Friday, October 29, 2010

Book Review: Hailey's War by Jodi Compton

Title: Hailey's War
Author: Jodi Compton
ISBN: 978-0307588050
Pages: 336
Release Date: June 2010
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Genre: Mystery; Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Publisher: Twenty-four-year-old Hailey Cain has dropped out of the US Military Academy for reasons she won't reveal. She has had to leave Los Angeles and it would be too big a risk for her to return. Now working as a bike messenger in San Francisco, Hailey keeps a low profile, until her high school best friend Serena Delgadillo makes a call that will turn her whole life upside-down. Serena is the head of an all-female gang on the rough streets of LA. She wants Hailey to escort the cousin of a recently murdered gang member across the border to Mexico. It's a mission that will nearly cost Hailey her life, causing her to choose more than once between loyalty and lawlessness, and forcing her to confront two very big secrets in her past...

My review: Hailey's War is a unique mystery story. A young woman, Nidia, is missing, presumed kidnapped and believed to be in great danger. But this is not a detective story. There are no police involved. There is only the young, female protagonist, Hailey Cain, who has made it her mission to save Nidia at great risk to herself. What's interesting and extremely unusual is: Hailey doesn't know the kidnapped girl. We don't know what motivates Hailey or why she is obsessed with saving Nidia. In other words: the biggest mystery in this story is Hailey Cain herself.

Hailey is the book's strongest suit. Jodi Compton created a layered, complicated character that keeps you guessing as to what motivates her but allows you to relate to and root for her. As much as Hailey's complexity is the book's greatest plus, the lack of any other well-developed characters is its most important shortcoming. More involvement in the lives of some of the other characters would have made for a more in-depth and interesting story. Instead, we get a book made up of only one truly three-dimensional character.

Hailey's a loner and seems to have difficulty communicating and sharing. There are only two people with whom she is close. The first is her cousin, music producer CJ, who she tell very little about her life because she doesn't want him to worry. The second is her best friend, Serena, who happens to be the head of a Los Angeles girl gang!

Hailey's father was a soldier who died when she was eleven. Hailey loved him and to her, he was a warrior which helps explain why, by the age of thirteen, she'd set her sites on West Point. Hailey was ultimately admitted to and excelled at West Point, but was discharged for reasons known only to her. She was two months from graduating.

Hailey then finds herself lost and floundering, feeling like a failure, a disappointment to her father and herself. She starts drinking a lot and lashing out in anger at unexpected times. She takes a job as a bike messenger, disregarding her personal safety to be the best at a job for which she was overqualified going in. When she's not working, Hailey climbs the Golden Gate Bridge and talks jumpers down, inviting them to have a meal with her.

At every turn, the author shows us Hailey behaving in ways that force us to ask: why? And when Hailey accepts a job driving Nidia, whom she's never met, to a Mexican town in the High Sierra's, no questions asked, we cannot help but question not only her behavior but her sanity. Some mysterious force, a secret from her past seems to be compelling Hailey to risk her life for strangers. When she goes above and beyond helping a fellow human, putting herself in the path of serious harm, it's as if she's looking for a fight. We cannot help but view Hailey as a woman at war with others, but even more so with herself, out to prove she can win or die trying.

Hailey is reluctant to reveal the truth to anybody Her behavior and the situations she puts herself in seem plausible at first. But as the conflict builds, we are forced to suspend belief more and more. It's the only way to enjoy the story until, at the end, things seem more fairy tale than real. And it is not until the very end that the answer to the biggest secret of the book is revealed. Truthfully, I'm not sure I liked having to wait until the very end to learn the why's of what caused Hailey to take such risks. On one hand, it clarifies Hailey's risky behavior but on the other, it raises more questions that remain unanswered.

I thought this book was a riveting character study, but again, it was only the one character. Personally, I would have preferred further development of some key characters such as CJ and Serena. I was also disappointed with the book’s devolving into less and less realistic scenarios after it's strong start with believable situations. It was a fun and intense read and I would recommend Hailey’s War to people who don't mind more than a little fantasy in the midst of their drama, sparsely populated or otherwise.

I received A copy of Hailey’s War by Jodi Compton from Crown Publishing’s Read It Forward program.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cat Thursday! Cats Halloween!

The True Book Addict hosts a meme every week, Cat Thursday celebrating CATS! Today's theme is Cat Halloween.

My cats are mostly scaredy-cats (ha!). They aren't very good at celebrating Halloween. They don't even like candy! I have some pictures of a few of the cats being what they think is menacing/scary. I think Lola is the only one who looks a little scary but I'm just the human here.

Scary Lola! She's only attacking paper towel but she thinks she looks scary)

Dopey showing his fangs, too! (I thought the toy should go out but Dopey wanted it to stay)
Huxley bearing his fangs! (a little hard to see against his white fur)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday! 10.27.10

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

The first word are from Hailey's War by Jodi Compton

"I'd heard it before but never really believed it, that there were people like Shay in the world, who looked good and acted normal but had necrotic tissue where their conscience should have been" (p.284)

1. Necrosis - noun
:the death of one or more cells in the body, usually within a localized area, as from an interruption of the blood supply to that part
:localized death of living tissue

The words below are from Every Last One by Anna Quindlen:

"We are in New England, which is not the same as England at all, but perhaps wishing, and viburnum and hollyhocks, will make it so. (p. 20)

2. Viburnum ~ noun
:any of a genus of widely distributed shrubs or small trees of the honeysuckle family with simple leaves and white or sometimes pink cymose flowers: certain species of which, as the cranberry bush or snowball, are cultivated for ornament.

"And then it occurred to me that I was already dead, that what was left behind was a carapace, like the shells of cicadas we found a few summers ago." (p.200)
3. Carapace ~ noun
: a protective, decorative or disguising shell
: the thick hard shield, made of chitin or bone, that covers part of the body of crabs, lobsters, tortoises, etc
: a bony shield, test, or shell covering some or all of the dorsal part of an animal, as of a turtle.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 10.26.10

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

"I have no excuse for my own tears. In the way of women my age, I increasingly count my blessings aloud, as though if other people acknowledge them they'll be enough: three wonderful children, a long and happy marriage, good home, pleasurable work. And if below the surface I sense that one child is poised to flee and another is miserable, that my husband and I trade public pleasantries and private minutiae, that my work depends on the labor of men who think I'm cheating them-none of that is to be dwelled on."

from Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (p.83)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Movies 10.25.10 The King of Horror

Feature Presentation...

Today's movie theme is none other than Stephen King, The King of Horror. A prolific writer of psychological as well as physical horror, there are more than 100 visual productions based on King's writings: films, TV movies, mini-series, shorts etc. If the world was banned of all King productions, save one, which would you save for posterity - to represent the only visual adaptation of his work for the future generations to see? Share your selection on your blog & link your choice back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

I confess I'm not a big Stephen King fan (yep, I know, practically unAmerican!). I haven't read anything by him in years, although I'm thinking about reading The Stand in 2011. I have watched some movies based on his books & I've enjoyed a few of them, particularly The Shining (see The Bumbles Blog) and Misery.

Misery (1990)

This is a terrific psychological thriller based on Stephen King's 1987 novel. It has elements of a horror film and stars Kathy Bates as the scary, crazy nurse, Annie Wilkes. James Caan portrays Paul Sheldon, author of a series of romance novels featuring Misery Chastain, a character with her own devoted fans. On his way from Colorado to New York, Paul is caught in a snowstorm forcing his car to go off the road. It's Annie to the rescue. She takes him home: a very private, desolate cabin. Too injured to move, he is at the mercy of the seemingly prissy Annie, who uses terms like "silly billy" and the like. Annie claims she is Paul, and Misery's, "Number One Fan". In return for her help, Paul lets her read the manuscript of his latest book, which he was planning to leave with his agent in NY. Annie is devastated when she reads that Paul plans to kill off Misery. She then takes it upon herself, by any means necessary, to make sure Paul rewrites the book and "gives Misery back to the world".

Family Guy does a terrific satire of Misery. If you haven't seen Misery, yet, I highly recommend it. After watching the movie, for a good laugh, find the Family Guy spoof on-line at YouTube or elsewhere!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Salon 10.24.10

The JETS have a buy week this weekend so, although I have football on, I'm not as focused on the games as I would be if the Jets were playing. It's nice to get an extra 4 hours for blogging, reading- books & blogs, playing with the cats or anyhing else today. Usually when I'm watching the Jets' game, I have a book in my lap & I read during commercials or a time-out or some other delay. Honestly, though, I never get any real reading done during a game unless I include the one page or half a page that I read over & over again, always losing my place & my focus, when I'm distracted by a play or a moronic comment by one of the commentators etc.! lol

Much of this week the weather's been beautiful! I spent some time in the park reading, the trees are spectacular with the varied fall colors of the leaves! There was a slight chill in the air, perfect Autumn weather! Yesterday I spent some time at the flea market, again! lol I love that place. I had two delicious mini-cupcakes, Red Velvet and Apple Cinnamon, they were adorable & yummy! I forget what frosting was on the Apple Cinnamon, but it tasted great. The Red Velvet had cream cheese frosting which I am used to having on Carrot Cake but it was great with the Red Velvet cake too. I could have eaten 10 more of each! lol (It's probably good I didn't!)

Then I hit the book table...decisions, decisions! Oy vey! But lots of fun. I found a beautiful copy of Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell which has been on my tbr list for a long time. I also picked up The Bone People by Keri Hulme, the 1985 Man Booker winner and the 2006 winner, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. I found a well-read, but still worth $3, copy of Apologize, Apologize! by Elizabeth Kelly. I was intrigued by this book when it toured several blogs many months ago because, apparently it's written with a lot of humor & it's quirky but also poignant & sad. My best purchase, by far, though (I think!), is a copy of They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple. This is a Persephone Book. Persephone Books reprints forgotten twentieth-century novels, short stories, memoirs etc., written mainly by female authors. The books are literary but not ncomplicated and very readable. They are printed with elegant grey jackets, cream labels for the title, with beautiful printed endpapers inside. Check their wonderful website here at Persephone Books

I was quite lazy this week regarding reviews. I have several to post but I never managed to find the time to proofread and edit them. I'll be posting my review for Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes tomorrow. I will also post my reviews for Hailey's War by Jodi Compton and I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman this week. I will probably review
Sunset Park by Paul Auster as well. I stopped reading this book for a few days but picked it up again and I have just a few pages left. I'm not sure what I'm going to read this week. I want to finish Infinte Jest so that will be my main book this week. I will also be reading and reviewing my first book for TLC Book Tours in two weeks so I might start Unstoppable in Stilettos by Lauren Ruotolo.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop 10.23.10

This morning I was reading my friend Esme's blog, Chocolate & Croissants, which I highly recommend for its wonderful mix of books and delicious food posts! One of her commenters had a picture of a beautiful cat. I clicked the cat and discovered a fantastic blog, Brian's Home and The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop!

Today, as part of the Pet Hop, I am featuring Sadie. She has graced my blog before but it's been a while. Sadie is little Ms. independant but loves to be around her humans even she acts like she couldn't care less. Sadie had a rough beginning but today she is healthy, happy & adorable!

Sadie likes to relax & nap frequently.....
Especially after reading the Sunday NY Times!

One of her favorite places to hang out is on the cable box....
Sadie sometimes nods off while sitting up & this happens...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Blogger Hop 10.22.10

Book Blogger Hop is a weekly Party for Book Bloggers hosted by Jennifer at her Crazy-for-Books Blog every Friday. It's an opportunity for book bloggers to meet, connect, get to know each other better, support each other and share their love of books. It's a great way to celebrate books and the end of the week!

The Book Blogger Hop lasts from Friday through Monday giving anyone who's interested a chance to participate. If you want to be a part of the fun, head on over to Crazy-for-Books enter your blog on the Mr. Linky list and start hopping to other blogs. But first post your answer to the week's question on your blog. This week Becky from Becky's Barmy Book Blog asks:

"Where is your favorite place to read? Curled up on the sofa, in bed, in the garden?"

My favorite place to read, in the cold weather, is sitting in bed with lots of pillows behind me and some cats sleeping around me and on my lap (cats are very warm!). Sometimes some of the cats don't let me read, lol ...they'll sit on my book...or on my chest, blocking the book...or attack my bookmark...or chew on the corner of the book I'm reading! But the cats usually just sleep near me or on my lap. Only once in a while, when they're in a playful mood do they try to get my attention with their cute antics. And it works! I usually play with them until they tire out, go to sleep and then I can read my book! lol

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday! 10.20.10

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share new (to us) words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

The first two words are from Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes

"Her work had become dangerously interdisciplinary; integrating paleontology and anthropology into American studies was seen as stepping on other people's toes." (p.12)

1. Paleontology - noun
:the study of prehistoric life, including organisms' evolution and interactions with each other and their environments
: the science of the forms of life existing in former geologic periods, as represented by their fossils.

"Her mother looked at her watch, eyes widening with alarm, and dramatically tightened her lips, making it clear she was extending the maternal munificence of keeping them zipped." (p. 22)

2. Munificence -adj.
:very liberal in giving or bestowing; lavish
: characterized by great liberality or generosity

The third word comes from Sunset Park by Paul Auster:

"Bing is in shock, of course, still staggered by his girlfriend's abrupt exit from the house, but she feels the group will be better off without that fractious, red-headed storm of gripes and thoughtless digs, she of the unwashed dinner plates and the blaring radio, who nearly pulverized poor fragile Ellen with her comments about her drawings and paintings." (p.91)

3. Fractious ~ adj.
: tending to be troublesome; unruly
: quarrelsome; irritable

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 10.19.10

Teaser Tuesdays is a very interesting, fun, book-related meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

" Later, when Denise learned who the boys were and where they went to school, she would be forced to admit to the police that someone perhaps had overheard her. She would wonder whether her fierce conviction that the day would be a disaster had, in fact, caused the disaster."

from Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes (p.41)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday Movies: Dress Up!

Feature Presentation...

Halloween is coming which means lots of candy and great costumes! Costumes are also extremely important in film. The character's appearance is paramount to creating a believable setting and atmosphere. Costumes may define the character, transport the film to a specific time or era or permit the actor to shine while the background is barely noticed. Share on your blog movies whose costumes set just the right stage, linking your list back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Immortal Beloved (1994)

Marie Antoinette (2006)

Little Women (1994)
The Natural (1984)
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Amadeus (1984)

The Godfather (1972)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Book Review: What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn

Title: What Was Lost
Author: Catherine O'Flynn
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8833-5
Pages: 246
Release Date: June 2008
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Genre: Contemporary Fiction; Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Publisher: A tender and sharply observant debut novel about a missing young girl—winner of the Costa First Novel Award and long-listed for the Booker Prize, the Orange Prize, and The Guardian First Book Award.

In the 1980s, Kate Meaney—“Top Secret” notebook and toy monkey in tow—is hard at work as a junior detective. Busy trailing “suspects” and carefully observing everything around her at the newly opened Green Oaks shopping mall, she forms an unlikely friendship with Adrian, the son of a local shopkeeper. But when this curious, independent-spirited young girl disappears, Adrian falls under suspicion and is hounded out of his home by the press.
Then, in 2003, Adrian’s sister Lisa—stuck in a dead-end relationship—is working as a manager at Your Music, a discount record store. Every day she tears her hair out at the outrageous behavior of her customers and colleagues. But along with a security guard, Kurt, she becomes entranced by the little girl glimpsed on the mall’s surveillance cameras. As their after-hours friendship intensifies, Lisa and Kurt investigate how these sightings might be connected to the unsettling history of Green Oaks itself. Written with warmth and wit, What Was Lost is a haunting debut from an incredible new talent.

My Thoughts: I think What Was Lost is a fantastic book because it is unique, creative, humorous and filled with interesting, quirky characters, such as Kate Meaney. To my complete surprise, she's become one of my literary favorites. Unfortunately for the readers, Kate is only in the first quarter of What Was Lost but she is felt throughout the entire book. She's the star of this debut novel by Catherine O'Flynn. Though just 10-years old, she is more intelligent, self-disciplined and focused than most people three times her age. She spends most of her time alone because, being a "detective", she believes it is a discipline that's a solitary activity. She doesn't fit in with children her age. She considers them boring. Yet, she doesn't appear to be a loner or weird, someone without friends. Not only is she thoughtful and well-mannered, she's interesting. Kate impresses people with her intelligence and single-minded commitment to her "job" to detect crime and criminals. Her ability to "roll with the punches" and never lose sight of her goal despite a life-stopping tragedy is remarkable. Kate also serves as a sharp contrast to other characters in the book who are lost and struggling to figure life out.. Catherine O'Flynn has written a multi-layered mystery/investigation novel, but more than this, it's a story about people who are lost and floundering. All the major characters are trying to cope with the loss of a loved one that's deeply impacted them, leaving them struggling to figure things out. Young and ambitious Kate Meaney touched each of these characters at some point in their lives before she disappeared, leaving a lasting impression that inspires them many years later.

Several of the other characters, Lisa and Kurt for example, are lost and struggling to make sense of their lives twenty-years after Kate disappears. Memories and reminders of Kate infiltrate their thoughts, helping them to view life in a different way and to consider taking risks they've been afraid to try before now. These characters suddenly feel a renewed purpose in their lives.

Teresa, another of the main characters, was Kate's classmate and they became unexpected friends. Kate recognized that Teresa was struggling and lost and managed to save her. Teresa has been trying ever since to thank Kate for pulling her out of a bad situation and giving her a chance to excel. Now the Detective Chief Inspector, Teresa has been trying to find and rescue Kate for years.

The Green Oaks Shopping Center in Birmingham, the setting for much of the story, can be considered a character in its own right. It represents the hopes, dreams and failures of the people who walk through its doors daily and is the site of much of Kate's detective work. Twenty-years later, Kurt and Lisa work at Green Oaks in dead-end jobs they detest. The author's description of Lisa and Kurt's jobs and the various scenes about their daily lives at work are funny but at the same time, sad and depressing. If they can break free of Green Oaks maybe they will be able to quell the despair and restlessness they feel about their lives.

I've only skimmed the surface of what this book is about because there is too much to detail in a limited book review. Suffice to say this is an amazing debut by O'Flynn, and, if you're looking for an engrossing read with multiple story lines, fascinating characters, written with wit, charm and intelligence, I can't recommend this book strongly enough.

What Was Lost is my own copy purchased after I read Jenners review at Find You Next Book Here! Rundpinne also recently reviewed this book.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Author: Stieg Larsson
ISBN: 978-0-307-45455-3
Pages: 630
Release Date: July 2009
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Publisher: Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

My Thoughts: Stieg Larsson has given us another riveting, gripping tale of mystery and suspense that is not only filled with twists and turns and a fascinating ending, but is also well-crafted and intelligent. The Girl Who Played With Fire elevates the standard by which to judge psychological thrillers for three reasons: 1) it is extremely well-written, 2) the story-line is taut, and 3) the suspension of belief required is far less than many books of this genre.

The first point is pretty much self explanatory. Author Stieg Larsson has accomplished no mean feat in that this book, the second installment of a trilogy, can be enjoyed without having to read the first installment, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In other words, it stands alone. If you did read the first book, you may appreciate Fire on a somewhat "deeper" level, in that Tattoo provides background for some things that aren't explicit (a nickname here, a prior event there), but it's by no means necessary. If you read Fire alone, however, you'll be compelled to pick up Tattoo as well as the third book, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. The fact that the story is set in Norway is by no means a drawback as Larsson's characters are universal in their motivations, outlooks, attitudes and actions. Though some characters are clear cut evil, providing plenty of reasons to root for the protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, many others in the story are more complex. They are too involved and important to be considered "secondary". They come off one way and wind up having to change their approach, their attitudes and their minds as the story progresses. Without giving anything away, for example, several of the detectives are initially convinced of Salander's guilt. But they find themselves less and less certain as facts unfold in their investigation. This is why the book is so realistic and relatable: it's characters are complicated and three-dimensional. That's what I call good writing.

The taut story line keeps the reader interested and guessing, if not flat-out trying to figure things out for themselves. At first, the story seems complicated, if not helplessly convoluted. However, Larsson slowly puts the pieces together, giving you enough information to keep you involved and curious, yet packing enough of a punch to shock the reader as truth after truth is revealed. The number of story lines and the depth of the characters (and not just the sheer number of them) as explained above, keeps the story moving. The "good guys" all seem to want the same result. But it's the different ways they go about trying to get there, since they each have different and limited information to go on, that makes this book a page turner. As the story progresses, as one mystery is cleared up, a delicious new one presents itself. Larsson's ability to juggle all this while maintaining a linear story that never lets up in its pace, intensity and ability to keep the reader rapt is nothing short of masterful story telling.

Finally, for me personally, I've read too many mystery thrillers where I've walked away thinking "sorry, but I'm just not buying it". Too many "McGiver" tricks that are just too "out there" to be believed. In this book, I counted two, and even those two weren't so outside the realm of possibility.. If there's a criticism here, that's it, and it's not a very strong one. Very few books that weren't written in 19th Century Russia are perfect, so you might find yourself having to take some, not many, of the facts and events with a grain of salt. There's no solar eclipse at just the right time that allows the hero to fashion a homemade bomb out of a phone book, rubber bands, coca cola and Red Hots! So even though one or two things might seem improbable, they are still possible.

There aren't too many thrillers that match the this book's intelligence, believability, excitement and quality of writing. If you have yet to read any of the books in this trilogy, then it's high time you met Lisbeth Salander, the girl who's earned a well deserved cult following. She's an unlikely heroin for all of us in the computer age in that she's violent, brilliant, volatile, uniquely principled and above all else, fascinating.

I read my own copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire for this review. My husband contributed to this review because he read the book recently.

Cat Thursday! Cats Rule!

The True Book Addict hosts a weekly Cat Meme every Thursday celebrating CATS! Today I'm celebrating Betsy and Bob!

The first picture is Betsy. She's the mommy of Lola and bigger now. She was in a tree across the street from my apartment. mewing loudly and my husband climbed up and rescued her.

No Bob is not as big as he looks in this picture...he's bigger! Our vet calls him Big Sexy Bob! He might be big but he has a sweet, gentle disposition!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Lola at Play!


Two weeks ago I introduced the adorable, quiet, cuddly Lola. But like all fun-loving, playful kittens, Lola has her crazy side! Oh boy, does she! See for yourself....
Lola likes to read but prefers chewing on books, as several of my book cover corners show!

What a mess she can create...Lola loves to shred paper and leave it trailing beind her....!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday 10.12.10

Teaser Tuesdays is a very interesting, fun, book-related meme, hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My teaser comes from Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I've been slowly reading this book for a couple of months now - it's 1,079 pages including endnotes. I'm taking my time with it because it's fantastic, entertaining, witty & so smart. It's definitely worth savoring. I used Infinite Jest for a teaser when I first started reading the book and I thought it was time for another great teaser from David Foster Wallace's amazing novel!

My Teaser:

" He's able to minimize the suspicious time any particular bit of extra cruising adds to his errands by basically driving like a lunatic: ignoring lights, cutting people off, scoffing at One-Ways, veering wildly in and out,, making pedestrians drop things and lunge curbward, leaning on a horn that sounds more like an air-raid siren. You'd think this would be judicially insane, in terms of not having a license and facing a no-license jail-bit anyway, but the fact is that this sort of on-the-way-to-the-ER-with-a-passenger-in-labor driving doesn't usually raise so much as an eyebrow among Boston's Finest, since they have more than enough other stuff to attend to, in these troubled times, and since everybody else in metro Boston drives exactly the same sociopathic way, including the Finest themselves, so that the only real risk Gately's running is to his own sense of rigorous personal honesty. One cliche he's found particularly serviceable w/r/t the Aventura issue is that Recovery is about Progress not Perfection"

from Infinte Jest by David Foster Wallace (p.476)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their
TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Book Review: Shanghai Girls

Shanghai Girls
Author: Lisa See
Publisher: Random House
Published Date: May 2009
ISBN: 978-0812980530
Pages: 336
Genre: Historical Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Source: Crazy Book Tours
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary: In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, full of great wealth and glamour, home to millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister May are having the time of their lives, thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business. Though both wave off authority and traditions, they couldn’t be more different. Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and living the carefree life ... until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth, and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the villages of south China, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the foreign shores of America. In Los Angeles, they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with their stranger husbands, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life, even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.

At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends, who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection. But like sisters everywhere, they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other but they also know exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way there are terrible sacrifices, impossible choices and one devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the heroines of this astounding new novel by Lisa See hold fast to who they are – Shanghai girls.

My Thoughts: Shanghai Girls is the story of sisters Pearl and May, born into wealth and promise, totally spoiled and expecting to be given whatever they want. They are completely ignorant of the changing political climate and their father's financial ruin until suddenly, one day, their lives change drastically. They are forced to flee Shanghai for America and must learn to adapt in order to survive. They have only each other to rely on when they land in California.

Although they are family, each sister is an individual with her own desires, feelings and ideas. As such, each sees life from different perspectives. And if they don't learn to communicate, to understand each other and reveal the secrets that twist them up inside, love and loyalty may crumble at the feet of petty jealousies, anger and resentment.

Lisa See's writing is vivid, strong and unforgiving. The older sister, Pearl, ("jie jie" in Chinese) is the narrator. Through her, the reader has the opportunity to experience things as if living beside her We feel Pearl's pain, understand her confusion and know when she feels unsafe. Pearl is shocked by the conditions in LA's Chinatown which are nothing like the opulence she knew in Shanghai, but she clings to the apartment she and May live in despite her initial repulsion. She resents her younger sister, May, ("moy moy" in Chinese) going out everyday and adapting to the employment, resources and people of Chinatown. In short, May is building a life for herself little by little in the film industry. She doesn't understand her sister's behavior and seems to care little what's happening in Pearl's life. She gives little credence to a terrible trauma Pearl suffered before they left China. During this time in history, nobody knew of, let alone understood PTSD, (they certainly didn't in culturally sheltered Chinatown), which is probably what's ailing Pearl.

As the years pass, we share Pearl's struggles, victories, sorrows and happiness. She pines for China and mourns the loss of the Shanghai she once knew, comparing everything: experiences, places, people, etc, to the Shanghai of her childhood. She becomes political, joining protests regarding what she understands to be going on in China, though she isn't always perfectly informed. In short, she wants to be a part of America but she doesn't want to let go of Chinese traditions. May is living a nearly polar opposite life, always in the present. For her, it is as if the past never existed and the future too uncertain to care about. She seems more content. The sisters love each other and will always be loyal simply because they are sisters, but they grow distant over the years, each refusing to understand the other, listen to each other's needs, concerns, and what makes them happy.

I found this amazing book very difficult to read in spots. There is death: dead bodies, dead babies and rape, making several of the more graphic scenes hard to stomach. It isn't a happy book and, at times, the sadness and hopelessness dragged me down. Pearl is troubled, worried or sad much of the time, but often for good reason. It's hard to imagine experiencing what she has and be able to still stand tall. The few times she is happy looms large and you can feel the lightness in her spirit but the tension and stress quickly return .

Shanghai Girls covers 1937-1957 in the USA and China, including the Japanese bombing of Shanghai and Pearl Harbor Mao Tse-tung's Red China. The USA's treatment of Chinese immigrants during this period was often times cruel causing me to cringe as I read what Pearl, and others experienced. But Pearl is her mother's daughter. She may have been raised in riches but she is strong and resourceful. The wisdom passed on and lessons learned from her mother while growing up make sense to her now, though at the time she mocked them with a spoiled child's insolence. Pearl draws on her memories to help her get through the days and make a life for her family in America while never forgetting her Chinese roots.

Pearl is a remarkable woman who endures much pain and hardship for May and the family she loves. She and May approach life very differently but both women share at least one common goal: survival. Author Lisa See has told their story, the story of countless Chinese women over those terrible years of political unrest, with love, respect and a fierce honesty. It was a privilege to read Shanghai Girls and it's a story I will carry with me for a very long time.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Movies - Legends of the Fall!

Feature Presentation...

Today is all about the beautiful season of Fall! The crisp Autumn air, the leaves turning gorgeous shades of yellow, orange, brown and red make Fall a scenic backdrop for many movies. Share on your blog a sampling of Fall films, linking them back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

The Trouble with Harry (1955) A black comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock starring John Forsythe, Shirley MacLaine and Jerry Mathers. This film is set in a small village in Vermont during the Fall. The somewhat odd but entertaining residents find a dead body on the hillside above town and try to figure out what to do with this terribly inconvenient body as well as determine how and why he was killed!

Home for the Holidays (1995) directed by Jodie Foster and starring Holly Hunter, Robert Downey Jr., Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, Dylan McDermott and more. A single mom's life has recently hit some speed bumps...she lost her job, made out with her soon to be ex-boss and finds out her teenage daughter wants to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend. And now she is going home for the holidays, wondering if she can deal with her crazy, dysfunctional family.

Step-Mom (1998) Susan Sarandon, Julia Roberts and Ed Harris star in this movie about a divorce(Sarandon & Harris) dad's girlfriend (Roberts) and the two children caught in the middle of it all : Jenna Malone and Liam Aiken. Things become especially dicey when mom is diagnosed with cancer.

Broadway Danny Rose (1984) Woody Allen plays a luckless talent agent who, while trying to reconcile a lounge singer with his high-strung mistress (Mia Farrow) is mistakenly assumed to be her lover by her jealous gangster boyfriend. Very funny movie which begins & ends on Thanksgiving!

Pieces of April (2003) Written & directed by Peter Hedges and Starring Katie Holmes, Patricia Clarkson, Oliver Platt, Alison Pill An estranged daughter invited her mother who has cancer, and the rest of her family to her run down apartment where she lives with her boyfriend for Thanksgiving Dinner which she has never before cooked.

We Are Marshall (2006) In 1970 a plane crash killed all of the players on the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, 12 coaches & 3 other people on their way home from a game against East Carolina. The football program is almost suspended but the Marshall University students and the residents of Huntington convince the university president to try and rebuild the team. Stars Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, David Strathairn and Robert Patrick.

Outside Providence (1995) A smart teenager from a working-class family has one too many run-ins with the law and dad sends him to boarding school where he meets a girl and learns a few lessons about life. Starring Shawn Hatosy, Amy Smart, Alec Baldwin, Richard Jenkins etc.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Salon: Read-a-Thon Hangover!

Yesterday was Dewey's 24-Hour Read-a-Thon. It started at 8 a.m. for me which was great. I wasn't sure I was going to be able to participate since I was sick all week with problems related to my asthma. But after a couple of doctor appointments and some new medications, including Prednisone, which for me is a wonder drug, I was feeling better. Like last year, my first readathon, I experienced the same tug-of-war with myself. Once I got on-line and blogged a little, I wanted to blog more, but I also wanted to read. After checking in with a few people and posting, I went outside to the back deck, away from the computer, to read for several hours. It was a beautiful day out, sunny & breezy, not too cool. My only interruption was an occasional visit from Sadie to check up on my and get some mushies (petting)!

I came back inside in late afternoon, posted an update. I also entered a few mini-challenges, some of which are easier than others but all are fun! I sat down again for some serious reading time in late evening. Reading went well for a while but, to my dismay, I passed out just after 10 p.m.! Bummer! I had hoped to be up reading until at least 1or 2 a.m. since I often am many nights! And I figured I would visit some bloggers who were participating in the readathon, maybe enter another challenge or two. Of course I woke up at 8 a.m. on the dot this morning, just as the readathon ended for me! LOL I'm seriously thinking about being a cheerleader next year. I think that is a lot of fun and will give me the opportunity to visit a lot of blogs and offer encouragement.

I read close to 100 pages of Infinite Jest yesterday and finished I Will Not Be Silent by April Maley. I also read about half of Sunset Park by Paul Auster. So I didn't read as much as I hoped, but I didn't do too badly either!

I have to finish my review for Shanghai Girls which was delayed because I was sick and participating in the readathon. I read Shanghai Girls as part of Crazy-for-Books Tours so I need to get that done today. I'm hoping to finish Sunset Park tomorrow since the book goes on sale in November.

It's another beautiful day here, great for football although the JETS don't play until tomorrow night. It should be a great game! I hope you have a good weekend and, if you are off from work tomorrow, Enjoy your day off!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Readathon Mini-Challenge: Title Word Scramble

My answers to the Readathon Mini-Challenge: Scrambled Fiction Titles hosted by Sheery's Place:

1. Firefly Lane
2. East of Eden
3. Water for Elephants
4. To Kill A Mockingbird
5. The Great Gatsby
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
7. The Art of Racing in the Rain
8. The Time Traveler's Wife
9. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
10. Diary of a Wimpy Kid
11. A Wrinkle in Time
12. The Polar Express
13. Love Walked In
14. Where the Wild Things Are
15. The Shining
16. Goodnight Moon
17. Interview With A Vampire
18. The Secret Life of Bees
19. The Search
20. The Help

Readathon Mid-Event Meme Mini-Challenge!

I've made it to the Halfway point of the Readathon. Yay!! Here is a mid-event meme mini-challenge!

1. What are you reading right now?
I'm reading Infinte Jest by David Foster Wallace!
2. How many books have you read so far?
I have read from 3 different books so far but haven't finished any - Infinite Jest, Sunset Park by Paul Auster and I will not be Silent by April Maley
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
I'm looking forward to reading & finishing I Will Not Be Silent.
4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
No, I just had to feed the kitties & mush them up & play with a little bit!
5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Fortunately I haven't had any major interruptions except the cats for food & some TLC, such as Sadie found me reading on the back deck & wanted me to pet her a bit, something I'm always happy to do!
6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
I'm very surprised by how quickly the time goes by!
7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
I'm really impressed by how well organized & run the Readathon is and how much fun it is. I want to thank all of the bloggers who worked so hard to make this a great event. Thank you!
8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I think I'd like to try my hand at Cheerleading next year since I don't feel I get that much reading done & I'd really like to cheer on other bloggers!
9. Are you getting tired yet?
I am getting tired but I'm going to have something to eat soon & a little iced coffee so that should help me for several hours (I hope!)
10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
I got a lot of reading done when I walked away from the computer completely for several hours this afternoon. I found it easier to read straight for a few hours rather than take a break to blog every hour or so.

Readathon Hour 10 Pets Mini-Challenge!

Today I'm featuring my cat Huxley in Part 1 of the Pets 2 Part Mini-Challenge hosted by Lynne's Book Reviews:

Awake and ready to hang out, maybe read a good book?!

And now he's zonked for the rest of the day!

My favorite animal book is one I read recently Cowboy & Wills by Monica Holloway
Cowboy is a Golden Retriever puppy and she's amazing.

My sentence: Cowboy chases, cunningly catches, carefully clutches cheesey crooks!

Readathon Update: Hour 10

Time: 1 - 5:00 p.m.
Hours/minutes read: 3 hours, 25 minutes
Pages read: 250
Time blogging: 20 minutes

Books read: Infinte Jest, Sunset Park, I Will Not Be Silent

Snacks consumed: 1 1-liter bottle of water; 1cup of coffee, diet pepsi and cheese & crackers!

Now I'm going to enter the Pet mini-challenge about so I'm off to find some good cat photos! Fun! fun!

Read-a-Thon First Update!

I've had a bit of a slow start this morning but I have read a little, fed the kitties and given them some TLC, fueled up with breakfast and some caffeine, visited a few blogs to cheer them on with their reading and here I am!

I started with Sunset Park by Paul Auster and I've read 40 pages so far.

Several bloggers have posted answers to Dewey's Read-a-Thon meme. Here are mine:

1) Where are you reading from today?
Sunset Park for sure! lol After this I am going to sit down with Infinite Jest and I'll definitely read some of I'd Know You Anywhere.

OK, I totally misunderstood this question & I'm really in trouble since I'm already acting sleep deprived! LOL So WHERE I will be reading from, well, the plan was to sit comfy, cozy in bed most of the day but now I'm thinking that might be a bad idea because I'll probably fall asleep quickly! lol Hmmm....must re-think this! I might go outside for a while because it's a beautiful day out.... Need more coffee NOW!

2) 3 facts about me.....
~ I am a total coffee-a-holic! Love the stuff!

~ I adore cats and rescue them off the streets, give a home to many, find homes for others & feed those who are independent and don't want to live in a home.

~ I have a rare bone & endocrine disease called McCune-Albrights Syndrome &, as a result I've had 36 surgeries & use a wheelchair 98% of the time.

3) How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours?
I have 3 main books and 5 others waiting in the wings!

4) Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)?
My only goal is to get some quality reading done and have fun!

5) If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, any advice for people doing this for the first time?
This is only my second Read-a-Thon so I don't have much advice but I will say that it's easy to get caught up on-line visiting blogs & cheering on bloggers participating in the Read-a-Thon so be careful & watch the clock!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Read-a-Thon Tomorrow, October 9, 2010!

It's been one of those weeks! You know, the kind where absolutely nothing goes as you planned or even hoped?! I had 3-4 reviews waiting for me to sit down and write them, I wanted to visit a lot of blogs and comment on some great posts, work on my own posts, organize my on-line life (boy does it need it!) and, of course, read! But that all came to a screeching halt when my asthma decided to kick it in to high gear! I had a bit of a tooth ache early in the week, too but it went away. Silly me, I thought (hoped) my breathing would improve when my tooth felt fine. No such luck. So a few doctor visits, several x-rays and other tests, a bunch of different meds and my pulmonologist, cardiologist and I are still trying to figure out why my lungs are so grouchy this week! lol I hate when my plans for the week go awry. I was especially excited to finally have some time to visit blogs I haven't spent nearly enough time reading the past few months and spend some time reading more of the blogs I discovered during BBAW. Oh well, it is what it is. At least I will be able to get caught up on reading since I am participating in Dewey's Read-a-Thon tomorrow!

I'm going to spend a lot of Saturday reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. I am really looking forward to having many hours to spend reading this book because it's a fantastic read and easier to understand and grasp when I have a solid chunk of time to spend reading it! There are a lot of characters, ideas and events happening in this book so I'm always very reluctant to put it down. But when I need a break from Infinite Jest, and I will need a break from the craziness!, I have Laura Lippman's I'd Know You Anywhere and Sunset Park by Paul Auster as well as Proust's Overcoat by Lorenza Foschini and The Likeness by Tana French. I have to make sure that I exercise a lot of self-discipline tomorrow and get off-line after I check in and see how some of my fellow readers are doing. Last year I visited many, many blogs but didn't read very many pages!

Good luck to all Read-a-Thon participants! Enjoy & have fun tomorrow. I'm off to double check my start time!

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Die For You by Lisa Unger

Die For You
Author: Lisa Unger
ISBN: 978-0-307-39398-2
Pages: 384
Release Date: April 27, 2010
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Genre: Suspense
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Publisher: Isabel Raine thought she had everything. A successful career, a supportive family, and a happy marriage to the man she loved. Then one ordinary morning, her husband, Marcus, picked up his briefcase, kissed her goodbye, and simply vanished.

That day all her calls went straight to voicemail; the messages she left at his office went unreturned too. Panicking after finally receiving a call from his cell phone in which all she could hear was a man’s terrified cry, Isabel called the police. But they weren’t interested. Men leave, they told her. They leave all the time. Desperate to find her husband, Isabel raced to his office. But instead of finding him, she finds herself in the middle of an FBI raid. Hours later, she awakens in the hospital with a severe concussion and a homicide detective by her bedside waiting to question her about Marcus Raine — the real Marcus Raine.
Now the only thing Isabel knows for sure is that her husband of five years is gone. Where is he—who is he—are questions no one seems to be able to answer. But Isabel will not rest until she finds the truth about the man she loves, even if it means risking everything—including her own life.

Bestselling author Lisa Unger takes us on a nightmarish journey from bustling, glamorous New York City to the murky, twisted streets of Prague, seeking the answer to one bone-chilling question: What if the man you love, the one sleeping beside you, is a stranger?

My Thoughts: Die For You is a riveting story of mystery and suspense. It's filled with interesting, complex characters who've made some monumentally bad decisions and now are paying dearly. More of a "why-" or "how-dunit" than a "who-dunit", Lisa Unger's fast-paced and captivating book makes you wonder how well we really know our loved ones.

The protagonist, Isabel Raine, is a best-selling novelist with a keen eye for details, observing people and her surroundings closely, noticing many things the average person might miss. Ironically, she failed to see the truth in her own marriage of 5 years to Marcus. Her passion for truth and relentless quest for every last detail in a story, her stubborn refusal to rest until she's satisfied with a book's plot, setting and characters was absent from her married life. She ignored many signs that things weren't quite what they seemed. Now, her life in a shambles, she wants to know why, refusing to live without knowing the truth. Even if it kills her.

Lisa, Isabel's sister, appears to have the perfect life: a devoted and loving husband and two wonderful children. But she's far from satisfied. Lisa seems quiet, sweet and more reserved and stable compared to her passionate, out-spoken and stubborn sister. But her surreptitious behavior, borne of her restlessness, has put her family in jeopardy. She's unsure as to how or why she got herself into the awful and troubling position she's in, but she knows feelings of dissatisfaction have plagued her for a long time and suspects it has something to do with that tragic night so many years ago. She and Isabel have never talked about it, oddly enough, but Lisa cannot stop thinking about that night and can't help but wonder if Isabel thinks about it at all..

The author has given us these two compelling, intriguing characters, sisters who, though very close, are very different. Many things go unspoken, because each woman is sure they know how the other will respond, and neither wants to be criticized, disagreed with or made to change their minds. Isabel envies what Lisa has, unaware that Lisa doesn't fully appreciate it. They are complicated women, both deeply impacted by a past event,. not realizing that their failure to resolve their feelings drives their behavior today. They want to protect each other but by keeping each other in the dark they're forgetting that each are the other's greatest support and ally.

The fast-paced action in this story of suspense moves from the streets of New York City to the beautiful, mysterious streets of Prague as Isabel relentlessly and recklessly pursues the answers she desperately craves about a life and man she no longer recognizes. She refuses to heed the authoritative advice from Detective Crowe to stay at home and let the police handle the investigation. Crowe's another engaging character who's made his share of bad decisions in his own life.
This is the first Lisa Unger book I've read and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. It's a well-written, thought-provoking, age-old tale of an independent, successful woman swept off her feet by an exciting, slightly mysterious stranger after a brief but romantic courtship. They marry, she with stars in her eyes, though she knows very little about him. After a few short years, the marriage, which went smoothly at first, implodes. The lovers part, never to see each other again. Then, the tale becomes anything but predictable as Unger adds twisted evil: frightening scenes, shocking behavior, murder and mayhem with the result that the reader can't help but ask the question: how well do I really know the people in my life who I love?

Sadly, I was astounded and unprepared for an ending which I found profoundly flawed. I reread the last few chapters in hopes of picking up on something different - some sarcasm or satire. But no. As such, my opinion of this book dropped a significant notch or two. I would still recommend Die For You for its goose-bump producing read with thrills that keeps it moving at a lightening-fast pace. If like me, you are disappointed by the end, bear in mind that getting there is more than half the fun. It's because of the journey and not the destination, that I am putting Ms. Unger on my list of novelists whose books I intend to read.