Thursday, August 30, 2007

Left for Dead: The Untold Story of the Greatest Disaster in Modern Sailing History by Nick Ward and Sinead O'Brien

"In this gripping account, Ward finally breaks his multiyear silence and shares his story of what happened to him on his boat Grimalkin during the storms that beset England's Fastnet sailing race in 1979. The race started off in near-perfect conditions on August 11 for the 303 yachts participating. The yachts left Cowes, England, to round Fastnet Rock off Ireland's southwest coast and sail back to Plymouth. Two days later, a storm of near-hurricane force left 15 dead, caused 24 crews to abandon ship, sank five yachts, and required the rescue of 136 sailors in the largest peacetime sea-and-air operation ever. Ward was on the 30-foot Grimalkin with five other men. After being repeatedly battered by blow-downs (waves that knock over a boat 90 to 180 degrees), most of the crew decided to abandon ship—a controversial decision because Ward and another sailor, Gerry Winks, were left on the Grimalkin, presumed dead. Both, in fact, were alive. Ward survived another 14 hours, resuscitating Winks (who eventually died) before being rescued."

~ Margaret Atwater-Singer, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer

"A comic caper and a raucous romance....laugh-out-loud funny....a fun ride." - Kirkus Reviews

"Crusie and Mayer (Don't Look Down) reunite to pen this mostly successful romantic comedy with a hint of action-adventure. Agnes Crandall is a feisty food writer and cookbook author on her third fiancé, Taylor Beaufort. Though their future looks bright, their romance is curdling, partly due to their deal with widowed mob wife Brenda Fortunato (who is selling them her old house) to hold a Fortunato family wedding at their house in exchange for three months of payments. After an armed thug tries to kidnap Agnes's dog, who appeared in the local paper wearing a gaudy necklace that Agnes believes (incorrectly) to be junk, a Fortunato family friend (and mobster) asks hit man Shane to keep an eye on Agnes. (He does more, of course, than keep an eye on her.) Brenda, meanwhile, may be trying to screw Agnes out of the house, and then there's the matter of a body and $5 million possibly hidden in thebasement. Crusie and Mayer have crafted a bubbly novel with enough convenient coincidences, caricatured characters and ridiculous situations to make screenwriters of goofball date movies proud; amusing banter and surprising moments of poignancy keep the mushrooming plot barely in check."

~ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline

"Thirty-three-year-old New Yorker Angela Russo, dissatisfied with a career that amounts to gliding across a smooth plateau of predictability and fed up with abysmal blind dates, responds to an online personal ad written by Rich, a sailing instructor from Mount Desert Island, Maine. Angela begins to fall in love with the idea of Maine life just as much as she finds herself falling for Rich, and when her career suddenly goes up in flames, she moves to Mount Desert Island. Once she arrives, however, she learns that her vision of perfect New England life—and her perfect New England man—is far removed from reality. Rather than return to New York, Angela rents a rundown cottage and begins teaching an impromptu cooking class (based on recipes from her Italian grandmother). She befriends an eclectic handful of locals and carves out a new identity for herself. Initially, this tale of a lovelorn city girl out of her element feels like another foray into well-covered territory. But Kline (Desire Lines; Sweet Water) has a perfect sense of character and timing, and her vivid digressions on food (recipes are included) add sugar and spice to what could have been a stale premise."

~ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Gatecrasher by Madeline Wickham

"Everything's corning up roses for Fleur Daxeny as she goes through more rich men than she does designer hats. Fleur is beautiful, charming, and utterly irresistible, and her success at crashing funerals to find wealthy men is remarkable." "Fleur wastes no time in seducing her latest conquest, the handsome and rich widower Richard Favour, and she swoops into his life like a designer-clad tornado. His children are caught up in a whirlwind as their father's new girlfriend descends on the family estate, leaving chaos and excitement in her perfume-scented wake. Soon, more than one family member is suspicious of Fleur's true intentions." "Fleur is not one to wear her heart on her Chanel sleeve, but she soon finds herself embracing Richard and his lovable family. But just as Fleur contemplates jumping off the gold-digger train for good and enjoying the ride of true love, a long-buried secret from her past threatens to destroy her new family. Can she trust her heart or will she cut ties and run away as fast as her Prada pumps can take her?"--BOOK JACKET.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Red Mutiny: Eleven Fateful Days on the Battleship Potemkin by Neal Bascomb

"The protagonist of New York Times best-selling author Bascomb's (The Perfect Mile) account of the 1905 mutiny that inspired the Russian Revolution did not seem to have revolutionary tendencies before being drafted into the Russian navy in 1900. Yet Afanasy Matyushenko learned early as a member of the peasantry to resent being treated as ignorant chattel. A weapons machinist in the Black Sea Fleet aboard the tsars' newest battleship, the Potemkin, he was treated poorly and forced to work under dangerous conditions. With the help of several comrades, he engineered the takeover of the Potemkin, which ended up crisscrossing the Black Sea for 11 days with the tsar's navy in pursuit. Eventually, the mutinous crew surrendered. Given asylum, Matyushenko traveled abroad but was in the end hanged in his homeland. His legacy, according to Bascomb, was his having been a major force in ending the war with Japan and weakening Tsar Nicholas II's hold on his empire."

~ Harry Willems, Park City P.L., KS Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 13, 2007

How to Talk to a Widower: A Novel by Jonathan Tropper

"I had a wife. Her name was Hailey. Now she's gone. And so am I." That's the mantra of 29-year-old Doug Parker in this latest from Tropper (Everything Changes). Doug spends endless days immersed in drinking and generally doing nothing. Oh, that's not quite true. He sits on the front steps of the home he shared with Hailey and throws rocks at the rabbits that march across his lawn. He also writes a column called "How To Talk to a Widower" for M magazine. Who wouldn't feel sorry for Doug? But pity, he's learned, "is like a fart. You can tolerate your own, but you simply can't stand anyone else's." Women, like meatloaf-toting neighbor Laney Potter, want to heal him; his family, especially discontented twin Claire, want him to snap out of it; and Hailey's 16-year-old son wants Doug to become his legal guardian. Tropper has the twentysomething guy thing down to a science. His prose is funny and insightful, his characters quirky and just a bit off-balance but decent enough to take to our hearts. Ultimately, a series of perhaps unexpected events (including meeting Russ's very cool young guidance counselor) just might bring Doug back to the land of the living."

~Bette-Lee Fox, Library Journal Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

"In 1904, architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed a house for Edwin and Mamah Borthwick Cheney, respectable members of Oak Park, IL, society. Five years later, after a clandestine affair, Frank and Mamah scandalized that society by leaving their families to live together in Europe. Stunned by the furor, Mamah wanted to stay there, particularly after she met women's rights advocate Ellen Key, who rejected conventional ideas of marriage and divorce. Eventually, Frank convinced her to return to Wisconsin, where he was building Taliesin as a home and retreat. Horan's extensive research provides substantial underpinnings for this engrossing novel, and the focus on Mamah lets readers see her attraction to the creative, flamboyant architect but also her recognition of his arrogance. Mamah's own drive to achieve something important is tinged with guilt over abandoning her children. Tentative steps toward reconciliation end in a shocking, violent conclusion that would seem melodramatic if it weren't based on true events. The plot, characters, and ideas meld into a novel that will be a treat for fans of historical fiction but should not be pigeonholed in a genre section."

~Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

This may be a young adult book, but there are a lot of us older readers seriously hooked on this vampire/love story series that began with Twilight and was followed by New Moon. The third book in the series, Eclipse, has just been released.

"Readers captivated by Twilight and New Moon will eagerly devour Eclipse, the much anticipated third book in Stephenie Meyer's riveting vampire love saga.

As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob -- knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death. But which is which?"

~ from the Publisher

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Shoe Addicts Anonymous by Beth Harbison

"Arriving just in time for beach-read season, the effervescent hardcover fiction debut of cookbook author and romance novelist Harbison features four D.C.-area women who meet weekly to swap and chat about... shoes. Trying to get a handle on her massive consumer debt, Lorna Rafferty posts an Internet ad looking to trade footwear with women who have good taste and wear size seven-and-a-half. A senator's trophy wife, Helene Zaharis, is dreaming of escaping her loveless marriage when she stumbles upon Lorna's post. Overweight phone sex operator Sandra Vanderslice struggles to overcome her agoraphobia long enough to attend the shoe meetings. After a few funny missteps, the threesome finds a fourth member, Joss Bowen, the nanny of a shrewish socialite's hellion boys. Joss couldn't care less about shoes, but uses the group as a reason to get out of the house. Harbison does a fine job of showcasing how each woman is trapped—Lorna by her debt, Helene by her marriage, Sandra by her self-image, Joss by her employment contract—and how the fresh eyes of the group allow them to see themselves in a new light. Harbison creates vivid, convincing characters and handles them well. Reading this novel is like eating a slice of cake."

~ Publisher's Weekly. Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Restitution by Lee Vance

"The plot setup of this debut thriller may sound familiar, if not trite: husband and wife in troubled marriage; wife found murdered; police focus on husband as prime suspect; husband must find wife's killer and clear his name. Fortunately, Vance does more than just embroider this theme. After the authorities accuse Peter Tyler, a kingpin at the Wall Street financial firm of Klein and Klein, of his wife's murder, Peter gets entangled in money scams, stolen art, a pharmaceutical giant and a brilliant, ruthless and byzantine act of vengeance. Peter's best friend, Russian business tycoon Andrei Zhilina, may hold the key, but not even Andrei's twin sister, Katya, has been able to contact Andrei in his Moscow office. Peter embarks on a strongly cinematic quest, which takes him from plush Manhattan offices and the Harvard Club to deserted warehouses and meetings with Moscow toughs. Vance's ambitious story line hangs together remarkably well, providing depth and surprises to what otherwise might have been just another fugitive action tale."

~ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Short Change by Patricia Smiley

"At the start of Smiley's diverting third Tucker Sinclair mystery (after 2005's Cover Your Assets), the self-employed Los Angeles business consultant is sorting out the financial problems of her friend PI Charley Tate when distraught and disheveled Eve Lawson walks into Tate's office with complaints of being followed. When Lawson disappears, her boyfriend is killed and Tate is run off the road, Tucker turns detective. She retraces Lawson's erratic recent history, interviewing family members and former boyfriends, but something doesn't add up. At the center of the mystery is a small piece of property, owned by Lawson, that stands in the way of a major luxury development. That the murder occurred in the jurisdiction of LAPD detective Joe Deegan, Tucker's boyfriend, creates a conflict of interest. Meanwhile, Tucker is fighting her aunt for ownership of the cozy beach house she inherited from her grandmother. Satisfied fans will enjoy the forays and foibles of this charming heroine."

~ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber

"When a series of seemingly innocent crib deaths come to the attention of fingerprint expert Lena Dawson, she somehow knows that these aren't the standard SIDS cases. The thought of a serial infant murderer is horrifying, yet Lena can't decide if she's just being oversensitive or if the evidence truly points to someone killing babies. Lena's own puzzling past may be influencing her interest in the case; she was adopted as a small child under mysterious circumstances, and the similarities between the babies' deaths and her own childhood begin to haunt her. Could they somehow be connected? Abu-Jaber (Crescent) has created a literary mystery that weaves an intriguing psychological character study with a tense and compelling plot that results in a rewarding finish. Lena is a flawed but appealing protagonist; let's hope she surfaces in sequels. "

~ Kellie Gillespie, City of Mesa Lib., AZ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.