Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jenn's Review: The Liar's Lullaby

Summary: Tasia McFarland is a washed-up country-pop singer desperate for the break that will get her topping the charts again. The tabloids have raked over every part of Tasia's rocky life, following every high and low, her addictions, her breakdowns, her increasingly erratic behavior-and every broken relationship. The highlight of this lowlight reel: her failed marriage to an ambitious Army officer whose political talents earned him a spot in the nation's highest office. Tasia McFarland is the ex-wife of the President of the United States.
So when Tasia writes a song with politically-charged lyrics, people take note and her star begins to rise anew. In the spectacle-driven opener of her comeback tour, she is lowered into a stadium on a zip line and as helicopters fly overhead she fires her prop Colt 45 at the fireworks-filled stage. Tasia is riding high.

Until she's killed by a bullet to the neck, before the shocked crowd of 40,000.

When video can't prove that the shot came from Tasia's own Colt .45 and the ballistics report comes up empty, the authorities call on forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett to do a psychological autopsy and clean up the potential political disaster. But as Jo sifts through the facts, she only finds more questions. Was Tasia's gun loaded? Did she kill herself in one last cry for attention? Were her politically-charged lyrics the rantings of a paranoid woman losing her grip? Or warnings from a woman afraid and in danger? For Jo, pouring over Tasia's past quickly becomes a race to extinguish the conspiracy rumor mill before it incites a level of violence that reaches America's highest corridors of power-and tears apart the very fabric of our nation.

Review: It's no secret that I'm a huge Meg Gardiner fan – both her Evan Delaney series and her Jo Beckett series. This is the latest installment in the latter and it does not disappoint!

Being a forensic psychologist has it's caveats. It can make you a target for grieving family and psychopaths, and in a high profile case such as this, stalkers, conspiracy nuts, killers, and government intimidation. Jo must investigate this case quickly and thoroughly as she is feeling pressure from all sides to wrap things up (and everyone's pushing for a different outcome) but records are missing, interviewees are uncooperative, or unavailable, and things just aren't adding up.

Gardiner's books are fast paced and detailed. Did I figure out the whodunit before Beckett? Yes, but that's because the reader is supplied with far more information than poor Jo. The fascinating part was having more pieces of the puzzle than Jo, and being able to get a hazy picture of the situation, but not being able to put all the pieces together. We need Jo's investigation to do that for us. And even with all of that, there were still twists and turns that surprised me. Gardiner, as always, also finds a way to alleviate some of the the intensity in the book by inserting levity in the form of wit, sarcasm, and in this case, revenge on a prying media hound.

Though her books are parts of a series, Gardiner also makes them stand-alone accessible –especially the Beckett series– but with most series, they're more enjoyable in order. Relationships and non-plot related conflict are left open, leading the reader into the next book.(The first book in the Evan Delaney series is China Lake. The first book in the Jo Beckett series is The Dirty Secrets Club.)

Gardiner's one of the few thriller authors whose books I can never put down. I suggest you pick her up.


Friday, June 25, 2010

Jenn's Review: Finger Lickin' Fifteen

Summary: RECIPE FOR DISASTER - Celebrity chef Stanley Chipotle comes to Trenton to participate in a barbecue cook-off and loses his head—literally.

THROW IN SOME SPICE - Bail bonds office worker Lula is witness to the crime, and the only one she’ll talk to is Trenton cop Joe Morelli.

PUMP UP THE HEAT - The reward for capturing Chipotle’s killers: One million dollars.

STIR THE POT - Lula recruits bounty hunter Stephanie Plum to help her find the killers and collect the moolah.

ADD A SECRET INGREDIENT - Stephanie’s Grandma Mazure. Enough said.

BRING TO A BOIL - Stephanie’s working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, aka Ranger, during the day. Can she hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger’s problems and not jump his bones?

WARNING - Habanero hot. So good you’ll want seconds.

Review: There are mixed reviews of this book floating around out there which is why it took a year for this book to find itself on top of my To Be Read pile. Was I blown away by it? No, but frankly, I wasn't expecting to be. I picked it up for a nice light read with a good dose of humor, and that's exactly what I got.

I know Julie is sick or Stephanie never being able to make up her mind when it comes to the men in her life, but it doesn't bother me all that much. I think it's because I am not that invested in Stephanie as a character anymore. She's just a caricature. This wasn't always the case and I'm wondering when it happened (Was it the horrid 'between-the-numbers' books that divested my interest? I know it happened somewhere around book 12...) The series has certainly devolved a little, but not to the point of disaster.

All in all, there was nothing new in this book (cars exploded, shots were fired, Stephanie got covered in goop, FTA's were captured... eventually), but it was a good time visiting old friends, even if they are all crazy. I was laughing out loud at several points (Lula getting stuck out the window of an SUV being top on the list). It is a great summer read, as long as your not hoping for any romantic resolution...



Thursday, June 24, 2010

Julie's Review: In The Woods

Summary: Irish author French expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut. When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archaeological dig, Det. Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim's troubled family history. There are chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and the disappearance 20 years before of two children from the same neighborhood who were Ryan's best friends. Only Maddox knows Ryan was involved in the 1984 case. The plot climaxes with a taut interrogation by Maddox of a potential suspect, and the reader is floored by the eventual identity and motives of the killer. A distracting political subplot involves a pending motorway in Knocknaree, but Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma. ~amazon.com

Review: I admit it: I started reading In the Woods and then put it down in favor of something else. I don't think I was in the mood for it. I will say that I'm so happy that I picked it back up to continuing reading it. It's a great, complex, well-crafted thriller/mystery/suspense, told through the eyes of Detective Rob Ryan. Rob is a complex character. He searches for the truth but he lies to us and himself. He's likable at times and other times I couldn't stand him. He was moody and irrational but yet you felt for him. You see he was left alive while his 2 best friends were apparently murdered in the woods near his house. He's blocked out the events but lives with tremendous guilt, even if he can't admit it to himself.

His partner is Cassie Maddox and she's got moxie. She's a wonderful character and not as flushed out as Rob but really In the Woods is his story. I'm sure we'll get to know Cassie more intimately in the next book, The Likeness. She and Rob are great partners in every sense of the word, except for physical intimacy..that they don't share. I loved the fact that this relationship was deep and yet still platonic. There was definitely a brother/sister vibe to it and even Rob states that as a fact as well. Since the book is told through Rob's eyes we really don't get to understand Cassie's point of view but as a reader you do feel that you know her as well as Rob.

For me the main plot was finding out what happened to Katy Devlin and what the motive was for her murder. The secondary plot was what happened to Rob, Peter and Jamie in those woods when they were younger. Early in the novel you are lead to believe that the two stories are intertwined and again this has to do with the fact that we are seeing it from Rob's POV and he desperately wants them to be linked so that he can solve the missing years of his life. I don't think I was ever on board with this line of thinking and as the book starts to wind down, you begin to see how they are or are not related to each other.

With any good suspense/thriller/mystery you are lead to believe one thing, get a twist that shoves you in another direction and then yet another twist pushing you back to either your original line of thinking or another direction. Ms. French definitely achieves that here. She kept me guessing all along whether what I was thinking was right or wrong. This is where I think how the author decides to write the point of view is extremely important. The plot and subplots work because it's told from Rob's and not from a 3rd person. We'd have a completely different book if it was told from Cassie's (not that I wouldn't mind reading that as well).

It took me a bit to get into this book but once I did I wanted to find out what happened to Katy and to the kids many years before. Ms. French is an expert at writing characters and painting them so vividly in your mind that they stick with you and reverberate. I will say that I did enjoy her writing style once I got used to her penchant for prose. The novel could have probably been about 50 pages less if it wasn't so descriptive at times. There were times when I felt that I was in Rob's head too much and it became burdensome.

If you like your crime thrillers/suspense books, then you should pick up and read In the Woods. I will be reading The Likeness very shortly and that focuses on Cassie. I look forward to getting to know her better and living in her head for a bit.

I thought this would be like Harlan Coben's The Woods and it was similar but yet very different.

Final Take: 4/5


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Julie's Review: The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno

Summary: Inspired by a vintage circus photograph, Bryson's first novel tells the fictional story of the unusual relationship between two human curiosities from P.T. Barnum's American Museum. Bartholomew Fortuno, the world's thinnest man, is asked by Barnum to keep an eye on his latest acquisition—Iell Adams, the bearded woman, who is kept in seclusion until the impresario can introduce her to the world. Fascinated by her and desiring a transformative experience, Bartholomew falls hopelessly in love with Iell, much to the surprise of his fellow Curiosities. Bartholomew also gets caught in the middle of a war between Barnum and his jealous wife for control of Iell's future. The story culminates at Barnum's birthday party, where Bartholomew is shocked to discover Iell's big secret. Though thin on plot, this work sympathetically conjures up the backstage world of Barnum's museum and the pecking order of his Curiosities, and magically transports the reader back in time to Gilded Age New York. Fans of Water for Elephants are sure to want to enter this wondrous midway attraction of a novel. ~amazon.com

Review: What a perfect time to read The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno as I was going to NYC and that is where the book is set after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. We are quickly introduced to P.T. Barnum's American Museum and his "Curiosities". One of them is, Bartholomew Fortuno, "The World's Thinnest Man" and at 6' 60 lbs, he is definitely thin. He loves that he has a gift, it is what makes him unique and wondrous. He likes that he's a spectacle. He's made a comfortable life for himself at the Museum and is surrounded by friends and people like him. He's happy and content, until one night when Barnum brings a new woman into the threshold of the museum. This mysterious woman begins to shift the dynamics amongst the players. Relationships that were once solid become broken and people begin to change.

Bartholomew becomes obsessed with the new lady and her mysteries. He thinks that she is lovely and wonderful even though he's only had a couple glances at her. This is what begins him on the path to discover his real self. As much as the book is about the Museum, it's about one man's journey to self-discovery through his perceptions of himself, the people around him and the woman he begins to fall in love with.

I liked Bartholomew but I thought he was a bit naive at times and sometimes his behavior drove me a little batty but in the end I enjoyed his journey. The story is really his and his alone. The other characters just help him on his trip.

I didn't really care for Iell. I thought she was self-absorbed and coniving. I never felt that she really cared for Bartholomew the way he cared for her. I believe she was just using him to escape herself.

Ms. Bryson has an excellent way of making the characters jump off the page to you and in describing the museum. She also wrote Bartholomew in a way that you feel for him, you identify with him and he annoys you; much like a real person.

The book moves along at an even pace and slowly unfolds the secret. As the reader you find out things as Bartholomew does and have similar reactions to situations as he does. I will say that I did figure out a couple of the plot twists but it was nice to have my thoughts confirmed.

I would highly recommend this book if you are a fan of circus history, museum history and anything doing with NYC. The comparisons to Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen are understandable but I do think Water for Elephants is just a tighter woven story. That being said, I would definitely recommend that you pick up The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno to be transported to another time and place.

The book is out today; June 22, 2010

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book.

For more information on P.T. Barnum's American Museum, click here

To view the real people the characters were based on click here.
For a view of Manhattan during the time period, click here.

Final Take: 4.25/5


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Jenn's Review: Ice Cold

Summary: In Wyoming for a medical conference, Boston medical examiner Maura Isles joins a group of friends on a spur-of-the-moment ski trip. But when their SUV stalls on a snow-choked mountain road, they’re stranded with no help in sight.

As night falls, the group seeks refuge from the blizzard in the remote village of Kingdom Come, where twelve eerily identical houses stand dark and abandoned. Something terrible has happened in Kingdom Come: Meals sit untouched on tables, cars are still parked in garages. The town’s previous residents seem to have vanished into thin air, but footprints in the snow betray the presence of someone who still lurks in the cold darkness—someone who is watching Maura and her friends.

Days later, Boston homicide detective Jane Rizzoli receives the grim news that Maura’s charred body has been found in a mountain ravine. Shocked and grieving, Jane is determined to learn what happened to her friend. The investigation plunges Jane into the twisted history of Kingdom Come, where a gruesome discovery lies buried beneath the snow. As horrifying revelations come to light, Jane closes in on an enemy both powerful and merciless—and the chilling truth about Maura’s fate.

Review: As I mentioned in Tuesday's post, I've read Tess Gerritsen before, but this is the first time I've read anything from her Rizzoli & Isles series. Now I have to go back and read the rest! I usually don't like to start in the middle of a series, but I had no trouble jumping right in and becoming thoroughly immersed in the lives of the characters.

Maura is clinical about everything in her life, except perhaps love. But it seems that every time she does go out on a limb and take a gamble, it's the wrong gamble ~ and worse still, it's for the wrong reasons. This is how Maura ends up stranded in a snowed in valley with four people she barely knows. To make matters worse, it is obvious that something went terribly wrong at the cult housing... and there is evidence to suggest that they aren't alone out there.

Gerritsen is a masterful story teller and her plot has lots of twists and turns, one of which, in particular, I should have seen coming, and yet another of which took me completely by surprise. Like Dan Brown, she's not afraid to kill off characters, and she dose so without trepidation, giving her stories a realistic, albeit chilling, ring of truth. When the case is wrapped, it is done without bending the plot to a preconceived notion of how the story should end... it is satisfying yet open ended enough to leave room for new characters to return and old ones to reemerge. (I actually had to google one of the characters from the previous book after reading the last page because the last few paragraphs seemed ominous without context.)

I am thrilled at finding another series to delve into, even though my TBR pile is towering precariously on my desk as I type. Gerritsen is fast becoming one of my favorite authors and I hope the TV series* based on these books does her justice. (This book will be in stores July 27, 2010.)

*See my previous post for more details

Final Take: 4.5/5


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Book to TV: Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli & Isles

I heard rumors that there was a new novel-based series coming to TV, but I don't know if I realized it was from Tess Gerritsen. I've read some of her medical thrillers (in my quest for more books along the same vein as Kathy Reichs & Iris Johansen) but somehow I missed her Rizzoli & Isles series. I'm currently reading an advance copy of Tess Gerritsen's upcoming release in the Rizzoli & Isles series, Ice Cold, and loving it... and it's got me excited about the premiere of Rizzoli & Isles on TNT this summer.

I haven't seen a lot of promotion for this, but I don't start watching TNT until Leverage and The Closer return, so that's not a huge surprise. It stars Angie Harmon as Jane Rizzoli, detective, and Sasha Alexander as Maura Isles, medical examiner. If you're not familiar with the series, here's TNT's official summary:

RIZZOLI & ISLES follows Boston detective Jane Rizzoli (Harmon) and medical examiner Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander), complete opposites and good friends who solve crimes and bust some of Boston’s most notorious criminals. Growing up at opposite ends of the economic spectrum, the two remain strikingly different from one another in many ways. Jane, the only female detective in Boston’s homicide division, is a tough and gutsy cop who doesn’t let her guard down (except with Maura), dodges her overprotective mother and is better at basketball than her other. Maura, meanwhile, is usually more comfortable among the dead than the living. She is always impeccably dressed in designer duds with a steady, sometimes icy temperament. And she is working on curbing her tendency to diagnose the people she meets – including her first dates. Jane and Maura often find themselves working together as both use their brilliant minds and expertise to figure out the “who done it” as well as the “how done it” of Boston’s most complex cases.

Despite their many differences, Jane and Maura are best friends, with a quirky and supportive relationship. As Tamaro explains, “That Jane and Maura are so different and yet so effective as a team makes them unusual.… There’s something rare about their relationship that I see in the world but not enough on television: two smart, strong, competent women who instinctively drop the protective shield when they’re with each other.”

Is there room in the TV repertoire for another crime show, especially a book to small screen series? I think so. While Patterson's Women's Murder Club failed at it's attempted jump to the little screen, Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series has thrived with Bones going into it's 6th season with a 7th season already signed. I think Reich's series had an edge because it was so different and well scripted whereas WMC seemed to have some plot direction problems.

Will Gerritsen's series be able to hold it's own? I hope so. It's not under as much pressure being a summer show on TNT. Angie Harmon is a perfect choice ~I love her and am thrilled to see her back in this type of roll (although she is still the voice of Lindsay Boxer, even as I read). TNT has also taken a leaf out of Castle's book and they have created twitter accounts for their characters which is great transmedia without being too much (like Heroes online comic books that I never had time to keep up with).

There is a niche out there for this kind of show and I think this might fit the bill. TNT does 'know drama' and I look forward to this new venture. I know I'll be tuning in July 12th at 10pm!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations to Six for winning a copy of Teri Coyne's novel The Last Bridge.

Please email me (Julie) your mailing address so we can send the book off to you as soon as possible. Thanks to all of you for participating.

Thanks to Ms. Coyne for allowing us to giveaway her spectacular novel.

Girls Just Reading uses Random.org to produce the winner.


Random Musings

In the same conversation the other week, my good friend also asked me to name my Top 5 Fictional Male Characters and frankly, this isn't as easy as it you would think it would be. I decided to add 3 words describing why they are my favorite.

1) Henry deTamble (Time Travelers Wife)- Sensitive, Thoughtful, Romantic
2) Oliver Stone (Camel Club Series) - Patriotic, Heroic, Survivor
3) Stone Barrington (Stuart Woods' Series) - Suave, Smart, Clever
4) Andrew Ryan (Kathy Reichs' Series) - Smart, Sexy, Protective
5) Joe Morelli (Stephanie Plum Series) - Funny, Tough, Gorgeous

So, who are yours and why, in 3 words?


Friday, June 11, 2010

Julie's Review: The 9th Judgment

Summary: The most personal: A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in bloodred lipstick. The most dangerous: The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling is woken by a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars' worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is a nearly empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria. The most exciting Women's Murder Club novel ever. Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner, Rich--and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her engagement and the Women's Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line--but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best! ~amazon.com

Review: I really never miss a chance to read a Women's Murder Club book and bought it the week it came out but per usual I didn't read it right away. The 9th Judgment is a solid and intense entry into the series. These books never start off slow and always keep going without any slow parts.

It seems to be a pattern lately with these books where there are two murders but on this one, they weave them together in a great manner. The murders of the children and mother's is horrific. Thank god they don't get too gruesome in descriptions or I probably wouldn't have been able to finish the book. There is also the murder of Casey Dowling, a San Francisco socialite, by the cat burgler "Hello Kitty".

The ladies relationships wasn't as central in this book as it has been in others but there does seem to be some tension between Cindy and Lindsey. It should be interesting to see if this ever comes to a head. I'm hoping that Lindsey can move on from her attraction to Conklin and be truly happy with Joe since that is who she belongs with and that she realizes that sometimes being partner's is about having feelings for them but not acting on them. Now the summary makes this seem like it's front and center in the book but it's not. It's mentioned in passing and it related to the plot of the book.

There are a couple twists at the end where I was going thought I was going to have to throw the book if he ended it at certain points. There is enough going on at the end that I can't see what is planned for the 10th book. I have a feeling there are going to be major changes ahead for Lindsey and the group.

Final Take: 4/5


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Julie's Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Summary: Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there's no turning back. This debut thriller--the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson--is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo. ~amazon.com

Review: I'm pretty much of the opinion that if you haven't heard of this novel/trilogy, you live under a rock. Even my mom has heard about it! I know that a lot of reviews have been focused on Lisbeth Salander, the heroine, in the books, but for me The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is really Mikael Blomkvist's story. Lisbeth is intermixed in the beginning and does become crucial about halfway through but she's not the story in the book.

To me the book was about a couple things: 1) The mystery of Harriett Vanger's disappearance/murder and 2) Mikael's case against Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Most of the book is spent dealing with Harriett's case and boy was it an interesting one. I love how rich, well-to-do families have the most skeletons in their closets. It makes for great fun reading. The Vanger clan has deep and dark roots in Sweden. You see there was a faction of the family that was heavily involved in the Swedish Nazi movement. Thank goodness the book didn't really follow that trail.

Mikael was a fantastic researcher and ended up caring about the family more than any journalist should to maintain professionalism. I believe this is one of the reasons I liked him as a character. He's a good person. He's not just digging for an answer and be damned the consequences. I also really enjoyed Henrik Vanger, the patriarch of the family. The disappearance of his niece has haunted him for 40 years and helped shape how he viewed his other family members.

Lisbeth Salander is introduced in the beginning of the book but she doesn't become an integral part of the book until later. I'd tell you how but no, I want you to read the book. She's a mystery. She's brilliant with a computer but can't deal with human emotion or contact. She's got anger and anti-social issues abound. I have a feeling that this is what will get her into trouble in The Girl Who Played With Fire. She is definitely a mystery and that is what makes her so intriguing and for me, ultimately likable.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, well-crafted, exciting novel; you should pick up The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I know I picked it up after hearing all the buzz about it. I will say that this one lives up to all the hype. I will say I wasn't keen on the end but that's just because I wanted it to end my way.

I have a few books to read before I read the 2nd book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire but I will read it this summer.

Final Take: 4.75/5


Monday, June 7, 2010

Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Sneak Peek from MTV Movie Awards

Did you see this last night? (Some of us were watching Stanley Cup hockey instead of te MTV Awards...)


Wow. I've got chills. You?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Random Musings

In talking to a good friend the other day, she asked me to name my Top 5 Fictional Female Characters and frankly, this isn't as easy as it you would think it would be. I decided to add 3 words describing why they are my favorite.

1) Bridget Jones - Real, Funny, Relatable
2) Temperance Brennan - Flawed, Smart, Conflicted
3) Hallie Jones/Halycon Crane - Brave, Strong, Vulnerable
4) Evan Delaney - Quick-Thinking, Strong, Good Natured
5) Lindsey Boxer - Conflicted, Tough, Serious

So, who are yours and why, in 3 words?


Friday, June 4, 2010

Jenn's Review: Heat Wave

Summary: A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light.

Mystery sensation Richard Castle, blockbuster author of the wildly best-selling Derrick Storm novels, introduces his newest character, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat. Tough, sexy, professional, Nikki Heat carries a passion for justice as she leads one of New York City's top homicide squads. She's hit with an unexpected challenge when the commissioner assigns superstar magazine journalist Jameson Rook to ride along with her to research an article on New York's Finest. PulitzerPrize-winning Rook is as much a handful as he is handsome. His wise-cracking and meddling aren't her only problems. As she works to unravel the secrets of the murdered real estate tycoon, she must also confront the spark between them. The one called heat.

Review: This book is a transmedia part of the show Castle on ABC and I really can't discuss one without discussing the other. The premise of the show is that Richard Castle, a famous mystery novelist, follows around Detective Kate Beckett of NYPD homicide as research for a new series he's writing after having helped her solve a copy-cat murder based on one of his novels. The book is the first installment of Castle's new series with the lead character, Nikki Heat, based on Beckett.

Obviously, I like the show or I wouldn't have picked up the book. The dialogue is quick and witty and the characters are likable ~ in that way, it's almost like a Bones-lite. Also, as with Bones, I like the fact that the viewer doesn't figure out the whodunit ahead of time (I usually pick them out within the first 5 minutes of Mentalist, but not so here). I love the cameos by actual authors too such as Stephen J. Cannell, James Patterson ("Only one book a year, Rick?!?"), and Michael Connelly who all play poker with Richard Castle. Actually in the beginning of Season 1 they used to do this really awesome cinematography of the crime scenes to start each show and I kind of miss that... but I digress.

The book is supposed to be Castle's novel based on his exploits with Beckett and the NYPD homicide division, so it is loosely references several episodes of Castle. In that way, it was a lot like reading an episode of the show with the luxury afforded of being able to go into greater detail. It was a little strange at times because the reader is immersed in a fictional character's work of fiction. I could really 'hear' Castle's voice as the author... which is Nathan Fillion, but not because it's actually that the writer's of the show. So you can see how it could be a little mindboggling to me at times due the fact that it was a story in a story in a story, so to speak, not to mention the dejavu moments ('Oh, I remember this scene!') from different episodes of the show. Although, that means the show writers have voiced a solid character and that the continuity between book and show is flawless.

I thought it was a great addition to the Castle franchise and a winning idea from ABC (believe me, you don't hear me say -or read me type, in this case- that very often). It's a nice tie in and aussuaged the post-television-season blues. The second installment, Naked Heat, is due out in September and I've added it to my wishlist. Would you enjoy it if you haven't seen the show? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I don't know how much I would appreciate the voice of Castle-the-author if I didn't know the character. Then again, it's not quite 200 pages and a great plot with lots of twists and turns. It might just be a perfect summer read.

Final Take: 4.0/5


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Guest Blog: Teri Coyne

I'm so excited that Teri Coyne has graciously offered to do a guest blog for us in conjunction with the release of her novel, The Last Bridge, in paperback:

PhotobucketI’m not going to beat around the bush, I really want you to read The Last Bridge if you haven’t already. Although there are many reasons I want you to read it the most important one is that I want to know how you feel about the story.

Maybe it’s the solitary nature of being a writer, or the fact it took me over ten years to finish the book but I love hearing from readers and getting their perspective and opinions on the story. That’s why I love book clubs – not just for the wine and goodies (when I can attend in person) – but for that feeling you get when a group of women come together and talk. It’s exhilarating.

While authors speak a lot about the writing process and how solitary it is, few acknowledge the truth about writing, that before a reader picks up your book and reads it, all you have are words on a page. It is readers who make the story come alive and each one interprets and imagines the book into being. The process of reading, like writing, can be solitary as well. My feelings about all my favorite books are as personal and powerful to me as my feelings about my friends and family. And like those feelings, sometimes it is hard to describe the way a book has moved or changed me. Other times, it is impossible to keep quiet about a great story. The experience of reading a good book feels so real that I have to remind myself that it didn’t happen to me.

I lived with the story of Cat Rucker for a long time. She was in my head when I woke up and often appeared in my dreams. I knew her almost as well as I knew myself, or maybe even better. Over the years I came to understand why she was the way she was and how she might be able to transcend some of the challenges of her life. Her story is not an easy one, her experiences and choices are intense, she struggles and doesn’t always succeed. In other words, she is human.

I would welcome the opportunity to have you meet Cat and read her story, then I would love to know what you thought, how her story affected you and if you believe we are the product of our choices or our experiences.

For me, the point of writing, like reading, is to ask questions and open a dialogue, to provide a venue to connect, to share and to find ourselves somewhere we have never been before. What you bring to The Last Bridge is invaluable, as it is your heart, your mind and your imagination that makes the story real. I think of it like a cake I baked for just for you. I used the best ingredients and made it as tasty as possible. All that is left is for you to take a bite! (Great…all this talk of cake has made me hungry!)

If you want to learn more about Ms. Coyne check out her website, blog and you can follow her on Twitter and Facebook as well.

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