Sunday, December 30, 2012

Predictable but Sweet

Robyn Carr’s My Kind of Christmas is a sweet romantic novel. It is fairly predictable from page one but, nonetheless, a nice story. Patrick comes to Virgin River to deal with his issues after seeing his best friend shot down. He’s also heading to spend Christmas with his friend’s widow and son who he’s promised to take care of. Angie is visiting her aunts and uncles to get some space from her overbearing mother. Angie is recovering from a near-death accident and is not sure if she wants to continue medical school. Both Patrick and Angie need some to heal and figure out their next steps in life. The sudden mutual attraction is something both their families aren’t happy with. But it continues until the day Paddy has to leave. Yes, it’s predictable but it’s also enjoyable. And you don’t have to wait until next Christmas to read it. It’s a sweet book any time of year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Real Count of Monte Cristo

The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal and the Real Count of Monte Crisco, by Tom Reiss, is a wonderful historical lesson. I love reading history but admit many interesting topics become dull reads. Not so with this book. Reiss keeps the story going and makes this a very readable biography of General Alexandre Dumas. Dumas was the father of the novelist Alexandre Dumas, who wrote The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers. In fact, many of the Count’s adventures and predicaments in “The Count of Monte Cristo” were developed from the real count’s life. This book begins in France and then travels to Saint Domingue where the future General is a slave. It shows how he is brought back to France by his father and is “freed” once he sets foot on French soil. It continues through his schooling and his military career. This is nothing short of splendid story telling of a true story. General Dumas overcomes obstacles yet is also given some interesting advantages due to his mixed blood. But life isn’t always rosy and he spends some tough years imprisoned before again returning to his home and family in France. This well-researched history lesson is absolutely fascinating. If you like history, this is a must read. If you’re not so sure, give it a try anyway. You’ll find it surprisingly easy to read.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

If You're Looking for a Gift for a Young Teen . . .

If you’re still looking for one more gift for that young teen on your gift list, then you may want to pick up Kathryn Lance’s Going to See Grassy Ella. This story is based on the author’s real-life sister who died of leukemia at the age of 13. The book, however, has a much happier ending. Two sisters, Peej and Annie, from Ohio manage to get on a plane and fly to New York without their parents’ knowledge (that’s a bit unrealistic these days, but who knows?). Peej, a cancer patient, reads about a faith healer in New York and figures out how she and Annie can make the trip while their parents are at a conference. Once there, life is quite an adventure. From seedy hotels to a mysterious new friend to a Mets game, they manage to keep afloat. Finally, they get to see “Grassy Ella” and through it all also help to break up a drug ring. Maybe farfetched but lots of fun to read. The younger generation in your home will enjoy this book.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Good but Over the Top

Kate McGuinness’ Terminal Ambition is a Maggie Mahoney novel. Maggie is a partner in a prestigious law firm. Married to the managing attorney at the firm, she lives a privileged life and has a promising career at the firm. But all that changes after her husband dies in a skiing accident. Returning to work she finds she’s having trouble billing hours, but is assigned to a new committee to investigate and curtail any sexual harassment in the firm. And she does find many instances of sexual harassment – some definitely over the top. Maggie does a lot of snooping around and is always there for other women to talk to about their problems with bosses or other lawyers within the firm. The basic story is terrific. And I like that McGuinness works hard at showing the reader what is not appropriate and what no one has to endure in the workplace. However, to find so much harassment in one firm and to find such extreme circumstances – well, I just think McGuinness went over the top. When I started out as a secretary in the 1960s, I knew of sexual harassment although I never experienced it myself. There were ways of handling these situations and I was always successful in curtailing any problems before they got out of hand. I did know of others who were put into difficult positions and had more of an issue. In those days, there was little support for the victim but things have changed dramatically. Now I’m not saying that these issues still don’t exist in the business world, but certainly not to the extent as this book portrays. A lawyer exposing himself in anger in the middle of a secretarial pool office? Really? Maybe I live a sheltered life but I don’t think so. Other than some of the extremes in the book, I think this was an excellent teaching tool and interesting story.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Siren of Paris

The Siren of Paris, by David LeRoy, is an interesting and well researched book. However, it is a bit confusing as it jumps back and forth from the 1930s to 1960s. Most of the book takes place during World War II in Paris, but some of the jumps are a bit disconcerting. Marc Tolbert, dual citizen of France and the U.S., returns to Paris to study art. He eventually gets stuck there during the German occupation. He and several friends get involved in the French resistance and end up in a concentration camp. There is so much to this book. Mr LeRoy has done a vast amount of research and has incorporated much of it into his story. It shows people’s conditions and fears during the occupation and war. But it is also sometimes difficult to follow. Despite this, I couldn’t put it down because I wanted to learn more both about the time period and the characters of the book.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Not Macomber's Best

The Inn at Rose Harbor, by Debbie Macomber is apparently the first book of a new series by this author. It centers on three characters. Jo Marie is a young widow who has moved to this small-town to begin her new life. She purchases an old home and turns it into a cozy bed and breakfast. Her first two guests are Abby and Josh both returning to their hometown after many years. Abby who is 30 left town after high school. During her senior year she and her best friend were driving home from the mall and were involved in an accident. Since Abby was the driver, she continues to feel guilty because her friend was killed in the accident. Now she’s forced to return to town for her brother’s wedding and she dreads facing family. friends and the parents of her best friend. Josh also left town years ago after a falling out with his stepfather. A neighbor and friend has contacted him to asked him to return because his stepfather is now dying. There is still no love lost between his stepfather and himself but he's the only one who can help. I think Macomber does a good job with three separate stories and manages to intertwine them well. However, I feel each story lacked a bit of meat. Macomber is a good author and I feel she could have done a better job with her latest book. I hope future books will be put together a bit tighter. I’m not ready to turn my nose up at a Debbie Macomber book and will give her next one another chance.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Disjointed Thriller

The Geneva Decision: Pia Sabel #1, by Seeley James is a thriller about young Pia Sabel a college soccer star. But she drawn into her father’s security business and sees her first client assassinated. She’s out to solve this murder. This book is a quick read and a good story. My biggest complaint is that the story is a bit disjointed. Pia flits from place to place around the world and there’s often little connection or segway between these episodes. That said, I believe James has what it takes to create thrilling stories. I will be tempted to read any future work from this author and hope his next book runs a bit smoother.