Saturday, June 4, 2011

Books I've Read in June 2011

1) Daniel X: Demons And Druids, by James Patterson...completed 6/1/2011
Daniel X's hunt to eliminate each and every intergalactic criminal on Earth is always relentless, but this time, it's getting personal. Number Three on the List of Alien Outlaws takes the form of raging, soul-possessing fire. And fire transports Daniel back to the most traumatic event of his life-the death of his parents.

In the face of his "kryptonite", Daniel struggles with his extraordinary powers like never before, and more than ever is at stake: his best friends are in grave peril. The only way to save them is to travel back-through a hole in time-to the demon's arrival during the Dark Ages. Rip-roaring action and humor sets the pages afire in this gripping time-travel adventure with an Arthurian cast-and countless other surprises!

2) Crazy Love:Overwhelmed By A Relentless God, by Francis Chan
Chan, senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Calif., offers a radical call for evangelicals to consider and emulate in this debut guide to living crazy for God. Chan's own life compels him to live with urgency, and with good reason. His mother died giving birth to him, his stepmother died when he was nine, and his dad when he was 12. As a pastor, Chan says that conducting weekly funerals for people younger than himself has likewise sobered him to life's unexpectedness and frailty. Chan writes with infectious exuberance, challenging Christians to take the Bible seriously. He describes at length the sorry state of lukewarm Christians who strive for a life characterized by control, safety and an absence of suffering. In stark contrast, the book offers real-life accounts of believers who have given all—time, money, health, even their lives—in obedience to Christ's call.Chan also recounts his own attempts to live crazy by significantly downsizing his home and giving away his resources to the poor.Earnest Christians will find valuable take-home lessons from Chan's excellent book.

3) Queen Of The Night, by J.A. Jance
Murders old and new disturb the peace of Tohono O'odham Nation residents and their Arizona neighbors in this fourth entry in Jance's Walker Family series. Californian Jonathan Southard is so seething with resentment that he kills his wife and children and goes after his remarried mother in Tucson. Reverberations from Southard's crimes touch the former sheriff Brandon Walker, his wife, Diana, and their adopted Native American daughter, Lani, exacerbating old wounds at a time when Walker is worried about Diana's mental health. Perhaps as a way of reacquainting readers with this series—there have been lapses of three to four years between installments—Jance inserts great chunks of backstory, as Diana hallucinates dead men who once terrorized her. Tohono O'odham tales and culture, which permeate the book (reminiscent of Tony Hillerman), and the flower of the title, the beautiful and aromatic cereus, which blooms in the desert just one night each year, add appeal, but the awkward backstory gimmick and the lack of much narrative pulse make this a somewhat tepid entry from a best-selling author.

4) Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich
Fans of Evanovich have a new series to revel in, although a few characters are familiar. Lizzy Tucker has a way with cupcakes, and she’s inherited a great-aunt’s 1740 saltbox house in Salem, Massachusetts, plying her trade at Dazzle’s Bakery in town. Who should turn up in her living room but Diesel (Visions of Sugar Plums, 2002), who is extremely handsome, very strong, and not entirely human (if not entirely angelic). Diesel is locked into a cosmic battle with his cousin Wulf, specter-thin with more than an air of sulfur about him. Lizzy, who may or may not have a secret, special ability, is needed by Wulf and Diesel to recognize objects of magical power. What follows is a romp that careens wildly between impossibly silly and impossibly adorable (and includes the reemergence of Carl the monkey from Evanovich’s Plum Spooky, 2009). Lizzy gamely attempts to make sense of oddly magical occurrences (in possession of one of the magic charms, she can’t stop eating; in possession of another, she wants household goods and babies now), while simultaneously dealing with some fairly specific threats involving Wulf and resisting Diesel’s obvious affection and attraction. Classic Evanovich tropes like the replacement of trashed vehicles and the dumb-but-charming sidekick who refuses to learn from her mistakes are in evidence, as well as a gentle snarkiness about role-playing, angels and demons, and otherworldly almost-boyfriends.

5) The Reversal, by Michael Connelly
Connelly may be our most versatile crime writer. His Harry Bosch series has taken the hard-boiled cop novel to a new level of complexity, both in its portrayal of the hero’s inner life and in Connelly’s ability to intertwine landscape and meaning. His Mickey Haller novels, on the other hand, starring the maverick lawyer who uses his Lincoln Town Car as an office, are testaments to the sublime architecture of plot. With the crime novel now commonly rubbing elbows with literary fiction, it sometimes seems that pure story has become a forgotten stepchild. In his Haller novels, Connelly reminds us how satisfying it can be to follow the path of a well-constructed plot. So it is here, in the third Haller novel, which finds the antiestablishment attorney accepting an unlikely offer: a one-time gig as a prosecutor, retrying a case in which a killer’s 24-year-old conviction has been overturned on the basis of DNA. Taking second chair will be Haller’s ex-wife, the formidable Maggie, with Harry Bosch (identified in The Brass Verdict, 2008, as Haller’s half brother) serving as special investigator. The table is set for a straightforward legal thriller, albeit one starring three superbly multidimensional characters. And, yet, Connelly bobs and weaves around all our expectations. There is suspense, of course, and there are plenty of surprises, both in the courtroom and outside of it, but this is a plot that won’t be pigeonholed. Reading this book is like watching a master craftsman, slowly and carefully, brick by brick, build something that holds together exquisitely, form and function in perfect alignment.

6) Personality Plus, by Florence Littauer
Each of the following statements relates to one of the four basic personality types: Melancholy, Phlegmatic, Sanguine, and Choleric.

Which of these statements do you relate to most?
- Whether at home or work, I am well organized and keep everything in its proper place.
- It's difficult for me to express excitement, even about something that's really important to me.
- When shopping at the mall, it's not unusual for me to forget where I parked the car.
- I get annoyed when my employees don't follow my instructions to the letter.

In Personality Plus, Florence Littauer gives you valuable insight for appreciating your one-of-a-kind, God-given personality. She includes a Personality Profile test that reveals how your unique blend of traits affects your emotions, work performance, and relationships. Through humorous anecdotes and straightforward counsel, Personality Plus guides you to improve upon your strengths and correct your weaknesses.

This engaging book also provides keys to understanding those around you. You'll learn how to accept-and even enjoy-the traits that make each of us so different. Personality Plus is the tool you need to change your life, and the lives of those you care about, for the better.

7) The Postcard Killers, by James Patterson
A young American couple is murdered while vacationing in Europe. The young woman’s father Jack Kanon, a New York City police investigator travels to Europe to hunt down the murderer. Other young couples in, France, Germany, Denmark and Sweden have since then been killed and the evidence points in the same direction. Kanon joins up with Scandinavian journalist Dessie Larsson to find the murderer. Kanon and Larsson must work against time since every murder is preceded by a postcard to a regional daily.


Total year to date: 27



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