Sunday, August 30, 2009

Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen

Sisters Van and Linny grew up in a Vietnamese household outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Van was the intellligent overachiever, while Linny hung out with the popular crowd. Now as adults, they still are not close. Van, a lawyer specializing in immigration, lives in Ann Arbor and is in a state of disbelief because her husband, Miles, left her. Linny, meanwhile, is single in Chicago and has broken off a relationship with a married man. When their father, Dinh, announces that he's finally becoming a U.S. citizen and that both his daughters must come home for the event, it causes the sisters to reflect on their childhood, parent's marriage, and future. Short Girls is an enjoyable novel about accepting your past and moving on set against the quirky backdrop of Dinh's failed career as a inventor of devices to aid short people.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A.D. : New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

In this graphic novel, Neufeld traces the lives of seven New Orleans residents during and after Hurricane Katrina. There's Denise, who lives with her extended family and doesn't evacuate. Leo and Michelle are a couple who do leave. Abbas and Darnell are friends who decide to wait out the storm in Abbas' convenience store. High school student Kwame flees to Florida with his family. Finally, there's the Doctor, a resident of the French Quarter who hosts a party during the storm. Through his drawings and the story, everyone's experiences come alive just as vividly, probably even more so, than any non-fiction book on the topic.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Vanished by Joseph Finder

Nick Heller gets a phone call from his teenage nephew, Gabe, asking for his help. Nick's older brother, Roger, is missing, and his sister-in-law, Lauren, is in the hospital after being attacked in Georgetown. Nick is a private spy, hired by influential people, sometimes even the U.S. government, for secret investigations. Even though he's been estranged from Roger for years, Nick feels an obligation to help out for Lauren's and Gabe's sakes. Slowly, Nick finds out things about his brother and his employer, Gifford Industries (a defense contractor) that raise even more questions. Will Nick be able to find his brother--dead or alive? With this book, Finder creates a hero, Nick Heller, that will be start of a series. I enjoyed the book, but the author has a long way to go in terms of character development to be as good as Lee Child.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Wet Nurse's Tale by Erica Eisdorfer

Like her mother before her, Susan Rose becomes a wet nurse to earn a living. She finds that the work is easier than being a maid or cook in the homes of the wealthy because you live upstairs with the family so you can feed the baby. But the job carries the uncertainty of being let go at the whim of the baby's mother when she decides to wean. Life is also hard and takes unexpected turns for Susan because she's a single lower class woman in Victorian times. When she has a baby out of wedlock, Susan must be crafty in order to be reunited with him after he's taken away from her. As a plucky, strong, robust, yet sometimes trampy main character, Susan comes alive on the page. I enjoyed this short novel that highlights a woman's profession at a particular time in English history. Not a great cover, though...

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Hidden Man by David Ellis

Lawyer Jason Kolarich is still in mourning over the deaths of his wife and daughter. He's barely working when he's hired by a mysterious Mr. Smith to defend Sammy Cutler. Sammy was arrested a year ago for killing child molester Griffin Perlini. Sammy believes that Perlini kidnapped his sister, Audrey, over twenty-five years ago (she was never seen again). Sammy's trial is in one month and Mr. Smith wants Jason to get Sammy off with no continuances, even though he's brand new to the case. Jason and Sammy also share a past. They were best friends when they were young and Jason remembers when Audrey went missing. Jason wonders about Mr. Smith's bosses' motives in rushing to get Sammy free, especially since they are trying to influence his handling of the case. Do they know what happened to Audrey and/or are they responsible for Perlini's death? The Hidden Man is the first book in the Jason Kolarich series. In addition to crafting a good story, Ellis has created a character that the reader roots for, despite his personal and professional flaws . The book will be published next month.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Panic Attack by Jason Starr

After Adam Bloom shoots an intruder to death in his home, his family (Adam, his wife Dana and their recent college graduate daughter, Marissa), think the worst is behind them. They couldn't be more wrong. A second robber got away and wants revenge for his friend's death. Johnny Long is gorgeous and fashions himself as a great lover who beds women and then robs them. He decides he wants to destroy Adam's life and figures that becoming close with Marissa will be the perfect way to accomplish his plan. Will anyone figure out who Johnny really is before he completes his murderous task? With Adam and Dana's marriage in shambles and their relationship with Marissa strained, Johnny's job may almost be too easy. Starr creates a book that's hard to put down, with detailed shifting perspectives that help create a high level of suspense.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Tricks by David Rosenfelt

Andy Carpenter is designated the caretaker of a Bernese dog who is the middle of a custody battle after his owner is murdered. Waggy's owner, Walter Timmerman, was a chemist who made his millions in the pharmaceutical industry. Right after he's appointed, Walter's wife, Diana is killed when a bomb blows up her home. Walter's son Steven disliked Diana (his stepmother) and is soon arrested for her murder. Andy decides to take him on as a client. But when Andy's girlfriend, Laurie, is shot, he realizes that someone wants Waggy dead. But what kind of threat does the dog really pose...and to whom? New Tricks is another humorous, light mystery in the long-running Andy Carpenter series set in Paterson, New Jersey.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Water's Edge by Karin Fossum

Reinhardt and Kristine Ris are a long-married couple who can barely stand to be in each other's company. When they find the body of a young boy while out on a regular walk together, the experience affects them differently. Reinhardt thinks it might be his fifteen minutes of fame, while Kristine dreams about the much longed for child that she feels Reinhardt has denied her. The murder case falls to Inspector Konrad Sejer and Jacob Skarre and they feel they have a great lead because the Rises saw the person who dumped the boy in the woods. When another boy goes missing, everyone wonders if the same individual is responsible. The Water's Edge continues Fossum's Sejer/Skarre mystery series. While I liked the book, it was missing the strong psychological aspect that some of her other books have. Her masterpiece in the series is definitely The Indian Bride.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Undone by Karin Slaughter

Dr. Sara Linton crosses paths with detectives Will Trent and Faith Mitchell while on the job in the emergency room at Grady Hospital in Atlanta. In treating a woman who was the victim of a hit and run after she was severely tortured, Sara's expertise and her background as a former coroner come in handy. With the victim near death and not able to communicate, Will and Faith are glad for any help, especially since the local police are resentful of them taking over the case (they work for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation). After Will finds a second victim, they know a serial killer is at work and wonder if they can amass enough clues to find him before he inflicts his gruesome acts on another woman. In Undone, Slaughter brings her two series together in one book successfully.