Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mystery Annotation - "Explosive Eighteen" by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum's romantic vacation was a disaster, and she's not talking about it. And neither are Ranger or Morelli. As if that wasn't enough, the moment she gets back to New Jersey, she finds herself in a whole mountain of trouble and for once it isn't her fault. The guy next to her on the plane never got back on after the layover, and now Stephanie finds out that the reason was because he's dead. The dead man had a lot of people interested in him because of a photo he was carrying. Turns out, only one other person saw that photo, and that was Stephanie Plum. Unfortunately, Stephanie swears it was a photo of Tom Cruise and all those interested parties don't believe her.

As if that wasn't enough, the bus that has been the new bonds office got blown up, Lula is under a potion and falls in love with a skip, and Stephanie's enemy Joyce Barnhardt forces Stephanie to let her move in her apartment and help her solve a case.

In this novel, Stephanie learns what it's like to be on the other end of a chase, and she doesn't like it one bit.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Romance Annotation - "Persuasion" by Jane Austen

I had chosen to do a "classic" in the romance genre, and who is a more classic romance author than Miss Jane Austen? I have been an Austen fan for a very long time, but the only book I had held out on reading was Persuasion. Why, you ask? Well, I had always read/been told that Persuasion was different than the rest of Austen's work and I took that to mean that I would not necessarily enjoy it as much as my favorite, Pride and Prejudice. While it is true that I did not enjoy it as much as Pride and Prejudice, I did actually enjoy Persuasion quite a bit.

Persuasion tells the story of Anne Elliot, the middle child of a vain and flighty baronet named Sir Walter. He and her older sister, Elizabeth, are more concerned with their social lives than about protecting the inheritance. This leads to them overspending and being forced to rent out their family estate to the Crofts. The Crofts are in-laws to Captain Frederick Wentworth, whom, seven years earlier, was engaged to Anne. Anne broke off the engagement at the time due to the influence of her family and friends who felt that Wentworth was not a good match for her as he had nothing to his name.

However, Wentworth has returned a rich man due to his success in the navy, and he has not forgiven Anne for breaking their engagement and does not know that Anne has been loyal to him all these years and still loves him. Anne must suffer through watching Wentworth court other ladies in front of her, all the while dealing with the unwanted affections of a distant cousin who the family hopes for her to marry. She does not trust him, as he has a mysterious and somewhat shady past.

Does Wentworth still love Anne? Will he ever be able to forgive her?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Romantic Suspense Annotation - "The Maze" by Catherine Coulter

I will admit, that out of all genres, I read the most romantic suspense novels. I love the mix of the romantic storyline with the often much-darker suspense theme that makes them such a page-turner. For this genre, I have selected one of the first books in a favorite series of mine, by Catherine Coulter. Coulter does a great job of providing details and insights into the killer's mind, while giving main characters and love interests that have more layers than most.

After her sister's brutal murder changed her life years ago, Lacey Sherlock is now a newly graduated FBI agent, assigned to the mysterious Criminal Apprehension Unit which is led by Agent Dillon Savich. Savich is well known throughout the FBI for creating a computer program that analyzes and helps identify serial killers. What Savich doesn't know is that all of Sherlock's training has been towards one goal: catching the serial killer who killed her sister 7 years ago. When the String Killer strikes again, this time in Boston, Sherlock is in a position to go after him personally. Sherlock becomes "bait" and comes face to face with the String Killer in one of his man-made mazes.

This is a fast-paced book that puts you in Sherlock's shoes as she deals with her feelings for her attractive boss and tries to solve the mystery behind her sister's brutal murder.


"Smash Cut" by Sandra Brown

"Into the Storm" by Suzanne Brockmann

"The Killing Hour" by Lisa Gardner

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kirkus Review - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

In her first novel, J.K. Rowling takes us inside the world of ten year old Harry Potter. So far, Harry's life has not been the best, his parents died when he was just a baby and he has been living with his aunt, uncle, and cousin who treat him like a household servant instead of a family member. However, today is his birthday and something miraculous happens. Harry receives a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This leads to a rather spectacular showdown with his family and the realization that Harry can do magic.

Once at Hogwarts, Harry meets other students and becomes friends, particularly with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. He also makes some enemies. Harry discovers that his parents were murdered by the evil Lord Voldemort, and that he is the only person to ever survive an attack by Voldemort, which makes him a bit of a celebrity in the wizarding world. Harry and his friends soon must solve a mystery involving the Sorcerer's Stone and keep it out of Voldemort's clutches.

This first novel quickly draws you into the action and gets you hooked on the world of Harry Potter and his magical friends. The author provides an immense amount of detail, bringing this magical world to life easily in the reader's imagination. It is not often that an adult can read and enjoy a story told through a 10 year old's eyes, but Rowling manages to make the story one that people of any age can enjoy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-590-35340-3
Page count: 309pp
Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Monday, February 6, 2012

Secret Shopper

For this assignment, I chose the Nora Branch of the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library. While this is indeed my local library, it was still safe for me to use since the only times I am in there are to pick up items on hold and checking them out via self-checkout machines, so the librarians do not actually recognize me.

I walked up to the "Information" desk where 2 librarians were assisting other people and a third smiled and asked if she could help me.

"Yes, at least I hope you can. I'm hoping you can help me find a good book to read, I've basically exhausted all of the authors I read so I need something new."

"OK, what are some of the authors that you read?"

"Umm... I read Janet Evanovich. Oh and Catherine Coulter is another."

"So you like funny stories?"

"Well, yes, I suppose that would be right. But the Catherine Coulter novels aren't really funny, I guess I like the mystery stories in those."

"OK, hmm... well do you ever like fantasy or supernatural aspects in your stories?"

"Sure, I could be open to that."

"Well, have you tried Charlaine Harris?"

"No... I've never heard of her."

"She writes the books that the tv show True Blood is based on."

"OK yeah I could be interested in that."

At this point she turned to the computer and started typing. While I never saw what she was looking at, I assumed it was the catalog since she said she didn't have any of the Sookie Stackhouse books in.

"Well, since you like mysteries, have you tried John Grisham? He's very popular."

"Umm.. I've picked them up a few times but never really was interested in them."

She then took me over to the mysteries section and started pointing out authors as she scanned the shelves, such as Patterson and Grafton. She showed me where the Harris books would be, and there was the Shakespeare series so I got a few of those books. She also still handed me a Grisham book and said she really thought I'd like it, so I took that, too, even though I really don't care for him.

Overall, I think it was a rather successful trip, since I have never read Charlaine Harris, mostly because I'm not that into the show True Blood, but I had no idea about this other series of hers that actually looks pretty good to me. However, she really didn't ask me that many personal reading preference type questions and never showed me what she accessed online so that I could find some myself. She just took me to the mysteries section and pointed out some popular authors, not necessarily authors that lined up with what I told her. She was very friendly and helpful, but I think she could have taken the time to ask more questions and utilize more reader's advisory tools.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"The Surgeon" by Tess Gerritsen

I have always been a fan of suspense novels and have read many in my time, so for this week's assignment I decided to try an author that is entirely new to me. How would I best find a new author without browsing through the fiction shelves for hours? (Not that I don't enjoy doing just that, but let's face it, I don't have a lot of free time lately and so I must spend it reading the book, not browsing for one.) This led me to NoveList, which thankfully I am able to access through IMCPL. NoveList led me to Tess Gerritsen, whom I had never heard of, but she writes a series about a female detective and female medical examiner in Boston. Perhaps you have heard of the TV show made from it, Rizzoli and Isles? Turns out I watch this show, so I decided to give the book series a try.

Well, it turns out that Maura Isles is not yet a character in the first book, The Surgeon, and that Jane Rizzoli is not the main character, which I found to be interesting since this book is considered to be the first in the Rizzoli and Isles series. This is a medical suspense novel that follows Dr. Catherine Cordell, a heart surgeon with a dark past. Women are being brutally tortured and killed across the city of Boston by a serial killer with a deep medical knowledge that he puts to use in the killings. This killer is focused on Dr. Cordell, who was the only survivor of a series of identical killings years before.

This is a relatively fast paced book, as are most suspense novels. It follows believable characters in a modern-day setting of Boston. The characters are far from perfect, with even the police showing that they sometimes break the rules. You get narrative from the killer himself, slowly helping you to try to figure out who he is, as the characters in the story do the same, but without this advantage. There is some graphic violence in the story, and also a bit of a love story involved.

Overall, this is a book that readers of medical suspense stories would enjoy, and I would be interested to read the rest of the series to see how they become more centered around Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. If you don't like the series, you may still like the TV show, which does draw ideas from the books but seems to take its own creative liberties, as do most.

Some read-alikes are the Temperance Brennan mysteries by Kathy Reich (the TV series Bones is based on these books), the In Death series by J.D. Robb, and the Theresa MacLean series by Lisa Black.