Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle

This one is set in Provence, Paris, and NYC and it's a light comic caper about a stolen Cezanne. The comedy is mostly subtle and I would say it is more of a FUN read than a truly outrageously comical read, but the dialogue and the situations the characters find themselves in provide enough humor to cause a giggle or two now and then. The plot is easygoing and a little convoluted, though it doesn't matter because the "ride" of the story is much more fun than the story itself. A Cezanne painting is witnessed being taken away in a plumber's van. This starts the witness, a professional photographer, on a series of events to try and find out what happened to the painting and where it was going. It's a great beach read -- best on a Provence beach, though. Oh, well!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay

In her seventh novel, Ms. Ansay turns to historical fiction. This novel is a story within a story concerning a young mother and college professor who is writing a book about the pianist Clara and the composer Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann's relationship with the composer Johannes Brahms. Like Clara Schumann, novelist Jeanette is a gifted pianist and like Clara Schumann she has difficulty balancing her art with the demands of parenthood. The writing is lovely and lyrical and is a moving contemporary story of the difficulties that can affect an artist.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher

This tome is one of the best character studies in fiction I’ve read. All stemming from the elderly matriarch of a family of three children, Pilcher weaves a saga that is vivid, lush and wildly fascinating. The matriarch, Penelope, has just gotten out of the hospital at the beginning of the novel, for what she continually denies was a heart attack. Her children, all busy with their own lives, have trouble dealing with their headstrong mother. From this start, the novel traces the early periods of Penelope’s life…followed by the lives of her children and loved ones. All of the characters’ stories connect with Penelope in some way…she remains the focus of the story at all times. But, even with the vast amount of pages, I never once tired or grew bored of her or any of the other stories. This one takes a while to get through, but it is worth it!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch

A fun tale with an interesting weave of supernatural to change things up a bit. Tilly is bored with her life and her high school sweetheart husband and their inability to get pregnant is a constant source of contention. On a whim, Tilly visits a psychic, who happens to be a former friend, and this fortune teller warns her that she possesses the gift of "clarity." Not believing in any of the psychic stuff, she initially ignores the fortune, but soon she begins to have day dreams where she foresees what is about to happen in her life. After these flashes of future vision, Tilly's life begins to take turns she never imagined. This is the second book I've read by Winn Scotch, the first being The Department of Lost and Found. She is a strong writer who enjoys taking chances.

Fragile by Lisa Unger

A strong thriller that has small-town and strong families ties intricate to the story. Set in rural New York State, the girlfriend of police detective's son goes missing and the son is a strong suspect. This disappearance also brings to light the decades-old murder of a local girl who was friends with the detective during his high school years. Never having read Unger, I was surprised by how, not only well-written, but how formed the characters were. We really got to know these people and, as a result of that, you felt and cared for all of them. A VERY powerful thriller!

The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell

After 19 people are brutally murdered in a little small-town hamlet in Sweden , a judge who finds out she’s distantly related to one of the victims begins her own investigation. Brigitta, the judge, soon finds out that all of the victims might have had an ancestral connection that was the factor in their murder. The story, which goes from present day Sweden and China to American in the 1800s, is as nail-biting as they come. Mankell, known worldwide mostly for his Wallander mystery series, does a superb job of trying his hand at a standalone thriller.

Blood Hunt by Ian Rankin

An excellent standalone thriller by Rankin, who really, I feel, ranks as one of the top thriller writers, in addition to being a top-notch mystery writer as well, of the Rebus detective series. Taking place mostly in California , but also moves to London and Scotland , the main character, Gordon, here is a former Special Forces soldier who’s brother has committed suicide. Once Gordon arrives in California to take his brother home to the UK , he finds out that, most likely, it was not suicide, but rather murder. Fast-paced and very well-written this one is a must for all thriller lovers and British mystery fans!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wild Ride

Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer manage to do it again in their latest book Wild Ride. With action, adventure, and quirky characters, the paranormal storyline take the reader on one heck of a trip.

Dreamland, an old amusement park in Ohio, needs some work. Mab has been working her butt off restoring the park to it's former glory. Her goal is to have it shining for the Halloween celebrations. But it is a little strange that the owners and long time residents Gloria, Gus, and Delpha don't want her working at night. And they are a bit anxious when she is working with the statues of the park mascots. Especially after FunFun the clown seems to run her over - or was that an illusion she had? Maybe she has been working too hard.

Gloria's son Ethan returns from the military and gets shot at on the Dreamland grounds. Who is after the Dreamland residents? And what is up with the midnight roller coaster run? His mom keeps talking about demons. Ethan might just have to sober up to figure this all out. What do you mean he's the new Hunter?

Using humor, and great plotting, Crusie and Mayer lead the reader down the path to figuring out just how paranormal this family park is. With twists and turns galore, it is indeed a roller coster of a ride. Great dialogue and lots of frothy fun! And it makes one want to visit Dreamland for real! A great read.