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Books in Brief – January 2016

justin brotton - Friday, January 01, 2016

By Linda Sargent

 

 

“The Crossing” by Michael Connelly, Little Brown and Company Publishing

 

Skirting the very edges of the LAPD line in his last case, Harry Bosch is now retired, at loose ends and going stir crazy. After spending almost all his adult life putting people behind bars, it is difficult for him to transition to not having something to do. After much soul searching, Bosch decides to cross over to the “dark side” and work for the “Lincoln Lawyer,” his brother-in-law Mickey Haller, and help him prove that his client was framed for murder.

Bosch knows that when word gets around the police department that he is now working for the defense, his reputation as a good cop will go down the tubes as fellow officers will now view him as a traitor. But Bosch reasons that if his brother-in-law’s client is not guilty, that means there is still a murderer out on the streets.

Bosch soon uncovers a well connected and thriving prostitution and pornography business hidden within the confines of the police department and operated by bad cops.

Michael Connelly is an excellent storyteller, so if you enjoy this one, you may want to read more of his books.

 

 

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams, Penguin Young Readers Group

 

If you are consistently looking for books for the youngsters in your life, Pharrell Williams has turned his 2014 Academy Award-nominated song, “Happy,” into an illustrated book.

The song made number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 list and has topped the charts in more than 75 countries worldwide, and you cannot listen to this song and not smile and sing along.

The illustrations in the book are staged with costumed children participating in all types of events, and every child is – of course – happy. The book depicts a fun illustration of the song, and children and adults alike will sing and clap along to the lyrics.

 

 

“The Afrikaans” by Nick Pirog, Create Space Publishing

 

The “Afrikaans” is a luxury cruise ship that holds 208 passengers, all pampered guests. Among the cruisers is Thomas Prescott, a former FBI contract agent. The book begins with some similarity to the Tom Hanks movie, “Captain Phillips,” but it soon takes twists and turns that readers will find completely uncharacteristic with modern-day pirates.

When African pirates overtake the ship, the crew is locked up in the lower portions of the ship and all the passengers are maneuvered into the two largest rooms aboard. The pirates search the ship, but one passenger is missing – the one who is most important to them. Prescott takes on the responsibility of ensuring that all 400 hostages stay alive until the situation can be resolved. Thinking the pirates are after money and other valuables possessed by the passengers, he is a little surprised when they ask for ransom from the United States in the form of AIDS relief to be sent to a small Zulu village in South Africa. The pirates’ leader is also asking that three children be rescued from the village.

With the help of a World Health Organization doctor, Prescott must try to find the children and discover the truth at the bottom of the piracy – are they after AIDS relief or after a $2 billion ransom from one of the richest men in the world? And who is the missing passenger the pirates are so desperately seeking?

This book will keep you reading into the wee hours.

 

 

“Walk to BEAutiful” by Jimmy Wayne and Ken Abraham, Nelson, Thomas Inc. Publications

 

Imagine yourself at 13, forced out of the car hundreds of miles away from home in a strange city, with a small bag containing minimal clothing, and watching your mother drive off with her new lover. Could you survive?

This is the real life story of country music star Jimmy Wayne. Hungry and homeless, sleeping in the streets, bouncing in and out of foster care, Jimmy is faced with adversity daily. Being a fairly small boy, he is beaten and bullied when he does attend school. Like most boys of his generation, he gets hooked on rock and roll, and music becomes his salvation.

One day, in another strange town, Jimmy comes across a farmhouse. He soon begins tending the lawn each week, and is eventually invited to live with Bea and Russell. The stipulations are that he must cut his hair, and start going to church with them. They outfit him with new clothes, visit a barbershop, and acquaint Jimmy with country music. He finds a used acoustic guitar and discovers he has a love and talent for the music.

Fast-forward several years to October 21, 2009 – Jimmy Wayne and his band are getting ready to go out on stage at Madison Square Garden, opening for Brad Paisley.

What an incredible journey. Now, it’s time to make good on his promise to help “kids on the street.” A year later, Jimmy has walked 1,700 miles – halfway across America – to raise awareness of kids who have aged out of the foster care system at age 18, with nowhere to go and no advanced education. Before the walk was over, legislators in several states passed laws to raise the age limit to 21.

Jimmy’s heart, life and future were changed in that pivotal moment when Russell and Bea took him into their home. This book is a tribute to the woman who opened her arms and welcomed him into her heart.

 

 

“The Guilty” (Will Robie Series #4) by David Baldacci, Grand Central Publishing

 

Will Robie is one of the most valued government lethal assassins. He proves time and time again that he is professional, disciplined, and almost never misses. Out on assignment in a foreign country, everything is in place. He takes the shot, hits his target, and he is done. But then, as the target falls, he notices that the high-powered bullet has passed through the target and hit a little girl. Shaken, Robie heads back to the states.

On his next mission, he is unable to take the kill shot after spotting a young boy climbing into the target’s lap. A back-up assassin takes the shot and completes the mission.

But there was no boy – it was merely a hallucination. On top of all that, he learns his estranged father has been arrested for murder in the small town where Will grew up. Without help from his father, Will puts all his skills to work to find out what happened. Everyone in town assumes his father, the town judge, is guilty.

Robie is forced to relive the past when circumstances come to light in the small town related to actions his father took years ago, and decisions Robie made when he was younger have an impact on the outcome of the investigation.

 

 

 

 

 


BOOKS IN BRIEF – December 2015

justin brotton - Tuesday, December 01, 2015

By Linda Sargent

 

 

“Secret Santa” by Fern Michaels, Laura Levine, Marie Bostwick, Cindy Myers, Kensington Publications

This book contains four stories wrapped around the Christmas season, written by the four authors above. At 400 pages, each story runs about 100 pages each, but the book is a quick read.

Mister Christmas” finds Claire O’Brien unexpectedly traveling to Ireland just before Christmas – a wealthy client wants to change his will immediately. After arriving in Ireland, she is met at the airport by her client’s handsome nephew; she soon finds herself attracted to the nephew, who is wealthy in his own right.

The second story in the book is called “The Yellow Rose of Christmas.” Miss Velvet Tudmore never married, convinced that love was not meant for her. She is active in the community and looks forward to the annual Christmas ball. Then one day she receives a yellow rose with an enigmatic message. She thinks someone is playing a joke on her. But the roses keep arriving daily, and rumors start to spread through the town that she has a secret admirer. “Nightmare on Elf Street” by Laura Levine relates Christmas from hell. Jaine Austen works in the local mall as Santa’s Elf, taking photos with kids. When she is paired with an unpleasant Santa, her world is turned upside down.

Finally, “Room at the Inn” tells the story of Barb and her husband, who have been married for a number of years. She believes her husband wants a divorce. On the way to her family’s home for Christmas, they get caught in a blizzard and must hole up in a group of summer cabins, along with some other stranded motorists. It is during this stay that Barb finally finds out what is troubling her husband.

 

 

“Mentor: The Kid and the CEO” by Tom Pace with Walter Jenkins, MentorHope Publishing

 

Tony was just released from jail a week ago, and now he is in trouble again. He always had a reason to blame others for his woes – this time it was the guys he was staying with.

When he appeared in front of the judge the next morning, she could have sentenced him to seven years, but instead she gave him a lesser sentence and told him if he ever appeared before her again, she would give him the full seven years.

He spent most of his days staring at the four walls of his cell; then one day he volunteered to go to “group” with the other inmates. There, a nicely dressed man began talking, which Tony mostly ignored. The third week, the speaker gave him a book, which Tony didn’t read.

Tony finally read the book, after which the man gave him another one to read, and then another. After the meetings they began to talk, and one day the man gave him an assignment – to write down everything he wanted, no matter how “out of reach” it may seem. Upon his release, he met the speaker, Malcolm, and another young man at Lake Hefner, where they proceeded to run around the lake.

Over the next several months, Malcolm became Tony’s mentor and taught him several valuable lessons. In return, Tony helped Malcolm when he was facing issues of his own.

This is a true story that takes place in Oklahoma City. It is a quick read, and although it is not a simple book, it does make the reader take to heart the lessons that are between the pages.

 

 

“The Survivor” by Vince Flynn, Kyle Mils, Atria/Emily Bestler Books

 

Joe Rickman, a former CIA agent, has gone rogue. In a brilliantly masterminded scheme, he has stolen numerous highly classified documents, which, if revealed to our enemies, would put a great many U.S. assets in foreign countries in grave danger. Mitch Rapp is dispatched to find Rickman and the documents. He kills Rickman, but not before he sets up a schedule of pre-recorded messages for the CIA director about who is next on the kill list, but with never enough time to get the operative to safety. Rapp and the director uncover a plot to assassinate the head of the Pakistani government, and must kill the man trying to take over.

It seems like Rapp and his team are always five minutes late to the party until the very end. This is the fourteenth book in the Mitch Rapp series and it does not disappoint.

 

 

“The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital” by Alexandra Robbins, Workman Publishing Company

 

In this book, Robbins has followed real-life nurses in four hospitals and interviews hundreds of others to tell their stories, their struggles, and their often-difficult interactions with doctors. They spend more time with patients than the doctors do, getting to know them and caring for them on a daily basis. And yet, if something goes wrong, it is often the nurses who are punished, sometimes for carrying out doctors’ orders.

Nurses work in an environment of controlled chaos, where split second decisions can make the difference between life and death. Only a few stand up to doctors when they know they are wrong, and they continue to be bullied by doctors, patients, and sometimes their supervisors and hospital administrators.

It’s all about money – the more beds they can fill, the more funding they get.

As a result, nurses are often exhausted, don’t get meal breaks, have problems with their backs, and many succumb to pain killer addictions. Sometimes a nurse only needs to be thanked by a patient to feel appreciated.

This book can be somewhat disturbing, but seems to be a true accounting in the changing medical care world by the people who try very hard to make their patients comfortable.

 

 

“X” by Sue Grafton, Penguin Publishing Group

When wealthy Hallie Bettancourt hires Kinsey Millhone, a Santa Teresa, California private detective, for a simple assignment – to find Christian Satterfield, a bank robber recently released from prison, who was the baby 15-year old Hallie gave up for adoption years earlier – Kinsey agrees to take on the assignment. She’s also helping her friend Ruthie settle some papers belonging to her late husband, also a private detective who was shot the year before.

Little did Kinsey know that both investigations would intersect and put her in danger.

Kinsey locates Christian Satterfield and relays the information to her client. Unexpectedly, she discovers that everything Hallie has told her is a lie, and to make matters worse, Kinsey is paid in counterfeit money.

As always, Kinsey becomes embroiled in something that is much deeper and more complicated than she counted on. But like the first 23 alphabet mysteries that Grafton has written, she turns lemons into lemonade. Only two more letters left, and then what?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books in Brief - Oct 2015

justin brotton - Thursday, October 01, 2015

By Linda Sargent

“The English Spy” by Daniel Silva, Harper Collins Publishers

Gabriel Allon is a world-renowned art restorer who loves the side of his life that allows him to bring beautiful old paintings back to their original vibrant colors. But he also has a dark side. Gabriel is an assassin and a spy for Israeli intelligence, and is soon to become the head of Mossad.

He and his wife are getting ready to move back to Israel to settle in before the birth of their twins. However, he is called away to hunt the top IRA bomb-maker, who has just killed the beloved ex-wife of the future king of England.

While the world thought this was a terrible act of violence against a beautiful young woman, but the bomber had a different agenda. He has been hired by the Russians to kill the girl in an attempt to lure Allon and British assassin Christopher Kell out into the open so he can kill them. This is a contract that has been given to Quinn as payback for their interference in blackmailing the British Prime Minister into granting North Sea oil rights.

The storyline of this book takes the reader to Vienna, London and Ireland as Allon and Kell hunt the bomber. Allon is haunted by his memories of a previous bomb made by the same bomber, which killed his son and maimed his first wife.

Silva’s character, Gabriel Allon, ranks at the top of other government agents such as Jack Reacher, Jason Bourne and Jack Ryan. This is the fifteenth thriller starring Allon, and Silva has not lost his touch when it comes to his character or the way he weaves his plot to keep the reader’s attention.

“A Soldier’s Silent Prayer: The Survival Story of Phillip W. Coon” by Sherry Wickliffe Kast, Kast Publishing LLC

Phillip Coon was born in a small Indian community near Mason, Oklahoma on May 28, 1919. He was born into the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, whose members were a strong people with a long and rich history steeped in tradition. There were five children in the family, but three died while young, leaving Phillip and his sister, Sophie, who were very close.

When Phillip was 8, his mother died. Phillip’s father had a difficult time caring for his children after the death of his wife, so he sent them to live with their grandmother. But she died shortly after their arrival, and with no other relatives, he sent them to a boarding school. Phillip attended the Indian Boarding School in Sapulpa, while Sophie was sent to a girl’s boarding school in Eufaula, Oklahoma.

Phillip later attended high school at Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, and played baseball and basketball. While at Haskell he met and fell in love with Helen Simmer, and they married.

After graduating high school, Phillip enlisted in the army infantry on September 29, 1941. Shortly after, war broke out and he volunteered for the Philippines.

During his time in the Philippines, he was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring the long and torturous Death March. They eventually arrived at Camp O’Donnell, which housed 50,000 American and Filipino survivors who became captives of the Japanese. In June 1942, Phillip was taken to Camp Cabanatuan. Following the Battle of Corregidor, POWs from that battle were also diverted there, making it the largest POW camp in the Philippines.

After spending more than three years as a prisoner of war, Phillip was finally able to put his feet back on U.S. soil.

This is a tragic and triumphant tale of survival.

“Miami Requiem: A Crime Thriller” by J. B. Turner, CreateSpace Publishing

William Craig was convicted of murdering Senator Jack O’Neill’s only son, who had been acquitted of raping Craig’s granddaughter. There is no question of his guilt, and he is sitting on death row awaiting execution for the murder.

Rookie reporter Deborah Jones had a hidden agenda when she went to work for the Miami Herald – to cover the story of William Craig.

Before Goldberg sends Deborah out the door, he tells her to be very careful because powerful people want Craig executed. At the top of the list is Senator Jack O’Neill.

Deborah’s goal is to investigate all aspects of the case to try to get the conviction reversed to life without parole. Along the way, she encounters threats to herself and some of her co-workers, and resistance from the prisoner himself.

This book is fairly short at only 192 pages. It is a very quick read, but almost impossible to put down.

“Here’s Johnny! My Memories of The Tonight Show and to Years of Friendship” by Ed McMahon, Nelson, Thomas Inc. Publishing

On the morning of January 23, 2005, Ed McMahon’s wife, Pam, answered the phone at their Beverly Hills home. The blood drained from her face and she handed the phone to Ed. He knew immediately what he would hear. Johnny Carson, his friend of 46 years, had passed away.

Although they worked together as boss and sidekick, they had sincere affection for each other and treated each other as equals. They were both driven by their work, but also socialized together after work.

Most people thought Johnny Carson was cold and unfeeling, but Ed states that he was always uncomfortable around people he did not know. Otherwise, he was a warm and giving person who stood up for people and did not tolerate rudeness on his show. Ed remembers four times that brought Johnny to tears: when Bette Midler sang to him on his next-to-last show; at Jack Benny’s funeral; when Alex Haley, the author of “Roots,” gave him a leather-bound volume titled “Roots of Johnny Carson—A Tribute to a Great American Entertainer”; and when Jimmy Stewart read “I’ll Never Forget a Dog Named Beau,” a poem about his golden retriever.

For over three decades Johnny and Ed fit together like a hand in a glove. This is a moving memoir of the “blue diamond” master show host.

“The President’s Shadow” by Brad Meltzer, Grand Central Publishing

Beecher White leads a double life. He has an ordinary life on one hand, as a staffer with the National Archives in Washington, D.C., responsible for the safekeeping of the government’s more important documents; but he also has another job as a member of the Culper Ring, a secret society founded by George Washington over 200 years ago, charged with protecting the presidency – not the man, but the office.

The president calls on the Culper Ring for help. In this case, an arm has been dug up on the White House grounds, with a note in its fist, meant for Beecher – about the mysterious death of his father. As Beecher delves more deeply into this puzzle, other body parts turn up, and he is pulled into a world that brings him and some of his friends close to death.

Meltzer has written his third Culper Ring book and it is not a disappointment.

 

Books in Brief

justin brotton - Tuesday, September 01, 2015

By Linda Sargent


Face the Music: A life Exposed by paul stanley“Face the Music: A Life Exposed” by Paul Stanley, Harper Collins Publishing

Stanley Harvey Eisen was born with a condition known as microtia, which left him with no left ear and partially deaf. Subject to bullying at school, he became an introvert and retreated within himself. But when he was 12, a phenomenon called The Beatles blew onto the stage of the Ed Sullivan Show, and he was hooked on rock and roll music.

He picked up a guitar, let his hair grow long to cover his facial deformity, and joined a band. His life became all about music. Eventually, he and Gene Klein (who changed his name to Gene Simmons, while Stanley changed his name to Paul Stanley) formed a band by the name of KISS in 1973, which originally included Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Stanley was more comfortable hiding behind his persona nicknamed “Starchild,” and designed costumes and makeup for all the band members. This year marks the 40th anniversary of their first album. KISS has lasted on the music scene for several decades and, despite ups and downs, is still a popular band of the rock and roll era.

KISS was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Simmons and Stanley are founding partners of Rock & Brews, a chain of kid- and pet-friendly restaurants, with plans to open a location in Oklahoma City this fall.


Dirty book of Murder: a rare mystery by thomas shawver“The Dirty Book Murder: A Rare Book Mystery” by Thomas Shawver, Random House Publishing Group

A friend of mine brought author Thomas Shawver to my attention, and I couldn’t put this book down. He has since written two other mysteries that I also intend to read.

Michael Bevan is an antiquarian book dealer always on the lookout for rare finds to put on his store’s bookshelves. He reads about a sale at an auction house in Kansas City, and is drawn to the beautiful Japanese Shunga scrolls and a first edition of a novel by French author Colette, whose inscription by Ernest Hemingway makes it worth a small fortune.

When these items finally come up for auction, Bevan and a competing dealer are both outbid by a stranger to the tune of $60,000.

When Bevan spots the competing dealer stealing the Colette novel, he confronts him in a local bar. A fistfight ensues, and they are both ejected. But the man is later found murdered, and Bevan becomes the chief suspect. With the police only focusing on him, Bevan decides he must find the real killer. The trail leads Bevan to the world of power, influence, corruption, eroticism and pure evil.

While the title of the book may lead you to believe this storyline flirts with porn, this is not the case, and I think you would enjoy this mystery.


chicken soup for the dog lover's soul by jack canfield“Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul: Stories of Companionship, Comedy and Courage” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Carol Kline, Chicken Soup of the Soul Publishing

Chicken Soup for the Soul books have been around for several years, and they contain heart-warming personal stories that will make you laugh, heal and learn. This book is no different.

If you are an admirer of canines, this book will be uplifting as people share their stories about their favorite pets – their dogs. But be forewarned – you might need a box of tissues nearby, as some of these are tearjerkers.

One story, by Albert Payson Terhune, a well-known writer who authored the Lassie books, is about a friend whose six-year-old collie never forgot him.

These stories are short and the book is an easy read, and would make a wonderful gift for a dog lover.


minions: the junior novel by sadie chesterfield“Minions: The Junior Novel” by Sadie Chesterfield

By the time this review comes out, the movie will be in the theaters; by the previews, I think the movie follows the book pretty closely.

Have you ever wondered about Minions? We know these are just cartoon characters, but the Minion craze has spread like wildfire across the country. This book tells the story of how they came to be and follows their adventures.

Their story begins at the dawn of time, during the dinosaur period, as single-celled yellow organisms with one purpose: to serve the most despicable of masters. Yes, Minions are despicable also, but they have big hearts. And an undecipherable language all their own.

They evolved through the ages, and when their first master, a ferocious T-Rex, meets his demise in a volcano, they must find a new evil boss. Follow Kevin, teenage rebel Stuart and lovable little Bob as they leave their friends behind and travel from Antarctica to New York and London in search of a new master and save all of Minionkind from annihilation!

Who doesn’t love Minions, with their cute sayings that are all over the Internet? This makes a good bedtime story for your children and worth keeping on your bookshelf.

 

the liar by nora roberts

“The Liar” by Nora Roberts, Penguin Publishing Group

Shelby Foxworth grew up in Tennessee surrounded by a loving family and a multitude of friends. She meets a man whom she thought was the love of her life, and after a whirlwind romance, they married; he whisked her away to an elite Philadelphia suburb to live on an enormous estate, and to her delight was soon pregnant with her daughter, Callie.

Three years later, it all comes tumbling down when her husband is killed in a boating accident. Soon she discovers that not only is she flat broke, but she is thousands of dollars in debt. In the process of selling the house and all her husband’s belongings, she discovers the key to a safe deposit box, which contains cash and several passports, each in a different name.

She returns home to the Smoky Mountains and slowly begins to pay off her husband’s debts. Just as she’s beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, the other shoe drops. She learns that her husband was married before, and never divorced; the woman claims to be owed a great deal of money by her husband.

Just when you think the story is ending, it takes another twist and turn. Nora Roberts never disappoints.





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