Friday, November 26, 2010


Having just finished a tour of duty in Iraq, Dr. Tyler Winthrop is ready to join his father, Craig, for a little downtime in Paris. But when Craig disappears, Tyler is yanked back into the brutal realm of danger and the unknown, and his fate quickly becomes entwined with attractive French counterintelligence agent Isabella Floret as he looks for his missing father.

Risk escalates and trust dwindles as the pair uncovers ties between Tyler’s father’s disappearance and a terrorist plot that could take the war on terror in unthinkable new directions. As lines separating enemy and ally increasingly blur, Tyler and Isabella are sent on a pulse-pounding race through Paris while the security of nations hangs in the balance—and dangerous connections are the only aid to be found.

S: None
L: None
V: Some shooting, people get hurt, a few die

"...I hope you like my book. Please lie to me if you don't :)" This is the inscription Julie signed in my book. No pressure!

I'm happy to report, I don't have to lie. Dangerous Connections is a story full of twists and turns, espionage and traitors, and a strong female main character, who can drive in Paris! Impressive! Oh. And romance! Just a little to make it an even better read :)
Tyler and Isabella are thrown together by accident but they work well together and help each other in finding the truth they need.
There were a couple of loose ends for me. One was how Tyler's dad had so little page time. Tyler was in Paris and in trouble because of his dad. Maybe I missed it? But that isn't really a big deal, now is it?
I can't remember the other one so I guess it wasn't a big deal.
Julie's writing is clean and full of description. I felt I was along for the bumpy ride in France.
Good job, Julie! Can't wait to read more of your books.

Page 69 test:
"Chapter Nine
Tyler glanced over at the woman sitting in the driver's seat. Her jaw set, and she was focusing on the road, maneuvering through the traffic and roundabouts with skill. She didn't look at him, and Tyler wondered what was going on in her head. "Are you okay?" he asked.
"Fine," she said, exhaling deeply. "But I'm worried about Jacques and Marcus." She clenched the steering wheel as she weaved in and out of the cars In front of them. "How exactly did you meet Jacques?" she asked him, changing the subject.
Tyler shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "Didn't you hear Jacques? We're trying to find my father."
"But that doesn't explain how you met Jacques."
"That information is on a need-to-know basis, and I'm pretty sure you don't need to know." He repeated her words back, but smiled to soften them, before turning his gaze out the window. "It's a long story. I'm sure we'll have plenty of time at the house to talk about it, don't you think?"
Isabella didn't answer at first, her eyes fixed on the road, but after a glance in her rearview mirror, she reached over and gave his seat belt a tug. "Yes, we probably will, but before we do, you better make sure you're belted in for the ride. They've found us." She made a sharp turn, threw him back and forth. "This is going to be harder than I thought."
Her expression was grim as she kept an eye on her rearview mirror and tightened her lips even more at what she saw. "We've got company right on our tail."
Tyler swiveled his head around in surprise and saw a black sedan speed up behind them. "Are they following us? Who are they, anyway?"

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Return to Christmas by Chris Heimerdinger

Until he was three years old, Artemus Holiday and his twin brother, Andrew, had shared the adventures of life together. But when young Artemus lost his brother in a terrible tragedy on Christmas day, the miracle of the Christmas season seemed forever shrouded by a cloud of sadness and despair.

But miracles have been known to happen during this time of year.

This heartwarming Christmas story follows the lives of two eleven-year-old heroes--the weary and cynical Artemus and an outcast named Chess, a homeless con artist with a heart of gold. Through a simple twist of fate, these boys will find themselves swept into the adventure of a lifetime--one that takes them beyond their wildest imaginings.

This book is a Prince and the Pauper Christmas story. Twins separated at a young age, one poor, the other rich, they swap places unknowingly and learn lessons they each need.
I liked this story the first time I read it.  It's an easy and quick read. Many different situations and solutions are convenient but the story is a good one.

S: None
L: None
V: Some slapping, punching, etc.

Page 69 test:
""Tell me something, Mom." Chess said to Charlotte that morning at breakfast. It surprised even him how easily "Mom" and "Dad" now came to his lips. "How come we hardly got any Christmas decorations?"
Chess knew he might be treading on thin ground by interfering with family custom. But after last night, he'd started to believe he might infallible. He could do or say anything; it didn't matter. His membership in this family was inextricable. After eleven years of loneliness and chaos, the gods of destiny were finally smiling down. As a result, Chess Folsom was determined to live to the fullest every fantasy every orphan had ever craved. At the top of his list was a full-blown, no-holds-barred family Christmas extravaganza.
However, to his consternation, his question only seemed to have caused a rather uncomfortable hush.
"What do you mean?" Charlotte replied uneasily, still in in hopes that someone might change the subject. No one came to the rescue.
"I mean, look at this place," said Chess. "You call that a Christmas tree? How come we don't go out and get a real tree? And real Christmas lights--hundreds of 'em. I bet we could do up this place twice as good as anybody else in this neighborhood. We could create a light show bright enough to be seen from the moon!"
Chess could feel the mood in the room growing tense, but he chose to ignore it. How could such a subject possibly be..."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

IMPRINTS by Rachel Ann Nunes

Sometimes what you can't see means everything

A young woman is missing. In desperation, her parents turn to Autumn Rain for help. Autumn reads imprints—emotions left mysteriously behind on certain treasured objects. But is this ability a blessing or a curse?

Sometimes Autumn isn’t sure—her life has become far from normal—but for people who have missing loved ones, her talent might mean the difference between life and death. Even the infuriating Detective Martin has asked for Autumn’s help, though at times she feels more like a suspect than a consultant. Too often Autumn finds herself retreating to her antiques shop and the company of her best friend, Jake Ryan, to avoid notice.

But soon more than one woman is mission, and Autumn teams up with private eye Ethan McConnell to investigate their disappearance. Ethan’s attraction to her is a pleasant change from Jake’s frustrating offers of friendship, but once Autumn takes that first step, she sets in motion a series of events that risk not only her own life but the lives of those she cares about most.

IMPRINTS is a good, clean book with romance and mystery.
Autumn is a good character who is in love with her best friend, Jake. She also has a gift, or curse, of being able to touch an object and see or feeling its history.
Ethan McConnell's sister is missing and he would like to find her. He asks Autumn for help. Jake is suddenly acting very jealous. Or maybe just protective.
Autumn goes undercover to find the missing woman, putting herself as well as many others in danger.
I enjoyed the story, romance and all. Good job, Rachel!
 I didn't quite relate with Autumn in that I like to wear shoes and I don't mind eating non-organic food. But she is likable and sweet and has backbone.
I guessed the bad guys because Rachel left a few clues around but I like that! I like feeling like I'm clever! :)

Rating: PG
L: None
V: People punching and getting punched; gunshot wounds; a couple of deaths
S: None

Page 69 test:
" marry each other, as Tawnia and Bret had. Then both friendship and romance had the chance to endure.
Placing my handbag over my head and shoulder so it wouldn't go flying, I silently put on Jake's extra helmet , climbed onto the back of his motorbike, and slid my arms around his waist. The helmet didn't go around my chin , so once I lifted up the visor, I could press the front part of my cheek against the back of his leather jacket. I felt his solid form, the warmth  of him. I wondered if he was as aware of me and my touch, or if I was like his little sister, Randa. At that thought, my eyes pushed out a few more tears, but I didn't let go of him to wipe them away.
In the next moment we were off, the air breathing against my face and blowing it dry. Exhilaration quickly replaced the sadness, and I knew Jake had picked this nearly deserted road on purpose for the high speed we could achieve. We rode for an hour, until the summer night became cool and I had to tuck my hands under his jacket to keep them warm. He turned in the direction of home.
We pulled up at my apartment, and I eased myself off the bike, stopped, and I flexed my finger so the cold would leave them more quickly. "That was great," I told Jake, as we both removed our helmets.
"Better than going with Ethan?"
"I know you aren't happy about what I want to do, but I ave a chance to help whose women. Winter would understand."
Jake's lips pursed, and that did funny things to my heart. Jake had great lips, full and generous and inviting. I'd always thought so, even before I'd begun falling for him.
"I understand why, Autumn. But I still don't like it, and I don't trust Ethan."
Jake frowned. "I don't want to see you hurt."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Fairy's Mistake by Gail Carson Levine

In this humorous retelling of a Perrault tale, the fairy Ethelinda rewards one twin sister for good behavior and punishes the other for bad, only to discover that her punishment is more pleasing than her reward. 

Another cute story from Ms. Levine! 
Story of what happens to one sister who spews gems and the other spews insects, frogs and snakes. 
Quick read.
My 10 year old loves these books.

Rating G
S: None
V: None
L: None

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace - the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century - Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Ms. Morton is a great storyteller! The beginning of the book was hard to wade through only because I hadn't been properly introduced to the three women who would tell the story of the forgotten garden. Each chapter is told from a different perspective and era but each story is woven together and at the end, all loose strings are tucked neatly together.
We have a woman who eloped with a commoner and ended up poor with a pair of twins.
The woman's daughter is discovered and taken back to the mansion to live with her aunt, uncle and girl cousin. The two become inseparable, much to the dislike of the aunt.
The cousin's child disappears and ends up in another country, raised by the port master and family. Her adoptive father doesn't tell her until she is 21. She suddenly feels she is not who she thought and goes on a search of who she is. She dies and her granddaughter takes over to solve the mystery.
And Ms. Morton will keep you guessing throughout the whole book. But the story is so engaging and beautifully written the reader won't mind waiting until the end.
I must confess I guess the outcome but there were many, many red herrings thrown in that I was kept off track until the end.
There are over 500 pages in this book and they are all worth reading.

Rating PG
V: None
S: None
L: None

Page 69 test:
Maryborough 1914
Nell had been with them six months when the letter arrived at the post office. A man in London was looking for a little girl, four years of age. Hair: red. Eyes: Blue. She'd been missing near on eight months and the fellow--Henry Mansell, said the letter--had reason to believe she'd been boarded on a ship, possibly a transport headed for Australia. He was seeking her on behalf of his clients, the child's family.
Standing by his desk, Hugh felt his knees buckle,his muscles liquefy. The moment he'd been dreading--had surely always known was coming--was upon him. For despite what Lil believed, children, especially children like Nell, didn't go missing without someone raising the alarm. He sat in his chair, concentrated on breathing, looked quickly at the windows. He felt suddenly conspicuous, as if her were being watched by an unseen foe.
He ran a hand over his face, then rested it across his neck. What the hell was he going to do? It was only a matter of time before the other fellows arrived on the job and saw the letter. And although it was true he was the only one who's seen Nell waiting alone on the wharf, that wouldn't be them safe for long. Word would get out in the town--it always did--and someone would put two and two together. Would realize that the little girl staying with the O'Connors on Queen Street, the one with the unusual way of speaking, sounds awful lot like the little English girl was missing.
No, he couldn't risk anyone reading the contents. Hugh observed himself, his hand shaking a little. He folded the letter neatly in half..."