Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldman 340 pages

Love and Other Impossible Pursuits is not a book with a surprise ending or very many surprises at all, for that matter.  I enjoyed reading it because I enjoyed the point of view of the main character, Emilia Greenleaf.  She is the second wife of Jack, who has a preschool age son named William, and bitter ex-wife named Carolyn.  The story is set in New York City and descriptions of Central Park are scattered throughout the narrative.

I would not call this a great read, but sometimes I will finish a well written book just because it is well written.  

Rage Against The Dying by Becky Masterman 307 pages

Brigid Quinn is a retired FBI agent, recently married and living the life of her dreams in the Arizona desert.  And then a man confesses to a series of crimes, an old case that Brigid worked but never solved and where she lost her rookie partner whose body has yet to be found. The killer has agreed to disclose the location of the body in exchange for life imprisonment rather than the death penalty. When the current FBI agent on the case tells Brigid she believes the confession is fake, Brigid is drawn back to the life in a big and not entirely sanctioned way.

Did I mention she is fifty-nine, white haired and married to an ex Catholic priest?

Brigid Quinn is one of the most engaging, and believable, tough and determined, needy and self- sufficient and just plain plucky protagonists that I’ve come across in a long, long time. She doesn’t give up, she does what has to be done and worries about the consequences later. I cannot wait until the next installment, it was that good.

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes 438 pages

 Annabel doesn’t have much of a life. She is a police analyst, she lives alone but for her cat, she has no friends and she takes care of her aging mother. When she discovers her neighbors decomposing body in the house next door and realizes that nobody even missed her she begins an investigation to determine how many people actually die alone and forgotten. She is appalled at the inordinate amount she discovers in her town. Using her skills as an analyst she discovers a pattern and realizes that something is not quite right.

Human Remains alternates between Annabel’s narration and the actual killer’s although I’m not quite sure you can call him a killer since the victim’s all commit suicide. But he does play a part.

This is another case of choosing a book based on an author’s previous work and while it had an unusual and original premise it didn’t quite measure up to her earlier work. Too many bodies probably.

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty 369 pages

Louise’s nine year old daughter is killed by a hit and run driver and when he’s let off with a small fine and points on his license, Louise decides to hunt him down and exact revenge. She will take away what he loves most. At the time of the accident Louise was separated from her husband David who had abandoned his family for another woman.

Most of Whatever You Love focuses on Louise’s relationship with David—how they met, where it all went wrong and the other woman. We are fully three quarters of the way through before we get to the hit and run driver where the author devotes a small and unsatisfying portion to his story and then we are back to David who is apparently the love of her life.

I read this book because I was absolutely hooked by Apple Tree Road. Had I read this book first I might have had a different reaction. But as it was I felt let down. Even so I would still recommend this book. There is no denying that this author has serious skills as a writer. 

Good People by Ewart Hutton 326 pages

DS Glyn Capaldi is banished to the backwoods of rural Wales after he messes up a big case and a man dies. Determined to work his way back he decides to investigate what he deems a suspicious occurrence although he seems to be the only one who thinks so. Six men and a female hitchhiker disappear in the woods after a night of gaming and drinking and only five come back. And while everyone else—including the police is satisfied with the ridiculous explanation they give, Capaldi isn’t. As he delves deeper into the mystery he finds he is very much the outsider and neither the townspeople nor the police want anything to do with him.

While this book is well written and Capaldi is an extremely likeable character the story itself leaves a lot to be desired. It’s hard to believe the police would overlook the heinous nature of the crimes that were committed simply because they’ve known the suspects all their lives. Even his superiors forego their support and every battle is an uphill climb for Capaldi. Despite this I was engaged throughout the story until I reached the end and then it just fell off.

Good People is the first in a series starring DS Capaldi. I’m pretty sure I’ll read the second installment but I’m hoping the author will iron out the wrinkles before then.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty 317 pages

Louise is a perfectly ordinary, bright and capable, middle-aged wife and mother who begins an affair with a complete stranger an affair that takes her to the heights of passion and leaves her and her lover in a courtroom on trial for murder.

Apple Tree Yard is a psychological exploration of the dark side of passion and the consequences of burying your head in the sand when rationalizing the choices you make. And even if you don’t like Louise or think her actions are pure madness, the author’s excellent writing skills and the effort she takes in setting up the story allows you to suspend belief long enough to envision the kind of thought processes necessary to act as Louise did.

I can’t say enough about this book. It was everything I look for in a book and more.

The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman 345 pages

Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock about a half day away from the coast of Australia. It is a solitary and isolated existence until he meets and marries Isobel. At first they are joyously happy but after two miscarriages and a stillbirth their grief overshadows everything. And then one day a boat washes ashore carrying a baby and a dead man. Although Tom is a moral and law abiding sort he cannot turn away from Isobel's pleas to keep the baby. So despite his gut instincts he agrees, buries the man without recording the incident, and together they raise baby Lucy. When his tenure on Janus Rock ends they move back to Partageuse and civilization which in the end is their undoing. 

The Light Between Oceans is an emotionally charged book about love and loss--perhaps too much loss--and making decisions that have all consuming consequences, decisions that are both right and wrong and understandable as both. This was a book club selection that was loved by all the members. A great debut novel. 

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, 368 pages

The library book clubs are reading "Beautiful Ruins" this year.  My preferred method of "reading" books is actually listening to them but I read this one the old fashioned way.  As I have a problem finding the time to do extended reading that was a problem.  "Beautiful Ruins" involves several stories, characters, story types and fluctuates between 1962, the present and the recent present.

Just because I had a problem keeping all of it straight, that doesn't mean I am not recommending this book.  I am.  It is extremely well written, funny and smart.  Just do yourself a favor and take the time to savor it in big chunks.

Under Your Skin by Sabine Durrant 295 pages

Gaby Mortimer has the perfect life. She’s a talk show host of a popular morning show, owns a beautiful home, has a maid and a nanny too, a handsome husband, and a beautiful child.  And then one early predawn morning while out for her daily jog she discovers the body of a young woman left in a wooded copse and everything goes downhill from there. Fast. Gaby is eventually arrested for the crime, she loses her job, is hounded by the media. At first you don’t really care. She’s not the most likeable character with her self-deprecation, her middle class snobbishness, the passive way she seems to go through life. But there are more obvious suspects and when Gaby teams up with a journalist to investigate what really happened you find yourself rooting for her.

Under Your Skin is a fast paced, beautifully written thriller that has lots of twists and turns and a heck of a surprise ending. Excellent read!

How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman 272 pages

You know within the first few pages there’s something not quite right about Marta. She smokes but didn’t know she was a smoker, she’s on medication for some sort of mental issue or at least she’s supposed to be but she won’t take her pills, she remembers very little about her early life, and she sees things that other people don’t see. You could put it down to her controlling husband Hector or her meddling mother-in-law—she gives Marta a book for a wedding present on how to be a good wife, or the fact that she suffers terribly when her only child moves out and in with another woman. But that’s not it either. The problem is that you can’t figure out if Marta’s crazy or if the people around her are. And the author doesn’t say; she leaves it up to the reader to figure out on their own.

If you are the type of reader who likes things tidied up at the end and an explanation for what you just read then you probably don’t want to read this book. But if you like to put your own spin on things then How to be a Good Wife is just the book for you.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Bait by Karen Robards 372 pages

I have noticed that quite a few patrons with the same reading tastes as me read Karen Robards so I decided to give her a try.  I am glad I did.  While she does not rocket to the top of my favorite author list, I will certainly keep an eye out for her titles.  In this book, Maddie Fitzgerald is having the best and the worst time of her life.  In New Orleans to land a major account for her fledging advertising business, she is attacked in her hotel room.  But this is not just any attack and Maddie is just not any victim.  Maddie is walking a tight rope, trying to keep her past and her future from colliding in the present.  It just makes things more interesting that Sam McCabe, the FBI very special agent in charge of keeping Maddie safe is HOT!  All Maddie wants is a dog, a man, and her life back.  What will she have to endure to get what she wants?  Read and find out.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner 401 pages

This latest installment in the Detective D. D. Warren series is a dark, psychological thriller. D. D. has been injured, pushed down the stairs after going back to a crime scene in the dark. She has a severe injury to her shoulder and is seeing a pain management Doctor.  In the meantime, her team is trying to solve a couple of grisly murders where the victim is 1st killed, and then strips of skin are peeled from their bodies.  These murders are a copy cat of the infamous Harry Day.  In a plot twist, Harry has 2 daughters, Shana, in prison for life for murdering a playmate at 14, then 2 prison guards and a cell mate, and Dr. Adeline Glen, D. D.'s pain doctor!  Are his daughters some how tied to these horrendous copycat murders, or does some other evil lurk from the past?  Okay, I need a Debbie Macomber book now!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris 275 pages

I am not always in the right frame of mind to read David Sedaris but when I am, I always enjoy what I find. Usually there is at least one piece that has me laughing out loud.  Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls was no disappointment.  The laugh out loud came during Now Hiring Friendly People, but there were plenty of other smiles and grins throughout the book. 

#2 to Go was full of eye opening information to me.  I have never traveled to China (and hope I never have a need to do so) and some of the conditions and habits Sedaris described in that piece were pretty raw and disgusting.

Sedaris goes back again and again to his childhood, quoting his parents and describing their bizarre behavior.  Did his dad really come home from work every night and take off his pants, and sometimes his shirt, and spend the evening attired in only his underpants?

In Loggerheads, when a neighbor dies, Sedaris’ father tells the widow that her sons will need a positive male influence and he’ll be happy to provide what help he can, but his mother says, he’ll ignore them, “just like he does with his own damn kids.”

Overall, I loved this book and would highly recommend it.

Mirror Lake by Thomas Christopher Greene 212 pages

Thomas Christopher Greene tells a simple story of love, betrayal and loss in Mirror Lake.  One reviewer I read complained about his long paragraphs.  I can see that point but I really enjoy Greene’s descriptions and the rhythm of his writing, so I am not bothered by a long paragraph now and then.

The ending of this book is not really a surprise, but the intensity of the characters makes it a good read.  I would highly recommend this book.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander 207 pages

The short stories in this collection deal with Jewish religion, tradition and culture.  The Holocaust features in many of the stories as well.  In fact, in the title story a couple has invented a game in which they analyze acquaintances and friends.  The purpose of the analysis is to determine if the friend would harbor them, or hand them over to authorities, in the event of another Holocaust.

A few stories have some humor, one of my favorites was Camp Sundown.  However, even the humorous stories tend to have dark slants.  How We Avenged the Blums tells the story of a group of young Jewish boys who are determined to stop an anti-Semite bully.  The young men train under the direction of Boris, who asks “Do you know which countries have no anti-Semite?” The answer: “The country with no Jew”.

I enjoyed these stories and I would highly recommend this book.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin, 416 pages

"The Aviator's Wife" is a fictionalized account of the life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, otherwise known as Mrs. Charles Lindbergh.

Wow.  This was a wonderful book.  The story is told from the perspective of Anne Lindbergh and goes back and forth between 1974 when Charles was on his deathbed to Anne's remembrance of their entire marriage, from the beginning.

I came away from this book believing that Charles Lindbergh was a deeply flawed and difficult man and Anne Lindbergh was an amazing woman.  As in most historical fiction based on real events that I read, I am now dying to learn more.  And to read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's book "Gift from the Sea," which we thankfully have in the library!

Shadow Spell by Nora Roberts 339 pages

"Shadow Spell" is the 2nd book in the Cousin O'Dwyer trilogy.  Following the template of all other Roberts trilogies, there are 3 cousins and this one involves Conner and his lovely long time friend Meara.  Conner, his sister, Branna, and their cousin from America, Iona, are direct descendants of the Dark Witch and they must use their powers to defeat the terrible "dark fog" that threatens their family,their friends and their way of life.   A tale of good vs evil, good witch vs dark witch, with a little love, Irish lore and romance thrown in for good measure. A quick and easy read.

The Collector by Nora Roberts 483 pages

I have to admit, I am a huge Nora Roberts fan.  I love her trilogies, mainly because I never want the story to end.  She paints her characters so vividly that they come to life, and you want to know what happens, even when the story ends.  This is a stand-alone novel and quite a page turner!  Lila Emerson is a professional house sitter and Young Adult novel writer.  She actually has no permanent address.  All her belongings fit in two suitcases, with some overflow she keeps at her best friend, Julie's apartment.  One of Lila's habits is to watch the neighbors with a pair of binoculars; she like making up stories about them from her brief glimpses into their lives.  One night, 1:40 am to be exact, after wine and cupcakes with Julie, she is watching Ms. Model and Mr. Slick (Lila's names for them), when something goes terribly wrong.  Ms. Model is shoved out the 14 story  window by an assailant unseen!  Lila just knows it is Mr. Slick, although she has never seen anything violent happen between them before.  She calls the police and they find Mr. Slick murdered also!  That is when Lila meets Mr. Slick's (real name Oliver Archer) brother, famous artist, Ash Archer.  Lila and Ash team up and begin to delve into the mystery of why anyone would want to kill his charming and seemingly harmless brother.  Nora Roberts spins you into her web of antiquities, Russian Fabrege eggs, the collector who would to anything to acquire as many as possible and the assassin who would kill, just for the pleasure of it.  Ash and Julie must use their skills, wits and all the power and influence available to them to trap the murderous assassin before she can kill them both.  This is a highly recommend!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I'll Never Be Long Gone by Thomas Christopher Greene 285 pages

When Charlie and Owen Bender’s father dies he leaves his home and beloved restaurant in Eden, Vermont, to Charlie and a sum of money to Owen.  Owen has been in love with Claire Apple through his high school years but when he leaves after the reading of the father’s will, no one knows how to contact him for years.

Claire leaves town also, attends college and eventually moves to France where she perfects her cooking skills. She moves back to Eden following a failed romance and eventually begins working for Charlie.

Claire and Charlie fall in love, marry and have a son.  Owen returns to Eden and resumes his friendship with his brother and his brother’s wife.  Sparks fly, decisions must be made by Claire and Owen.  The rest is predictable, but a well written read, nonetheless. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seven Wonders: The Colossus Rises by Peter Lerangis 348 pgs.

I picked this audiobook up because it was coming back with good reviews from my kids here at the library.  It is a fantasy series that draws upon a new idea.  Where Rick Riordan plays on Greek and Egyptian mythology creeping into modern day life, Lerangis opted to go with Atlantian lore.  Honestly, I can't say I was really taken with this story.  I fear it might have been because of the reader, Johnathan McClain, who too often made characters' voices sound ridiculous and cartoonish.  That's great for picture books, but very distracting in a book like this one.  There was a heck of a lot of Deus ex machina and that got on my nerves.  Again, was it the reader?  It's difficult to say.  The story was not gripping, but the idea was interesting.  It ended with a distinct cliffhanger, but I don't care to continue it.  I think this is one that kids may find way more compelling than adults do, so I will still pitch it to kids who like Harry Potter and The Lightning Thief series.

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis 303 pages

The Mighty Miss Malone is by the author of Bud, Not Buddy and The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963.  This was such a great book.  It is just a slice of life story about a family that barely gets by during a time when hardly anyone was doing much more than just getting by.  Deza Malone is the youngest member of the Malone family.  She was such a believable and lovable character.  She was sassy and funny, but such a good kid, I was pulling for her the whole book.  Even when tragedy strikes, this little family just keeps on going.  Making the best of the worst and trying to keep on track.  Deza, who is 12-years-old, discovers that while they are "a family on a a journey to a place called Wonderful", that journey may be a difficult one and Wonderful may be something she didn't expect.
I kept waiting to be driven to tears.  There was certainly plenty in this book that could have moved me there, but Curtis did such a fantastic job of making these characters resilient and charismatic, I just enjoyed the ride.  No tears, just a sense of okay, maybe this is all going to be alright now.  I loved it!
This is a nominee for the Mark Twain award this year and would be great for kids 4th grade and up.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, 288 pages

The full title of this book is "Princesses Behaving Badly: Real Stories from History Without the Fairy-Tale Endings."  I downloaded this audiobook from Missouri Libraries 2 Go on a whim.  It looked like a fun book and I enjoy history.   

The book provides mini-biographies on many royal women throughout modern and ancient history.  It is well-written and in an irreverent voice that I really enjoyed.  The author begins by stating she wrote this to counteract the Princess Culture that is so prevalent today thanks to all the Disney princesses.  She wanted to tell the stories of real women, who did not, for the most part, live "happily ever after."  I might have checked this out on a whim, but I'm happy I did so.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene 277 pages

The first part of this book, “Acrimony”, is told by Arthur, the headmaster of a boarding school.  “Expectations” is told from the point of view of his wife, Elizabeth.  The final third, “After”, is quite short and is told by another character in the book, Russell.

Once I started this book I could not put it down.  The setting of a small boarding school is intricately described and, while the story seems simple, it is very complex and contains ambiguous (to me) outcomes.

Arthur and Elizabeth have a son, Ethan, who makes choices diametrically opposed to those his father wishes for him.  Russell plays an important part in the lives of this family. It is difficult to say much about this book without giving the whole story away.

I would highly recommend this book and I think it would be an excellent book club book.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner, 400 pages

"Fear Nothing" is the 7th Detective D.D. Warren book.  I found author Lisa Gardner last year, with a push from Carolyn Cunningham.  We'd just gotten a batch of new audiobooks in at the Downtown Library and I selected one to checkout and Carolyn told me I also needed to listen to the Lisa Gardner book.  Since that time, I have listened to all of Lisa Gardner's books that I can find.

D.D. Warren is a tough female homicide detective in Boston.  In "Fear Nothing" she is injured on the job after returning to a gruesome crime scene after dark.  She has no memory of what happened, but is unable to return to work due to the injury.  The crime harkens back to a long dead serial killer, Harry Day.

The other major character in the story is D.D.'s pain doctor, Adeline Glen, who happens to be the daughter of serial killer Harry Day.  Adeline has a rare genetic condition that makes her unable to feel pain.  Adeline's sister, Shana Day, is also a notorious murderer who seems to know something about this new killer.

I thought a couple of times towards the end that I was going to be disappointed in the outcome.  I was wrong.  Lisa Gardner has produced another great suspense story.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman 273 pages

My first reaction, after finishing this book, was to write a short review that simply said, “somebody tell me what this book means!”  However, after a day has gone by, I think the purpose of the book was to tell a story in such a way as to show how difficult it is to determine the truth, when someone’s mental stability is in question.

Marta has been married to Hector for years and the story of their meeting and early days seems ordinary until Marta begins to have flashes of memories which disturb her.  She has been taking pills, although who prescribed them, and what they are meant to treat, is not made clear.  She deceives Hector into thinking she is still taking them, but we find that she has actually been off them for some time.

We meet Hector’s mother who gave Marta a copy of “How to be a Good Wife” when she was married to Hector.  We meet the couple’s son and his fiancĂ©.  All the story is told from Marta’s point of view, and I have to say I was rooting for her throughout the book.

The book is a fast read but the further I got into it, the more I felt I did not know who was mentally unstable and who was fine.  The ending is expected, in a way, but wait, on the other hand, what really happened?  I am eager for some other readers to experience this book and tell me what they think happened.

Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer 144 pages

I found this book a bit difficult to read, which makes it a good thing that I listened to it instead. It seemed to be jammed pack with dates and was constantly cycling with characters. I understand that it is about the Salem Witch Trials and many people were accused, but spread it out a bit more.

The pictures of the book were a bit distracting. Since I listened to the book, I never had to worry about the pictures, but I went back and flipped through them. They seemed to be over the top and at times, a bit weird.

I like reading about the Salem Witch Trials and this book was interesting, but I can’t say that I would have read it without it being required for my Children’s Literature class.

This was read by Jessica Almasy.

A Chorus Lineup by Joelle Charbonneau 299 pages

This paperback is the third of a series.  I picked it up because I like to sing, I like mysteries and I really had little else to read.  It was okay.  An opera singer wanna be, Paige Marshall,  who just has not made it big yet, s coaching a high school show choir.  They have been invited to a big contest but murder and mayhem are distracting the teams. Paige becomes involved in solving the mystery because she has had experience doing this before.  It was a nice little distraction, but I doubt I will read any more of the series.

Private L. A. by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan 425 pages

This book is the 6th installment in the Private series.  A famous Hollywood couple suddenly disappears.  Have they been kidnapped or murdered and what has become of their 3 adopted children?  In typical James Patterson style, this book was a fast and thrilling read.  The short and action packed chapters keep the pages turning.  What struck me most about this book were the similarities to another real-life Hollywood couple, "Brangelina".  The couple in this book, like the real couple, are stars in their own right, writing and producing films, also.   They are huge philanthropists, visiting 3rd world countries, adopting special needs children and truly trying to make a difference amongst all the glitz and glamour.
However, in this story it all takes a dark turn.  Mega celebrities Thom and Jennifer Harlow have just returned from making an epic film in Vietnam.  Home less than a week, the whole family disappears, despite state of the art security systems.  That is when Private is hired to find the missing family. Will they be found alive?  Why have they disappeared? Sex? Greed? or some other darker will have to read to find the answer.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Trapped by Irene Hannon 380 pages

"Trapped" is the 2nd in the "Private Justice" novel by Irene Hannon, a Missouri author.  In Nora Roberts style, this series centers around three male characters, partners in the Private Justice P.I. firm.  In each book of the series, one of the partners aids a damsel in distress and,  in the process, falls in love. This book, features the female protagonist, a librarian, Laura Griffith.  Her 16-year-old step-sister has run away and she hires the handsome James Devlin to find her.  Laura's life is also jeapordized by the crazy Mark Hamilton, who volunteers in homeless shelters, trolling for young runaway girls he can "save".  This is where he comes in contact with Laura's step-sister. As a library employee, I guess the thing that bothered me about this book was Hannon's references to Laura being the "stereotypical" librarian.  You know, she always wears her hair in a french twist, she's very conservative...yada yada yada.  There is no such thing as a "typical" librarian and I hate the stereotypes!  Really ruined this book for me.

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card, 377 pages

I'm having a hard time blogging about this book.  I think it is because there are 11 books in the series and this is the second one I've read.  "Ender's Game" was the first and it was published in 1991.  As far as the story goes, "Ender in Exile" is #2, however, it was the 10th book written.

Either my cold or my question about the sequence of the books is stymieing my creative efforts.  Instead of trying to get that all straight in my mind, I am just going to say I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to hunting down the rest of the series and listening to them too.  

Who knew I would turn out to be such a sci-fi fan?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bark by Lorrie Moore 192 pages

Lorrie Moore’s book of short stories, Bark, is one I might try to get my hands on, to reread every couple of years.  The stories are thought-provoking and full of great details and dialogue.  It seems to be the sort of writing that would reveal new twists and possibilities every time one reread a story.

In one story Moore refers to a “rat king”.  I learned something from that, something I did not know about and which I might have lived a long time, happily, without ever gaining knowledge of it existing.

One of her characters says of regrets, “unless you have a life of great importance, regrets are stupid, crumpled-up tickets to a circus that has already left town.”   Just one of many things I like about her writing.

I would highly recommend this and other books by Lorrie Moore.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley 252 pages

I am not sure what to say about this book.  The story is about Stella, and starts with a long section about her childhood, living with her mother in a small apartment in England.  Stella’s mother tells her that her father is dead but there are hints that this might not be true.  Eventually Stella’s mother remarries and they move to a new home.

By the time this very involved part of the story is told, I was almost ready to put the book down.  However, I continued to the very end.

While the characters are interesting and the writing is good, I felt that there were several important issues that were unexplained or under developed.  In addition, we are made to think Stella is an individual and a different thinking and acting person than her mother.  In the end, however, she makes the same choices her mother did, so all that free spirit and choosing a different path stuff rang a false note.

I will put this on the “staff recommends” table, because it is an interesting book, but this is a book I will probably not go out of my way to promote.

Vanished by Irene Hannon 314 pages

Irene Hannon is a Missouri author.  This series "Private Justice" would be a good series to recommend to people who like non-gory mysteries, written from a Christian point of view.  I am not sure I would label this Christian fiction, it is very subtle, but none the less, there is no explicit sex, no over the top violence, and the characters are not afraid to ask God for help, when it is needed.

In this novel, Moria Harrison is lost on a dark, curvy, road on a rainy night in Washington, MO.  Suddenly, in her headlights, she spots a figure in the road.  She slams on her brakes, but it is too late.  Her car hits the frightened woman and careens down the bank.  A man opens her car door and promises to call for help, but soon Moria passes out and when she come too, she realizes no help is coming.  She enlists a private investigator to aid her in finding the identity of both people she encountered that night.  As the truth unravels, Moria finds herself in great danger but also falling in love with the handsome and capable private investigator Cal.  Can he save her in time?

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky 402 pages

Charlotte and Nicole have been friends since childhood, both spending summers on the Quinnipeague island off the coast of Maine.  Charlotte is a reporter who travels the world  and Nicole is a foodie, whose blog has been so successful she is going to write a book.  It has been 10 long years since the friends have connected.  Now Nicole enlists the help of her friend, Charlotte,  in putting the  book together.  But both have a secret they have kept from one another.  When the truths are known, will it destroy their friendship?  The intriguing part of this book was that both characters were reading the same novel "Salt" while unbeknownst to them, the allusive author lives right on the island...and he is HOT!  Lucky Charlotte hooks up with him and they help each other to overcome troubles from their past.  Their relationship was what made the book interesting, in my opinion.  Nicole and Charlotte's issues were too transparent but I liked the dynamics between Leo and Charlotte.  Just your typical romance novel.

Hey Cowboy, Wanna Get Lucky? by Baxter Black 223 pages

Lick and Cody are cowboys, who travel the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) circuit trying to earn enough money to make it to the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) in Oklahoma City. Both cowboys participate in the roughstock events, bronc and bull riding.

Lick and Cody have ups and downs during their traveling, from heartaches to injuries. Cody falls head-over-heels for Lilac, a woman he met in Kansas City, but does she feel the same? After Lick gets side-lined by injuries, he gets in a slump when he makes it back to the arena. While traveling, he finds a Copenhagen chew can that contains a guardian angel. With the help of Good Ol’ Pinto, Lick is able to make it to the NFR.

With just three bull rides left, Lick is set up to possibly win the event. However, unforeseen events keep Lick from riding his next two bulls. Lick makes it back for his last bull of the event, Kamikaze, who has hospitalized many riders. If Lick rides Kamikaze, he could easily win the NFR.