Friday, December 19, 2008

For readers who like suspense!

The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly
"Do you think he did it?" Mickey Haller's investigator Cisco asks about a client, a Hollywood studio mogul accused of murdering his wife and her lover. "Probably," Mickey answers, "but it doesn't matter." Mickey first appeared in "The Lincoln Lawyer." Now he's back in court, defending clients who are usually guilty. He has no qualms about what he does - it's the American justice system, after all, and he plays an important role. Besides, it's a living, and he stands to earn a quarter of a million representing the movie guy. Connelly's writing is smooth, and it's great to see Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch, the L.A. detective who's left retirement and re-joined the force, as characters in the same book. They are on different sides of a case, and so are at each other at the beginning, each one trying to trip up and psych out the other. They eventually come to a somewhat amicable working arrangement. This is an outstanding legal thriller. There are several surprises at the end. Are you wondering what a "brass verdict" is? You'll find out - at the end of the book.
Michael Connelly's Web Site

Rules of Deception by Christopher Reich
Jonathan Ransom, a doctor working for Doctors without Borders, is drawn into a dangerous situation after his wife dies in a skiing accident in Switzerland. She receives a mysterious communication, which he pursues. He is shocked to discover that she was not who he thought she was. There is a plot involving a terrorist group who has invented a tiny device disguised as a butterfly that can perform sophisticated surveillance work. When the engineer who designed the device is murdered, the Swiss counterterrorism agency investigates. I have to give this one a mixed review. I liked the characters of Ransom and the Swiss counterterrorism expert. Although the pace is good and the various plots move along, the book is too long. There are a lot of characters, and I didn't necessarily want to know the life story of each and every one of them. There are some surprising plot twists I enjoyed. In general, I would recommend this to thriller fans, in spite of its shortcomings.
New York Times Review

Exit Music by Ian Rankin
Is John Rebus really retiring from the Edinburgh police force? What will Rebus fans do if this is the last Rebus mystery? I suspect (and hope) it isn’t. In this book. Rebus is trying to clear out his files, but is distracted by the murder of a Russian poet in what looks like a random robbery. When there’s a 2nd death in a suspicious fire, Rebus suspects the 2 death are related. He also sees his last chance to get the best of his arch-enemy, gangster “Big Ger” Cafferty. The relationship between Rebus and his partner Clarke is well done. I'm very fond of Rebus, and I like this series a lot!
Ian Rankin's Web Site

The Bad News Bible by Anna Blundy
Faith Zanetti, tough-talking foul-mouthed foreign correspondent for a British newspaper, has been posted to Jerusalem. She swears a lot and drinks too much, but her toughness is the shell she uses to cover up her vulnerability, hurt and distress at the horrors she's seen in the places she's been posted. I like Faith - she's funny and has a good heart.
Faith Zanetti's Web Site

Reviewed by Suzanne

Monday, December 15, 2008

Two thrillers, an audiobook and a haunting memoir

Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg
“On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad.” This is the first line of Greenberg’s memoir recording the events of his daughter’s summer of psychosis. He deals with the illness, its effect on his daughter and the effect on his family. A touching read.

Trigger City by Sean Chercover
This mystery takes place in the gritty underbelly of Chicago. P.I. Ray Dudgeon is not afraid to take on the biggest, baddest, most corrupt bad guys and bring them down. I look forward to reading more of Sean Chercover.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (on audiobook)
This is a really fun book to listen to. There are several readers doing the voices and their rendition is perfect! Very enjoyable!

The Treatment by Mo Hayder
In this sequel to Birdman, British police inspector Jack Caffery is on the trail of a totally sick, psycho child killer. This is a great thriller but is not for the faint of heart.

Reviewed by Julie

Friday, December 5, 2008

"It's the economy, stupid!"-Help for your financial woes

So – the stock market is tumbling, businesses are failing, and our (financial) sky is just falling in general. What to do? Time to get back to basics: getting organized, figuring out what you really need, and revisiting Budgeting 101. There seems to be financial advice everywhere you look – where should you start? The following four books are great basic “how to” guides for getting your financial life in order.

Easy Money by Liz Pulliam Weston
One of the internet’s most widely read personal finance writers has put together an easy to follow primer on money management. Covers the basics well, but does an even better job outlining how to simplify your financial life and avoid costly, stupid mistakes. Good for the personal finance beginner or those who want a refresher on certain topics.

Kiplinger’s Money Smart Women by Janet Bodnar
Basic, no nonsense advice for every stage of a woman’s life from the Deputy Editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.Bodnar spells out the differences between men’s and women’s financial needs and money management styles. Covers budgeting, credit, mortgages, retirement saving, investing, caring for children and elderly parents, and more. Contains easy to use worksheets,straightforward examples and lists of other resources.

Money Can Buy Happiness by M.P. Dunleavey
MSN columnist Dunleavey examines the disconnect between how we spend our time and money and which things truly make us happy. Contains simple exercises to help you figure out whether your spending is in line with your values, as well as some very basic financial advice. This is full of good reminders not to get lost in the minutiae of money management before figuring out what you are trying to manage to begin with.

On My Own Two Feet by Manish Thakor & Sharon Kedar
Good primer on money management for young women. Covers saving, budgeting, insurance needs, investing, and the financial ramifications of some major life events. Easy to follow, good charts and examples, and conversational tone. Great for recent grads and those who need a quick brush-up on their personalfinance skills.

Reviewed by Macaire