Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

The Two Deaths of Daniel HayesReviewed by Patricia Reid

The story begins with Daniel Hayes washed up on the beach, half dead and thousands of miles away from home. Daniel is alone except for a car parked on the beach and abandoned. Of course, Daniel has no idea that he is Daniel Hayes. He has amnesia and no idea of how he arrived in the water off the coast of Maine. The car is a BMW. The registration says Daniel Hayes. The clothes in the trunk happen to fit. The gun in the glove compartment is a big surprise. With no other options, he starts driving the BMW headed across the country. The registration says California so that is his destination. Is he Daniel Hayes or someone that just washed up on the beach and lucked into a good car with clothes, cash, maps and even a nice Rolex watch. He wonders how he knew the watch was a Rolex and was surprised he liked the taste of the whiskey left in the car. With no other options available at the moment, he decides he will be Daniel Hayes – at least until he finds out something different.

As he tries to retrace his life, he finds many surprises. He has a wife but she is dead. Or is she dead? That is just another story he needs to unravel. As Daniel struggles to make sense of his life, he finds himself right in the middle of a situation that is extremely dangerous but not one that he fully understands.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

The Weird SistersReviewed by Teri Davis

“See, we love one another. We just don’t happen to like one another very much.”

Sisters . . . mine included.

The Weird Sisters is about three adult women who are sisters and return home because of their mother being diagnosed with breast cancer. At least that is what it appears. Rosalind “Rose” is home because her fiancé is studying in England and she is scared to leave the security of her job and being close to home. Bianca “Bean” is hiding from her former New York employer who fired her for embezzlement. Cordelia “Cordy” is home because she has no stability in her gypsy lifestyle and is developing a nesting instinct. The three grew up in this house with their father teaching Shakespeare at a local college and their mother staying at home to take care of the family. The daughters grew up without the advantage of having a television but with the gift of having a strong relationship with books and Shakespeare.

Surprisingly, the three daughters closely resemble each other physically, but are extremely different in personality and tend to resemble the Shakespearian characters of their names. Each one is dealing with their own personal conflicts and being unable to deal effectively in the real world with other humans.

“Instead, we were going to wrap ourselves in cloaks woven from self-pity and victimhood, refusing to admit that we might be able to help each other if we’d only open up. Instead, we’d do what we always did, the only thing we’d ever been dependably stellar at: we’d read.”

Beneath the Dune by Walter Ramsay

Beneath the DuneReviewed by Elizabeth Sheehan

I totally enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.

The story takes place in central FL and the main character, Tucker Lee Anderson, is a sports writer for a local newspaper. He is asked to investigate, when a colleague is sick, the finding of a child’s bones in a sand dune. You then learn some of the history of the Seminole Indians whom originally settled the area. We then begin to learn the extent of how a cover up was started more than a 100 years ago. It continues to the present time and turns extremely dangerous. Tyler’s childhood friend Craig, a detective, agrees with Tyler that something is very wrong and the finding of the bones, for some reason is being covered up. Craig, Tucker’s boss, although he is threatened along with Tyler, eventually realizes that the newspaper has to help with the investigation.

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman (Review #2)

I'd Know You Anywhere Reviewed by Patricia Reid

Eliza Benedict and her family have recently moved back to the United States after living several years in England. The move was brought about by Eliza’s husband’s employment. The children are just adjusting to the move. Eliza’s daughter Isobel (Iso) and her son Albie are in new schools and attempting to get used to life in the states after being gone so long.

Eliza’s ordinary life is suddenly interrupted when she receives a letter from Walter Bowman, a death row inmate. Walter had spotted Eliza’s picture in a magazine and his letter states “I’d know you anywhere”. Walter had kidnapped Eliza when she was only 15 years old. Walter held Eliza hostage for40 days before she was finally released. This is a part of Eliza’s life that she hasn’t shared with her children.

Eliza’s full name was Elizabeth Hortense Lerner prior to her marriage. After her abduction, her parents moved and she entered a new school under the name of Eliza. Only her parents, her sister Vonnie and Eliza’s husband are aware of the past circumstances until a woman who has taken up Walter’s cause finds Eliza and encourages her to talk to Walter. Eliza finally decides after discussing the matter with her husband that she will speak with Walter. She installs a new telephone line and instructs Walter that the only hours she will be willing to answer the phone is during the time her children are away at school. Walter wants Eliza to visit him on death row. Eliza isn’t the only girl he kidnapped but she is the one who lived. He indicates if she will only visit him, he will reveal information to her about the other that he has previously refused to discuss.

Blindsighted by Karin Slaughter

BlindsightedReviewed by Julie Moderson

Karin Slaughter tells an amazing story and keeps you guessing until the very end as to who the killer is and why the killer kills. She gets to you on the first page and you never want to stop reading until the very end and you still want more.

The stars of this book are the police chief Jeffrey Tolliver and his ex-wife the town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton. Their on again and off romance is just enough to keep us happy. The book starts with a horrible murder of a young college professor in a small town in Georgia. During the autopsy Sara discovers what a twisted person they are dealing with. The murderer is a psychopath who will strike again and Chief Tolliver needs to solve this case in a hurry. The only female detective is Lena Adams and she is the identical twin sister to the young professor that was murdered and she wants to find the killer more than anyone but will she be able to keep her emotions at bay.

A Dark Dividing by Sarah Rayne

A Dark DividingReviewed by Patricia Reid

A Dark Dividing is a novel that tells the story of two families, each with a set of twins. Both sets of twins were born conjoined. This is a rare but very sad occurrence. In both instances, the mothers loved their children no matter what the problems the births presented but the fathers of the twins each had a different outlook on the birth of the twins and neither father really loved the children.

Harry Fitzgerald is a journalist that is assigned the task of reporting on a new art gallery. Harry is less than thrilled with the assignment until he meets Simone Anderson who is going by the name Simone Marriot, a photographer. Simone shows Harry some of her photographs that display a haunting quality much like Simone herself. Simone is said to have had a twin sister that is now deceased. Simone and her twin Sonia were born conjoined but no information has been published about the twins for years.

As Harry begins to research Simone’s background he finds a book that has been out of print for years that tells the tale of another set of conjoined twins named Viola and Sorrel Quinton and their mother Charlotte. The twins were born years ago and their story is a sad one. Mortmain House plays a big part in the story of Viola and Sorrel. Mortmain House is dark, dreary and downright scary but the author keeps taking you back to this place of horrors.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

In the Garden of BeastsReviewed by Teri Davis

Being a United States’ Ambassador to Germany obviously is an honor with tremendous expectations. Can anyone imagine what it would have been like to be in this position prior to World War II just when Adolf Hitler became the leader of the Nazi party?

William E. Dodd was an unlikely choice for an ambassador appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His only qualifications were spending time in Germany twenty years previously and knowing history, but obviously not understanding it. Many wealthy and experienced politicians had turned it down so it was a surprise for a university professor to accept this. Dodd started in this position with the idea that it would allow him time to write his book, Old South. He had no realistic expectations of his situation nor how he was perceived by our politicians and the German leaders.

To begin with, Dodd decided to live within the means of his salary for all entertaining and expenditures. This would include the elaborate parties with the German leaders. Then he insisted on transporting his old Chevrolet to Germany. With the Nazi leaders either having a chauffeur or driving long flashy vehicles, this didn’t successfully maintain any dignity.

Also with him came his wife, his adult son and daughter. His son planned to continue his studies while in Germany and to learn the language. His daughter, Martha, found this to be the opportunity for adventure. She divorced her husband who was a New York banker and partied her way through the younger Nazi leadership developing a longtime relationship with the head of the Gestapo and a Soviet spy.

The Evolution of Charlie Darwin: Partner With Your Dog Using Positive Training by Beth Duman

The Evolution of Charlie DarwinReviewed by Julie Moderson

What a great book on training your dog. Beth Duman wrote a story about a rescued dog that she named Charlie Darwin. She often took pictures of his progress and used them in her book. Her gentle approach to training the dog as well as the owner using common sense ideas makes it easy to think you can do it. She uses rewards to correct good behavior and the dogs love the training. Beth teaches people how to be a responsible owner of their new friend. A well-trained dog becomes a member of your family and a joy to have around.

Intensity by Dean Koontz

IntensityReviewed by Allen Hott

To be able to tackle Dean Koontz’ writings you have to have a fairly high level of Intensity. The man writes as few others do. His descriptions are vivid, lengthy, somewhat preachy, and undeniably intense. And Intensity is a novel primarily of descriptions. Interspersed in the descriptions are all of the mind’s ramblings that go on in the characters’ heads. Koontz delves deeply into the soul of the characters that he has written about.

Edgler Foreman Vess is a demented character that does every possible evil thing known to man. He captures and tortures both male and female folks for no known reason except he get thrills by doing so. He also kills for the same reasons. In his mind all of these strange and evil things bring up his level of Intensity.

Chyna Shepherd is a woman with a horrendous childhood that still causes her to have fears but also causes her to be able to survive many ordeals that would certainly wipe out most people.

Intensity is the story of how these two meet and then the twenty-four hour period of their lives where true intensity reigns. Especially for Chyna. How she reacts and responds to adversity is told by Koontz in an interestingly but definitely wordy manner.

Vess has many plans for Chyna much as he has had for others in his murderous past. However Chyna proves to be a much more formidable opponent than he had ever imagined. And when she takes on the care of another of Vess’ victims Chyna becomes an unimaginable adversary for Vess.

No review can adequately describe this book without giving away too many of the details. If you have never read Koontz and want to really work at reading a book, Intensity should be your choice. The work that you will expend will be more than made up by the satisfaction you will get from really enjoying a psychological thriller that keeps you involved right up to the end. Read, work and enjoy…this one is well worth it!

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Dreams of Joy by Lisa See

Dreams of JoyReviewed by Teri Davis

How would anyone feel if the woman who you always called mother is really your aunt and your aunt is really your mother? Added to that, the man who you have considered to be your father is not your father. Your real father lives in China and is a well-known artist.

Joy is in this situation. She has lived her entire life in Los Angeles where her family settled after fleeing China when the Japanese invasion occurred. Her family revolves around two women. May was Joy’s real mother but discovered her artistic gift in working in the movie industry while Pearl, her real aunt, established a small café in Chinatown. Being the Pearl was more available to stay close to raise a baby, this arrangement worked better for the sisters.

With one year of college completed, Joy has just enough knowledge to be dangerous and believes strongly in the idealism of communism. While at college her true feelings become known and cause a domino effect with the F.B.I. and the man who she believed was her father committing suicide.

Between the guilt, idealism, and the intrigue of an adventure, Joy takes her college money for next year and runs to China to find her real father while she plans to become a part of the new life in China under Chairman Mao. Once she finds her father, both go to a commune where Z.G. teaches practical art to the masses and Joy discovers love for a man and for her new country.