's quite effective.

Helen Hawthorne is hiding. She works as a hotel maid at Sybil's Full Moon Hotel in Fort Lauderdale feeling safe until one of her co-workers if found dead in the hotel dumpster. Helen found the body and that means she will have to talk to the police. To make matters worse her ex-husband is hot on her trail. Fortunately, the police don't seem too concerned about the body of a murdered maid, but Helen's sketchy story draws the suspicions/span> of a hard boiled detective. The plot thickens as treasure, more murder, and a sexy man enter Helen's world.

As I read the book, I became aware of how little attention we pay to some people. We take the services they perform for granted and often don't see the individual at all. Everyone has a story. Even though Helen Hawthorne's is fiction, as they use to say on the old TV show, "there are a million stories in the naked city." I found the novel, as usual, well-written with interesting characters and plot twists. If you like a mystery, you will probably enjoy the work of Elaine Viets! What do you think?

Another book by this author reviewed here: Accessory to Murder
ACCESSORY TO MURDER: A Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper Mystery By Elaine Viets
I like Elaine Viets work. Her mysteries are fun to read and I have reviewed several of them. One of the interesting twists in this book is that Elaine's mother actually was a mystery shopper! Elaine says in the Author's Note that her character, Josie Marcus, "is a mystery shopper the way James Bond is a spy."

Josie Marcus and her friend Alyce Bohannon are mystery shopping a really high-end women's store in a mall in St. Louis when a shooting and robbery take place. Alyce, the protected, wealthy, suburban housewife is shocked, but Josie, who lives in the real world, accepts the incident as a part of what is going on in our society. Little do the two women know that this is not the last murder in which they will find themselves involved. Alyce's sheltered existence is threatened when her husband is accused of the murder of a famous designer and Josie takes on herself to try to help her friend. Action packed with more plot twists then a pretzel is my description of this book.

I thought this book was more than just a fun read, although it is that. The author paints a picture of several segments of our society and it is not a pretty sight. I believe the author captures the meanness and pettiness of wealthy, sheltered individuals and how they will turn on one another in a heartbeat if they perceive some social faux pas has been committed. I liked this book for its action, plot twists, and social commentary. I like Josie Marcus as a character and hope to read more. What do you think?

Another book by this author reviewed here: Murder with Reservations

Friday, January 4, 2008

DYING TO BE THIN - A Fat City Mystery By Kathryn Lilley
First of all, I saw a picture of Kathryn Lilley... she is gorgeous! She looks like an actress or a model!

Kate Gallagher, a plus-sized TV producer with a "face" for television, but a plus-sized body that won't look so hot on camera, has just been fired from her job and her boyfriend has dumped her. At loose ends employment-wise and relationship-wise, she decides to trade Whoopie Pies for thinner thighs by enrolling as a client at the Hoffman Clinic, an exclusive weight loss clinic. In order to pay for the clinic fees, Kate has bartered her producer talents to the local TV station to be the subject of her own "fat makeover" documentary. Kate has been at the clinic a total of one day when she finds the dead body of the diet guru. Now that the menu features murder as the specialty of the house, Kate has her hands full being an investigative reporter and trying not to be the murder's next entree!

Such a fun read. I do enjoy mysteries and this one if fun. There are lots of unexpected plot twists and a romantic fling or two in the mix. If you're looking for a book to read and enjoy, this one is a good pick. It's escapism at it's best! What do you think?

365 WAYS TO BECOME A MILLIONAIRE (Without Being Born One) By Brian Koslow
Koslow uses 12 "Time Tested Principles For A Lifetime of Prosperity and Success." They are integrity, relationships, credibility, reputation, negotiation, listening, entrepreneurial ism, money, productivity, time, confrontation and leadership. I like this format for an advice book. I enjoy little bites of information. Research actually shows that the brain processes little bites more effectively. Each one of the 12 Principles has an introduction that validates why that particular principle is important and there are a series of short, succinct tips for each section. I like the tips particularly. The book will be useful, not only for it's personal advice, but also for quotes during presentations! I love quotes and am always looking for more. Let me know if you become a millionaire as a result of Koslow's book. I know several millionaires personally and while I am not one, I think I would enjoy that lifestyle too!

SLIM FOR LIFE: The Ultimate Health and Detox Plan by Dr. Gillian McKeith
It's that time of year when we usually make resolutions to eat better, lose some weight, exercise more, etc. I confess I am always intrigued by a new weight loss idea and any new cookbook! This one is beautiful, that's what first caught my attention was the way this lovely book looks! The photographs are sumptuous. I looked to see who did them I liked them so much. Two different photographers are featured in the book, Colin Bell (portrait photography) and the wonderful Benoit Audureau (food photography).

Dr. McKeith has a quote on the cover. She says, "Step by step, day by day, I will make it easy for you." The book takes a no-nonsense approach. The first thing you are asked to do is a food diary, not really new news, but Dr. McKeith actually tells you why it's important. I like the structured approach of the book. I am always looking for ways to make myself healthier. There are daily meal plans, supplement recommendations, and recipes in the book. I am always looking for recipes, not that I am such a great cook, but I love to try new things.

Some advice. If you're considering any weight loss program or exercise program, always, always talk with your doctor before you begin. Take a copy of this book with you to the appointment and let the doc review the program before you jump into it. I don't know if this program is for you, but you've got to at least take a look at the photographs! Some of them I would frame! What do you think?

Wow, this book will make you think and enjoy yourself while you're doing it! Izzo and his colleagues interviewed 200 "wise" people who are over 60 years of age. Why over 60? Who are the people he chose and why? What makes them "wise?" You'll have to read the book or listen to our interview to find out!

The book is filled with joy and a few tears. I was so moved by the personal stories. This book is valuable for so many reasons. First and foremost, it's really interesting. Second, the author gives his readers insight into how the interviews changed him personally and he shares the lessons he learned. In this overly connected, too-busy-to-think, hurry, hurry, hurry world of ours, John Izzo gives us pause for introspection. I really enjoyed the book. This is a gift to give yourself.

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