Sunday, May 22, 2005

Book Relay

Tonight I was cruising through the blogs I read and found this post from Miss Tree. She sent me to the Book Relay site where things look like fun. Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of this two week trip, so I won't be able to mail anything until mid-June.

This week's books

I know that I'm not finding the time to write about each of the books as I finish them. At this point, I consider myself lucky to remember to write them down. Since a lot of the books that I'm reading come from the Sanger Public Library, I'm really glad that the librarian will print out a list of the books I've borrowed for me from time to time. I use the print-out to make sure that I didn't forget to write the title, author, and ISBN down. The only problem with the listing is that the InterLibrary Loan books don't show the titles. But, I'm still better off than if I didn't have the list at all.

Since I posted last Sunday, I've finished four more books and I'm just going to log them all in a single entry in the blog.

White Thunder A month or so ago, I gave the librarian a list of 20 recently published (or scheduled) books which I would like for her to consider adding to the collection. This was one of them, and as soon as it arrived, she called me to come get it.

The last time FBI agent Andrew Thomas was seen, he was attempting to interrupt a healing ceremony in a rural area near Shiprock. Ella Clah, a special investigator with the Navajo Tribal Police and former FBI agent herself, is assigned to lead the search for the missing agent. Although FBI supervisors are convinced that Thomas was kidnapped by Navajos to punish him for distubing the Sing, Ella soon discovers that the reason is more sinister. Through perserverance (and some luck) she discovers that Thomas' current case involved exposing a fraud ring involving Social Security benefits.

White Thunder by Aimée & David Thurlo is the twelfth book in this mystery series featuring Ella Clah. As usual with this series, the Thurlos teach the reader about Navajo customs and beliefs by weaving the lessons seamlessly into their narrative. Reading the author profile in the back of the book, I discovered David is Navajo and has lived most of his life within the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners area of the US.

Millicent Min, Girl Genius Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee was a very delightful story for juvenile readers. During the summer between her Junior and Senior years in High School, 11-year-old Millie is allowed to enroll in one class at the nearby University, but she must also join a volleyball team with girls of her own age. The problem is that Millie doesn't know how to get along with her peers. It seems that she feels compelled to tell everything she knows about a subject, which makes things uncomfortable.

Millie quickly discovers that reading all about the game of volleyball and being able to calculate the flight path of a spinning ball doesn't help her at all when it comes to actually playing the game. And, if volleyball weren't enough humilation for the summer, she's been assigned to tutor Stanford Wong so he can pass to 7th grade.

Things start looking up when Millie makes friends with Emily on her volleyball team. But Millie failed to mention that she has a high IQ and when Emily finds out, she feels betrayed and Millie has to figure out how to make things right.

Lost Lake I read Lost Lake by Phillip Margolin on Audio CD, listening to it during my hour-long commute into Dallas and back each day. Margolin isn't an author that I had read before, and the Audio format gives me a chance to try out a new author from time to time. That's how I first experienced Tom Clancy -- reading Red Storm Rising as a Book on Tape.

The story begins in 1985 at the home of Congressman Eric Glass in Lost Lake, CA. He's just been brutally murdered and his house guest, Vanessa Wingate, is the only eye witness. Vanessa identifies Carl Rice as the murderer, but before she can be questioned by local police and the FBI, her father (an influential Army General) spirits her away to a mental health center.

Jump forward to the present. Vanessa is working as a reporter for a supermarket tabloid, though she'd like to move to one of the legitimate newspapers. She's blocked in this endeavor by the fact that she spent a year in the mental health facility and continues to proclaim that it was her father who ordered Rice to murder the Congressman. One night, she sees a television broadcast about a brawl at a Little League game in Portland. Amazed, she recognizes Carl Rice whom she hasn't seen for over 15 years. She believes it will only be a matter of time before her father arranges Rice's murder. Knowing that he's the only one who can help her prove that her father was behind the murder of Glass and others, she heads out to Oregon where Rice, now going by the name of Dan Morelli, is being held by the local police.

This novel is fast paced and full of intrigue, action, suspense, and even a bit of humor. I recommend it and I plan to find more books by Margolin.

The Priestly Sins I've wanted to read Andrew Greeley's The Priestly Sins ever since I read a review on his website several months ago. I got the chance this week when I saw the paperback in Barnes and Noble. This is one of several books I picked up with the gift card Ben gave me for Mother's Day.

Greeley tackles the issues of sexual abuse head on in this story of newly ordained Father Hugh Hoffman. Just six weeks into his first parish assignment, he hears a scream in the rectory and runs into Father Lyon's room as he is assaulting young Todd Sweeney. Horrified, Hugh reports what he saw to the boy's father, the pastor of the parish, the police, and even the Bishop, only to discover that everyone is more interested in covering up the event. In fact, the Bishop has Hugh committed to a local mental health facility and upon his release sends him off to graduate school and out of the diocese.

Fr. Andrew Greeley uses this likable young priest to tell the story of the long-running attempts by some in the Catholic Church to cover up the sexual abuse of children, often moving the abuser from parish to parish. Greeley is as critical of the administrators of the Church as he is of the pedophile priests themselves. Throughout the novel, though, you can see Greeley's abiding faith in God and the Church, confident that the problems can be overcome.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Romantic Mysteries -- or Mysterious Romances

I've noticed that there has been quite a lot of cross-over between the Romance and Mystery genres. Nora Roberts even brought in a trace of Science Fiction when she set her . . . in Death series in the near future of 2050. Now don't get me wrong, I really like good character development and nothing helps this along better than showing us the relationships the character has developed in his or her "life". But, the books I'm talking about are those that include a couple of steamy scenes which can sometimes border on the edge of pornography.

Flashpoint Early Saturday morning, I finished reading Flashpoint by Suzanne Brockmann. I had picked the book up at my local Public Library, deciding to check it out based on the description on the slipcover. It turned out to a very enjoyable read, even though there were some rough spots in the writing. And, it certainly fit into the category of a Romantic Mystery.

Lead character Tess Bailey is a computer expert and support specialist who wants to be a field agent. She's completed all the training and passed all the tests, but it looks like she's never going to get a chance to be an agent because she's so good at her current job. Quitting her job with the Agency, she travels to the headquarters of Troubleshooters, Incorporated, a private covert agency for an interview. There, she finds former agents and parters Lawrence Decker and Diego/James/Jimmy Nash. She's immediately hired and sent to earthquake-ravaged Kazbekistan in a team posing as relief workers to try and locate a laptop rumored to contain al-Qaeda plans.

Before Kazbekistan and before Decker and Nash leave the Agency, Tess helps Nash extract Decker from an undercover operation gone wrong. Nash winds up going home with her that night for a steamy one-night stand. There are a couple of problems, though. First, Nash is aware that Decker is very interested in Tess. And, although he thought it was only going to be one night, Nash found himself falling for Tess -- hard.

Cut to Kazbekistan. The romantic triangle produces lots of tension, particularly since Tess and Nash are posing as husband and wife. Add in the culture of rabid Islamic customs, a fugitive American woman, and a ruthless local warlord and the stage is set for action, adventure, and not a small amount of sex.

Okay. I liked the book. I'll probably read more by Brockmann. I even stayed up late so I could finish the book in time to return it to the Library by the due date instead of renewing it.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Books of April

These are the books which I completed during April. I didn't get many reviews written here. And, as you can see, I'm not doing much better with May's books. Links here lead to

  1. Every Boy's Got One by Meg Cabot
  2. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
  3. Flinx's Folly by Alan Dean Foster
  4. Second Glance by Jodi Picoult
  5. Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff
  6. Double Homicide by Jonathan and Faye Kellerman
  7. The Exploration Chronicles: Signals by Kevin D. Randle
  8. The City of Ember by Jeanne Deprau
  9. Fifth Quarter by Tanya Huff
  10. In the Company of Cheerful Ladies by Andrew McCall Smith
  11. The Sunday Wife by Cassandra King
  12. Truesight by David Stahler, Jr.