Sunday, September 28, 2008

Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Hogan

Elizabeth Burns has traded her life as a journalist who travels to the world's hot spots for one in New York City, living with her husband, Mark, and two daughters. Now, at age 41, she has fluff assignments and a husband completely absorbed in his work. When she faints one evening, memories of her childhood friend, April Cassidy, who disappeared one day, come flooding back. Elizabeth decides to delve into what happened to April and finds that April's mother, Adele, severely depressed, took her two daughters' lives along with her own. What caused Adele to commit this horrible act over thirty years ago? Elizabeth's research into the past (she decides to produce a documentary on the subject) causes her to confront her own current unhappiness along with traumatic events from her upbringing and reporting career. Between Here and April is, at times, an unflinching portrait of marriage and motherhood, yet I could not put it down.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch

Jillian is a stay-at-home mom who lives with her husband, Henry, and 18-month-old daughter, Katie, in the suburbs. Her marriage is floundering and she is shocked to discover that, upon waking one morning, she's stuck seven years in the past. At the time, she was living with her boyfriend, Jackson, in New York City and had a successful job in advertising. Now, back in the past and knowing how things will turn out, will she break-up with Jackson so she can fall in love with Henry or does she tweak her relationship with Jackson to make it continue? Jillian also has the chance to reconcile with her mother (which she refused to do years ago) and possibly help a friend, Megan, stay alive. In Time of My Life, the pages fly by as the reader follows Jillian on her re-journey. Jillian's hindsight/foresight makes the story fascinating reading. It reminded me of Sophie Kinsella's Remember Me?, abeit more serious.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

Dr. Maura Isles is asked to observe a CT scan on a mummy that's been found at Boston's Crispin Museum. When the relic turns out to be fake, Detective Jane Rizzoli is brought in on the case. Who would cover a dead body in ancient wrappings? The answer lies with the mysterious Egyptologist Josephine Pulcillo. Josephine has a past that she would like to remain secret. But after someone else is found murdered, Jane and her partner, Detective Barry Frost, delve into the Crispin Museum's doings and Josephine's private life. The killer seems to have a love for performing creepy rituals after death, including making a tsantsa (a shrunken head). Can Jane uncover his identity before he turns another women into a trophy? The Keepsake is another fast-paced ride with Gerritsen's series characters of Isles and Rizzoli.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason

Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson and his colleagues Sigurdur Oli and Elinborg are called to a lake outside of Reykjavik after a hydrologist finds a skeleton in a drained lake. After some preliminary studies, it appears that the bones (with a hole in the skull) have been there since the 1970's. An old Soviet listening device is also found underneath the body. To try and identify the skeleton, the detectives focus on men who went missing in the early 1970's. Interpersed throughout the novel is the story of Tomas, who went to study at the University of Leipzig in his socialist youth. Are the bones somehow connected to spies in Iceland years ago? Indridason's story of Icelanders during the Cold War is particularly intriguing and, as usual (this is the fourth in the series), the insight into Erlendur's life, the foreign setting and the absorbing mystery make for compelling reading.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Guide to the Birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson

Mild-mannered Mr Malik really wants to ask fellow birdwatcher Rose Mbikwa to the Hunt Club Ball in contemporary Nairobi. He hasn't mailed the invitation yet, when his childhood nemesis Harry Khan resurfaces and takes a liking to Rose himself. With both Malik and Khan wanting Rose as their date, Malik's social club gets the idea for a competition--the man that sees the most species of birds in a week wins the right to invite Rose. Khan enlists the help of two Aussie birdwatchers and goes far afield to see as many birds as possible, while Malik stays close to home in his quest. While the story might be simple, Drayson infuses his novel with a hero to cheer for (Malik) and a colorful cast of secondary characters and a vivid setting. A read-alike for Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. An utter delight....don't miss it....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

When the White House Was Ours by Porter Shreve

Daniel Truitt's family has moved around a lot in his childhood. In 1976, when he's twelve, his father, Pete, decides to move the family to Washington D.C. so he can open up his own school, Our House. Pete is going to run it out of the family's abode with his wife, Val, as one of the teachers. With little money and a crumbling house, but a lot of spirit and free-thinking ideals, the family is, at times, stretched to the limit. Soon, Daniel's Uncle Linc, Linc's wife Cinnamon and their troublemaking friend Tino move in and join the staff. Getting students to attend Our House is a struggle, but the reader is completely charmed by the Truitt family and their ragtag story. Shreve again (as in his last novel, Drives Like a Dream) has created fully realized characters and a unique story. The book reminded me of The Rich Part of Life by Jim Kokoris and An Ocean in Iowa by Peter Hedges. When the White House Was Ours is a humorous slice into the life of a family during our bicentennial year.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock

Joel Deveraux is starting to put his life back together after losing his job at a prestigious New York law firm due to drug use. Now clean, he works in Brooklyn as a public defender, handling arraignments day-in and day-out. He is then given the opportunity to assist colleague Myra Goldstein in defending Lorenzo Tate against a murder charge. Lorenzo is accused of the killing of college student Seth Lipton and the attempted murder of Devin Wallace. Joel and Myra work together, interviewing witnesses and trying to build a case to keep Lorenzo out of prison. Their investigation puts Joel close to the temptations that almost ruined his life and both he and Myra become immersed in the case, at times dangerously so. Peacock is able to very successfully combine the story of Joel's recovery along with that of preparing for trial. Readers of legal fiction will be overjoyed to find a new author.