Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just Jennifer

Losing Clementine by Ashley Ream (William Morrow, March 2012)

Clementine Pritchard is a talented artist who is about to have a show in a prestigious east coast gallery. Only problem is, she plans to kill herself before the show ends so decides to give the space to someone else. Clementine has been fighting mental illness, similar to that her mother fought and lost, for many years and has been on so many prescriptions that make her feel worse just to keep the dark days at bay that she decides the only way around the same fate as her mother is to kill herself now before she involves too many people in her personal version of hell. Clementine then sets about tidying up her affairs: she fires her assistant Jenny, her therapist Miles; she sleeps with her ex-husband Richard and her therapist Miles; she finds a home for her cat Chuckles who is as opinionated as she and crosses to Tijuana to secure some animal tranquilizers to assist her in her quest. She also has some of the best take out she has ever had as she eats her way through Los Angeles. Along the way, Clementine creates some of her best artwork ever, good stuff, she thinks, for her postmortem retrospective. Clementine also decides to look for the father who left her and her family and instead of a final good-bye, he sheds light on a secret that changes the way Clementine looks at her life and may even save it. A dark comedy, Clementine is the nonsense, practical person inside each of us, but also that person that wants to heal and forget the sadness in our lives, and even to forgive so that we are no longer afraid of just being. Clementine’s honesty is refreshing, if sometimes abrasive, toward others and especially toward herself.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New this Week

Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas (St. Martin’s)

Embittered by her fiancé's abandonment for her sister, Washington state glass artist Lucy is unknowingly set up by her ex with his friend Sam, a relationship that is threatened by her ex's second thoughts and Lucy's discovery of the truth.

Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham (Mulholland)

A teenage girl--Sienna, a troubled friend of his daughter--comes to Joe O'Laughlin's door one night, covered in blood. The police find Sienna's father, a celebrated former cop, murdered. Tests confirm that it's his blood on Sienna. She says she remembers nothing. Investigators take aim at Sienna. O'Laughlin senses something different is happening.

Cinnamon Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke (Kensington)

When the keyboard player for the Cinnamon Roll Six jazz band is murdered after a tour bus accident on the way to Lake Eden, Minnesota, Hannah Swensen investigates and comes up with several local suspects.

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult (Atria)

When his father and sister are injured in an accident that has rendered his father comatose, estranged son Edward decides to stop his father's life support so that his organs can be donated, a choice his sister urges him to reconsider.

Victims by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine)

Unraveling the madness behind L.A.'s most baffling and brutal homicides is what sleuthing psychologist Alex Delaware does best. And putting the good doctor through his thrilling paces is what mystery fiction's bestselling master of psychological suspense Jonathan Kellerman does with incomparable brilliance.

Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)

The long awaited fifth installment in the "New York Times"-bestselling, Edgar- and Macavity-nominated series about an eccentric sleuthing family. For the first time in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, P.I., might be the most normal member of her family. Yet as a number of cases pile, Izzy won't stop hunting for the answers--even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.

Friday, February 17, 2012

New This Week

Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb (Putnam)

Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no party girl, but she's managing to have a reasonably good time at the celebrity-packed bash celebrating The Icove Agenda , a film based on one of her famous cases. It's a little spooky seeing the actress playing her, who looks almost like her long-lost twin. Not as unsettling, though, as seeing the actress who plays Peabody drowned in the lap pool on the roof of the director's luxury building. Now she's at the center of a crime scene-and Eve is more than ready to get out of her high heels and strap on her holster and step into the role she was born to play: cop.

A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager)

When she discovers that a would-be creator is determined to make his (or her) own demons and needs her blood, former witch-turned-day-walking-demon Rachel Morgan, a bounty hunter, faces her toughest adversary yet --humanity.

Sonoma Rose by Jennifer Chiaverini (Dutton)

Struggling with a meager existence on a Prohibition-era farm in Southern California and devastated by the losses of four of her children to a wasting disease, Rosa flees with her surviving children after a shattering act of violence and is rescued by former love Lars, who helps her seek a cure and outmaneuver corrupt authorities.

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott (Doubleday)

A spirited young maid on board the Titanic captures the attentions of two men including a kindhearted sailor and an enigmatic Chicago millionaire and barely escapes with her life before witnessing media scorn targeting her famous designer mistress.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Just Jennifer

Spin by Catherin McKenzie (William Morrow, February 2012)

Sometimes the chance of a lifetime comes along and we blow it. Sometimes we get a second chance at the gold ring, sometimes we don’t. Katie Sandford lands an interview at The Line, a music magazine, her dream job, and then promptly blows the interview by showing up still drunk from the previous night; to make matters worse, it is Katie’s thirtieth birthday, though most of her friends think she is a twenty-five year old graduate student, and this was the best prospect of a job she has had in a long time. And then she gets a second chance. The magazine’s more gossip driven sister publication contacts Katie and offers her a chance for a tell-all story on Hollywood starlet Amber, The Girl Next Door, who has just entered rehab---again. The only catch? Katie also has to enter rehab and go through the process as her cover. As Katie begins the detox process she begins to recognize that maybe she did have an alcohol problem and that maybe rehab isn’t all a waste of time. What she doesn’t expect is that she and Amber will become friends and when it is time to write the tell-all it somehow doesn’t see as great an idea as when it was first proposed to Katie.

Katie undertakes a journey of self-discovery in Spin and many readers will recognize something of themselves in Katie. The journey, however, is long, maybe fifty to one hundred pages too long. There is realness in Katie’s introspective reflection and realization that she may have a problem and the willingness to deal with and attempt to overcome it and the other patients in rehab with Katie put faces to the different forms addiction can take. There is a genuineness and compassion to Katie’s story that help move the narrative along even in some of the slower passges.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

New This Week

Oath of Office by Michael Palmer (St. Martin’s Press)

Blamed for the murder-suicide rampage of a respected doctor and former client who previously struggled with drug addiction, counselor Lou Welcome investigates what went wrong and uncovers a terrifying political conspiracy with ties to the White House.

House I Love by Tatiana deRosnay (St. Martin’s Press)

Determined to protect her historical family home from Emperor Napoleon's orders to renovate 1860s Paris, Rose Bazelet establishes a defense in the basement of her house on rue Childebert and records her experiences in letters to her late husband.

Wolf Gift by Anne Rice (Knopf)

A young reporter on assignment is attacked and bitten by an unknown beast in rural Northern California and begins a terrifying but seductive transformation into a being with a dual nature, both man and wolf.

Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (Little Brown)

Peter Knight and the rest of the Private investigation firm try to stop a madman bent on destroying the modern Olympic Games in London.

Just Jennifer

Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts by Stacy A. Cordery (Viking, February 2012)

Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America one hundred years ago and though almost everyone has eaten a Girl Scout cookie (or a dozen) in their lifetime, many people know very little about the matriarch of this beloved organization. Born just prior to the Civil War, and unable to have children of her own, Juliette, known fondly to her family as Daisy, devoted much of her life to proclaiming that girls would benefit from, and deserved to have an active life, one that could be supported and nurtured by an organization such as the Boy Scouts after she met Robert Baden-Powell. Daisy came from a wealthy Southern family who weathered the Civil War making her self-reliant and independent. She was partially deaf after an ear infection was mistreated and married a scoundrel who brought her to the United Kingdom to live. Daisy never lost sight of her vision and preserved with a steadfastness that led to the creation of an organization that currently has over two million members and many more women who have been left with fond memories of their days in the Girl Scout, Brownie or Daisy troop. Girl Scouts past and present will enjoy the history of the organization’s founder, but readers who enjoy histories of strong, independent women will find much to admire in Daisy Low.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Just Jennifer

What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas (William Morrow, February 2012)

Who among us hasn’t wanted to escape a situation in our life at one time or another? There are even those of us who wanted to escape our life entirely. Hannah Benson left her small Virginia town as a teenager and made a new life for herself, never calling to learn what happened to her mother or sister, or handsome Grady Steadman, knowing that the only way to save herself was to completely cut herself off. Now, twenty years later, the owner of a successful insurance business in Maryland, the call that she has always feared comes, but with news she never expected. Her sister Ruth has been dead for several years, Grady informs her, and her mother has just died this past weekend and now Hannah must return to Clearfield to take custody of the fifteen-year-old niece she never knew she had. Having no interest in returning to Clearfield or raising a young woman she never knew existed, Hannah girds herself and returns to a place of terrible memories, secrets and guilt. As isolated as she has made herself over the years and as tough a shell as she has developed, once back among familiar sights and sounds, memories flood back to Hannah, some elicit pleasant memories, much to her surprise, other memories are not so pleasant. As Hannah slowly works her way in Anna’s life, she begins to create new memoires with her niece, all the while conscious of the secrets she is keeping and the consequences should they come to light, and all the while trying to keep her distance from Grady for whom her attraction never died, and the feeling seems mutual.

Mary Kay McComas explores the things we leave behind and what never leaves us; what we leave unfinished and what finally undoes us. Hannah’s memories are vivid, but not everything is how we remember it and we don’t always know the entire story behind something. Everyone who ever wondered what they have left behind and how they can make reparations will find something familiar in Hannah as she gets not a second chance, but a chance for things to be as they should be.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New This Week

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
by Katherine Boo (Random House)

A first book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist profiles everyday life in the settlement of Annawadi as experienced by a Muslim teen, an ambitious rural mother of a prospective female college student and a young scrap metal thief, in an account that illuminates how their efforts to build better lives are challenged by regional religious, caste and economic tensions.

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner (Dutton)

Approached by a young woman who claims her murder is imminent, detective D. D. Warren hears her chilling story about how all of her close childhood friends have been murdered on the anniversary of the same day and that she is the only one still alive, a case that is complicated by a vigilante shooter.

Stay Awake: Stories by Dan Chaon (Ballantine)

Presents a collection of suspenseful tales in which fragile and searching characters wander between ordinary life and a psychological shadowland after experiencing intense loss or displacement.

Girl Reading by Katie Ward (Scribner)

A kaleidoscopic tale follows the experiences of seven women models from different historical periods, the artists for whom they sit, the factors that shape the creations of their portraits, and the ties that connect them to each other.

Just Jennifer

Redwood Bend by Robyn Carr (Mira, March 2012)

Young widow Katie Malone has been in Vermont for the last year with her twin five year old boys, under the radar, while her brother Connor was preparing to testify in a murder trial that also included an arson charge stemming from a fire that burned Connor and Katie’s family’s hardware store to the ground. Now that the trial is over, Katie is making a cross country trip to reunite the boys with Uncle Connor who has been living in Virgin River in Northern California. Just miles from the mountainous town, Katie’s vehicle has a flat tire in the pouring rain, and although she is largely self-sufficient, machine tightened lug nuts are the slightly built young woman’s undoing. Assisted by a group of motorcyclists, Katie is immediately attracted to Dylan into whom she is sure she’ll never run again. She does, of course, in Virgin River and when she learns he is a former child star looking to get back into the movie business she swears she’s not going to get involved, a vow she quickly breaks, which sets into motion a series of life altering events for both Katie and Dylan.

Virgin River is a marvelous small town that Robyn Carr has built over the course of the series, family by family, including many veterans from the wars in Iraq. Jack’s bar with his cook Preacher remains the focal point of the community and though fewer of the now permanent residents are included in the book than usually are, Virgin River and the nearby Grace Valley remain an inviting place to visit, one readers will want to return to time and time again.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

We’re With Nobody: Two Insiders Reveal the Dark Side of American Politics by Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian (William Morrow, January 2012)

Told in alternating chapters between two partners in a political research firm and journalists, Huffman, a former farmer and aide to Mississippi elected officials, and Rejebian, a reporter in Texas and Mississippi and political advisor in Mississippi, shed light on opposition research. As many voters have long suspected, there is a trend among candidates, from local school boards to federal officials, to expose the weaknesses and faults of their opponents rather than highlight one’s strengths and accomplishments. Some of the stories are as simple as speaking to an ex-wife in an attempt to impeach an opponent’s character and morals, and some are very complicated and involve unnamed sources in dark allies. This book is a lot of fun to read for any political junky, especially if for leisure reading. If considered closely, this book offers an interesting view of how some things are not always what they appear on the surface. If this is what Huffman and Rejebian are willing to share, imagine what they’ve left out!