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Monday, June 27, 2011

DOMESTIC VIOLETS

by Matthew Norman - to be released in August 2011

Tom Violet is working in a job that he hates, for a company that he isn't even sure what exactly it is that they do.  Although he really considers himself to be a writer, having worked on his novel for the past five years, he lives in the shadow of his very successful father, author Curtis Violet.  To add to Tom's angst, he has a serious performance problem in the bedroom, despite being happily married to Anna.

While Tom is sidestepping Anna's advances one evening, their young daughter Allie knocks on the bedroom door to let them know there's a burglar in the house.  Tiptoeing downstairs, Tom finds his father, who been locked out of his home by his current wife. When Curtis announces that he has just beaten out his arch rival and is going to receive the coveted Pulitzer Prize for fiction, it's just the beginning of the end of Tom's life as he knows it. 

To add to the dysfunction, Tom's mother and stepfather are on the outs, Tom hates his immediate boss and he spends way too much time fantasizing about his sexy young coworker. 

Mr. Norman has created a wonderful and poignant story from the total chaos of his characters' lives.  Amazingly funny, intelligent, insightful and offbeat, I found myself laughing out loud and reading entire pages to my husband while reading this thoroughly enjoyable book.

What more can I say!?  You need to buy this one! 

To be released August 2011
ISBN 978-0-06-296511-7
320 pages
Paperback and eBook

Sunday, June 26, 2011

FINALLY GETTING CAUGHT UP!

I'm finally getting caught up on reviews of the books I read while on vacation earlier this month but didn't get to post.  You'll find two new reviews today and I still have nine books sitting on my desk waiting.

I'll be posting new reviews every day this week, some current bestsellers and some not yet released, so please stop back to find the perfect summer reading.

Thanks for your patience.

THE DEVIL'S STAR - A Harry Hole Novel

by Jo Nesbo
Translated by Don Bartlett

When a young woman is found murdered in Oslo with a tiny red star shaped diamond under her eyelid and a finger missing, Harry Hole is assigned to the case.  When the finger of a woman reported missing is found with a ring embellished with the same type of red diamond, the team realizes they're dealing with a serial killer.

Unfortunately, Harry is partnered with Tom Waaler, someone Harry doesn't like or trust.  Harry has long believed that Tom murdered his friend and former partner, which makes working together nearly impossible.  But Harry has no choice because he is barely holding on to his job.  His drinking is still a problem and his one champion at work insists that they have to handle the case together because of scheduled vacations which leave the police force short-handed.

Working with Waaler and the investigation into the murders brings Harry to the brink, putting himself and everyone he loves at risk in this breathtaking mystery by Nesbo.
 
As I plow through all of the available books by Jo Nesbo, my only regret is that I didn't read them in order; in fact it seems that I've read them in totally reverse order.  As the characters change along the way, it would have been nice to be able to follow Harry Hole's relationships with his friends and co-workers.  Each of Nesbo's books is terrific by itself, but I'd recommend that you do it the right way to better understand all of the references to past events and characters.

Paperback Pub. Date February 2011 - previously published in 2006
ISBN 978-0-06-113398-5
452 pages
Available in paperback

JOY FOR BEGINNERS

by Erica Bauermeister - just released

Now that Kate has completed her cancer treatment and is in recovery, her daughter Robin reveals that she has booked Kate for a white-water rafting trip to celebrate. 
Kate's first reaction is to decline.  But when Kate's six close friends, who have been her stalwart supporters throughout her illness, gather together to celebrate Kate's recovery, Kate challenges each of them. 

In 'pay-it-forward' style, Kate has agreed to conquer her own fear of rafting if each of her friends is willing to do something they don't want to do and conquer their own fear.  The catch is that Kate gets to choose the challenge for each of them. 

We follow Caroline, Marion, Sara, Daria, Hadley and Ava as they each face the one thing they feared the most and learn about each of them along the way, as well as the bond these women have with each other.

A little predictable, JOY FOR BEGINNERS is light women's fiction. 

Pub. Date June 2011
ISBN 978-0-399-15712-7
288 pages
Hardcover and eBook

Friday, June 24, 2011

BLOG CHANGES

Now that I've reached my first milestone of 10,000 hits on my blog, I thought it was time to "freshen" up the look.  I've made some major changes to the design with my son Bill's help, and hopefully you'll all enjoy the new look of Monarch Book Reviews! 

There are a few things that need to be tweaked, but you'll still be able to find reviews of your favorite books as well as my own blog entries.

Almost forgot!  You can now click on the "F" button to the left to reach the Monarch Book Reviews facebook page.  Also there's a new link to make it easier to send me emails, so keep them coming!  I love hearing from you.

Thanks to everyone for helping me reach this milestone in such a short time.  Now, you need to turn off your computer and go read a good book!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

MURDER IN PASSY - Aimee Leduc Series No. 11

by Cara Black

Paris PI Aimee Leduc and her partner Rene are back in business after recovering from injuries sustained in a previous case.  Her godfather, Police Commissaire Morbier, has recently reunited with an old girlfriend, and he wants Aimee to pay Xavierre d'Eslay a visit to find out why she's been avoiding him.  Although Xavierre is in the middle of planning her daughter's wedding, Morbier is concerned that there may be a new man in her life.

Aimee and Rene attend the very upscale pre-wedding party at d'Eslay's home.  Instead of a joyous event, Aimee can sense the tension and before she has a chance to really connect with her hostess, Xavierre is murdered.  Morbier is soon arrested for the murder, and Aimee and Rene are determined to prove his innocence.

Not sure if anyone can be trusted, Leduc follows leads to a Basque terrorist group that has kidnapped a Spanish princess, and also to the possibility that Morbier is being framed by his own colleagues in a case of police corruption.  Along the way, Aimee also struggles with finding out more about her mother and brother; secrets Morbier has been keeping.

Ms. Black's intimate knowledge of Paris, its neighborhoods and politics add to the enjoyment of the Aimee Leduc novels.  MURDER IN PASSY is another gem in this intriguing series.

Pub. Date March 2011
ISBN 978-1-56947-882-0
273 pages
Available in hardcover and eBook

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

BURIED PREY - Lucas Davenport Series No. 21

by John Sandford

Two young girls disappeared in the '80s and their bodies were never recovered; until now.  When an older house is demolished to make way for a new condo development, the girls' mummified remains are discovered.

Lucas Davenport was just a young rookie working the case when the girls first went missing.  Twenty-five years later he's back on the case and determined to solve it this time.

Let me preface this by saying that I've read almost every book John Sandford has written, including the ones starring that "effing Virgil Flowers".  And I've enjoyed most of Sandford's books immensely.

BURIED PREY is a solid mystery, but the annoying young Lucas Davenport presented in the flashbacks to the original case detracts from the story line.  He's arrogant, self-centered and a bit of a dandy.  Lucky for us he grew up to be such an intelligent likable character or Sandford may not have had so many fans for his PREY novels.

Pub. Date May 2011
ISBN 978-0-399-15738-7
400 Pages
Hardcover and eBook

Sunday, June 19, 2011

VICTIM SIX

by Gregg Olsen

While on vacation I realized that I had read every book I brought with me.  Searching on Barnesandnoble.com, I came across VICTIM SIX and downloaded it to my eReader.  I was pretty excited since Mr. Olsen has a number of books and I hadn't read anything by him before.  I was also intrigued because Harriet Klausner, aka HARSTAN, had given this book a five star review on both B&N and Amazon.

That said, this book was so awful that I couldn't even bring myself to finish it.  Blood and gore and horrible sadistic crimes against the killer's female victims make it totally unpalatable.  I can only describe VICTIM SIX as having no redeeming value.

Harriet, what were you thinking with that five star review??!??

Pub. Date January 2010
ISBN 978-0-78602-044-7
320 pages
Available in paperback and eBook

Saturday, June 18, 2011

I'M BACK!

After a much needed vacation in Stonington, Connecticut and our son's graduation, I'm back!

I didn't really intend to take a vacation from my blog, but I was busy having fun every day with my family and friends.  Although I did a LOT of reading, I never seemed to get to the computer.

I'm back in New Jersey and hope you found a lot of great books to read in June.  Check back and you'll find new reviews every day this week of both current bestsellers and upcoming books.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

GRADUATION

Yesterday was a joyous day for our family!  We proudly attended our youngest son's graduation from the Rhode Island School of Design.  Bill earned his masters in architecture after a grueling three years.  My husband and I are finally finished with all of the costs associated with advanced learning in this country and it feels wonderful!  

But I actually want to tell you about the graduation itself.  In the bulletin sent out by RISD a few weeks back, there was a description of student attire for the event.  Being an art school, the graduating students are invited to wear the typical caps and gowns or street clothes.  They're encouraged to embellish the traditional in any way they like, and I was really looking forward to seeing some adventurous forms of self expression.  In this I wasn't disappointed.  There were mortarboards with flowers, flounces and sequins, some sported miniature furniture, a few had lights.  Some graduates wore street clothes and others were bare chested with body paint.  Some looked ready for a day at the beach and some looked like can-can dancers.  A few enterprising landscape architecture students arrived dressed as moss (I was a little confused at first since they mostly looked like Cousin It from the Addams Family).  All of this was to be expected and delightful, and none of it was offensive.

I couldn't help remembering way back when Bill graduated from Mendham High School.  He almost didn't receive his diploma because he (with our encouragement) smuggled in an inflatable turtle that the graduating class pelted into the air.  The stark contrast between that rigid and traditional commencement and the more playful and joyful commencement of yesterday was an eye opener for me. 

As parents and educators, we struggle during the high school years to get the students through safely and in some final form that can be stood up, shaken out and turned into an upright group that will be accepted at "good" schools or become newly minted members of the workforce.  We sometimes forget that not everyone is going to fit inside of the nice tidy square box we try to stuff them into.  With all manner of shapes and personalities, we literally spend so much time during the high school years trying to force all of the different shaped pegs into the same round hole.

Let's face it, any commencement is simply a costume party (the preferred costume being caps and gowns) to celebrate the successful completion of study, whether it's high school or college.  Having enjoyed the totally nontraditional RISD graduation, I can't help but wonder why we (the collective "we" of administrators, educators and parents) take such pride in removing all of the joy from commencements in high schools all across our country.  Some of the "pegs" that are square or triangular will NEVER fit into that round hole and we should be grateful that they won't!

Congratulations, Bill, we're really proud of you!

Friday, June 3, 2011

BUSY WEEK

I'm having a crazy busy week and haven't been able to blog.  I'll start back over the weekend and tell you all about our son's graduation (which is tomorrow).

I've got a backlog of a half dozen books that I haven't written about yet, so be sure to stop back to read the reviews.  Hope your weather is getting warmer and more like summer and that you have a wonderful book to read!