Friday, March 29, 2013

Private :#1 Suspect, by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Unsolvable cases
Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world's most effective investigation firm--sought out by the famous and the powerful to discreetly handle their most intimate problems. Private's investigators are the smartest, the fastest, and the most technologically advanced in the world--and they always uncover the truth.

Impossible murders

When his former lover is found murdered in Jack Morgan's bed, he is instantly the number one suspect. While Jack is under police investigation, the mob strong-arms him into recovering $30 million in stolen pharmaceuticals for them. And the beautiful manager of a luxury hotel chain persuades him to quietly investigate a string of murders at her properties. 

The #1 suspect is Jack Morgan

While Jack is fighting for his life, one of his most trusted colleagues threatens to leave Private, and Jack realizes he is confronting the cleverest and most powerful enemies ever. With more action, more intrigue, and more twists than ever before, PRIVATE: #1 SUSPECT is James Patterson at his unstoppable best.

Thoughts:  This one was okay, but not one of my favorites. The ending was just a little too predictable to suit me.

Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School, Book The First), by Gail Carriger

Synopsis:  It's one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.

Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners--and the family can only hope that company never sees her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Sophronia soon realizes the school is not quite what her mother might have hoped. At Mademoiselle Geraldine's, young ladies learn to finish...everything. Certainly, they learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but the also learn to deal out death, diversion, and espionage--in the politest possible ways, of course. Sophronia and her friends are in for a rousing first year's education.

Set in the same world as the Parasol Protectorate, this YA series debut is filled with all the saucy adventure and droll humor Gail's legions of fans have come to adore. 

Thoughts: What a fun read! Not only is it a good story line, but for those of us who have read the Parasol Protectorate series, it provides back story for many of the characters we met there. It also introduces new characters to flesh out the plot. Victorian era clothing, werewolves, vampires, ghosts, spies, airships, mechanical dogs.....what more can you ask for?  :)

Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis

No husbands allowed 

Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they're free to live someone else's life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

What happened last night?

In the morning's harsh light, Abbie awakens on a yacht, surrounded by police. Something awful has happened--something impossible, unthinkable. Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable. And now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime--for survival. GUILTY WIVES is the ultimate indulgence, the kind of nonstop joy-ride of excess, friendship, betrayal, and danger that only James Patterson can create.

Thoughts: One of the best Patterson's I've read in a while. The description of what these four women go through in a foreign prison after being wrongly convicted of the murder of a high ranking politician, and of the fight to prove their innocence, makes for a gripping page-turner--especially with the surprise ending and the reveal of the actual killer.

Indiscretion by Charles Dubow

Synopsis: "Every story has a narrator. Someone who writes it down after it's all over. Why am I the narrator of this story? I am because it is the story of my life—and of the people I love most. . . ."
Harry and Madeleine Winslow have been blessed with talent, money, and charm. Harry is a National Book Award–winning author on the cusp of greatness. Madeleine is a woman of sublime beauty and grace whose elemental goodness and serenity belie a privileged upbringing. Bonded by deep devotion, they share a love that is both envied and admired. The Winslows play host to a coterie of close friends and acolytes eager to bask in their golden radiance, whether they are in their bucolic East Hampton cottage, abroad in Rome thanks to Harry's writing grant, or in their comfortable Manhattan brownstone.
One weekend at the start of the summer season, Harry and Maddy, who are in their early forties, meet Claire and cannot help but be enchanted by her winsome youth, quiet intelligence, and disarming naivete. Drawn by the Winslows' inscrutable magnetism, Claire eagerly falls into their welcoming orbit. But over the course of the summer, her reverence transforms into a dangerous desire. By Labor Day, it is no longer enough to remain one of their hangers-on.
A story of love, lust, deception, and betrayal as seen through the omniscient eyes of Maddy's childhood friend Walter, a narrator akin to Nick Carraway in The Great GatsbyIndiscretion is a juicy, richly textured novel filled with fascinating, true-to-life characters—an irresistibly sensual page-turner that explores having it all and the consequences of wanting more.
Indiscretion also marks the debut of a remarkably gifted writer and storyteller whose unique voice bears all the hallmarks of an exciting new literary talent.

Thoughts:  An amazing first novel! There were at least three spots where a plot twist caught me totally off guard. I'm definitely going to be looking for more from this author. All the characters were very well written, and their stories tied together almost seamlessly. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fire, by James Patterson and Jill Dembrowski

Synopsis: Whit and Wisty Allgood have sacrificed everything to lead the resistance against the merciless totalitarian regime that governs their world. Its supreme leader, The One Who Is The One, has banned everything they hold dear: books, music, art, and imagination. But the growing strength of the siblings' magic hasn't been enough to stop The One's evil rampage, and now he's executed the only family they had left.

Wisty knows that the time has finally come for her to face The One. But her fight and her fire only channel more power to this already invincible being. How can she and Whit possibly prepare for a showdown with the ruthless villain that devastated their world--before he can truly become all-powerful?

In this stunning third installment of the epic, bestselling Witch & Wizard series, the stakes have never been higher--and the consequences will change everything.

Thoughts:  The more of this series I read, the less I seem to like it. I was glad that they defeated The One in this installment, but I spent most of the book thinking "just DO it already." It was all too strung out too suit me. I'm hoping there won't be very many more installments to this series.

The Constant Princess, by Philippa Gregory

Synopsis:  "I am Catalina, Princess of Spain, daughter of the two greatest monarchs the world has ever known...and I will be Queen of England."
Thus, bestselling author Philippa Gregory introduces one of her most unforgettable heroines: Katherine of Aragon. Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Henry VIII's older brother, Arthur, Katherine's passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents -- the crusading King and Queen of Spain -- have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.
Set in the rich beauty of Moorish Spain and the glamour of the Tudor court, The Constant Princess presents a woman whose constancy helps her endure betrayal, poverty, and despair, until the inevitable moment when she steps into the role she has prepared for all her life: Henry VIII's Queen, Regent, and commander of the English army in their greatest victory against Scotland.

Thoughts: As I said before, I'm a big fan of this time in England, and of the Tudors in particular. Katherine of Aragon was, in my opinion, the greatest queen that Henry had among his wives. She was primed her entire life for that position, and was the only one among the six who could make that claim. And being the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, she had incredible role models for how to rule a country.  If Henry hadn't let himself be led by lust, one can only imagine what a power England would have been in Europe.

Deadlocked, by Charlaine Harris

Synopsis: Felipe de Castro, the vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), is in town. It’s the worst possible time for a human body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

Now it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s set out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

Thoughts:  This is the next to the last True Blood novel.  :(  I've really enjoyed reading them, and getting invested in the characters. This book gave us more insight into Sookie's fairy relatives, and seems to indicate that the final book will at last contain the Sam/Sookie relationship I've been rooting for all along. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed till I read it, for sure!

The Boleyn Inheritance, by Philippa Gregory

She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a throne whose last three occupants are dead. King Henry VIII, her new husband, instantly dislikes her. Without friends, family, or even an understanding of the language being spoken around her, she must literally save her neck in a court ruled by a deadly game of politics and the terror of an unpredictable and vengeful king. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witnesses.

She catches the king's eye within moments of arriving at court, setting in motion the dreadful machine of politics, intrigue, and treason that she does not understand. She only knows that she is beautiful, that men desire her, that she is young and in love -- but not with the diseased old man who made her queen, beds her night after night, and killed her cousin Anne. Her Boleyn Inheritance: the threat of the axe.

She is the Boleyn girl whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. She is the trusted friend of two threatened queens, the perfectly loyal spy for her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and a canny survivor in the murderous court of a most dangerous king. Throughout Europe, her name is a byword for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust. Her Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul.

The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about a court ruled by the gallows and three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration, and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror. Once again, Philippa Gregory has brought a vanished world to life -- the whisper of a silk skirt on a stone stair, the yellow glow of candlelight illuminating a hastily written note, the murmurs of the crowd gathering on Tower Green below the newly built scaffold. In The Boleyn Inheritance Gregory is at her intelligent and page-turning best.

Thoughts:  I'm a sucker for any book about these ladies, and this time period. Philippa Gregory is one of the best authors of historical fiction, and particularly about the Tudors. It is like being right there in the castle with them as you read along. Anne of Cleves really got a rotten deal from Henry, but at least she escaped with her head intact. Katherine Howard was caught up in the aspirations of her family and her dreams of wealth and material possessions. As for Jane Rochford, she got exactly what she deserved in the end--one of those rare occasions where I actually think "Thank goodness she's dead!"  

The Husband List, by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly

SynopsisBased on the family from the bestselling Love In A Nutshell, the story of an heiress longing to marry for love or not at all
From The New York Times bestselling writing duo Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly, comes the story of a young woman’s search for true love. Caroline Maxwell would like nothing more than to join her brother, Eddie, and his friend, Jack Culhane, on their adventures. While Jack and Eddie are off seeing the world, buying up businesses and building wildly successful careers, Caroline's stuck at home frightening off the men her mother hopes will ask for her hand in marriage.  When her mother sets her sights on the questionable Lord Bremerton as a possible suitor, Caroline struggles with her instincts and the true nature of her heart.  She longs for adventure, passion, love, and most of all . . . Jack Culhane, an unconventional Irish-American bachelor with new money and no title. A completely unacceptable suitor in the eyes of Caroline's mother. But Caroline's dark hair, brilliant eyes and quick wit have Jack understanding just why it is people fall in love and get married.
Set in New York City in 1894, The Husband List is an American gilded age romantic mystery. It evokes memories of the lavish lifestyles and social expectations of the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers—a time when new money from the Americas married Old World social prestige and privilege. Dresses by Worth, transcontinental ocean voyages, lavish parties, a little intrigue, and a lot of romance await in, The Husband List.

Thoughts: A real departure from the Stephanie Plum series by Evanovich. I felt so bad for Caroline, and I'm SO glad I wasn't born in that era, as I could imagine myself being a lot like her. The idea of marrying someone my parents picked out, because of his family and his title, rather than someone I loved, is absolutely revolting to me! Reading about her efforts to thwart her mother's plans was hilarious---and reading the descriptions of the clothing was fun, as that's about the only part of that era I would have enjoyed.

Milk And Honey, by Faye Kellerman

Synopsis: In the silent pre-dawn city hours—alone with his thoughts about Rina Lazarus, the woman he loves, three thousand miles away in New York—LAPD detective Peter Decker finds a small child, abandoned and covered with blood that is not her own. It is a sobering discovery, and a perplexing one, for nobody in the development where she was found steps forward to claim the little girl.
Obsessed more deeply by this case than he imagined possible, Decker is determined to follow the scant clues to an answer. But his trail is leading him to a killing ground where four bodies lie still and lifeless. And by the time Rina returns, Peter Decker is already held fast in a sticky mass of hatred, passion, and murder—in a world where intense sweetness is accompanied by a deadly sting.

Thoughts: My first Faye Kellerman novel, read at the suggestion of my dear husband. Not only was the main case fascinating (I kept changing my mind about whodunnit!), but there were a couple of  other side stories going on....the love story between Peter and Rina (including facts about their Jewish lifestyle), and the tense story between Peter and his friend Abe. I have a feeling this won't be my last Faye Kellerman!!

The Litigators,by John Grisham

Synopsis: The partners at Finley & Figg often refer to themselves as a “boutique law firm.” Boutique, as in chic, selective, and prosperous. Oscar Finley and Wally Figg are none of these things. They are a two-bit operation of ambulance chasers who bicker like an old married couple. Until change comes their way—or, more accurately, stumbles in. After leaving a fast-track career and going on a serious bender, David Zinc is sober, unemployed, and desperate enough to take a job at Finley & Figg.
Now the firm is ready to tackle a case that could make the partners rich—without requiring them to actually practice much law. A class action suit has been brought against Varrick Labs, a pharmaceutical giant with annual sales of $25 billion, alleging that Krayoxx, its most popular drug, causes heart attacks. Wally smells money. All Finley & Figg has to do is find a handful of Krayoxx users to join the suit. It almost seems too good to be true . . . and it is.

Thoughts: A really gripping legal story. I loved all the main characters in the law office, and would like to see more stories about David in the future. Aside from the main story, there was a side story about a child with lead poisoning which I was very invested in seeing come to a conclusion.