"You have to want the body" is the tagline for Killer Body Weight Loss and is one of three things associated with Julie Larimore, their spokesperson. Except Julie has vanished. This begins an avalanche of events that starts with a media whirlwind. Alternating between despair and nonchalance over Julie's disappearance, Bobby W., owner and founder of Killer Body, decides to hold a contest for Julie's replacement. Three candidates make the final cut and the reader becomes intimately involved with each of them. Who would you choose to replace Larimore? The penniless princess, the aging TV star, or the pudgy hippie? Someone doesn't want any of them.
What makes this book particularly striking is its ability to drop us into the center of our culture's obsession with weight loss and youth. Each of the three contestants struggles in her own way to achieve and maintain the killer body. What would they do to be Julie Larimore? What have they already done to emulate her? Bonnie Hearn Hill gets right at the heart of the matter and we emotionally identify with these women. By the end of the book, they all experience personal growth which is essential for any good novel.
Bonnie Hearn Hill is a master of suspense. Scene after scene takes us to the edge of our seat through the eyes of each character. Many times while I was driving I found myself crossing my fingers as they curled over the steering wheel. There was nothing more I could do to help the women. Of unique interest, which also demonstrates Hill's genius with the written word is our full involvement with Julie Larimore, who never utters a single word or is present in any scene. But we understand her completely. Brilliant.
Mozhan Marno does a nice job of narrating. Each chapter is told from a different point of view and Marno makes it easy enough to know who's talking.
This is a well crafted novel and worth the money. I highly recommend it.
Corina Vasquez is delighted by her promotion from the business department for the California Valley Voice to investigative reporter. And true to Hill's style, from there we are right into the plot. The body of Mayor Tina Kellogg has turned up after three months of searching and Corina is assigned to the story. She knows the deal up front. "If it bleeds, it leads." She knows she'll get the by-line on the front page, above the fold, if she can get it right. In spite of a crisis in confidence, she follows the trail and finds herself in the middle of a much bigger story, with a lot more bodies.
Hill treats us to a murder mystery free of excessive description and filler. She gives us enough information so we know where we are and what we're looking at. But she never pulls us from the plot. It is one of the greatest aspects of her craft. Her dialogue is snappy and realistic. Her characters could be you or your neighbor. You know them. And Hill develops them throughout the novel without slowing down the pace. When reading a Hill novel, put on your seat belt because she doesn't slow it down. That's part of the fun she brings into the read.
Conversations Corina has with her mother are short tension breakers, which allow us glimpses into Corina's background without dreaded info dumps. Nicely done.
Marisol Ramirez does a nice job of narration and her Spanish is impeccable.
I recommend the book and am glad Audible is adding more of Hill's books to their inventory.
I bought this book because of the reviews, but was apprehensive because Clines is known for zombies and I don't like zombie books. I am delighted I took the chance. No zombies here. Just a good, solid book with great characters and a compelling plot. You can't get better than that in any genre. Right away I meet Nate, the hero, who has a lousy job and is in need of new digs. I wasn't sure where it was going from that point, but because he is nice guy and I cared about his plight right from the start, I continued reading. By the end of a couple of chapters, I was hooked. I hated to go into my own job because it interfered with reading the book. It wasn't long before I knew my lovely characters were living in a type of haunted house and was certain their curiosity was going to get them in trouble far beyond their abilities to handle it. It didn't matter that I was warning them from my car as I listened, and yet I was trailing along with them poking into every hole and opening every lock. Clines' characterization and dialogue are realistic and, at times, hysterical. The ensemble, for that is how I started visualizing them because the scenes were so well developed, became my friends for the amount of time it took to listen to the book.
This is a great stand-alone novel and Ray Porter does a nice job of differentiating all the voices. This is worth the buy and I can see why it made the Audie list of the best. Even if you are not a Sci-fi fan, you'll enjoy this book.
While I believe Dr. Alexander's illness was real there are holes in his story that trains could easily speed through. He receives the best of care for his illness, which the general population would never be accorded. His description of his own NDE is nothing more than something a good fiction writer would come up with. He claims not to have read any other NDE books and uses that as part of his proof that the other world he visited is real. I don't know that he didn't read anything else. That's simply a self report with all the holes in it that anyone's self report would have.
But it isn't his experience and description of where he went during his coma that I find true fault with. What makes him less than a credible source is the dogma he flaunts throughout the book. Additionally, his charmed life, incredible education, his own wealth, world travels and even fairy tale resolution to what he claims was a huge emptiness in his life are what makes him less believable. Were I to read such a story from an average person not given all these opportunities and elite life, I would give it more weight.
I'm happy Dr. Alexander found something he can hang on to. I respect his story and even how well it is written and read. It's clear he found something very important to him and it works for him. I'm genuinely delighted about that on his behalf. But for the rest of his, his memoir may be a sign post, marker or pointer, but it is proof of nothing.
Other NDE stories are far more compelling. I would spend your credits on something else.
While I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy, I was disappointed in the conclusion. The plot about going still and finding the cure had potential. But Condie made it more of a subplot. The book was more about Zander's and Ky's love for Cassia. While it appeared that Zander experienced some growth throughout the series, Cassia remained nearly stagnant in that arena and Ky was a lovesick puppy all the way through. His whining was detestable and I couldn't stand listening to him. If I hadn't been driving when I listened to the book, I would have skipped all of his chapters. His contribution to the plot was nonexistent. The book could have carried on perfectly fine without him. I don't know how Cassia, portrayed as very intelligent, could have fallen for such a person. The "match" makes no sense.
Although I realize the book is dystopian in nature, and teens would mature a little faster, I think they sounded a little too old for their ages. The last 25% of the book was moralizing on the part of Cassia. It was as if Condie was reaching herself for a way to wind it up. Perhaps the entire tale would have been better as a two-book series.
I know readers who read the first two novels will feel compelled to buy the last one, but if you can stop yourselves from doing so, you'll save a valuable credit.
I picked up the book even though I wasn't sure about the prayer part and I'm glad I did. In less than two hours Anne Lamott gives us a succinct, funny, and all-inclusive tale about her journey from "fine china" prayers to the three that are more of the paper plate variety and probably more effective. Written in an authentic style, Lamott unapologetically shares her take on approaching god whether she is a mountain, an armchair, or some other external power we can talk to. Her breathe of knowledge about all types of spirituality is evident in the content and readers can be comfortable with her version of truth regardless of where they are in their spiritual journeys. She is honest about who we are as people and as a society yet, in the end, states we are "mostly decent." For me the hope and charm of this book is that I finished it and could say, "Yeah, I do that and can probably do a little bit more of it." While I cannot say Lamott is the best narrator in the world, she is acceptable and there is something special about her reading her own work. If you are looking for a short, touching read that helps you move along toward a little bit of change in a non defensive way, this book is wonderful.
This is the first book I've read by Joshilyn Jackson and I was pleasantly surprised. Trying a new author is like putting my toe into a swimming pool to check the water temperature. After the first chapter of this book I was ready to dive in.
Ginny Slocumb, a 45 year old single parent is the sole supporter of her adult daughter, Liza, and granddaughter, Mosey. Liza, once a strong willed woman, got caught up in the drug scene and disappeared at 16 with her infant daughter Mosey. Two years later Liza appears on Ginny's doorstep determined to leave drugs behind and become a responsible, although unconventional parent. But she needs Ginny's help. "Big" as Liza calls her, is more than happy to provide assistance and structure. But after more than a decade of staying clean, Liza suffers a debilitating stroke. Big is devastated, but looks at the tragedy honestly but is determined to bring her daughter back from the darkness where she's trapped. And she continues to raise a teenage Mosey in the process. Once Jackson sets up the situation, she adds in a box of baby bones buried under a willow tree in her back yard. This casts a shadow of doubt on Mosey's real parentage. And from stage left enters Big's long lost love to help her out.
Jackson moves the plot forward by utilizing three different points of view. We hear from Big, then Mosey, then Liza in a repeating cycle. Each character provides more questions but additional answers as well. More and more is revealed about each character and we see them grow as individuals. But they also grow as a tightly knit family. The metaphors and dialogue are fresh and snappy. We are fully engaged in the mystery and conflict. There's not a significant amount of suspense, but enough tension to cause you stay with the family mystery.
I believe Jackson delivers Mosey's point of view the most realistically and I enjoyed reading her voice the best. When writing from Liza's point of view, Jackson misses the mark slightly and isn't as straightforward. She attempts to show us how a stroke victim might think while trying to access words that the brain has lost through the stroke. As the book goes on, Jackson gets better at it because Liza gets better at it.
Jackson narrates her own book. Without the chapter headings telling us who's point of view we are in, it can be difficult to separate who's speaking. Nevertheless, she provides the Southern accent that adds charm to the entire story.
This book is more along the lines of Kate Morton rather than a true crime novel. If you're looking for gritty murders and espionage, look for something else. But if you want a light read that's freshly told, I recommend the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Saving Max is a thriller based on the bond between a single mother and her teenage son who suffers from Asperger's syndrome. Danielle Parkman discovers something of Max's at home which triggers a referral to a center which specializes in caring for children with special needs. Danielle admits Max into the best facility in the country for further diagnosis and possible treatment. It is during this short period of time that Max is accused of committing the gruesome murder of Jonas, another patient. Danielle attempts to cover it up, but is caught in the act. At this point the novel takes off, although we, along with Danielle, suspect something is very wrong with the whole set up.
Max drifts a little bit into the plot's background and Danielle becomes the primary focus of the novel. We learn she's an excellent lawyer, but as I followed her activities from start to finish, I wondered about her intelligence. As surprising as her actions were to me, I knew what she was doing was foolish. Yet I questioned if I would do the same. That's part of the beauty of the plot. How far would I go if I were faced with the same situation? But would I be able to without being a lawyer? That's one of the difficulties the novel has in relating to Danielle. Without possessing her specific educational background, I might be stuck if faced with the same set of circumstances. Could I find another way? And if my child were not as intelligent and creative as Max is portrayed to be, would I have a chance?
The antagonist is vile, yet believable. I got a sense of what she was doing as the story unfolded and my jaw hit the floor a number of times. The ending took me by surprise and made me squirm.
Danielle herself doesn't seem to experience any personal growth throughout the story. This was disappointing to me. She didn't take any advice. She didn't trust very many people. She was one dimensional in that way. Perhaps that was van Heugten's intention. Would I experience any personal growth, or even think clearly, if my main focus was saving my kid?
The story is written in the present tense, which was a little jolting at first, but I got used to it. Plummer reads the story well and the voices are clear and distinct.
Antoinette van Heugten has a stepson who is autistic. That experience adds realism to the novel. She's also an international lawyer, making the courtroom scenes credible.
I recommend the book.
The last place you'd expect to find a Norwegian detective is an opium den in Hong Kong where he continues to engage in his self destructive behaviors. Yet that's where Kaja Solness finds him when she's assigned to bring him back to Oslo to help with the latest series of murders. After all, he's the only one with experience in tracking serial killers.
The methods the killer comes up with are unusual and torturous. We experience the first one right out of the gate and when I say we experience it, that's exactly what I mean. Nesbo writes that scene, as well as most others, so well it's as if we are living it. I was so scared after those first few pages that I wanted to go on, but my heart was pounding so hard I wasn't sure I could hear the narrator. But I went on. I told my husband, "You think Devil's Star was good, try this one." It took him about thirty seconds to load the story to his listening device. I still beat him to the end.
Nesbo keeps us engaged throughout the story with so many surprises that it's tricky to keep up. But if you listen carefully, you can. It's a fast-paced ride.
There are five other Harry Hole mysteries, but they can be read as stand alone novels. Nesbo gives you just enough information to fill you in without boring those who have read the previous ones. His newest one, The Phantom, is due to be released in October 2, 2012.
I'm a fan of Nesbo and Harry Hole, although in the next book I hope Harry gets his act together a little bit more than he does in this one. There's only so much self destructive behavior any reader can tolerate.
Sachs is a great reader for Nesbo tales. I'd encourage you to buy the book. And just in case the October release ends the series, read it now.
FBI Agent Brad Raines has a difficult case on his hands. Someone in Denver is kidnapping beautiful women only to kill them and glue them to the wall. The killer leaves them completely drained of blooded dressed up in a bride's dress. Notes are left inside a heel of some of the women. If decrypted correctly, Raines can take the next step in finding who is committing this string of murders.
But Raines is stumped. However, one of the clues sends him to the Center for Wellness and Intelligence where he meets a group of individuals who have suffered significant emotional trauma that leaves them unable to cope with the world on its terms. The administrator calls their mental incapacities gifts. Raines and his partner, Nikki, buy in to that concept and allow the group to assist them in solving the case. Part of that includes bringing in the body of the fifth victim for Paradise, one of the patients, to touch because one of her gifts is the ability to see ghosts, although no one is really sure if it's real or part of her illness.
Throughout the novel Raines questions his perception of mental illness as well as certain concepts of spirituality. He also plays around with an old psychological concept that we all have the potential of becoming mentally ill if faced with a certain stressor or trauma. He's a tragic figure, yet does experience personal growth to which we, as readers, are included.
At the end of the book, we are treated to an interview with Ted Dekker who explains how he came up with the idea of having patients from a mental institution as intricate players in the mystery. As he explains, he wanted to explore a different way of thinking about these individuals and what would happen if we, as a society, perceived them as having gifts.
The characters in the book are well developed and we find ourselves drawn into their world. We even like them.
Dekker handles some difficult subject matter in the novel and does so with grace and alacrity. There are spots in the novel which run a little slow and it takes longer than it should to get the story moving. However, the tension and suspense within the novel are well worth getting through those places.
Glover does a nice job of reading and makes it easy to identify each of the many characters within the novel. I recommend the book.
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