Into the Fire by Suzanne Brockmann

I've been a huge fan of Brockmann's since reading my first "Troubleshooters" book years ago, and I was first in line for this one - her latest.

Brockmann perfectly combines military/action-y suspense with passion in this novels, appealing to all readers, but particularly women. In this one, there are two dueling storylines - Murphy and Hannah and Izzy and Eden - a change from her usual "one kickass couple at a time" formula. If you are a new reader to Brockmann's series, you might need a scorecard for this one - a lot of characters from the past, but with little explanation or background. I love getting to visit with her past characters, though it can be confusing for a new reader.

In any case, this new novel is full of pulse pounding drama, some hot sexy scenes, but I must admit, I found the ending a bit...abrupt. Talk about leaving us hanging when there is still a lot up in the air. Guess I'll have to wait for the next novel...

I still haven't read all of her books, but every time I pick one up, I'm eager to seek out all the ones I'm missing! Brockmann is top notch - not to be missed!


The Woods by Harlan Coben

I reviewed this one over at Crucial Pop this week, but the main standout was the narration by Scott Brick - he just couldn't be more fabulous. *sigh*


Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

I was so excited to read this book - I mean, Southern debutantes, family secrets, and just look at that cover!

And while this was an easy read with some nice writing, it just left me...sad.

Sarah Walters, the protagonist, makes poor decision after poor decision, and after a while, I had absolutely no empathy for her love life, her floating through life, and her struggles with her family and friends, who were just as ugly as characters as Sarah was, or frankly, anything Sarah did or said. There was little in the way of "southern drama", just lots of "poor me" chapters. The author also switches from first person to third person to the voice of a completely different character in each chapter, which I found jarring and hard to relate to.

I know this got glowing reviews from everyone else, but it just left me sad and frustrated and cold. But at least it was a fast read...

Not my favorite, though you may like it better...


See You in a Hundred Years by Logan Ward

Even though I was never a big Laura Ingalls Wilder reader, I've always been fascinated by that pioneer spirit and stories of striking out in the wilderness, so when I read about this experiment by New Yorker Ward, I was intrigued.

Ward and his wife (and their toddler) are increasingly stressed out by their electronically-dominated, rushrush lives in New York, and decide to go back in time to 1900 and live - no running water, no flush toilets, no cars, nothing. They find a plot of land in Shenandoah Valley, and this book chronicles their year of living as though it were 1900.

I really liked reading about the trials and tribulations of the whole family, as well as learning what was 1900-approved, and what they family couldn't use, as well as the bumps and bruises that went along the way. While I know *I* couldn't do it, I came to really admire Ward's "pioneer spirit".

I'd miss plumbing, though.

An interesting non-fiction read!


Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva

(For this review, I'm excerpting my full review over at Crucial Pop, because I have a lot to say on this one...)

I have to admit, I'm really dragging at work today.

I had to start mainlining the caffeine early, and I've been trying to avoid the urge to take a snooze under my desk while the library runs along without me for a few minutes.


Because I stayed up way past my bedtime last night so I could finish a book.

(It’s an occupational hazard, I swear. You know the joke, right? The only thing worse than a bartender who drinks is a librarian who reads. Har, har…)

Moscow Rules by Daniel Silva is one of those books you don't put down once you cross the threshold into the story and get going.

This novel is the latest in the "Gabriel Allon" series from Silva, following the adventures of sometimes fine art restorer and sometimes Mossad (Israeli intelligence) operative Allon as he foils the bad guys, sets up and knocks down terrorists and kingpins, and manages to work in a little time for romance and fine art.

I was musing how best to describe this fantastically written new novel from Silva, and here's the best recipe I have come up with so far:

Take one part James Bond, stir in a healthy dose of Jack Ryan, dash in parts of The Saint, whip in a little Jack Bauer and be sure to finish with a splash of The Hunt for Red October.

That kind of sums it up.

In this latest outing, Allon's honeymoon is interrupted by Russian journalists - two, in fact - who end up dead in pursuit of telling Allon about a new arms dealer working out of Russia. Through many twists and turns, Allon discovers the source of this alarming news: someone very close to one of the biggest business oligarchs working in newly democratized Russia knows the damage Ivan Kharkov is about to inflict on the international rules of engagement, and is unwilling to stand by while he does...

What follows is an international dance along a knife edge to bring down the baddies, keep the public none the wiser, and bring all the good guys home safely – a task that is definitely easier said than done – when the major players are having to play by the “Moscow Rules” (a name for the rules of engagement developed by the CIA during the Cold War which still have a chilling place in Silva’s Russia today).

This novel is full of fast paced, furious writing, and lots of twists and turns, and a bevy of international locations filled with the rich, the glamorous - and the dangerous.

I absolutely could not put this novel down as I tried to figure out how Allon was going to stay one step ahead, what missions they were going to put together next to foil the terrorist plot, and how it was going to finally end up at "happily ever after". Silva’s pacing is such that you can’t end at the end of the chapter – you have to know where the story is going to go next, and to what exotic locale so you have to keep reading.

But believe me, this novel is worth staying up late for, even if you end up overdosing on caffeine the next day...

Moscow Rules is due for release on July 22, 2008.


Kiss Me Kill Me by Lauren Henderson

It was all about the cover for me on this one, right? :-)

Scarlett has been granted entrance to the group of exclusive girls at her London boarding school, so when she is invited to a party where her crush Dan will be, she jumps at the chance to attend.

She and Dan talk, laugh, and then kiss...and then he dies in her arms.

The rest of the novel is Scarlett trying to unravel what happened to Dan and struggling to find her own place in her new school with a new set of rules...

This was clearly written with a sequel in mind and while I think the beginning started off well (though a bit like every other YA novel where the unpopular girl wants the popular boy), the middle dragged, and I felt the book didn't really resolve itself. I think it fell short for me because the "mystery" was so clearly telegraphed from the beginning that it wasn't a mystery at all, which takes away some of the suspense.

Still, it was well written, and doubtless YAs will enjoy it, it just fell a bit short for me...


Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez with Kristin Ohlson

I don't generally check out a lot of nonfiction on audiobook, but I thought this might be a interesting listen, and indeed it was!

Debbie, through a series of fated events, finds herself creating and running the "Kabul Beauty School", a school for hairdressers and beauty technicians in the heart of Afghanistan, where Westerners are often cautioned to avoid. This is such an intriguing "behind the veil" tale, with a brassy broad of a tour guide! Cultural differences, money problems, Taliban threats and politics are all supporting characters in this work by a woman, for all women.

Debbie spends much of the book introducing the reader to the women who pass through her school - their struggles with family and husbands, oppression and repression, and in some wonderful cases, triumph. Along the way, Debbie finds an Afghan husband, learns some of the language, and creates her own Kabul family.

This was just a pitch perfect read - filled with inspiration and drama, a few laughs and a true glimpse at life in Afghanistan - behind the veil.

Note: I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Bernadette Dunne, who got the "brassy broad" voice down perfectly, as well as the Afghani names. What an enjoyable listen!


Well, I'm back from ALA Annual in Anaheim, and except for the travel part, it was a good conference, and a good place to have some fun, too!

I had a nice room in the conference hotel:


I heard Sally Ride speak, met Jay Asher and Kaya McLaren, I did NMRT things, and I picked up schwag at the exhibits:

Time for Exhibits

I also dipped my toes in the Pacific:

And a Few More!

Got an In-N-Out burger:

In N Out!

And of course, went to Disneyland! We had perfect timing, and only waited a few minutes for each ride! Wonderful! The Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain, Pirates...good times...

Another View...

I even got some Pirate Mickey Mouse ears. Hee. :-)

July 1

The only bad part of the trip was getting home...LAX had a bomb scare, my plane took off late, storms further delayed us in the air, and the whole trip culminated in my sleeping on the floor of the Detroit Airport for an entire night until I could take two more flights to finally get home. I missed my home. And my BED after that experience!

Still, 'twas a good trip:

All Together!

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The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

Per tradition, I toted along one Jordan novel on my trip to ALA, knowing the title would last me all weekend long - at 963 pages, it's going to take more than a few hours to read.

This novel, book five in The Wheel of Time series, continues the stories of Rand, Mat, Moiraine, Egwene and company - though Perrin is not mentioned at all during this novel. Rand continues to experiment with his power on his way to the Final Battle.

Jordan's novels are rich in detail and plotting - I'm really enjoying rereading them as I get ready to read the final novel in the series, due next fall.

I highly recommend this fantasy series!