Friday, May 28, 2010

Everything She Ever Wanted

By Ann Rule

Pat Taylor was spoiled and pampered as a child and, as an adult, apparently believed that if she wanted something she could do whatever it took to get it, even if she had to kill for it. Seeing herself as a modern Scarlett O'Hara, she used her good looks and charm to manipulate and destroy.
Her first marriage failed but she found a man she thought could provide her with the lifestyle she wanted. Tom Allanson and Pat were married in costume, she as Scarlett and he as Rhett. But Tom's wealthy parents didn't approve of the marriage. They ended up dead, perhaps through Pat's manipulation of the situation, setting son against parent, and Tom was convicted for the crime.
With Tom & his parents out of the picture, Pat set her sights on his grandparents. She tried to poison them but she was caught and sent to prison. She may also have burned down her own home to get the insurance money.
After prison Pat got a job as nurse to a wealthy couple. Once again she used poison and the man died. Pat was caught for that too but plea bargained her way out of a murder charge.

Pat Taylor is quite a piece of work, selfish, desperate and heartless. Her pretty facade hid an ugly, cruel soul. Reading about her was pretty interesting, an exploration of a classic sociopath.


By Anne Rivers Siddons

Maude's husband's family always spend the summers at "The Retreat" in Maine. And as a young bride Maude finds herself a bit of an outsider at this gathering of her husband's family and relatives. A Southerner, Maude doesn't really fit in with her husband Peter's Boston relatives. For one thing, there's the mean mother-in-law to cope with. Also the creepy alcoholic husband of Maude's best friend. And to make matters worse, Maude's husband is distant, depressed and apt to disappear, off sailing, just when she needs him the most. But, as the years pass, Maude adapts and copes and finds her place among her husband's family, while raising her own children and coping with her erratic husband. Along the way she deals with various family problems and tragedies, including rumors that Peter fathered another woman's child.

I can't say I cared for this book. I found it way too long and rather boring.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing

By Melissa Bank

The book follows Jane as she stumbles her way through a few relationships that never quite seem to work out. Eventually, after several years wasted on a much older and alcoholic man, she figures out that she needs a guy who will love her for herself. Duh.

Jane is the queen of the one-liners, quipping her way through the story, often upsetting those she is merely trying to amuse or impress. The book is hyped as being funny, spirited and delightful but I found it rather boring at times. The humor didn't appeal to me. Also in the middle of the book is a chapter about a neighbor of Jane's that seemed to have nothing to do with the rest of the story. That was more than a bit confusing. I thought the ending was too pat and maybe was contrived to give the author the chance to take a few shots at The Rules, a book about how to get the man of your dreams.

The Dogs of Bedlam Farm

Jon Katz loved his dogs, three border collies named Orson, Homer and Rose. Border collies were originally bred to help shepherds herd their sheep. Katz wanted his dogs to be as happy as possible and he figured the way to do that was to give them the chance to be the dogs they were breed to be: sheep-herding dogs. So he bought a few sheep, a small farm and, leaving behind the big city, his wife and daughter, he went to live with the dogs, the sheep, and a couple of donkeys on this small farm, Bedlam Farm, in rural New York State.
Even taking care of a small flock of sheep turns out to be grueling hard work, especially for an older man with bad knees. It didn't help that the farm is located on hilly land and that the winters there are just plain nasty, cold, icy and snowy. The work is hard and unrelenting, just like the winter weather. But he sticks it out, with the help of friends and neighbors, and the dogs improve with their sheep handling skills and Katz becomes famous in the area as the guy with the dogs, His farm becomes one of the local attractions as people stop by just to watch his dogs work the sheep. At the end of the book, Katz feels that not only are his dogs happier and more centered but that he is also feeling more at peace and grounded too.

I did enjoy this book, reading about Katz's trials and tribulations. I can't really understand what he did though. It seems as though his dogs and their happiness were more important to him than his own family. I've heard of people moving because they wanted their dogs to have a nice, fenced backyard. But this is the first time I ever heard of anyone buying a farm and sheep just so their dogs could something to do. Seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to just to keep your dogs happy. Still, it made for a very interesting and diverting story, even if I don't approve of his lifestyle

Every Demon Has His Day

By Cara Lockwood

Constance Plyd's life is turned upside down the day her husband is stabbed to death in their driveway. Constance, of course, is the number one suspect, especially since she and her husband Jimmy were in the process of getting divorced. And it doesn't help matters when she tells the sheriff that the man who killed Jimmy was a demon who handed her his business card after killing Jimmy and that the card read, "Yaman. Demon at large. Murder and mayhem since 550 BC" at which point the demon vanished as did his business card.
Things get even stranger when Constance discovers that she can now see the future and that the demon and his cohort are in town to arrange a meeting between Satan and his bride-to-be, a hot young pop star in town to film a movie. And it is up to Constance to stop this meeting because if Satan succeeds, hello Armageddon, here comes the Antichrist and its the end of the world. But not to worry, Constance is going to have a little help in the form of a talking dog who's really an angel in training, and from the town psychic who happens to me Constance's mother, and from a Catholic priest armed to the teeth with holy guns and blessed ammo and from the ghost of her dead and still bumbling husband Jimmy and finally from the reluctant and disbelieving sheriff who is also an old crush of Constance's and whom she hates because he did her wrong back when they were in high school. The devil doesn't stand a chance!

This was a pretty good story, fun and entertaining although it does have its moments of gore but doesn't dwell on them like some stories seem to do. The demons aren't very scary, mostly just incompetent and frequently amusing. Constance has to thwart the devil's plans while trying to keep herself from being locked up for Jimmy's murder. So even though I could have done without the gore, still it was an amusing read and I enjoyed it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Witness to Myself

By Seymour Shubin

As a child, Alan had it pretty good. His parents had a solid marriage, his dad was successful and they both loved their son. When Alan was a teen, he felt confused and unhappy and dissatisfied, like many kids his age. Alan had a bit of a cruel streak so one day, while on vacation with his parents, he encountered a girl alone on a trail in the woods and he tried to fondle her. She resisted and he choked her and dropped her to the ground, unmoving. He didn't know if she was dead or alive and he didn't stay to find out.
After that he lived in fear of someone discovering what he had done. He tried to keep a low profile, living quietly and discretely, never trying to draw attention to himself. Years passed and he became a successful lawyer. Then he met a woman, a woman he really liked and with whom he wanted to build a future. But he didn't feel he could move in to this future without knowing if the girl he attacked had survived their encounter.
So Alan set out to find out what had really happened but his attempt to gather info on the crime has drawn the attention of the last people he wanted to attract: the police.

This was a sad story about a guy who did something really bad but doesn't really seem to be a bad guy. He let shame and fear dictate his actions and eventually guilt drove him over the edge. He was a guy who looked good from the outside, smart and successful with an enviable life but inside something was seriously lacking in his character. Nevertheless, he was a sympathetic character whose slow destruction left this reader feeling sad at the end. Still, despite the grim outcome, it was a pretty interesting read.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Believe in Ghosts

By Danton Walker

A collection of supposedly true tales of ghostly encounters and quite a few psychic encounters also. Seems like such encounters are not as uncommon as one might think. The stories in the book are interesting and puzzling and give the reader pause. Quite an enjoyable excursion into the unknown.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Snake Has All the Lines

By Jean Kerr

A collection of humorous pieces on life in the suburbs in the 1950s. Jean Kerr, married to drama critic Walter Kerr, writes about her kids, her mother, her husband and her adventures as a playwright.

Even though it was written more than 50 years ago, Jean Kerr's little book holds up well. It is still funny, still relevant and I enjoyed reading it a lot.

Monday, May 10, 2010


By Nora Ephron

Rachel Samstat thought she was happily married. She was the last one to know that her husband was involved with another woman. At the time this occurred, Rachel had a two year old child and was seven months pregnant.
She asked herself what had gone wrong with her marriage and how she hadn't noticed that her husband was no longer in love with her. Was she too harsh? Was she too distant? Was their marriage truly over or did it have a second chance?
Her husband wants her to come back home. He promises not to see the other woman, he promises that it is all over. So Rachel comes back home but she doesn't trust him any more and it quickly becomes apparent that he isn't living up to his promises. Looks like Rachel is in for more heartache as her marriage goes through its death throes.

I can't say I really cared for this book. It is supposed to be funny and witty but I just found it boring and predictable. The hubby is a complete creep and Rachel a fool for ever giving the two-timing liar a second chance. I don't know why Rachel is so blind to her husband's true feelings but going back to a man who so clearly doesn't give a rat's ass about her is just strange. I also never understood why he was so anxious to get her back. I mean, she is no sooner back in his house than he is making plans with the lover for their future together. He begs and pleads and nags Rachel to come back and the moment she does he starts cheating again. I don't get it.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

City of the Chasch

By Jack Vance

Planet of Adventure #1
The spaceship from Earth came to the planet Tschai in response to a distress signal. As the spaceship approached the planet, a missile was launched from the planet and the ship was destroyed with all its crew except for Adam Reith and one other man who escaped in their scout ship. Unfortunately, the scout ship was also damaged and they crashed landed on Tschai and they were both gravely injured.
Their landing did not go unnoticed. The first to investigate were a group of human men who shortly killed Adam's companion but who fled before they found Adam, who was hanging in a tree nearby, the result of ejecting from the crashing vessel. Next came a group of aliens and men who investigated the crash and who loaded the scout ship on their craft and carried it away. But the first group returned and found Adam and brought him to their village where he was nursed back to health.
While living among these rather primitive people, Adam learned their language and about the two main groups of intelligent creatures living on the planet, the Dirdir and the Chasch and that the Chasch have different races, like the Blue Chasch and the Green Chasch and that they don't get along. It was the Blue Chasch who carried away Adam's ship and his only chance to get off this alien planet. He also learned that humans live on the planet as slaves and servants to the aliens.
So Adam has determined to set off to find his ship, repair it and get back home. But to do so he will have to trek across an alien landscape, hiding from the various aliens that dominate this world and, with the help of some friends he makes along the way, he will go a long way toward meeting that goal. In the process he will teach these downtrodden human beings that they don't have to live in slavery to their alien masters. And rescue the pretty girl, of course.

This was an OK story. It was fun reading about Adam's attempts to shake up the local people and get them to thinking about the status quo. About the only interaction he had with the various aliens was just to kill them, so that part was disappointing. I wish the story had focused more on the aliens and the alien life of the planet but mainly it was about Adam's quest and the effect he had on the humans he encountered.