Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Sheik

By Maggie Davis

Sheik Abdullah al Asmari is the grandson and heir of the ruler of Rahsmani, the Emir. Abdullah is young and unproven and some doubt his ability to step into the role of Emir. His father was insane and died young and it is speculated that Abdullah is also unstable.
Rahsmani is a small wealthy oil country and is about to become even more wealthy upon discovery of new oil reserves. It is also no stranger to civil unrest, as Abdullah well knows after someone shot at him one day when he was out on his motorcycle.
Abdullah is sent on a mission to the U.S. to negotiate with the main oil company that has been responsible for setting Rahsmani up in the oil business. He has many meetings to attend and business on the East and West Coasts. He doesn't travel alone though, he is attended by lots of people. These people are there to see that things go smoothly for him, yet he still manages to get himself in trouble, chasing after women, speaking to the press. And unbeknownst to him, there are people in his group that see his antics as proof of his unfitness to lead his nation. They have a plan to do something about it.

This was an OK read, except  Abdullah is a despicable person who beats his wife and rapes unprotected women. In his defense you could say he is merely a product of a barbaric culture, but that didn't excuse it for me. Frankly, he deserves all the bad stuff that happens to him and worse. So, the story was interesting but the hero is a pig. That spoiled it for me.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The Ex

By Alafair Burke

Olivia is a defense attorney. Back when she was in college, she became engaged to Jack. Jack was everything Olivia wasn't. He was kind, considerate, and emotionally fragile. He came from a close, loving family. All things that didn't apply to Olivia. She often referred to him as St. Jack.
After awhile, Olivia became less enthusiastic about marrying Jack. Instead of telling him, she began to sleep around. Their engagement ended when Jack finally realized what she was doing. He was shattered and turned to his brother for comfort. They got drunk together, that night, and the brother died in a car crash driving home. Jack ended up in a mental hospital after suffering a serious breakdown.
But that was twenty years in the past. Olivia went on to have her career and Jack went on to become a writer. He fell in love, married and they had a child.  Poor Jack, though, tragedy continued to dog him. His wife was killed by a shooter on the train along with several other people.
The shooter, a young, angry, disturbed teen was the son of a wealthy man who had refused to get his child the psychological care he needed. The father was the one who introduced his son to guns and bought guns for him. The son was killed himself at the scene and the families of the victims, including Jack, brought suit against the father but lost.
So now Jack has met a mystery woman and has arranged to meet her at a ball field for a picnic. He shows up with the picnic basket but she doesn't show. Meanwhile the dad of the shooter kid is at the same ball field and he gets shot along with two other people at about the same time as Jack was at the field looking for his date. The cops find video that shows Jack was in the area and they naturally assume he is the killer. So who does Jack turn to for help? His ex-fiancee, Olivia.

This was an okay read. I didn't care for the ending and I often felt while reading that I just wanted it to be finished. Jack turns out not to be a saint and Olivia turns out not to be the bitch she is painted to be, which was no surprise. Unfortunately, if you like justice to be served, then don't read this book. No justice for the murder victims in this story, which is what I mainly disliked about it.
For another review, see

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Doing It Right

By MaryJanice Davidson

Contains the short novel, Thief of Hearts, and the short story, Wild Hearts. 

Doctor Jared had a close encounter with Kara, the cat burgler and one-woman wrecking crew, who puts a big thug down right before Jared eyes. The thug, a minor crime boss, was trying to kill Kara, who is a potential witness against him if the police ever manage to nab her.
Kara is now worried that the thug will be coming after Doctor Jared and she appoints herself his body guard. Probably not motivated by the young doctor's devastating good looks. And Jared happily accepts her presence in his life since she is as beautiful as her nickname, AA, or Avenging Angel.
Kara has a lot of baggage in her background and she is unwilling or unable to accept that Jared has fallen hard for her. Even though they are soon having sex, she secretly believes he will turn his back on her, if he ever learns the truth. Namely that she is a thief (of the Robin Hood variety, if you substitute the rich for rich criminals) and a foster child who bounced from home to home, never finding a safe place to land. She has never had the love and the advantages that Jared himself enjoyed and she fears he will hold that against her.
Eventually she decides to go after the thug and a sacrifice herself to save Jared and to save herself from his inevitable rejection, as she believes.

This was an OK read. The thing is, it is described on the cover as "wickedly funny." But I would say, mildly amusing at best. I was conned by the "wickedly funny" and ended up reading a book that was just your basic explicit romance novel. Some of the sex scenes in the book are four to five pages long. I mostly skipped those, being a bit of a skeptic. I was wanting to read a funny romance story. Instead I got mildly amusing porn. Eh, OK if you like that sort of thing. I mostly don't care for graphic and improbable descriptions of sex acts. The book was not what I was looking for, so I was disappointed. Not really the book's fault, though. And not the first time I have been fooled and disappointed by blurbs on a book cover.

The Mermaid Chair

By Sue Monk Kidd

Jessie has a good life. She has a loving, successful husband, a part-time job as an artist, a daughter who has recently gone off to college for the first time. But Jessie is discontented. She doesn't really know why. She sort of blames her husband, Hugh, who sometimes can be a bit dismissive.
Jessie grew up on an island off the coast of South Carolina. He dad was a boatman who died when Jessie was just a kid. Jessie grew up thinking she was partially responsible for this death. His boat exploded from a spark from the pipe Jessie had given him. So she has carried that guilt for thirty years.
After her father died, the joy went out of her mother, Nelle. Nelle was always religious, but after the death of her husband, she become even more religious.
Jessie gets a phone call that Nelle has deliberately cut off one of her fingers. Jessie returns to the island and finds her mother burying the finger next to a statue of St. Senara.
Nelle's house is next door to the abbey of St. Senara and she works in the kitchen as their cook. St. Senara is a mermaid who used to seduce Christians but was later converted. The abbey has a chair called the Mermaid Chair which is carved with a mermaid or mermaids and carried in a yearly procession.
The abbey is home to several elderly monks and one young monk who has yet to take his final vows. Thomas became a monk after his pregnant wife died in a car crash. He has been at the abbey for about five years and is expected to soon take his final vows. But when he and Jessie meet for the first time, it is instant chemistry. In Jessie, Thomas rediscovers the sexual passion that has been absent from his life since becoming a monk. And Jessie rediscovers the thrill of falling love and the romance that she has been missing from her own marriage.
But then Hugh unexpectly shows up, and being an intelligent man, soon understands that his wife is involved with another man.  Now Jessie and Thomas need to make some serious choices and Nelle has cut off another of her fingers.

There is so much I didn't like about this story. Jessie's infatuation with Thomas. Nelle's dealing with the past by mutilating herself. Jessie's casual dismissal of her wedding vows. Jessie committing adultery and declaring the holiness of it. Jessie only coming into her artistic self by running away from her marriage and getting involved with a monk.
We are led to believe there is some mystery in Nelle's past that is driving her to cut off her fingers, but it takes forever for the story to reveal what Nelle's problem is. I was less interested in Jessie and her poor decision-making and more about concerned with what was bothering Nelle, but the author takes forever to return to the story of Nelle's mystery. I just got bored.
To me, Jessie is a fool and I just didn't like her. Kind of ruined the story for me.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

By Ransom Riggs

Teenage Jacob finds his grandfather dying on the ground, suffering terrible wounds. Before the man dies, he tells Jacob something strange and confusing.
As a youngster, Jacob had listened to his grandfather's tall tales without really believing any of them. But the grandfather's dying words seem to indicate there was some truth behind the stories.
Finding his grandfather dying and getting a glimpse of some sort of horrible creature sends Jacob into a tail spin and he ends up in counseling.
Some of the stories centered on the grandfather's time spent in an orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales. Jacob's counselor advises his parents to take Jacob to the island to help him deal with his trauma and reconcile reality with the fantastic tales told him by his grandfather.
But after arriving on the island, it soon becomes clear to Jacob that the stories were not fantasy. Jacob finds the orphanage, which is an abandoned wreck, having been bombed in World War II.
Further poking around and some encounters with rather peculiar kids reveals a secret world, accessed by a tunnel into the past. Here is where the peculiar kids live, stuck in the day before the orphanage was bombed, and lead by their headmistress, Miss Peregine. All of them have extraordinary talents, including Miss Peregrine, who is a shapeshifter, able to take on the form of her name, a peregrine falcon.
Jacob learns that other such outposts exist, hiding in different locations and times, designed to protect their dwellers from the hollowgasts, vicious humanoids who prey upon the special children and their guardians. Jacob also learns that regular people can't see the hollowgasts. And because Jacob can see them, he, like his grandfather, is also a "peculiar." And also, like his grandfather, he is in danger from the hollowgasts and also a danger to the hollowgasts. Turns out the other peculiars can't see hollowgasts either, only Jacob can.
The hollowgast that attacked his grandfather followed Jacob to the island and it is are intent on destroying the children and capturing Miss Peregrine for reasons of its own. Jacob has brought this doom upon the orphanage and now he has to make a terrible choice: stay in the past and leave his home and family to protect the peculiars or return to the present and leave the peculiars to the doom he inadvertently brought upon them.

This was an OK read. The action doesn't really pick up until toward the end of the book. Seem like a lot to slog through to get to the good stuff. Probably more appealing to younger readers than to an oldster like me.
Also, I had a quibble with the story. The kids have been stuck in the past, reliving one day over and over. They are aware that it is the same day, though. So, from Jacob's time, they have been doing this since 1940, almost eighty years. But Miss Peregine still treats them like kids even though they have eighty plus years of living behind them. Also, they still attend classes every day. Eighty years of middle school, imagine that. The mind boggles. I think I'd rather be killed by the hollowgasts than spend eighty years in middle school. Wouldn't you think, after eighty years, they would pretty much know all they needed to know and tell their Miss Peregrine to get stuffed?

This book is the first in the peculiar children series by Riggs.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Don't Bend Over in the Garden, Granny, You Know Them Taters Got Eyes

By Lewis Grizzard

Lewis starts off this book with a dedication that reads, "Even I'm smart enough to know you don't go dedicating a book about sex to anybody." So right away you know you are reading a humorous book about sex.
The author starts out listing the reasons why he decided to write a book about sex:

  1. Dr. Ruth talks funny and he can't make out what she is saying half the time. His book will be "clear, concise and in plain English, in order to take up any slack left by Dr. Ruth."
  2. Sex, he claims, will kill you. Also he warns the reader that he will be making the occasional joke or telling a story with sexual overtones.
  3. He was considering ideas for a book and someone suggested he do one on sex.
  4. The year 1987, when he was writing the book, was, "a banner year for sex." And he lists Jim & Tammy Faye Bakker and Jessica Hahn; Gary Hart and Donna Rice and the Monkey Business; "Oral Roberts and His Twin Brother, Anal"; Oliver North and Fawn Hall; Vanna White posing in Playboy;  and Pat Robertson had premarital sex with his future wife.
  5. Sex books sell well.
He concludes the first chapter thus:
This book will  not attempt to condone nor vilify any sexual activity. If it's no bother to you and gives joy to others, then do as you wish...What about oral and anal? Well, Oral's still out there in Tulsa begging for money, and his twin brother Anal is a well-respected faith-healing proctologist in Skokie, Illinois
 And it just gets better and funnier from there. A really amusing read, I enjoyed it a lot and read some of the silly jokes to my husband.