Friday, August 28, 2015

Book Review Friday: Heat Wave

Heat Wave
By Richard Castle

It took a while for me to finally get around to reading one of Richard Castle's books.  I knew about the phenomenon, but my TBR pile is just so high ... but finally this summer I really needed something different ... boy did I find it.

For those few who don't already know, there is no Richard Castle.  The books are ghost written as a tie-in to the Castle TV series that airs on ABC.  The premise is simple.  A successful writer uses his leverage with the mayor of New York to allow him to shadow a New York City homicide detective in order to research a new book.  In the process sparks fly between author Richard Castle and Detective Kate Beckett and the Nikki Heat novel series is born.   The TV series is fun and engaging.  And so are the novels.

Heat Wave introduces the character of detective Nikki Heat and her temporary sidekick, journalist Jameson Rook.  Together with Detective Heat's team of investigators they work a homicide case as Rook prepares to write an article about one of NYPD's best detectives.  The book has a slightly Chandleresque noir feel to it, dark and witty with undercurrents of sexual tension and violence.  There are lots of subtle and, some not so subtle, wisecracks.  Fast paced with a definite tension between the two main characters culminating in steamy, but not graphic love scenes.  It's a well written story with interesting characters and lots of plot twists making for a satisfying mystery.

A few random thoughts on the books:  I've done a binge read of the the Nikki Heat series this summer, which starts with Heat Wave.   Because of how quickly I've read them I've noticed some subtle changes in technique and style from book to book and I think I'm safe in saying that there is no one person ghost writing this series. Also, for maximum effect, watch the series while reading the novels, the better to catch the inside jokes and see the clever way plot elements from the TV show are woven into the novels.  It wouldn't hurt to catch up on the reruns of Firefly, too, as references to Castle star Nathan Fillion's previous role show up on screen and in print.

Books in the Nikki Heat series:
Heat Wave
Naked Heat
Heat Rises
Frozen Heat
Deadly Heat
Raging Heat
Driving Heat

Other books by Richard Castle:
A Brewing Storm
A Raging Storm
A Bloody Storm
Storm Front
Wild Storm

If you like Richard Castle's books, you may like these authors:

Lawrence Block
James Patterson
Michael Connolly
Stephen J. Cannell
Dennis Lehane
Sue Grafton
Tess Gerritsen

Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review Friday: Eight Hundred Grapes

Eight Hundred Grapes
By Laura Dave

 Just days before her wedding Georgia Ford discovers that her handsome, British fiancé, Ben has been keeping something from her … something big.  Reeling from the shock, Georgia heads home to her family’s vineyard in the Sonoma Valley, hoping for solace and peace, but things are never as simple as they seem.  Georgia returns home to discover that her personal drama may be the least of her worries.  As she tries to cope with a rapid fire series of revelations from her parents, her brothers, and her fiancé, Georgia learns that life is all about choices: what you choose and what you choose to leave behind.
Author Laura Dave’s story is told in a witty, breezy style with well-drawn characters facing a myriad of life’s little complications.  My only problem with the story is that instead of being told in a straight linear fashion, there are multiple flashbacks told from differing points of view, which became somewhat bewildering. But the story resolutions are strong and upbeat without becoming clichéd. Eight Hundred Grapes is a story about love, resilience and the strength of families.  

Other books by Laura Dave
The First Husband
 The Divorce Party

If you like Eight Hundred Grapes you may like:
The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher
The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review Friday: The Buried Giant

The Buried Giant

By Kazuo Ishiguro

 After reading a great “conversation” between authors Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman (you can find it here), I just had to read this book.  I loved it.  Not exactly a fantasy adventure, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant is a work of literary fiction told with elements of fantasy and allegory.  This is the story of Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living in old Briton.  They set out on a journey to find their son, a son they only hazily remember, and on the way they have a variety of strange adventures and encounter several interesting characters including a Saxon warrior, an orphaned boy, and a knight each seeking his own path through the mists that cover the land.  Memories are uncovered and secrets are revealed as the paths of these five individuals converge.  This leisurely-paced, detailed book is a fascinating story of love, loss, and the tricks memory and time can play, all blended into a tale of dragons and ogres in the age of King Arthur. 

For more great stories with fantasy elements try:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
The Mermaid's Child by Jo Baker

Friday, August 7, 2015

Book Review Friday: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
By Paula Hawkins

Out of control and out of work, Rachel still rides her commuter train everyday looking for some semblance of normal in her life.  She finds it in the windows of Jess and Jason’s house. She sees them every day as the train goes by.  She doesn’t know their real names or who they really are.  But she knows they have the perfect life.  The life she always wanted.  Then one afternoon Rachel sees something shocking.  And then something goes horribly wrong.  The police say she’s an unreliable witness on account of her drinking.  But Rachel can’t rest until she figures out what she forgot on that terrible night when everything went wrong.
The Girl on the Train is an amazing thrill ride.  Strap yourself in for this commuter special. Rachel’s story twists and turns in shocking ways.  I couldn’t put this one down.

If you liked The Girl on the Train, you might like:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Losing You by Nicci French
In Fidelity by M J Rose
The Collector by Nora Roberts
The Other Woman's House by Sophie Hannah

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Romance Reading for Everyone

The hardest thing for me to help a patron with is Romance novels.  I don't read them.  Not since high school, when I was an avid Harlequin reader.  But since then, not so much. I've got nothing against them and if you love romance novels, that's cool.   Like we learned in library school, every book it's reader. (Dr Ranganathan's Laws of Library Science)
So for those of us who are Romance Novel challenged, but still want to be able to provide some Reader's Advisory help when asked.  Here's NPR's list of 100 Swoon Worthy Romances