Saturday, March 26, 2011

Live Wire

Live Wire, by Harlan Coben.

The ugliest truth, a friend once told Myron, is still better than the prettiest of lies.

Myron thought about that now as he looked down at his father in the hospital bed. He flashed back sixteen years, to the last time he had lied to his father, the lie that caused so much heartbreak and devastation, a lie that started a tragic ripple that, finally, disastrously, would end here.

Coben has written many Myron Bolitar novels, but in this one Myron meets his nephew, Mickey Bolitar, who will be featured in a new novel called Shelter, out in September 2011. Myron has not seen his brother, Brad, in about fifteen years, but one night he sees Kitty, his sister-in-law, out at a club. He tries to follow her but she runs away. The reason he is at the club is that his client, Suzze T, who is also eight months pregnant, is worried about her husband, Lex, and Myron goes to the club to find him. Suzze T posted a picture of her ultrasound on her Facebook page, and someone has written "NOT HIS" as a comment; she wants Myron to figure out who did it, as the comment is false. What Myron doesn't know is that by getting involved in this, he will become entangled with his brother and sister-in-law's lives again, and if there is even a chance of reconciling with his brother, he wants to find him.

Coben writes a good mystery here, fast-paced and interesting. I have been a fan of his work for quite a while now, and I heard him speak at the Ann Arbor Borders back in 2008 or 2009 as well.
He has been writing Myron Bolitar novels since 1995, but the last one previous to this was published a few years ago. Myron is a well-rounded character who has some interesting friends, such as Win (his "muscle," so to speak), and I always enjoy reading about his adventures.

4 stars out of 5.

Disclosure: I received an Advance Readers Copy (ARC) of this novel to review.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jane Goes Batty

Jane Goes Batty, by Michael Thomas Ford.

This was something that nonvampires could perhaps never understand, the inherent horror of knowing that you would continue on even as everyone and everything around you turned to dust. Yes, you could turn anyone you loved. There was nothing preventing you from doing that. But there were impracticalities with that as well. For one, where did you stop? Having turned, say, your favorite sister, were you then obliged to turn her husband, or lover, or children if she had them? If you turned your mother, were you then required to turn your aunts and uncles (all of whom she would likely miss when they passed on) as well as their children?

This is the second "Jane Austen as a vampire" book by Michael Thomas Ford (the first is Jane Bites Back), and although it's not quite as inventive as the first, it still has a lot of humor in it. Jane is deciding whether or not she wants to marry Walter (who is human), but first she has to meet his mother, Miriam, who only wants Walter to marry a Jewish woman. Even worse, it turns out Miriam is a "hunter" - someone who can sniff out vampires, literally - and she knows Jane is one of the undead. Jane is also trying to learn how to harness her vampire powers (ie, she can disappear if she wants), which her friend Byron (formerly Lord Byron, also a vampire) is trying to teach her, but this is hard for her as well.

I am not a huge fan of Jane Austen's actual books, which the exceptions of a few, but Michael Thomas Ford's books are hilarious. Although Jane is a vampire, she doesn't really like having to "feed," and she does it in the politest way she can, must like I imagine the real Jane Austen (if having been turned into a vampire) would have done it. When you throw Lord Byron and also Charlotte Bronte into the mix, the novel becomes even more fantastical, but the characters live in the modern world, and it's interesting to see how they solve the problems they have.

3.5 stars out of 5.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So Much Closer

So Much Closer, by Susane Colasanti.

Here's the thing. I could spend the rest of my life chasing that amazing feeling I had every time I even though about Scott. Physical attraction that strong is addictive. And knowing that kind of magic isn't just a fantasy makes me want to find it again. But what about being with someone who makes me a better person? What about sharing my life with someone who adores me as much as I adore him, whom I can always count on, who helps me find my way when I'm lost?

If I could find both intense physical attraction and strong emotional support with one boy, that would be perfect. But if it has to be one or the other? The choice is clear.

I devoured this book as if it were one of the famous Crumbs cupcakes from New York City with which Colasanti's characters are obsessed. I have read her books before (see my reviews for Take Me There and Something like Fate) and she usually writes about strong female characters; the lead character in this novel, however, Brooke, was even more likable than usual, and I almost wish she was real just so we could be friends.

Brooke lives in New Jersey with her divorced mother, and she has had a crush on Scott for almost the entirety of high school. When she learns that he is moving to New York City after their junior year, however, she is crushed, until inspiration strikes: her father lives in NYC and has a spare bedroom. She could move there for senior year and still be able to see and talk to him every day. She has been wanting to live in the city for a while now anyway, and so she follows her heart and enrolls in a community school there, the same one that Scott attends. She soon realizes, however, that maybe there is more out there for her, and Scott is maybe not the "love of her life" that she thought she was.

I liked the ending of the book a lot, although it's a little predictable, and although Brooke technically moved to NYC for a boy, she was able to find out more about herself and what she wanted to do with her life there than she would have if she had stayed in New Jersey. Colasanti's characters are very "real" in the way she portrays them, and if I lived in New York City, I could see myself being friends with most of the characters in the book.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Disclosure: I was provided an ARC of this novel by the publisher to review. It will be available in stores on May 2, 2011.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Four Ms. Bradwells

The Four Ms. Bradwells, by Meg Waite Clayton.

Have you ever seen the Michigan Law Quad? Think gothic stone cathedral but no altar, or a different kind of altar, something you can't quite see. Its centerpiece is the Reading Room, the scene of all our gum wrapper tossings. It's a cathedral of a room, with a vaulted fifty-foot ceiling and stained glass windows, a place at its finest on the few evenings a year when a renegade brown bat careered back and forth up in that high expanse of wood beam and blue and gold tile, winging gracefully around the wrought-iron chandeliers. In those moments, the unearthly quiet of that room exploded in a chorus of chatter that echoed from the hard stone walls, like monks lifted from the vows of silence by an unexpected creature of God. The good Lord knows there was nothing to do then but open the doors and hope the poor thing found its way out.

I have read "The Wednesday Sisters" by Meg Waite Clayton and loved it, so I was excited to hear she had a new book coming out, and especially excited when I started reading it and realized parts of it were set at Michigan, of which she (and I) is an alum. The story tells of the four "Ms. Bradwells," four best friends who meet at Michigan Law, and how one of them is up for a Supreme Court seat, and because of that her (and their) past is being investigated. An incident from when they were law students has been discovered, and the four of them retreat to a small island that one of them has a house on, to get away from the press and all the hubbub.

I liked that the story was told from the perspective of all four of the women (each one would get their own chapters at some point) and the way it jumped from past to present. Each of the women have their own past and secrets, which intersect with the others, no more so than the one they all share, which might ruin the Supreme Court nomination for their friend. Clayton's descriptions of Ann Arbor and the Law Quad are dead on, and it was nice to read a story partially set in Ann Arbor, or at least one in which Ann Arbor played such a big part in the characters' lives.

3.5 stars out of 5.

Disclosure: I was provided an ARC of this novel to review. The Four Ms. Bradwells will be in bookstores on March 22nd.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Sing You Home

Sing You Home, by Jodi Picoult.

Every life has a soundtrack.

There is a tune that makes me think of the summer I spent rubbing baby oil on my stomach in pursuit of the perfect tan. There's another that reminds me of tagging along with my father on Sunday mornings to pick up the
New York Times. There's the song that reminds me of using fake ID to get into a nightclub; and the one that brings back my cousin Isobel's sweet sixteen, where I played Seven Minutes in Heaven with a boy whose breath smelled like tomato soup.

If you ask me, music is the language of memory.

Another awesome book by Jodi Picoult, this novel is about Zoe, who has recently miscarried and divorced from Max, and how she meets Vanessa, who later turns out to be her partner. Zoe is unable to have children but Vanessa can still conceive, and Zoe wants to use her and Max's frozen embryos for Vanessa; Max, however, a new "born-again Christian," wants his brother and wife to have them, as they are unable to conceive as well. This pits Zoe against Max, and when Max's crazy anti-gay Christian church gets involved in the trial, all hell breaks loose.

I didn't know that Rhode Island doesn't allow gay marriage, which is interesting; Zoe and Vanessa go to Massachusetts in the novel to get married. I also couldn't believe how anti-gay Max's church was - though, as they put it, they are "not anti-gay, but rather, against gays having special rights." (because apparently wanting to get married is a "special right" that only heterosexuals can have)

The book was interesting and well-researched, as are all Picoult's novels, and the ending was definitely more positive/happier than a lot of her previous ones, which was nice to see.

4 1/2 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received an ARC (Advance Readers Copy) of this book from the publisher to review.

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