Monday, July 25, 2011

A Little Ray of Sunshine

A Little Ray of Sunshine by Lani Diane Rich (available in eBook form from Amazon: here) is one of my favorite books to reread. The story starts with EJ living on the road in an Airstream constantly running away from her past and her regrets. That all changes when Jess's car breaks down at the gas station where EJ works and Jess decides this means she's supposed to help EJ. That night EJ's childhood friend shows up to tell EJ that she's expected to show up for her mother's eight wedding, this one with Digs's father as the groom. Going back will mean facing a mother who ignored EJ for most of her childhood and facing the man she had been engaged to before she left home. I enjoy EJ's narration, but I decided I was hooked the first time I read Jess explaining how she had to kidnap EJ and her Airstream. Watching these two as they make their cross country journey and then face the changes that have happened during the six years EJ's been gone is so much fun. I adore watching these characters interact and grow, and come back to them time and again. A fulfilling women's journey with lots of laughs.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Key of Sea

Key of Sea is Mary Stella's second book that takes place in the Florida Keys. When Dora Lee Morrison gets her walking papers from her now ex-husband, she returns home to figure out what to do with her life now that she's not a trophy wife. She drives back in to her grandfather Willie Hanson's Marina and Mall and moves back in to one of the cottages on the property, the one that has been hers since her parents died. Bobby Daulton has been in love with Dora Lee since before she left to make her name as a model and now that she's back, he decides that it is time to convince her that all her dreams are right there. The only problem is that her marriage and it's abrupt end has given Dora Lee a distinct dislike for being told what to do and has cost her most of her confidence.

Watching Dora Lee try to first figure out what everyone else around her seems to already know about starting over, and then taking her first steps in finding a new dream and identity, was very interesting. I liked how Dora Lee was willing to work hard and dream big and Bobby was supportive, but willing to call Dora Lee on her narrow view of life when she comes in to conflict with the shop owners at the Marina and Mall and her assumptions about herself and the world. I also enjoyed seeing glimpses of Victoria and Jack from All Keyed Up, and seeing the dolphins at Dolphin World again. Since Willie is dating Jack's Aunt Ruby, we get to see more of her and all of her gumption and wisdom.

This was a fun, light read. If you're not able to go on a vacation to the Florida Keys, this book can make you feel like you're sitting on the porch with the Marina and Mall gang watching the sun set.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

All Keyed Up

When Dr. Victoria Sheffield arrives at Dolphin Land at the beginning of All Keyed Up by Mary Stella, Victoria expects her research to make her name in the research world. Jack Benton, the nephew of the owner, has been recovering while trying to save Dolphin Land from foreclosure. Jack wants to be sure his Aunt Ruby isn't being taken advantage of by the research scientist, and his DEA instincts say that Victoria Sheffield is hiding something. It isn't her love and enthusiasm for dolphins, or her qualifications, he soon learns.

I liked watching Victoria and Jack as they found their way through the challenges of getting to know each other and learn to work together. Also, having a scientist who was enthusiastic, intelligent and committed to her research was very nice and felt consistent and well done in the story. I liked learning more about the dolphins and more about Jack, Victoria and Ruby based on how they reacted to the dolphins in the story. Ruby treats them as part of the family and beloved friends. Victoria loves the dolphins because of her passion for learning more about them and she is devoted to them. Jack doesn't want to believe that the dolphins know what is going on, but he keeps finding himself talking to them.

All Keyed Up is a very fun, light read. It is a perfect beach book. And if you can't get to the Keys in person, All Keyed Up is a good book to take your mind there.

Monday, February 21, 2011

California Schemin'

Bree MacGowan has gone on vacation to Northern California where her boyfriend Beau to try to rest and recover from finding a dead body at the Inn where she worked in Kate George's first book Moonlighting in Vermont, only to have another inconvenient body fall into her life. The woman falls from a bridge Bree is photographing into a river and Bree finds it was murder when she wades in to try to rescue the woman. Soon, people are after her to discover what she saw, and what she might say to the cops. After Bree handed over all of the evidence to Sheriff Fogel, she thought she was out of the mess, not wanting to get anywhere near another murder investigation, but when Beau's cabin is ransacked and his car searched, Bree heads back to Vermont hoping to stay out of trouble. Trouble follows her, and she finds herself back in California courtesy of Moose and Hammie, two operatives with murky motives, but generally nice guys, unlike their boss. So Bree finds herself having to get involved in trying to figure out what was going on with the woman on the bridge and how she ended up dead.

California Schemin' is told from Bree's point of view and follows her as she travels from California to DC to Vermont and back. Sometimes this causes the mystery to take the back seat as Bree tries to figure out whether she can trust those around her, but I felt satisfied with the end though there are a couple of questions that I hope a future book will have the answers to. Bree's voice sets the tone of the book and makes it light and quick. I liked the way Bree interacts with Moose and Hammie. I hope that they show up in the next book because they were fun to watch interact with Bree, especially Moose.

If you liked Moonlighting in Vermont or Murder with Peacocks by Donna Andrews, I think you'll like California Schemin'.

I got a copy of this book from the author.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Worth Dying For: A Review

Worth Dying For, the 15th book in Lee Child's popular Jack Reacher series, picks up a couple of days after the explosive end of 61 Hours. We join Reacher as he is wandering with more intent than usual. He is on his way to Virginia to meet the voice on the other end of a phone, sitting at a desk in an MP Unit that he used to be a part of. He is dropped off from his latest hitchhiking leg just outside a small Midwest town, where he finds trouble the way only Reacher can.

The Duncans, a set of three brothers and one son, own this town through control of the trucks that ship the towns produce out. They make their own law, so much so that even State Police stay clear. Within a few hours of ending up at the only hotel in town, Reacher defies the Duncan's standing order to stay away from the youngest Duncan's wife, who called the hotel looking for help from the town's doctor after she was beaten up.

Reacher, ever willing to even up the odds for women, steps in to lay down a new law for her husband, and puts himself in direct conflict with the Duncans and their ex-college football playing thugs. Along the way, Reacher learns of a very cold case of a missing young girl, from just before the Duncan's solidified their grasp on the town, and he becomes determined to discover what happened.

Watching Reacher juggle his escalating conflict with the Duncans and his investigations into the girl's disappearance 20 years before is as fascinating as ever. The two story lines play off each other, building to the conclusion.

Reacher moves through the conflict with much of his usual flair, but things are a little different than normal this time around. Reacher is clearly feeling the effects of the events at the end of 61 Hours and though Worth Dying For can be read on its own, 61 Hours does add depth to the reading of Worth Dying For.

The pacing of the two storylines, the mystery of the present situation and the girl's disappearance keeps the tension up while giving Reacher plenty to do. Reacher pursues his own type of justice in the town even the county police won't get involved in. He is once again the only one who could put an end to the situation he finds.

If you've enjoyed previous Jack Reacher books, you'll enjoy this one.