Friday, February 29, 2008

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana-Anne Rice

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana
Anne Rice
Knopf, Mar 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 9781400043521

Rumors have always abounded that Yeshua bar Joseph was miraculously a virgin birth child. However, he never gave that a second thought as he faithfully attends synagogue every Sabbath just like his brother James and everyone else in the village of Nazareth. However, recently Yeshua has had emotional issues between his religious calling and his love for a kinswoman. He knows what he must do, but is reluctant to embrace it as he sadly realizes he is about to lose his youth though he accepts the cause is worth the cost. On the “Road to Cana” he changes water to wine at the family wedding of Reuben and Avigail. Three years later Yeshua starts preaching the people must return to God. He performs miracles as he walks the path that the Lord has assigned to him.

The first Christ the Lord tale (see OUT OF EGYPT) was a strong opening story, but added little poetic license to the gaps of what is already known of Jesus. THE ROAD TO CANA is much deeper and better as Anne Rice provides an insightful look at Yeshua that miraculously makes him human as he covets love and feels loneliness with his increasing understanding of the heavenly mission bestowed on him. He displays human feelings yet Godly responsibilities that converge at the wedding where a family dispute has led to unhappiness at a moment that all should be rejoicing.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Willing-Scott Spencer

Scott Spencer
Ecco (Harper Collins), Mar 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780060760151

Thirty-seven years old New York writer Avery Jankowsky is tired of not making it as he lives from day to day with no money put away and a diet that would make peanut butter seem like a luxury. Worse his apprehension for the future turns uglier when he learns his girlfriend Deirdre is cheating on him.

Being depressed and feeling sorry for himself, he turns to his Uncle Ezra at their monthly luncheon in Grand Central Station; Ezra says all his nephew needs is a quality sex vacation for the affluent as everyone has these moments when they can’t get it up. Ezra sends him to Iceland and from there the continent on a tour of the upper crust sex capitals of the world. Avery’s early encounters lead him to realize his tour is worthy of a book; his publisher loves the idea and gives him an advance, but as he gets to know his male companions he wonders if a tell-all is ethical.

Although the plot is somewhat limited, readers who appreciate a deep introspective character study will want to read the adventures of Avery Jankowsky on a sex tour starting in Reykjavik and climaxing seemingly all over the continent. Avery makes the tale fun as his growing understanding of himself is poignant and that of his companions insightful and humorous as he knows this tour is like traveling in a locker room with high school randy boys. Fans will enjoy the ups and downs of Jankowsky’s sexual tour.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Because She Can-Bridie Clark

Because She Can
Bridie Clark
Grand Central, Feb 2008, $14.99
ISBN: 9780446697576

The New York publishing world knows that Vivian Grant, CEO of Grant Books, is the nastiest person in Manhattan. Her staff affirms what everyone knows that Vivian is the boss from hell, cursing them when she is not having a tantrum that would be the envy of the most terrible two years old. Her firm is renowned and profitable for best-selling exposé books that make tabloids jealous as Vivian understands “smut sells” to American women who never get any outside of novels.

Literary fiction editor Claire Truman knows the reputation of Ms. Grant as the queen of mean and Grant Books as the schlock of literature, but accepts the position of an editor anyway. Claire learns quickly what working for Vivian means and not just having her skin ripped off by her meanness; Vivian demands pounds of flesh 24/7. This constant requirement interferes with her relationship with her handsome successful fiancé Randall Cox and her dreams of being kissed by Luke Mayville, the writer she recently met.

Although this takes place inside book publishing (where the author worked) instead of magazine publishing as the case of THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, BECAUSE SHE CAN is also an enjoyable look at working for the boss from hell. As long as the audience is not in a similar employee relationship with a Marquis de Sade supervisor, readers will find the antics amusing, as Bridie Clark using hyperbole (I hope that is) provides a portrayal of the nasty malicious manager although that tale has been told obviously before.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 25, 2008

i heart bloomberg-Melody Carlson

i heart bloomberg
Melody Carlson
David C. Cook, Apr 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9781589191044

Half-Hawaiian Lelani Porter, white Christian Megan Abernathy and Hispanic Anna Mendez are thinking of renting rooms at 86 Bloomberg Place. However, each expected a "luxurious" house based on the advertisement of owner Kendall Weis, but 86 Bloomberg Place is more a fixer upper. Kendall barters with them; and they agree to rent when she reduces their rent in return for helping renovate the home.

Kendall turns out to be a lunatic with enough issues to fill an abnormal psychology class. The three renters consider moving out, but each decides to remain for now as their previous arrangements remain a motivation to stay and they even pledge to be nice to their neurotic landlady.

The concept is fascinating as each of the four females has strong reasons to make their arrangement at 86 Bloomberg Place work. The characters are solid and seem fully developed although Kendall’s psychological issues are overwhelming as there are too many for the audience (or the renters) to cope with. Still the story line is fun to follow as relationships begin to form, but the climax is abrupt and nothing important resolved as if this opening tale was to introduce the cast to the audience while affirming the importance of friendship.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Winding Ways Quilt- Jennifer Chiaverini

The Winding Ways Quilt
Jennifer Chiaverini
Simon & Schuster, Apr 2008, $24.00
ISBN: 9781410403711

The Elm Street Quilters camp is about to reopen and participants eagerly hope to learn more about their craft and meet old friends and make new ones. This year’s opening is bittersweet because some of the founding members are leaving.

Judy wouldn’t leave for anything less than a tenure position at U of Penn and her husband is getting a job at the Philadelphia Inquirer. It is a time for new beginning for pregnant Sara and her husband Matt. Bonnie lost her store Grandmother’s Attic when some thugs destroyed it beyond repair and her husband changed the numbers to their accounts and the locks to their home. Summer who is also one of the founders is taking her doctorate at the University of Chicago. It is time for the Elm Street Quilters to have welcomes and farewells to characters who are coming and leaving.

The characters are fully developed and likable especially bringing in two new faculty members to replace departing instructors adds freshness to the saga. However, the story line feels very similar to previous tales with flashbacks overly employed and there are very little interactions between the main characters as the tale is more of a series of vignettes. Still fans will want to say goodbye to leaving quilters and welcome new members.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Spare Wife-Alex Witchel

The Spare Wife
Alex Witchel
Knopf, Feb 2008, $23.95
ISBN: 9781400041497

After graduating high school in Harding, South Carolina Ponce Porter heeded Sinatra’s advice by coming to Manhattan to make it as a model. Instead the teen married wealthy TV producer Lee Morris, who was older than her parents. Finding marriage to a man four decades older than her boring, Ponce went to NYU and law school.

Over two decades later, the fortyish Ponce is a wealthy widow known by her socialite friends as "THE SPARE WIFE" as she is a companion to husbands at sports galas and to their wives at charity events. Everyone trusts the popular Ponce. However, in Chicago Boothby's Review wannabe reporter Babette Steele catches Ponce kissing happily married fertility Dr. Neil Grossman. Whereas Babette feels she has the ticket into journalism. Ponce and her friends begin a discrediting campaign to spin the story by destroying the aspirant and the other jealous media sharks trying to devour their affluent superiors.

Ponce and her social set prove that President Bush is right that the economy must have a strong base affirmed by the excess hedonistic extravagance in which one would expect this crowd to answer health care issues with “Let them eat cake”. Alex Witchel goes deep into the soul of the title character, ironically a shallow person socializing with her superficial friends. Readers will enjoy this powerful character study of the ultra elite whose earmarked connections would be the envy of lofty politicians.

Harriet Klausner

Plenty Good Room-Cheri Paris Edwards

Plenty Good Room
Cheri Paris Edwards
Walk Worthy, Jun 2007, $13.99
ISBN: 9780446699372

In Springfield, Illinois caring professional Tamara Britton works diligently at her job in the Child Protective Unit’s Stabilization Section of Care for Kids Agency. However, she hides from her friends, peers and clients her desire to learn about her own roots behind a façade of control. Her world is nuked when her friend field worker Lynnette Moore asks her to take in fourteen year old runaway Miss Sienna “mouthy” Larson.

The out of control teen misbehaves constantly leaving Tamara with a big headache as to what to do with the recalcitrant sassy “Little Miss Thang”. She also finds the “housepitality” border gets Tamara to finally look into her own past as the kid has hammered at her protective barrier forcing the anger and discontent of the adult to surface. Tamara is at a crossroads of letting go or rebuilding her battlement.

This is a strong look at the dangerous life of a teen runaway as Sienna steals the show with her mouth that never rests although Tamara is the fully developed star. The story line is driven by their relationship but changing perspectives jolts the plot. Still readers will enjoy this fine inspirational tale as Sienna in her street sass style teaches Tamara that caring for someone else and oneself is not only okay but encouraged by the Lord.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 22, 2008

Empress of Asia-Adam Lewis Schroeder

Empress of Asia
Adam Lewis Schroeder
Dunne, Mar 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312376406

Harry Winslow is stunned when his wife Lily on her death bed at St. Paul Hospital informs him that his French World War II buddy Michel Ney was still alive; Harry had thought Michel had died several years ago. She gives him an address and unanswered questions like how did she know this man whom he assumed she never met. His quest to meet up with the Frenchman who saved his life back in 1942 takes him to Kanchaburi Province, Thailand.

On his quest Harry reflects back to his days as a Canadian marine in Singapore. He met, married and lost Lily there in one day when the Japanese invaded the island and captured him as a prisoner of war. He went to a Japanese prison camp where he met Michel. They became friends until the Japanese separated them. He later learned Michel died trying to escape internment. After the war ended, Harry finds Lily, freed form a women’s prison, but she hid a dark disturbing secret from her husband.

EMPRESS OF ASIA is a fascinating look at the negative impact of war on the lives of people even decades after the conflict is over. The story line is superb when it focuses on the three main characters in the present and during WW II. However, there is an overwhelming sense of place due to overwritten but picturesque descriptions of geography. Still filled with excitement, readers will appreciate Adam Lewis Schroeder’s fine tale that armchair cheerleaders insisting the surge is working should read to understand the long term side effects of war on the soldiers (and their families).

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Paper Marriage-Susan Kay Law

The Paper Marriage
Susan Kay Law
Berkley, Mar 2008, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425219355

Twelve years ago, John McCrary was in a nasty car accident that left him comatose. His wife Ann had him placed in Cedar Ridge where he has lived ever since in a deep coma. Ann believes not only has John’s life been placed on pause so has hers; still she and her therapy dog Cleo visit her husband every evening at 6:30 to insure he receives proper care at the nursing home although her mother-in-law Mary is there diligently everyday as she expects a miracle to occur as well as her daughter-in-law standing by her vow of in sickness, etc.

When Ann’s neighbor Mrs. Hillerman moved into assisted living, her house was sold within a day to former baseball star Tom Nash. He moves in almost immediately accompanied by his angry purple haired sixteen years old daughter Mer who will spend the summer with him in the burbs. He is clueless about life in the suburban jungle and what to do with a teen girl, whose self-absorbed mother like the former All Star pitcher neglected her. As Tom and Ann become acquainted starting with brownies and perversions and coaxed by Mer, they fall in love. However, in spite of encouragement from her mom and discouragement from John’s mother, Ann takes her vows to her husband seriously.

THE PAPER MARRIAGE is a deep contemporary relationship drama that focuses on complex personal issues. The story line contains an obvious serious undertone re when does a person move on in his or her life without neglecting or forgetting an incapacitated loved one. With some humor to lighten the mood a bit, readers will appreciate The Paper Marriage with tears glistening throughout this powerful tale. There is a final spin between Tom and John that will leave no one dry eyed.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Par for the Course-Ray Blackston

Par for the Course
Ray Blackston
FaithWords, Feb 2008, $13.99
ISBN: 9780446178150

In Charleston, South Carolina, Chris Hackett owns Hackett’s Golf Learning Center. His clients like him, but in spite of his skills on the links and his friendliness with people, he admits to himself that when it comes to scoring with women he has hit "a series of relational double bogeys".

One of his students, thirtyish Molly Cusack comes up with a gimmick to increase his customer base by having them swing their clubs so that they can "whack a liberal" or "whack a conservative", depending on their preference. As Chris finds his course is the in place for political hooks and shanks, he begins to have ethical concerns that golf should not become the new arena for improper partisan politicizing.

As is PAR FOR THE COURSE when it comes to a Ray Blackston amusing satire, a triple bogey hits the FLABBERGASTED star as he learns politics and golf don’t mix very well. The prime story line on the Hack’s Golf Learning Center Course works very well as the laughs keep on coming. However, some subplots feel as if they landed in a sand trap and are forced onto the green of the main theme. Still Mr. Blackston provides a jocular sports romance in which love, golf, and partisan politics make par.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 16, 2008

News Blues-Marianne Macusi

News Blues
Marianne Macusi
Love Spell, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527493

In San Diego twenty-seven year old investigative news producer Maddy Madison cannot believe she still works on fluff and puff at News 9; her goal since school has been to work real news at Newsline, but each day that passes means one more nail of stereotyping her as candy. Adding to her period of discontentment is that her divorced parents have new significant others and so there is no time for parenting, which means her teenage sister Lulu with a drug problem is Maddy’s problem.

However, Maddy begins investigating a real story involving drug smuggling; not the usual attack of the “deadly dishwashers” and the sequel revenge of the “Deadly Dishwashers”. She and engaged photographer Jamie Hayes work together to cover the drug smuggling story even as she egotistical anchor terrorist Terrence Toller drives her as batty as her father marrying a girl younger than her.

This entertaining satire of how the news is manufactured is at its best when it focuses on reporting and on Maddy’s extended family interrelationships. Especially fascinating while enhancing the lampooning on how news is produced is when the TV station provides opinion and commentary on social issues, but makes it appear to be hard core news. Fans will enjoy this fun tale while also taking a closer look at what CNN, Fox, MSNBC and the networks, etc. claim is the news especially whose advertising dollars pay for the broadcast.

Harriet Klausner

No Good Girls-Jean Marie Pierson

No Good Girls
Jean Marie Pierson
Love Spell, Mar 2008, $6.99
ISBN: 9780505527561

Wannabe writer Geri knows a lot of things, but most important she hates but needs her job and believes with her heart that the man for her is out there, if she find the right atlas and a New York minute. Helping her cope is her roommate Emmy and their friends Maria and Sally; as these four musketeers lament together about a lack of good men in the city. Amongst their other moans and groans they are there for one another.

Geri thinks her luck must be changing as she has not stepped in anything in a few days and received a promotion although she stops to ponder the female equivalent to the Peter Principle as her boss wants someone to write a children’s book on the Donner party thinking it must have been a fun affair. She is also dating, a miracle of sorts, except she fears her Todd’s affection might be more the rebound effect as he just broke off with his girlfriend. Still as Geri writes and revises her list of what she knows beside Nittany Lion 1990s football (the’94 team should have been at least co-champs) Geri begins to understand she needs to look inside herself to determine what she wants in her one chance at life.

This is an entertaining chick lit tale starring an interesting young woman supported by her three friends, a hunk, a boss, and a tertiary cast of millions. Geri is a terrific protagonist as she heeds Sinatra’s advice to make it in Manhattan, but when she thought of quitting Emmy, Maria and Sally pick her up and get her back in the rat race as “That's Life”; just like she does for them. Fans will enjoy her lament that there are no good men out there even as she understands those good men groan that there are NO GOOD GIRLS out there on a fourteen mile island where millions live and work.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 15, 2008

Good Man Hunting-Lisa Landolt

Good Man Hunting
Lisa Landolt
Avon, Mar 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061340390

At a wedding of a friend, a member of the Hunt Club asks plain wallflower Sandra Greene to join their group that assists women in making their ideal match regardless of who he is. The pizza parlor assistant manager thinks this might prove entertaining and diverting so she joins. Though some of the goings-on discomfit the nerd, Sandra for the most enjoys the club especially its matchmaking support to help a woman obtain the hand of the man of their choice.

Sandra hopes to land former sitcom star Mike Warren. However, she is stunned before she goes out on her first date with her chosen one; the FBI informs Sandra that the Hunt Club has performed some nefarious deeds that she finds somewhat hard to believe, but then again she witnessed the sordid undoing of some male meat.

This way out over the top charmer will hook readers with its “Cinderella” concept turned upside down by the FBI (could they be the wicked step-family?). The story line is whimsical as Sandra thinks the Hunt Club goes ethically too far yet she believes she will do anything to land Mike until she learns how far is far to the club members. Lisa Landolt provides her audience with an amusing twist on fairy tale romances.

Harriet Klausner

Return of the Stardust Cowgirl-Marsha Moyer

Return of the Stardust Cowgirl
Marsha Moyer
Three Rivers (Crown), Feb 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780307351555

In northeast Texas, cowgirl Lucy Hatch worries about their future since the recording contract of her on the road husband Ash Farrell was ended. Despondent, Ash returned to Mooney to move back in with his wife and their son Jude.

Lucy has mixed feelings about Ash staying home. On the one hand he is very handy at fixing things; on the other he has issues starting with his songwriter’s block. She also worries that she will soon be unemployed as Peggy Thaney, owner of Faye’s Flowers, is retiring and closing the florist shop that Lucy works at. However the biggest problem besides Ash’s renewed vow to his family is the arrival of her stepdaughter rising country western star Denny Culpepper, who left her cheating husband Will and his Nashville Cats although she carries his offspring.

Rotating perspective between Lucy and Denny, readers see deep into the Texas roots of both beleaguered, bewildered women as each feels their life is being nuked by outside forces causing unwanted changes and in turn forcing them to make decisions neither wants to make. The pair actually bond helping each other with coping. Fans will appreciate Marsha Moyer’s wonderful look at family life in small-town rural Texas in her latest Lucy Hatch tale (see THE SECOND COMING OF LUCY HATCH, THE LAST OF THE HONKY-TONK ANGELS, and HEARTBREAK TOWN).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 14, 2008

China Dolls-Michelle Yu & Blossom Kan

China Dolls
Michelle Yu & Blossom Kan
Dunne, Feb 2008, $2.95
ISBN: 9780312378011

Chinese Americans M.J., Alex and Lin are best friends and have been so since they met as children. Each encourages the others to seek their dreams. Thus M.J. is a sportswriter hoping to make TV broadcasting; Alex has become a successful lawyer; and Lin has succeeded as an investment banker.

Each of their parents is concerned with the Americanization of their offspring, as the only acceptable roles for an Asian female are wife and mother. However the three musketeers want more from their lives and plan to prove to their respective families that Asian women at least in the United States can be all they want to be.

The American assimilation that divides the third generation from especially the first (the second is caught in a tug of war) is aptly described in CHINA DOLLS. Readers will see the Grand Canyon in beliefs as the acceptable Chinese norm (brought from the old country) clashes with the desires of women to be all that you can be in a society that encourages much more flexibility. Although none of the three young professionals are fully developed, the clashing lifestyles make for an interesting tale as each ahs to decide between gratifying their family by staying inside the narrow cultural restraints or satisfying themselves by taking advantage of the wider opportunities America offers.

Harriet Klausner

All Eyes On Her-Poonam Sharma

All Eyes On Her
Poonam Sharma
Red Dress Ink, Mar 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780373895519

At Steel Associates in Beverly Hills, associate divorce attorney Monica is depressed. Not so much because her fiancé is away though she misses him; or because backstabbing peer Stefanie plots to sleazily steal the promotion that Monica feels she has earned; nor just her workload involving celebrity marriages. Instead her despondency is the news that mom is moving back to town.

Monica knows she and her mom may love one another, but need different continents for a serene relationship. To stop the rat at the office Monica puts in longer hours not easy to do when you are already on 24/7. However, in spite of her effort to save the celebrity couple marriage of “Camydia” she fails at her mission learning that the truth will set you free from marital entanglements; her attempt to save the in couple leads to her appearance on TV while a former lover wants to start a second set with her.

ALL EYES ON HER is a fascinating chick lit tale that focuses on female to the death rivalries. Interestingly there are eight associates competing for two promotions with six of them males; yet the competition as Monica sees it is fair play vs. the men but a cat fight against her only female opponent because she knows Stefanie cheats to get ahead. Besides the office cut-throat competition, there is also a relationship contest in which two females seemingly battle to the death over a hunk. Rather unique and quite amusing (just who are these celebrities modeled after?), fans will have all eyes on Poonam Sharma for more Hollywood tales; chick lit style.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 11, 2008

Embrace Me-Lisa Samson

Embrace Me
Lisa Samson
Thomas Nelson, Mar 2008, $14.99
ISBN: 9781595542106

Valentine and Lella are not just best friends; they are each other’s only friend. They earn a living working at Roland Wayfaring Marvels and Oddities show knowing they are freaks to the normals who gawk at them. Valentine has scars all over her body while Lella has no extremities. Whereas Lella also has no dreams, Val fantasizes of one day being romanced by a man while she listens to her mother’s copy of “Embraceable You”, but once the singing stops reality returns.

However, a newcomer with scars on his soul and in his heart joins the caravan. Augustus befriends Val, but Lella who wants the best for her buddy fears she will be left behind with no one to care for or about her.

Combining a deep need to belong to others, which means forgiving and accepting the hurts they cause, inside a set from Browning’s Freaks, Lisa Samson writes a powerful relationship drama that will shake the audience to the core. The cast is fully developed so that readers feel the anguish and loneliness each suffers. Adding depth to the emotional punch is the rotating story line between Drew circa 2002-3 and Val circa 2008-9. EMBRACE ME is a powerful insightful tale of love as Ms. Samson makes an ardent case that everyone needs loving mental and physical hugs.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Burning Bright-Tracey Chevalier

Burning Bright
Tracey Chevalier
Dutton, Apr 2008, $24.95
ISBN: 9780525949787

In 1792 following a tragedy, the Kellaway family leaves their Dorsetshire village Piddletrenthide for London at the encouragement of Philip Astley, owner of Astley’s Circus. The city seems initially overwhelming compared to where they lived, but the Kellaway brood begins to adapt although they struggle to earn enough to keep food on the table and everyone under one roof.

The youngest child Jem quickly makes friends with street urchin Maggie. Together they explore the city and meet the Kellaway next door neighbor renowned radical poet William Blake at a time when the French Revolution has people either frightened that the zealots will cross the Channel or excited about a chance to reform the excesses of the royals and the aristocracy. Meanwhile Blake finds motivation with the adventures of Maggie and Jem in London as he begins to write a coming of age poems, Songs of Innocence and Experience.

BURNING BRIGHT is a terrific historical fiction that brings to life the expectations and fears of Londoners during the French Revolution. The Kellaway family (especially Jem) and Maggie are fully developed so that the audience obtains a strong sense of how they see things especially the fears that the family will have to break up to survive. Blake is an interesting addition to the mix, but forcing the Songs of Innocence and Experience as being inspired by the preadolescent stars seems unlikely. Still this is a strong look at London knowing Paris is burning.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Red-Headed Princess-Ann Rinaldi

The Red-Headed Princess
Ann Rinaldi
HarperCollins, Jan 2008
ISBN: 9780060733742

In 1533, serendipitously Ann Boleyn secretly marred King Henry VIII while they waited for his the Archbishop of Canterbury to affirm his divorce from Catherine of Aragon before announcing their wedding. Nine moths later she gave birth to Elizabeth Tudor, his second daughter. In 1536 Henry accused his second wife of adultery with her brother and others. She was incarcerated in the Tower of London before being convicted and beheaded. Although an infant when her mom died, Elizbath had learned early on the virtue of caution as she navigates her father’s court. Over the years she failed at ever pleasing her sire, but when he died her older brother took the throne. Elizabeth found her life improved until a sick Edward died placing her step sister devout Catholic “Bloody Mary” on the throne. Even as she once again walks cautiously Bess expects to one day be the Queen of England and rule in a strong way that would make her late father finally proud of her accomplishments.

This fine biographical fiction tale targets preadolescent female with her humanizing Queen Elizabeth I. The audience learns what motivated the princess to be the best that she can be once on the throne and how she survived her father executing her mother and her step-sister’s religious fanaticism. Although obviously slanted in an Elizabethan Era direction, Ann Rinaldi provides a deep look at the soul of THE RED-HAIRED PRINCESS who one day became one of England’s most influential rulers.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dream Chaser-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Dream Chaser
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's, Feb 2008, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312938826

A “deceased” half-demon demi-god, Xypher lives for one thing vengeance against the female whose betrayal has left him locked away in Hade’s most secure prison Tartarus. His target Satara knows he will try to come for her if he escapes; especially in her dream state so to mute his threat she has “bonded” him to Tulane University medical examiner Simone Dubois. If either dies the other also dies, but this time permanently.

Although he does not like being tied to anyone, Xypher realizes that Satara made an error by selecting Simone as she is used to the paranormal rooming with a teen ghost and solving murder mysteries by consulting with the victims. Instead of panic, Simone begins to work with Xypher especially when the mortal world becomes threatened.

DREAM CHASER is a delightful often amusing romantic fantasy starring two interesting protagonists and a fascinating antagonist. Readers will emphasize with Xypher who understandably out grouches Oscar and admire Simone who does not blink when the paranormal enters her life. Their debates make for a fun time especially their discussion as what to do to Satara. With additional spins leading to save the world or else, Sherrilyn Kenyon provides a superb romantic thriller that answers the question of whether bonding includes love at least for this couple.

Harriet Klausner

Blind Faith-Sagarika Ghose

Blind Faith
Sagarika Ghose
Harper, Mar 2008, $13.95
ISBN: 9780061350269

In London twenty-eight years old TV reporter Mia Bhagat remains in shock that her seemingly healthy father committed suicide. The Bengali expatriate uses her work to somewhat ignore her grief. While on an assignment, Mia meets Karna, an instructor at the Purification Journey Brotherhood where men learn how to conquer the female ego. He could have been the model for her father’s painting of the Kumbh Mela Festival of the Pitcher.

Mia falls in love with Karna, but her mother orchestrates a marriage for her with cosmetics businessman Vik Ray. Following their nuptials, the pair moves to his home office in New Delhi where she hosts his galas while praying that her Karna will soon come for her.

Although the above description is like the Ganges River, there are several major tributaries not described above that add depth to this insightful look at modern day India through the comparisons between and the interrelationships of a strong cast. Somewhat confused, Mia holds the threads together. Readers will enjoy the focus on materialism vs. spiritualism and heritage vs. globalization that makes BLIND FAITH an interesting glimpse at a changing India.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Souvenir-Therese Fowler

Therese Fowler
Ballantine, Mar 2008, $21.95
ISBN: 9780345499684

In 1989 in Florida Meg Powell was falling in love with Carson McKay, but is marrying Brian Hamilton. In fact thirteen hours before she is to exchange I do she sneaks off to see Carson. Although she knows her marital vows are false, Meg goes ahead with the marriage; Carson leaves town after telling her they will next meet in hell.

Almost seventeen years later, now an obstetrician with a teenage daughter that she and her spouse neglect, Meg Hamilton learns from her physician that she suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease. Engaged to a professional surfer, Carson, who has become a successful rock musician, has just returned home. As an older nefarious male seduces her daughter Savannah with false words of affection, Meg realizes how much she lost when she chose stability over love, but feels she has a second chance.

This is a warm second chance at love soap opera that readers will enjoy as Meg suffers regrets over Carson and Savannah, who is being lured into a nasty net by a twenty-three years old punk. The characters are fully developed except for Brian, who is the stereotypical selfish sh*thead who could not give a sh*t about his wife or daughter except how it impacts on him; thus his personality makes relationship decisions by Meg much easier to choose than if he was a kind caring individual who loved and adored his wife and daughter. Still contemporary fans will appreciate this fine Florida romance.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Honor Thyself-Danielle Steel

Honor Thyself
Danielle Steel
Delacorte, Feb 2008, $27.00
ISBN: 9780385340243

One time Oscar winner Carole Barber leaves Hollywood for Paris where the fifty year old actress plans to write her first novel. However, on her first night in town, a terrorists' assault kills many innocents and leaves the stage and movie superstar severely injured and rushed to a hospital suffering from amnesia amongst other injuries.

As she recovers physically, the paparazzi are like locusts assaulting the hospital. Someone she does not recognize keeps visiting her as he has not forgotten her from their time together fifteen years ago. Her adult children cross the pond while praying for their mom to heal. During all this Carole slowly one fact at a time begins to remember her life, her failures, and her regrets, but realizes God has given her a second chance with those she loves if she has the courage to go for it.

This is an interesting character driven tale in which Carole meeting her loved ones for the “first” time since her amnesia will garner a lot of reader empathy. However, the story line never digs deep into her decision making as to why she kept her secret lover and even her children at a distance. Still fans of Danielle Steele will enjoy her second chance at living and loving relationships as fans will root for the heroine to succeed.

Harriet Klausner

Remember Me?-Sophie Kinsella

Remember Me?
Sophie Kinsella
Dial, Feb 2008, $25.00
ISBN: 9780385338721

Twenty-eight years old Lexi Smart thinks it is still 2004 and that she disgracefully just missed her father’s funeral. However, the working girl struggles with why she is in a London hospital (from a car accident) and worse she learns that it is 2007. Adding to her confusion of where the last three years went is her physical appearance; she looks great and somehow has become a successful shark businesswoman.

Lexi decides to investigate herself in order to learn what happened that changed her from mouse to lioness. She also tries to kindle warmth between her and her aloof spouse Eric while his associate Jon passionately insists she was dumping her husband for him before she bumped her head in the car accident.

Although the theme has been used numerous times, Lexi refreshes Sophie Kinsella’s fun tale with her quest to learn what happened to change her as radically as she has forgotten the last three years. Her inquiries into herself enable the audience to better understand who she is, how she got to where she is, and her relationship with Eric and Jon. Ms. Kinsella provides a smart contemporary tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Time It Takes to Fall-Margaret Lazarus Dean

The Time It Takes to Fall
Margaret Lazarus Dean
Simon & Schuster, Feb 2008, $24.00
ISBN: 0743297229

By the 1980s everyone who lives in the towns that make up Florida’s "Space Coast" understands that NASA is the prime employee. All working adults either are employed by NASA or provide services to NASA’s employees. Most of the young like preadolescent student Dolores Gray dream of becoming astronauts or space engineers.

Delores’ father moved here in 1965, but insists the space exploration ended abruptly in 1972 as Nixon had no vision. By late 1985 in spite of her dad’s negativity and that most of her peers admired teacher in space astronaut Christa McAuliffe, Delores wants to one day be just like her heroine mission specialist Judith Resnick. However, funding is cut for the agency as another no visionary sits in the White House; NASA has to RIF employees like Delores’ dad, which propels her parents’ marriage into a tailspin until her mom leaves. Then on 28 January 1986, the Challenger explodes.

An interesting coming of age tale; what keeps THE TIME IT TAKES TO FALL entertaining is 1980s NASA Florida vividly described with a royal pyramidal hierarchy while rocket science is made simple and comprehensible without dumbing it down. The family crisis pales next to space science and space disaster. Still Margaret Lazarus Dean provides a fascinating look at Space Coast Florida circa 1985-86.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Little Lady Agency and the Prince-Hester Browne

The Little Lady Agency and the Prince
Hester Browne
Pocket, Feb 2008, $24.00
ISBN: 9781416539063

After the “Little Lady” got engaged to her American boyfriend Jonathan Riley in the Big Apple, Melissa Romney-Jones returns home to Britain to continue her service as sexpot Honey helping the romantically impaired male. Her newest client is womanizing Prince Nicolas von Helsing-Alexandros whose family wants him turned into a gentleman.

Honey hopes to keep Nicky focused on her and her lessons. At the same time, Jonathan begins making demands of her that make her wonder if marriage to him is far from her ideal. Instead Melisa begins to wonder if long time pal Nelson would make a better mate.

The latest Little Lady Agency tale retains the freshness of the previous books in this endearing series as Melissa thanks to her Honey persona refuses to return to mouse status even for Jonathan who becomes demanding and commanding; then again he is a CEO. The story line is fast-paced as Melissa reconsiders her options and trains the Prince to be more considerate of women in this fine entry.

Harriet Klausner

The Warriors-Mark Andrew Olsen

The Warriors
Mark Andrew Olsen
Bethany House, Apr 2008, $19.99
ISBN: 9780764202742

Abby Sherman and Dylan Hatfield argue over the differences between spiritual and mortal combat. They are Watchers; humans who hear God’s voce and can see demons and angels fighting one another. Dylan is with a black ops operation in Tora Bora; the place where Osama escaped in Tunnel Nine from the allies during the overthrow of the Taliban. The Watcher realizes he and his peers have uncovered a Principality; a demon hold on earth. He is the only one to come out alive, but those who saved his life want him dead because they are possessed.

Abby goes to Jerusalem to visit the Watcher the Sentinel who is dying but needs to deliver a message for Abby. A giant wave of destruction is going to destroy the North American eastern coast; to prevent onslaught Abby must find the summons in stone that will call forth the Warriors. Abby and Dylan meet up with both on the run while searching for the stone etching. Demon possessed American agents pursue them to prevent them from bringing the Warriors to fight the horde.

Mark Andrew Olsen is an expert at writing exciting faith based supernatural thrillers in which a chosen few are chillingly able to see the true meaning of Revelations. Most people are unaware of Watchers and the few who do rarely believe they are part of God’s plan, but instead assume they are crazy religious fanatics. Whereas Abby’s faith carries her through one crisis after another, Dylan’s doubts make him work harder at acceptance. Readers will enjoy this couple who if successful will prevent biblical calamity.

Harriet Klausner