Wednesday, February 25, 2009

On the Grind: A Shane Scully Novel

On the Grind: A Shane Scully Novel by Stephen J. Cannell

Scully, a LAPD detective, has been charged with misconduct during a murder by solicitation case. He slept with a high profile actress seeking to kill her husband and then lost the evidence in the case. He has a choice of prosecution, creating bad press for the LAPD yet again or resignation. He choses to go quietly. His colleagues are stunned. His wife now wants a divorce and his son won't talk to him.

Scully then tries to find a police job in neighbouring cities only to be rejected as the word gets out of his misdemeanor. The only job left is with the Park Haven police department, near Los Angeles.

Scully quickly gets trained on how corrupt and crooked the Haven Park police are. They are the personal goon squad for the mayor and collect his bribes and protection money. Furthermore, they plan to kill off the man who is running in opposition to the mayor. A gang calls Haven Park home and the mayor welcomes them and drives out any other gangs trying to encroach on their territory.

Although parts of this book were predictable, lots weren't and that is what made this a great nail-biting police procedural mystery.

First Line: "Just an hour before my whole life turned upside down, I was making love to my wife, Alexa, in our little house on the Grand Canal in Venice, California."

On the Grind at Chapters


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

True Colors

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

The Grey sisters are the best of friends. They are very loving and supportive of each other. After their mother died when they were young, they became very close.

Their father, Henry, is so concerned about appearances he shows little regard for his daughters. He cares about his horse ranch and how he will look to others in the community. He is very critical and constantly disapproving.

Winona, the eldest is an overweight intellect. She has become a lawyer and lives in the nearby town. She actually is scared of horses and cares little about the land. She strives for her father's approval and continually tries to show him how worthy she is. She is in love with her high school chum but realizes she is not the 'ideal' woman.

Aurora, the middle child, has the perfect marriage and the perfect husband. She is the mediator of the family. She is always trying to make everyone happy.

Vivi Ann , the youngest, is the star. She is beautiful and vivacious. She loves the ranch and is a rodeo star. For Vivi Ann everything comes easy.

Winona wants to sell some land to save the ranch. Vivi Ann comes up with a way to finally make some money for the ranch but nobody takes her seriously. Luke, Winona's secret love, returns to town only to fall in love with Vivi Ann and become engaged. How can Winona be anything but jealous? And then Dallas, a native American cowboy enters the picture. The Grey sister's loyalty to each other is severely tested as a crime is committed and who knows who is to blame. Everyone in town is more than willing to take sides.

This story is a deep emotional study of sibling relationships. Have a box of tissues close by when you sit down to read it.

First Line: "Fifteen-year-old Winona Grey stared out at the waterfront ranch that had been in her family for four generations, looking for something that had changed."

True Colors at Chapters


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Katherine by Anya Seton

Katherine by Anya Seton
Historical Fiction

This book is listed as #95 on the BBC Top 100, which is why I read it. I had never heard of Anya Seton before but I'm very glad that the BBC list has exposed me to her.

Katherine tells the story of Katherine Roet, whose father was a knight but was killed in war and whose sister is a lady in waiting for the Queen in 1366. Katherine spends the first part of her life dedicated to church but her sister pulls her from religious life to court and Katherine's life is changed forever. She marries the knight Hugh Swynford who she is revolted by, but he accepts her with no dowry, which puts her in good standing. Her heart is with John of Gaunt, King Edward III's younger son. Their paths cross throughout her life and things become quite complicated as they try to share their love through wars, other marriages, children, riots, and disease.

This is an epic novel where Seton imagines what the characters said and felt in this true story. Even though the book is well over 500 pages, it kept me interested the entire time and I really enjoyed seeing Katherine evolve over her life. She was such a timid teenage and then really blossomed into an intelligent, gentle woman.

You can also tell that it was written a good time ago. If this same story were to be written in present day, it would be more risque and rude I think. This was exceptionally done and incredibly well researched. I will recommend this book to others and am looking to find some more Seton books to read!

First Line: "In the tender green time of April, Katherine set forth at last upon her journey with the two nuns and the royal messenger."



The Mighty Queens of Freeville

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson is the advice columnist who took over from Ann Landers. This is her story.

Amy is a strong woman surrounded by strong women. When dumped by her husband, Amy had to be strong as she had a young baby. What was she to do? She went back home to her small up-state New York hometown of Freeville and got the love and support of her family. Surprisingly, a family full of women. Divorce is like a contagious disease in her family. Amy's father walked out on her mum, forcing her mother to raise her alone. There are only a few males in the family.

This is the story of Amy's failures and successes. She has had many jobs and has been in London, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. But home is where her heart is and she has continued to maintain a house in Freeville. She returns on weekends and for the summer, sometimes driving ten hours to get there. Her family all lives within a 10 house radius.

The book depicts the growing up of Amy's daughter, Emily until she leaves for college. Amy recounts her trials and tribulations with a great sense of humour. From moving with a giant orange tabby to teaching Sunday school and making peanut Jesuses, The stories are insightful and downright funny.

First Line: "One December day in the mid 1980s, I looked out the front window of my mother's house and watched my soon-to-be husband walking up the road."

The Mighty Queens of Freeville at Chapters


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I am My Father's Son

I am My Father's Son by Dan Hill

Dan Hill is a well-known Canadian songwriter and performer. This is his story.

Dan grew up in suburban Toronto in the 1960s. His father, Dr. Hill was the first Ontario Human Rights Commissioner. He was black and his wife was white. Racism in Canada was not as 'up front and in your face' as the United States but was still widespread. It was more a 'sneaky' type of racism that Dan encountered, including teachers who didn't like him because of his colour.

Dr. Hill was larger than life and having experienced racism was the perfect choice for commissioner. Dr. Hill was bombastic and extremely ambitious. His expectations were very high especially for his first born son. Dan had to excel in school. Although his grades were good, Dan's interests and personality ran contrary to his father's.

The tension and unrest in the Hill household was constant during Dan's teens. Dan loved music and writing songs was in his blood. His father let him know incessantly what a disappointment he was. His father was mean and constantly critical. Dan, however, has his father's ambition and strove to achieve success in the music industry and gain his father's approval finally. Dan's successes and setbacks are chronicled. His mistakes and his highlights are boldly stated.

This story tells about both Dan's life and Dr. Hill's life. It is a very well-written story about the relationship between father and son. It is also a tale of forgiveness. This book makes the reader look at their own relationship with their parents questioning what impact their parents had and what impact they have on their own children

On a personal note, my brother was friends with Dan during high school. As an older sister I did not pay too much attention to his friends. Shame on me! The details of the neighbourhood brought back a lot of memories.

First Line: "Not that this is anything to brag about, but I may well have been the only teenager in the history of the Western world punished for not masturbating"

I am My Father's Son at Chapters


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Angels Flight by Michael Connelly

Angels Flight by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is back on at it when he's called in to a double homicide at Angels Flight. Except this case needs to be handled with extra care. The victim is Howard Elias, a lawyer who made it his life's missions to sue the LAPD and was in the middle of a case where he claimed that the LAPD tortured an innocent man and framed him for a murder.

Both IAD and the FBI are called in for this case, bringing characters back from previous Bosch novels. While working round the clock to solve this crime, Bosch also has to deal with problems in his personal life and his wife becomes distant.

I thought this novel was the best so far in the Bosch series. There are so many pieces that need to be fit together for Bosch to solve this case, yet he has enough personality to keep the reader interested and rooting for him. I'm looking forward to the next in the series!

First Line: "The word sounded alien in his mouth, as if spoken by someone else."



Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

This is the story of the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Winchester gives background as to what preliminary versions of dictionaries were like and how writers before this time didn't have anything to refer to to check the right usage of the word they were using.

Then Winchester gets into the compilation of the OED and specifically how Professor Murray from Oxford was the one to spearhead the project, even though it took him about 40 years of his life and continued on after his death. We also learn about Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran who quite literally goes crazy and eventually shoots and kills someone, thinking that he was trying to do something bad to him. This lands Dr. Minor in a mental institution in England. One of the few things he finds pleasure in is reading, so when there is a call out for people to help find quotations of word in books, Dr. Minor is up to the challenge. He becomes one of the most helpful contributors to the OED.

I found this book was quite hit and miss for me. There were portions of it that were very interesting and other parts that weren't interesting at all. Murray and Minor's stories kept me interested, but some of the history behind everything bored me. If you're interested in the history of literature, you would enjoy this book!

First Line: "In Victorian London, even in a place as louche and notoriously crime-ridden as Lambeth Marshe, the sound of gunshots was a rare event indeed."



Sunday, February 01, 2009

A Respectable Trade

A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory
Historical Fiction

The year is 1787 and the place is Bristol, England. Josiah Cole is a very ambitious growing slave trader. He has 3 ships which he sails to Africa for slaves which are then sold in the West Indies to the plantation owners for sugar and rum. Josiah wants more. More money and acceptance into the top elite merchant association. To do this he arranges a marraige to a penniless aristocrat, Frances

Frances is at first, resident in a small house adjoining the warehouse. She is required to teach some slaves brought home. She is to make them into British valets and house maids. Sarah, Josiah's sister is critical of her and seems to find fault with her every action and especially her spending.

Mehuru is one of the slaves that has been brought back to Bristol. He was a priest from the noble and civilized country of Yoruba in Africa. He wants his freedom but later finds he also wants Frances. But in this day that is utterly impossible.

The book describes the stench and pollution of the Bristol harbour at this time. Frances is caught between trying to be a lady and feeling compassion for the slaves. She has absolutely no backbone and that is where the book falls down. The reader gets so mad at Frances to finally stand up for herself.

First Line: "Mehuru woke at dawn with the air cool on his outstretched body."