Larkspur Cove

January 27th. 2011

Lisa Wingate writes another stellar book in the moving story of a single mother coming to terms with the woman she is underneath the hurt. Larkspur Cove is situated on beautiful Moses Lake, home to wildlife (both human and otherwise,) cliffs, vacation homes, and a few tragedies–the welcome sign read “if you’re lucky enough to be at the lake, you’re lucky enough.” But being at the lake isn’t a vacation for Andrea Henderson and her teenaged son, Dustin, it’s recovery. She’s there to rebuild her life and find out what she’s made of. What woman couldn’t relate to that? Lisa weaves in enough quirky characters and homespun wisdom to make the journey to self-discovery both poignant and joyful. You celebrate with the characters when the overcome the odds. And that’s good story-telling. Lisa’s books are always a delight and this one is no exception.

Heat Wave

January 21st. 2011

You know that feeling you get when you’ve overdosed on a particular beloved dessert? That’s the way I feel having read “Richard Castle’s” novel, Heat Wave.  An unapologetic fan of the TV show, Castle, on ABC, I particularly enjoyed the blurring lines between reality/TV/marketing genius in creating a hard copy of the book that is plot central to the show. All the innuendo going on between Richard Castle and Kate Beckett in the TV show is made more intriguing when you read how Richard translates that tension into his novel of NYPD Detective Nikki Heat and her journalist tag-a-long, Jameson Rook (and undisguised copy of Richard Castle.) The layers to the plot between novel and TV show are priceless. And let me just say, reading the book was exactly like following a two-hour season finale episode of the TV show–with some name changes to protect the imaginary. The thing that just makes this brilliant is the marketing biz behind the idea. I can’t imagine that the television  writers planned from day one to introduce a “real” book to coincide with Richard Castle’s novel debuts on the TV show, but I’m sure the sale numbers have replaced any misgivings they might have had about whether an imaginary plot device could translate into real world transactions. And like any traditional book, the “publisher” scored endorsements from James Patterson and Stephen Cannell for the cover–how cool is that?–as if an incentive to read the story was necessary. With this new season’s plot twist related to the movie rights of Heat Wave and Naked Heat, it should prove to be even more entertaining when the feature length film debuts.  I’m quite sure the writer of this novel is the same writer directing the think tank in their plotting sessions at the production studio, but knowing both the show and now reading the novel just makes the illusion all the more fun. Kudos to Castle Writer–whoever you are.

Read the fine print

January 19th. 2011

In preparation for hours on a plane to and from Walt Disney World last week, I loaded my Kindle with several e-books that seemed interesting, after reading plot summaries. Next time I’m going to read the fine print for some sort key words or phrases that denotes “adult content.” I just hate throwing away good money.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

January 12th. 2011

To give Major Pettigrew a fair shake, I didn’t fall for him the first time I saw him. It was only after I read an endorsement in an article that the next time I was in a bookstore, I reconsidered the book. Since this is a review, you must know I brought Major Pettigrew home with me. He was a pleasant sort, Major Pettigrew, although the character I really liked the best was Mrs. Ali. That romance finds Major Pettigrew at 60+ is sweet, but I wonder how this story would have gone down if told by Mrs. Ali–she had some real obstacles in her life. Still, it was a lovely story about small town dysfunctions, family disappointments and finding love in the most surprising of places…the Super Mart. Kudos to Helen Simonson for crafting a charming story in Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand.

The Vintage Caper

January 9th. 2011

Peter Mayle, an author who is my go-to guy for all things Continental has, in this latest novel, set the perfect table  for a leisurely repast with elements of exquisite lifestyle, a dash of mystery, exotic people, all offset by evocative landscapes and sensory delights. Being invited to dine with him, is as easy as opening Chapter One. I first saw the BBC series, A Year in Provence, based on his memoir as a British ex-pat settling into the Provence countryside, and quickly became enamored of his infectious love for all things French, his absurd perspective on all things French, and his cinematic descriptions of all things French. As an armchair traveller, I appreciate that I can feel a member of his escapades for as little as $15. This book, The Vintage Caper, is as charming as they come. Beginning in Hollywood–and a suite at the enigmatic hotel Chateau Marmont–the characters travel from LA, through Paris (I swear I will follow his itinerary if I ever get to go to Paris again,) into Bordeaux, and resolve their caper in Marseilles. All in a few days work for a former lawyer/con/insurance investigator. Trust me, this story would make a fun movie. For a mental vacation, on a dreary winter day, pick up a copy of The Vintage Caper and glimpse into the world of the “good life.”