Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nature Girl by Carl Hiaasen

Book Description:
Beware!  Honey Santana is off her meds, reacting rapidly to the bad behavior of others.  This time, the annoyer is a telemarketer from Texas.  Honey's revenge?  She invites Boyd Shreave on a paid ecotour of the Everglades, where a blue-eyed Seminole named Sammy Tigertail strums an electric guitar on a woe-begotten clump of shells, mangroves, and beer cans called Dismal Key.  Soon Boyd and vengeance-crazed Honey are joined by a private eye with a red-hot video camera and a college girl who just wants to have fun.  And with a brawling cast of lunatic men, desperate women, a skateboarding teen, and even a restless ghost all going native, who will protect the Everglades from the wild humans?

My Review:
This is a crazy, fast-paced romp through the Florida Everglades with a wacky cast of characters.  This is nothing like Orlando or Miami, but real Florida, with alligators, snakes, mosquitos and fire ants.

Honey Santana likes to teach people lessons, especially when soulless telemarketers interrupt the precious time she spends with her son.

Sammy Tigertail's first day on the job as a boat guide for the tribe goes terribly wrong when a drunken tourist dies of a heart attack, and he is afraid he will be blamed.

Boyd Shreave is a loser from Texas whose current job is calling people at dinner-time to offer them lots in Florida.  He is having an affair with his co-worker, Eugenie, and is being spied on by his wife's PI.

Somehow, all these people, plus a few more, end up on tiny Dismal Key in the middle of the Everglades.  What follows is like a Shakespearean comedy of errors—highly entertaining.  This book would make a great movie!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ricky has Graduated!

Ricky has graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Civil Engineering, just like Mom.  We are so proud of both of our boys!  It hardly seems like it has been 23 years since he was born...I guess your baby will always be your baby!

Just last year, it was Bobby who graduated.  Now, they are both men, ready to take on the world.  {Sniff, snuffle, sniff...}

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon

Book Description:
On a clear morning in mid-June, Lord John Grey emerges from London's Beefsteak Club, his mind in turmoil.  A nobleman and a high-ranking officer in His Majesty's army, Grey has just witnessed something shocking.  But his efforts to avoid a scandal that might destroy his family are interrupted by something still more urgent:  The Crown appoints him to investigate the brutal murder of a comrade-in-arms who may have been a traitor.

Obliged to pursue two inquiries at once, Major Grey finds himself ensnared in a web of treachery and betrayal that touches every stratum of English society—and threatens all he holds dear.  From the bawdy houses of London's night world to the stately drawing rooms of the nobility...from the blood of a murdered corpse to the thundering seas ruled by the East India Company, Lord John pursues the elusive trails of a vanishing footman and a woman in green velvet, who may hold the key to everything—or nothing.

The early days of the Seven Years' War come brilliantly to life in this historical mystery by an author whose unique and compelling storytelling has engrossed millions of readers worldwide.

My Review:
Meh...not for me.

I read the first five books of the Outlander series quite a few years ago, and I had forgotten who Lord John Grey was.  Perhaps if I had remembered, I would never have read this book, but, then again, I probably would have, since I consider Diana Gabaldon one of my favorite authors.  Lord John was the young English soldier who lost his lover, Hector, at the Battle of Culloden and subsequently fell in love with Jamie Fraser.

This book is nowhere near as good as the Outlander series, and I was put off by some of the language and crude epithets.  I have read in other reviews that the Lord John series gets better, so maybe I will persevere...maybe not!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mourning in Miniature by Margaret Grace

Book Description:
Now that Geraldine Porter is retired, she's got time to devote to her favorite craft and her precocious granddaughter, Madison.  You'd think a world of shoe-box-sized high school hallways would be trouble free.  But Gerry's problems are anything but tiny...

When bookish Rosie Norman asks Gerry to accompany her to her thirtieth high school reunion, Gerry looks forward to seeing her old students.  Rosie, however, has only one classmate in mind:  star athlete David Bridges.  Bearing a miniature replica of the bank of lockers where David once kissed her, Rosie has pinned her hopes on romance.

The tiny corridor, however, becomes a giant clue when David is murdered—a clue that leads Gerry down a path of thirty-year-old alliances, betrayals, and grudges.  Now with the help of her granddaughter, Gerry must employ all her skills to reconstruct the true scene of the crime...

My Review:
I won this book as part of a contest in Dollhouse Miniatures magazine.  It was an enjoyable mystery and a cute story.  I'm not really into modern-day stuff, so it wouldn't have been my first choice, but it was well-written and fast-paced with plenty of plot twists.  The interaction between the main character and her granddaughter was charming.  This is not the first book in the series, and if I had read the earlier books first, I might have had more of a sense of who all the characters were, although they were sufficiently explained for the story to be complete.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes murder mysteries (without tons of gore and details—this is definitely a G-rated book) and/or anyone who likes miniatures.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Time of Terror by Seth Hunter

Book Description:
In 1793, British Navy commander Nathan Peake patrols the English coast, looking for smugglers.  Desperate for some real action, Peake gets his chance when France declares war on England and descends into the bloody madness of the Terror.  Peake is entrusted with a mission to wreck the French economy by smuggling fake banknotes into Paris.  His activities take him down Paris streets patrolled by violent mobs and into the sinister catacombs beneath the French capital.  And they bring him close to famous characters of the day:  the English feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, her American lover Gilbert Imlay who acts as George Washington's agent in Paris, and the British/American writer and revolutionary Thomas Paine.  As opposition to the Terror mounts, Peake fights to carry out his mission—and to save the life of the woman he loves.

My Review:
This was an enjoyable story, but by no means the best I have ever read.  I believe it was well-researched, and I particularly enjoyed the naval battle scenes.  However, the romance was decidedly weak, although it was obviously not the main point of the book.  I never really felt that Nathan cared that much about what happened to Sara, or the other people he met in Paris, for that matter!  And, of course, that applies to the reader, too, then.

The book did not build suspense or anticipation for me, as it should have.  However, I wouldn't hestitate to recommend the book to someone who enjoys historical fiction, particularly naval stories, or has an interest in the French Revolution.  And I may read further books in the series because I think there is potential for the stories to get better.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An example to us all

I just came across this heart-touching post.  Please read it...

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

Book Description:
'She looked absolutely pure.  Nature, in her fantastic trickery, had set such a seal of maidenhood upon Tess's countenance that he gazed at her with a stupefied air:  "Tess—say it is not true!  No, it is not true!"'

A beautiful peasant descended from a decayed aristocratic family, Tess Durbeyfield is betrayed by two men.  The story of her violation by one, her abandonment by the other, and her tragic revenge shocked many of Hardy's readers; the debate focused on his representation of Tess as 'A Pure Woman'.

Hardy thought Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891) his finest novel, and Tess herself the most deeply felt character he ever created.  D. H. Lawrence and James Joyce testified to the significant effect this novel had in breaking down the barriers of literary censorship.

My Review:
Oh, my goodness, what a sad story!  I loved the poetic language used by Thomas Hardy—no one talks like that any more, sadly—but I much prefer a happy ending.

It was interesting to see how Tess was treated in her time for something that was not her fault and has been happening since the beginning of time.  I think (I hope) we are slightly more accepting nowadays.  I don't like to give away particulars of a book in my reviews that may spoil it for others, so I won't say exactly what happened to Tess or how she eventually dealt with it, but it will definitely be a book to be remembered.