Monday, November 29, 2010

N Is For Noose - Sue Grafton

N Is For Noose
By: Sue Grafton
Published: 1998
My rating: Fair

My wife and I read this one to each other. Neither of us had heard of Sue Grafton and we both agreed that this was by far, not the best book we have read!

Kinsey Millhone is a private investigator in Santa Teresa California but when she gets a job in Nota Lake, she realizes that her life in the big city is much easier to handle than trying to break through the closed ranks of this small town and it's tight lipped population! It doesn't help that she was hired by one of the least liked women in town to dig into her husband Tom's death. It also doesn't help that Tom was a very well respected sheriff in Nota Lake and people weren't going to take kindly to a stranger diggin' up dirt on him! Despite the opposition, Kinsey soldiers on getting deeper and deeper into dangerous territory. The few friendships she manages to cultivate in the town are wary of her and it is obvious that friend and foe alike would prefer she drop the case and leave. She finally digs deep enough to cause some concern and she very quickly finds she has put herself in danger. Despite repeated threats, warnings, and even an attack, she continues on to solve the case.

I really was disappointed in Sue's writing style. The story was severely bogged down by excessive description of unimportant activities and places. One part describes in painstaking detail, the drive between Nota Lake and Santa Teresa, right down to which direction to turn on which route. Other places described a setting with as many as eight or more details that didn't add to the plot in the least. Kinsey came off as a whiny coward who would rather be doing anything other than solving a case that may put her in the slightest danger. One passage described her whimpering aloud when she was scared. I just couldn't bring myself to like her at all and felt that she was less than competent as a PI. The plot itself was poorly thought out and I was very dissatisfied with the ending which went way over the top. We struggled to finish the book and were very thankful to see the end of it!

Overall I think it's obvious that I didn't like it. The plot could have been bearable with better writing but slogging through the mass of unimportant detail was the main thing that ruined it for us. As is my rule, I'm not going to write off Sue's work after this one book. Hopefully, as I have found with other authors, I'll be pleasantly surprised with the next one I try!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Peach Cobbler Murder - Joanne Fluke

Peach Cobbler Murder
By: Joanne Fluke
Published: 2005
Audiobook Read by: Suzanne Toren
My rating: Delightful

When I saw the words "Peach Cobbler" and "Murder" together in the title, how could I resist? This was an interesting romp in the frozen world of Lake Eden, Minnesota, where warm baked goods and hot coffee are a welcome escape from the sub zero cold!

Hannah Swensen, the owner of The Cookie Jar, Lake Eden's best and only bakery is just about sunk by the upstart bakery that moves in across the street! The Magnolia Blossom is run by two sisters who's sole purpose seems to be running The Cookie Jar out of business. Despite inferior quality treats, they use a seemingly foolproof plan of contests and special promotions to keep the business coming through their doors instead of Hannah's. But one contingency their plan didn't seem to cover was murder. When a body turns up in the town of Lake Eden, it's not the police who solve the mystery, it's Hannah. Despite strong warnings from the police to stay out of the way, Hannah sets out to figure out just what happened and very nearly winds up regretting it!

This was definitely a fun story and I enjoyed the crazy way Hannah goes about her detective activities. The plot was well thought out and I didn't figure out the crime until shortly before the big reveal. Hannah is surrounded by many friends, all of whom love to get involved in a juicy investigation, despite the fact that none of them are qualified to do so! Unfortunately for the police, if it wasn't for Hannah, a murderer would go free! So for the foreseeable future, if there's a crime, there will be no stopping Hannah Swensen from trying to solve it!

I was a little disappointed by the fact that Hannah so blatantly and openly strings two romantic interests along. Call me old fashioned but one should only be romantically involved with one person at a time. The way she uses each man against the other left me with a somewhat lower opinion of her than I would have liked. To be quite honest, if I found myself in the same situation as either of these two men, I'd be telling her "Adios" and never looking back! One man obviously cares deeply for her while the other is just not right for her. It was very frustrating to see her knowingly abusing the love of a wonderful man just for the sake of having fun.

I listened to the audiobook read by Suzanne Toren who did a spectacular job! Her narration brought the story to life for me. I especially loved her cat sounds which were so realistic that she could almost have had a cat in her purse while she was reading!

Overall, this was a lot of fun and I intend to get another of the series to see what else Hannah can get herself into!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


In case you didn't figure it out already, That title line is in all caps because I am shouting it!

I was looking at my Blogger profile and realized that I hadn't stated the fact that I'm a Christian. It struck me hard that I had failed to mention the single most important part of my life. I flipped over to Facebook and discovered that there too, there is no mention of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ! Was it an oversight on my part, or is it possible that, consciously or subconsciously, it was intentional?

As I sit here writing this I can hear my son in the shower singing at the top of his lungs "God Is Bigger Than The Boogie Man". He doesn't learn songs very well and tends to make up words as he goes. I can hear him singing lines like "God is on your side" and "God is watching over you". My children know how much I love God because I have taught them to love Him too.

The other night we went to some Christian friend's house for dinner. I sat there and had a deep conversation with them about how God has been working in our lives. I told them how much He means to me and how I look to him for everything. We sat for a couple hours just sharing the wonderful things God does.

When I read a post on someone else's blog that  deals with Christian issues, I'm perfectly comfortable commenting to that post with similar sentiments. I don't hesitate to show that I'm a Christian when it is another Christian that I'm talking too.

But when I go to work I rarely talk about my faith. I try to have good morals and I'd like to think my co-workers can see that there is something different about me. And back to my original point, when I say things that reflect on my public internet image, I am strangely silent about these things. How many other areas of my life am I putting a cover over my faith so nobody sees it? I am ashamed of myself!

Jesus Christ willingly went to the cross and suffered and died for me, but I act like Peter and try to hide the fact that I even know Him. My life wouldn't be the wonderful, happy, joy filled life that it is right now if it wasn't for Jesus' love for me.There is nothing in my life that I can't look back on and see God's guidance. He has watched over me, even when I wasn't living for Him, and has led me down the right path every time.

So I am going to try to act like a Christian who has nothing to hide or be ashamed of. I'm not going to start force-feeding my faith to people but I want the world to know that I am a child of the Most High God and I'm proud of it! I have already updated my Blogger Profile so now it's off to fix Facebook! No more hiding the most important part of my life!!

So I hope you don't mind a little more shouting:


I hope you aren't offended by this statement, but if you are, I'm sorry you feel that way. Why don't you ask me for more information about why I love God. Who knows, maybe you'll end up going to Heaven with me, I'd really love to take you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hope In A Jar - Beth Harbison

Hope In A Jar
By: Beth Harbison
Published: 2009
Audiobook Read by: Orlagh Cassidy
My rating: Good

This was a bit out of my comfort zone but despite the picture of makeup on the front of the case, the hint of makeovers, girl talk and high school drama on the back, and the pink CDs inside, I decided I'd be brave and step into the world of women! It could have been a lot worse, but I had the nagging feeling I'd get in trouble if I got caught, just as if I was reading some girl's personal diary!

Allie Denty and Olivia Pelham had grown up as best friends but had drifted apart over the past twenty years. But when their friend Noah decides to make the biggest mistake in his life, the dynamic duo has to have a comeback to save the day!

Allie had the perfect home with loving parents and everything she needed while Olivia had grown up with a horrible step father. Olivia found shelter at Allie's as much as possible and Allie's parents welcomed her, knowing that her home life was really bad. When Olivia had moved away and ended their friendship, it had been hard on Allie. She survived though, and grew up to live a mediocre life with a string of faild relationships and less than exciting jobs. Olivia on the other hand did very well in the job department but had steered clear of the relationship game. When their twentieth high school reunion brought them face to face again it didn't take long for them to rekindle their old friendship, especially when Noah needed their help. Noah didn't want their help, but like it or not, they were going to save him!

This was very different for me. I was trying to deviate from the mystery and suspense genres that I seem to have been stuck in and this was certainly a deviation! I got to learn a lot about makeup and what teenage girls talk about when they are alone. There were plenty of insights into the insecurities of women concerning their careers, relationships, weight, looks, and much more. Each chapter opened with an old advertising slogan for some sort of cosmetic product and I have to admit that I knew more than one of them. The book is fairly well written but was very predictable. I guess not being a mystery, there was no need to avoid predictability. The story was touching at times and humorous at others, and I did enjoy it. However, I don't think I'm going to venture knowingly into this genre again! My wife thought it was absolutely hilarious that I got it in the first place, and laughed at my discomfort at hearing intimate things that no guy is supposed to be privy to!

I listened to the audiobook read by Orlagh Cassidy. She did a wonderful job, giving me the feeling that she herself had had very similar conversations as a teen so she knew exactly how it should sound.

Overall, it was a good book, but was kind of cliche as far as the activities of two girls in high school. There really wasn't much that surprised me about their escapades, it was just that I am used to hearing these kind of stories second hand, toned down to accommodate a man's sensitive ears! You ladies may find it quite enjoyable, but you men....I'd steer clear, no need for more than one of us to be scarred like this! I'm just kidding! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Quiche Of Death - M. C. Beaton

The Quiche Of Death
By: M. C. Beaton
Published: 1992
Audiobook Read by: Donada Peters

After listening to one of Beaton's Hamish Macbeth mysteries and absolutely loving it, I had to give Miss Agatha Raisin a try. This is the first of the series and if the rest are this good, I'm in for a rip roarin' good time chasin' after Miss Raisin as she gets into all sorts of trouble!

Agatha Raisin has no idea what to do with herself after selling her successful London PR agency and retiring to the Cotswolds to enjoy some peaceful country life. She wants desperately to fit in but seems to be managing only a friendly tolerance from the locals. She decides to wow the village by winning the quiche competition and straight off trots back to London to buy a succulent spinach quiche from the best quichery in the business. After passing off her purchase as her own creation she is sure to win but is appalled to find someone else receiving the prize. In a huff she tells them to throw the rest in the trash and storms off. Later that night, the wife of the competition judge, gives him some of it for his dinner and he promptly dies due to poison found in the quiche. Well! Agatha can't believe it's an unfortunate accident, as the police determine, so she sets off to find out what really happened. While investigating she realizes that despite her misgivings about moving to this little town she is growing to love it and it's people and they are starting to accept her as well, even if she did try to cheat. She finally decides that it really must have been an accident and gives up her investigation. But will that mean a murderer will go unpunished?

I loved this book and I can't wait to get more! Agatha is hilarious, her bumbling detective skills put me in mind of Maxwell Smart, from the old show "Get Smart" (which I also loved), as she tries to uncover the truth. More often than not she simply lands her own self in trouble, or comes off looking like a fool to the townsfolk she wants to impress the most. I spent a lot of time with my head thrown back laughing aloud at her antics. (Which made me look the fool since I was listening over my earpiece and no one else knew why I was laughing!) I also loved the picture of the simple life she found in the village. A place where everyone cares about their neighbors and having fun is as easy as simply sitting around swapping stories or singing songs. It made me wish for a place like that to go and get away from the madness that surrounds us. I guess I can go there, through Agatha Raisin, since there are many other books in the series! :)

I listened to the audiobook read by Donada Peters. Donada is wonderful and she gave voice to the exact image of Agatha I had formed in my mind. She brought each character to life with voices and emotion that perfectly fit. I am very much hoping to hear more of her work!

Overall, you've probably figured out that I HIGHLY recommend this book! If you want a good laugh, your sure to get it from Agatha. The plot is well written as well, making a winning combination that I'm sure you'll love!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Silver Swan - Benjamin Black

The Silver Swan
By: Benjamin Black
Published: 2007
Audiobook Read by: Timothy Dalton
My rating: Poor

I listened to Christine Falls a while back and found it to be somewhat dark and depressing. I have tried to make it my policy not to write off an author after only one book so here I am with The Silver Swan. This book unfortunately continues the oppressive feeling of despair but makes it worse with a poorly developed mystery.

Once again, Quirke finds himself trying to solve a mystery that he shouldn't have allowed himself to get involved in in the first place. His old classmate asks him to forgo the required postmortem on his dead wife, Deidre Hunt, because he "can't bear to think of her being cut open". Quirke agrees but does the autopsy anyway when he finds a puncture mark that raises his suspicions.

Deidre was a beautiful girl who's life had been hard and unhappy. She married on impulse but soon became dissatisfied. After meeting an intriguing man and starting into business with him she soon found herself falling in love with him as well. Her life is going along quite nicely now, her business is flourishing, her lover is wonderful, and her husband blissfully unaware of what is going on. She thinks that she has never been happier, so how did she end up nude and drowned in the river?

I was disappointed with how the mystery is revealed, not through investigation on Quirke's part, but through a separate flashback storyline that simply tells the story from the victim's point of view until just before the crime. Then instead of any great detective work, the actual crime is again, simply recounted as a flashback. There was very little detective work at all but an awful lot of sex and un-needed vulgarity. In reality Quirke was a useless character in the actual mystery and played no part in uncovering the truth. I also found it disturbing that pretty much everything that had happened in the two years between the setting of Christine Falls and this book had been bad and depressing. The ending was particularly unsatisfying putting the final nail in my resolve not to bother with any more books from this author.

I listened to the audiobook read by Timothy Dalton. As before he did an excellent job with this book and even though the book was a disappointment, his performance was not! He is an excellent narrator and his voice with it's wonderful accent is beautiful to listen to!

Overall as you have probably gathered, I was not impressed by this book. Christine Falls at least had a good plot and a well thought out mystery but this one lacked even those redeeming factors. I have definitely read worse books but I can't say I would recommend this book to anyone.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Confessions of an OCPD sufferer and an act out of the norm!

Up until now this blog was strictly book reviews. I wanted to write other things but I set this up for reviews and reviews only so my other thoughts just had to go somewhere else!! Normally out the window and gone forever. It registered the other day as I contemplated creating a second blog to ramble on that I am insane and should not worry so much about these kind of things. But try as I might, I just couldn't bring myself to "contaminate" my review blog with other stuff. Oh gasp, how could I even entertain the thought!

Now, for the record, I have never been diagnosed with OCPD but I do suffer from it in a non-crippling way. I have to do things a certain way and can't handle changes very well. I once set out to catalog my library of several thousand books. My wife decided to help me but when she sat down at the computer to let me show her what to do, she was shocked by the insane amount of information I was entering! She said, "Why not just enter the title and author and be done with it?" GASP and DOUBLE GASP!!! But what if I need to cross-reference books that have the same publisher with ones that used the same illustrator? She got back up and told me I was on my own! Overall, I like to have things organized a certain way, I get irritated when someone puts something back in the wrong place, I pay a little too much attention to unimportant details, and when I set a plan in my mind for something I hate to deviate from it. I do very well in my job and there really is never any issue at home beyond some fun teasing from my wife and friends. Mostly, I just see the results in my personal life.

Which brings me back to the subject at hand. After a couple weeks of struggling, numerous battles of will with my inner man, one lost battle where I actually created another blog but didn't post anything, I am, with trembling fingers and wavering heart, posting this blog as the first, non-review post to my blog! So in honor of this momentous occasion, I'm also renaming the blog as well! They say admitting that one has a problem is the first step on the road to recovery. So now I'm a full three steps on my way!! :)

Do any of you find you suffer from a similar affliction? How do you cope? How does it affect your lives?

Now I'm off to put something in the wrong place on the shelf! For a few minutes at least. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

An Unsuitable Job For A Woman - P. D. James

An Unsuitable Job For A Woman
By: Phyllis Dorothy James
Published: 1972
Audiobook Read by: Davina Porter
My rating: Delightful

I stumbled across this author accidentally when I was looking up the title of a book by a different author and accidentally found a like named book by P.D. James. I decided that I couldn't refuse fate and so I tried her first Adam Dalgliesh book: Cover Her Face, and very much liked it. This is the first of only two books featuring Cordelia Gray and I am so glad to have found it!

Cordelia is really too young to have the responsibility of running a private detective agency alone but has determined to give it the best she can, win or lose. It looks like losing is inevitable as there are no cases coming in and very little money left, but fate has a different plan for her. Out of the blue she is hired to look into the reason a prominent scientist's son decided to commit suicide. Grateful for a case to solve, Cordelia jumps in with both feet but has no idea what she is getting involved in. Since she has never handled a case completely alone she does her best to remember all of the teachings of her late partner and mentor who in turn learned from the great Dalgliesh himself. At every turn she finds herself having to systematically go through her training to figure out her next move. No amount of training, however, could have prepared her for what awaits her as she delves deeper into the case! She is determined to uncover the truth even though it puts her own life in jeopardy.

I loved the way Cordelia works this case, constantly reminding herself of the "rules" she has been taught. She obviously was an attentive student who learned her lessons very well. This is one of the few mystery novels I have found that reveals every single clue exactly the way the detective finds them, giving the reader the same opportunity to solve the case. This wasn't the most complex of plots but I still hadn't figured out the crime by the time Cordelia did. Once the culprit was revealed I was able to see all of the clues that led to the conclusion but, to my untrained mind, had lined up differently. It was refreshing to have the author hold nothing back for the sake of shock value but still build a compelling mystery that challenged the intellect of the reader.

I listened to the audiobook read by Davina Porter and was very pleased with her performance. Her voice was so easy to listen to but she gave each character enough personality of their own so as to easily distinguish between them. I hope to hear more from her!

Overall, this was a fun look at the amateur ways of a new, although very intelligent, detective while still following a very serious plot with a lot of depth. I am sad to see that there are only two books featuring Cordelia, therefore I will save the next one for a special occasion when I particularly want to listen to a really delightful book!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Deception Point - Dan Brown

Deception Point
By: Dan Brown
Published: 2001
Audiobook Read by: Richard Poe
My rating: Good

I decided to check out all of Dan's books after listening to Angels and Demons and have been happy with them so far. However, this one just doesn't quite measure up to the others. I enjoyed it but was a little disappointed at the same time

Rachel Sexton is a woman who has tried hard to escape the reality that her father is a bad person. Over the course of her life she had learned that he was not who he claimed to be and had watched him destroy her mother and tear their family apart. Unfortunately, that was all part of his private life. The public face of Senator Sedgewick Sexton was one of sincerity and a desire to serve his country with humility and honesty. His facade of integrity has propelled him to within reach of his ultimate goal: the White House itself.

Senator Sexton has based his campaign on slamming NASA and the current president who supports them. Launching a ruthless tirade against them, citing numerous mistakes and catastrophes, he has found an American public who is ready to back him in doing away with the financially irresponsible space agency. However, when NASA makes a discovery of epic proportions, it seems that all of his ranting against them has sealed his fate and handed the presidency back to the man who has faithfully supported them for the past four years.

But is this discovery all it seems to be? Can it really be as astounding as NASA officials say it is? We follow Rachel and her friends across the Arctic ice to determine just that. As the story unfolds we find out that there is much more than originally was disclosed and suddenly, their lives are all in danger. It's a race against time to try to uncover the truth before the deadly team of commandos can reach them and eliminate them. The action never stops as Rachel and her friends travel from the frozen wastes of the north to the United States and out to sea. In the end, it looks like their efforts to reveal the truth will all be in vain as one by one they are eliminated.

I didn't find this book as enjoyable mainly because it was very predictable. I pretty much knew how it would end by the time I was half way through. Dan kind of dropped the ball in the surprise department here as he openly left out details to cast suspicion on different characters but in doing so made it obvious who was the real culprit. The action and suspense were ruined as he set each scene up in advance with major clues of what was going to happen.

I listened to the audiobook read by Richard Poe and as before I was very pleased with his performance. He does an excellent job of bringing a story to life.

Overall this was not the worst book I've found but it lacked the element of surprise and for me that is very important in a mystery or suspense book. If you're a die hard Dan Brown fan don't hesitate to get it but otherwise I wouldn't worry too much about reading it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The 13th Hour - Richard Doetsch

The 13th Hour
By: Richard Doetsch
Published: 2009
Audiobook Read by: Dennis Boutsikaris
My rating: Great

I read a review of of Richard's "The Thieves Of Darkness" On The Pick Of The Literate's blog awhile back and it sounded wonderful. I decided to give him a try and got "The 13th Hour". I am so glad I did! This has been a great book and I look forward to more of Richard's work!

Nick Quinn is an average guy with a loving wife and many wonderful plans for their future together. Everything changes when he finds Julia brutally murdered and himself being arrested as the likely suspect. That is the end of anything even remotely normal for Nick as he is plunged into the most bizarre day of his life. Nothing is as it seems and Nick struggles to make sense of the events that pick him up and hurl him through the next 12 hours. The horrific image of Julia's mangled face haunts him everywhere he turns and he knows that she is dead. However, he is being told that there is a chance that he can save her! As the pages of this book turn, we follow Nick through Hell itself as he realizes that not only is Julia dead but 212 other people have been killed in a plane crash a few miles away. Is there a connection between the two events? Nick truly has no idea what he is supposed to do! The tranquil life he had been so happy leading is ripped apart and he stumbles deliriously for a while not sure who he can trust. Slowly, things start to fall into place and he finally knows what has to be done, but will it be enough? As the hours count down for him, he can only hope that he can formulate the right plan that will make things right again. But in the end, He realizes that maybe the impossible is just that, impossible.

Richard has designed a thriller here that is gripping and original. As the beginning chapter opened, I was starting to feel like maybe this wasn't going to be very good but all of the sudden I was smacked right between the eyes with a surprise twist that took me totally off guard. From there I was hooked! Richard is a master at revealing enough to keep the story moving but keeping a few tricks in reserve to throw at you when the time is right. At first I felt like I could see a much simpler solution to Nick's dilemma but in the end I found that I would not have solved the problem completely. I got down to the last chapter and still was not sure of what I expected to find. The conclusion was very satisfying and the final event left just enough hanging to suggest a possible sequel.

I listened to the audiobook read by Dennis Boutsikaris. I very much enjoyed Dennis' performance as he brought the story to life. He does an excellent job and I certainly wouldn't mind hearing more from him.

Overall, this was certainly a great book and I am very glad I gave it a try! The concept of this plot is so deep and gives one a lot to contemplate as the moral and physical implications of Nick's actions unfold. I highly recommend you give this book a try!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Death Of A Village - M. C. Beaton

Death Of A Village
By: M. C. Beaton
Published: 2003
Audiobook Read by: Graeme Malcolm

I have been having the most wonderful run of great books chosen at random off the shelves! When I picked up this particular book I had no idea who this author was or anything about the books she writes but I was definitely pleasantly surprised!

Hamish Macbeth is a wonderfully written character. I loved his simple outlook on life and the way he cares so much for the people on his beat. The little town of Lochdubh Scotland couldn't have a better protector. As Hamish goes about his normal police activities he finds that things are just a little bit off in one of the little villages in his district. Finding the locals tight lipped and having nothing to justify his apprehension he has to leave it alone....officially. However, Hamish isn't the kind to play by the rules so he takes it upon himself to do a little snooping of his own....unofficially. He knows that something isn't right but is thwarted at every turn by the locals who absolutely refuse to talk. It is only after several criminal acts happen that he finally is able to open an officially inquiry.

I loved this book for several reasons. The most excellent mix of good humor, engaging mystery, and heart make this a wonderful story. I enjoyed the way the book doesn't focus only on the main mystery but follows Hamish as he solves other crimes along the way. His relationship to the other characters is fun to hear about with so little going unnoticed by the town gossips who love to meet at the market to report everything they see. I also loved the relationship between Hamish and his dog. Too often the dog is left out of the story when it is really an integral part. Hamish would do anything for his dog and the bond between them is very touching. In the end, Hamish saves the day but there is much more than just good detective work in this book, there is a delightful glimpse into the simple lives of simple folk in the Scottish Highlands.

I listened to the audio book read by Graeme Malcolm. He does a wonderful job with this book but is slightly lacking in expression. His voice is very easy to listen to though, and I loved his accent!

Overall, this is a SPECTACULAR book and I loved every bit of it! I was very happy to find that there are many other Hamish Macbeth books and look forward to spending many more hours in Lochdubh seeing what adventures lie ahead! I highly recommend you give this book a try, I don't think you'll regret it!

The Shapeshifter: Finding The Fox - Ali Sparkes

Finding The Fox
By: Ali Sparkes
Published: 2006
Audiobook Read by: Glen McCready
My rating: Wonderful

This was another random gem that I found. I listened to this one over the past month or so with my kids as we waited for the bus each morning. Being the first in the series it left us looking forward to hearing more!

Dax Jones is an ordinary enough boy with more than his share of tough luck. He has a stepmother who views him as a nuisance to be used and abused at her whim. His father works on the oil rigs and is seldom home. Life is miserable for Dax. Then one day he finds himself dropped head first into the most amazing of circumstances imaginable! He finds that he has strange if not supernatural abilities and soon has been scooped up by government agents and spirited away to Tregarren College where he encounters many other children with similar abilities. Tregarren turns out to be a wonderful place but Dax has a strange nagging fear that he just can't shake. When the fireworks start, Dax's worst fears are realized and he struggles to figure out who he can trust and what he should do. Tragedy strikes the college with Dax in the middle of the fight.

My kids loved this book and started to rush to get ready to go in the mornings so we could leave early to go to the bus stop and have more time to listen. Ali has created a world where anything might be possible and the imagination he puts into this story was wonderful. The characters are well rounded and it was easy to get to know them. As Dax learns to control his powers we were able to feel the emotions that raged through him. With a wonderful blend of humor and suspense, this was a great start to what looks like a wonderful series!

I listened to the audiobook read by Glen McCready. I'm a sucker for British accents and Glen's voice was so easy to listen to. He used a wonderful assortment of voices for the characters, and the emotion he expressed for each situation was spot on! I hope to hear more from him!

Overall this is a wonderful book to read with the kids. It has a great moral lesson and lots of excitement as well as imagination. Don't hesitate to give it a try, even if you don't have kids! :)

Fate Of The Jedi; Omen - Christie Golden

By: Christie Golden
Published: 2009
Audiobook Read by: Marc Thompson
My rating: Great

And now the continuing adventures of Luke and Ben Skywalker as they roam the galaxy in search of answers to questions that may have no answers! 

 I love this series and look forward to each new installment in the collection. I guess that being a Star Wars fan helps but I find that I must hold myself back from just listening to them back to back. This is only the second volume and it is shaping up to be a grand romp among the stars!

As Luke and Ben travel on, in exile from the home and people they love, they find themselves heading for the world of the xenophobic Aing-Tii. Unsure if they will even survive the trip, they know they will face hostility when they get there but must try to convince these mysterious creatures to help them. Meanwhile, back at the Jedi temple. With two Jedi already afflicted with a strange mental disorder that has them trying to kill everyone they hold dear, the masters are scrambling to find a cure. Faced with the hostile opposition of the new Chief of State Natasi Daala, and dogged at every step by the unscrupulous reporter, Javis Tyrr, it seems that things couldn't get much worse. However, when two more Jedi crack, things do seem like they are as bad as they can possibly get.

Christie Golden is new to the Star Wars scene and has done a pretty good job. Her writing style has some differences and aren't quite as appealing to me as the other authors but in general it is minor. The plot rolls along smoothly and I very much enjoyed the book. I like the split story lines in the series and look forward to seeing how each story affects the others.

I listened to the audiobook read by Marc Thompson. As always, Marc is a master of his art! He brings the book to life with his wonderful array of voices and accents. I can look back in my mind and I feel like I watched a movie rather than listening to a book. Marc is truly a wonderful narrator!

Overall, this was another wonderful chapter in the series and I am looking forward to the rest! If you like Star Wars, you'll love these books!

Tune in next time for more exciting adventures of the Jedi as they strive to rid the galaxy of evil, and restore balance in the Force!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

House - Frank Peretti

By: Frank Peretti
Published: 2006
Audiobook Read by: Kevin King
My rating: Good

I chose this book because I loved Frank's books from the 80s; This Present Darkness and Piercing The Darkness. Those books had me hooked and have been rooted in my memory ever since as two of the best works ever! However, whether my tastes have changed or Frank's writing has gone downhill, this just didn't measure up for me.

As Jack and Stephanie Singleton head for a messy divorce they blame each other for every bad event in their marriage, turning a blind eye to the mistakes they themselves have made. When they find themselves sucked into a night of horror in an old haunted house it looks like they will drift even farther apart, continuing to see each other with scorn and revulsion. Every hour they spend trapped in the nightmare takes them closer and closer to their inevitable death. The presence of Randy and Leslie makes things worse with Leslie seeing Jack as the more likely candidate to be their salvation and Stephanie seeing Randy the same way. As the couples get separated into these incorrect pairings, it seems that Jack and Stephanie's marriage is doomed for sure. The deranged killer that has them locked in the house, plays a terrifying mental game with them turning their own fears against them and feeding on the suffering he is causing them. As the night wears on they realize that there is no way out and the four of them resign themselves to the realization that they are most certainly going to die. As dawn approaches, they begin to discover that there is a lot more to this nightmare than they realized and with the help of a mysterious little girl that they find locked in the basement, they begin to discover the true nature of their own hearts.

The message in this story is a good one. We all need to take the time to examine our own hearts and be brutally honest with ourselves. So often we push the blame for our own actions onto those around us trying to escape from the guilt that we feel. The result of this is never good and eventually leads to pain and suffering for all involved. For Jack and Stephanie this inner horror was manifest in the real world but for many people a haunted heart is much more terrifying than any haunted house could ever be! If we can turn to Jesus and let Him help us deal with our demons and accept the blame that is rightfully ours, we can escape that haunted heart and live in the freedom of peace and joy.

I found the plot to be interesting but felt that the writing was a little over the top at times while sinking to monotonous lows at others. The characters were a bit boring and shallow and I found it difficult to find any sympathy for any of them. I loved the description of the house and would love to have a basement like that, minus the demons and the sadistic murderer of course! The entire book felt forced as though Frank and his co-author, Ted Dekker, were simply churning out a book to meet a deadline.

I listened to the audiobook read by Kevin King. Kevin did a respectable job bringing the book to life. His voices for the different characters were OK but not great. While not on my favorites list, Kevin is definitely not the worst narrator I've come across.

Overall, this was a good book but not one that I would recommend you rush out and buy right now. If you stumble across it or are a Peretti fan it's worth a try but I wouldn't go out of your way to get it.