Monday, February 15, 2010

Shelter Me

Shelter Me
Juliette Fay

Shelter Me is Fay's debut novel. In it, she chronicles the life of a young woman and two children after the tragic and sudden death of her husband. After Robby dies, Janie must try and keep it together for her two young children while dealing with her overwhelming grief. Fay does a wonderful job of showing the stages of grief as well as the twists and turns of motherhood in her first novel.

Janie's husband, Robby, commissioned a porch be built for her as a surprise. Tug Malinowski shows up and surprises her with the plans and Janie allows the porch to be built. Tug is a divorced, attractive man who becomes attracted to Janie but knows she's in no way over her husband and ready to move on.

Fay shows Janie's path to emotional healing through Janie's sometimes short, but pithy journal entries where she talks about how she hates the fucking rain and how pissed she is at her husband for dying. She forms a friendship and attraction to the local priest, Father Jake Sweeney, who has deep, dark secrets of his own and questions his vow of celibacy as he and Janie grow closer.

Fay paints a beautiful portrait of a young woman completely weighted down by grief but with a sense of humor that gets her through even the darkest days. Janie knows she needs to be strong for her children, Dylan who's only 3 or 4 and Carly who's 8 months old. Janie takes joy in watching her children grow and the moments that make motherhood worthwhile. All in all, a great book and a wonderful debut.

Friday, January 1, 2010

U is for Undertow

U is for Undertow
Sue Grafton

Being that U is for Undertow is the 21st book in the series, part of me was hoping it would be as good if not better than the previous books. I definitely wasn't disappointed. It's by far the best one yet. Reading this one made me want to go back and start at A just to re-read the whole series so I can say for sure, without hesitation, that U was the best book of the series.

Kinsey Millhone receives a visit from Michael Sutton, a guy in his 20's that says he saw two men bury the body of a little girl, Mary Claire Fitzhugh, when he was 6 years old. Mary Claire was kidnapped back in 1967 and it's been 21 years with no resolution as to what happens to her. This grabs Kinsey's attention and she agrees to see if she can find the spot that Sutton says the little girl is buried. What she doesn't realize is exactly what she's going to unearth as she continues to investigate Sutton's account.

Grafton takes you seamlessly through one era to another, starting in present day 1988 and going back to 1967. She gives you background information that you're sure will be important later but as you're reading it isn't sure where it fits in. It's so well-written between then and now that it's completely engrossing from the beginning. You learn about different families that grew up in Horton Ravine, the fictional rich part of Santa Teresa, and how their lives intertwined without them being aware of it.

Sutton's credibility is tested a couple times throughout the book and Kinsey is disillusioned and disappointed while still unwilling to let the case go. This case shows how brilliant and smart Kinsey is while she slowly and patiently unravels the keys to the mystery and the tale of what really happened back in 1967.

By far, Sue Grafton is at her best in this novel and it was well worth the wait.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shelter Mountain

Shelter Mountain
Robyn Carr

Book 2 in the Virgin River series is about John Middleton "Preacher" and Paige Lassiter and her son Chris. Preacher has worked in Jack's bar since he retired from the marine corps. He's closing the bar on a rainy night when Paige and her son come in. Paige is covered in bruises and obviously on the run. Preacher offers her a place to stay in the apartment above the bar and Paige agrees.

Paige thought she'd never feel safe again after the hell her husband put her through. Everyone in Virgin River has gone out of their way to make her and her son at home; especially Preacher. She's never met a man like him before and little by little she allows herself to open up and begin a relationship with him. Preacher never really saw himself as a family man, but Paige and her son have him thinking differently than he ever has before. When Paige's ex-husband shows up, Preacher and the residents of Virgin River must band together in order to protect her and her son.

This book also brought continuing storylines from the first book into it. You had a lot of Mel and Jack and their dealings with pregnancy and birth and then Ricky and Liz's surprise that ends in tragedy and makes them grow up much too fast. You meet Jack's sister Brie and Jack's Marine buddy Mike Valenzuela who each have their own issues and are the hero/heroine of Book 3 Whispering Rock.

I loved this book for the humor between Preacher and Paige, as Preacher was completely clueless about love and sex. This book was tender and sweet and not in a gag-me-with-a-spoon way.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Virgin River

Virgin River
by Robyn Carr

As Book 1 in the Virgin River series, this book starts you off running and leaves you no time to catch up. It sucks you in and begs you to keep reading as you want to learn more about this small town and the people in it.

Melinda is the heroine of this novel and she's desperate to heal after her husband is killed in a gang-related shooting. She accepts a job as the nurse midwife in a rural town in Northern California and attempts to start over and continuing practicing the craft she loves. She runs into Jack, who owns the local bar and grill, and sparks flicker between them. Mel is still in love with her husband and grieving, and Jack is the gentleman and gives her space. Mel finds the cabin she's supposed to rent is a complete wreck and she decides she's leaving. She finds an abandoned baby on the front porch of the doctor's office and she decides to stay to help the baby and to wait for social services.

This book is about a woman finding that she can live again and also that she can love. She finds her home in this one-horse town and finds the love she didn't know she was missing. You meet a cast of characters in this book that set up the future ones and the author draws you in and makes you excited to find out what the next book will hold.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates

Revolutionary Road is set during the 1950's and takes us through a journey of a married couple and their life in suburbia. Frank and April Wheeler live in a white cottage on Revolutionary Road in Revolutionary Estates. They like the status of living in this house, in this particular neighborhood, but things are far from perfect in their lives. They're desperate to have meaning in their life.

The book is told from Frank's point of view, and only once do we have the book told from April's point of view and learn her thoughts and feelings. Their marriage is based on nothing, on the fact that April loves Frank when he's "nice" and Frank loves his wife but doesn't understand her at all. He goes to work everyday and does absolutely nothing while his wife stays home and watches their two children.

Throughout the story, Frank has outlandish thoughts about what his wife will say when he tells her certain things and is absolutely flabbergasted when she doesn't react in the way that he thinks she will. April is really indifferent to anything Frank does and could care less about anything he says, but Frank never realizes this at all.

They decide to move to Paris because April is desperate to get out of the surburban housewife role and find some meaning in her life. She wants to be the one to work and let Frank go off and "find himself" by walking the streets of Paris. They agree they're going to sell the house and pick up and move everything and the kids to Europe. They think they're different and better than their neighbors in the Revolutionary Estates.

The most telling part of the whole book is when April finds herself pregnant and the plans to move to Paris derail upon this discovery. April wants an abortion and Frank does everything he possibly can to persuade her not to. The second-to-last chapter of the book is April talking and you finally know her anguish and hopelessness she feels over this pregnancy and her being unable to break out of this suburban housewife life.

I didn't like this book. It was about two people who lived the same life and knew nothing about the other. Frank had affairs with women at the office and April dreamed of being anything other than who she was, although she had no idea whatsoever who she was or had turned out to be. It was a sad story about two selfish and self-involved people who were desperate for a life different than their own and neither knew how to go about getting it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


JR Ward

Covet is the first in the "Fallen Angels" series by JR Ward. JR Ward is known for her Black Dagger Brotherhood series and these books while separate, are definitely similar. Covet, at its basic level, is about the fight between good and evil. There are Demons and Angels and one quarterback, Jim. The Demons are trying to keep people on their side and the Angels are trying to save people. If the Angels fail then the Demons will rule the world. If the Angels succeed, then good will triumph and the Demons will be no more. Jim has the task of saving seven souls from the seven deadly sins.

Vin DiPietro is the first soul that Jim needs to save. Vin grew up from nothing with alcoholic parents who were abusive. He's built himself up considerably since then and has millions upon millions of dollars. Jim and him become buddies as Jim tries to save him from the Demons. The Demons are playing hardball though and don't make it easy for either of them. Vin realizes, with the help of Marie-Therese, a woman hiding from her ex-husband and working as a prostitute for money, that he IS a good person and that who he is now is not who he wants to be.

With regards that this is the first book of a series, it was slow at the beginning. It took me awhile to get into it because the author had to build the world from scratch. Once I got into it, I was flying through it, and really enjoyed it. JR Ward's language is always very colorful and different, which makes the book more interesting. It also detracts from the story a little bit because you're constantly translating street slang into normal words. At some points I wished she'd drop it because I thought the story would flow better, but that's not her style. All in all, I'm looking forward to the next books and seeing how Jim fares.