Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Ambition by Lee Strobel

The Ambition. Lee Strobel. Zondervan Publishing. May 2011. 320 pp. ISBN #: 9780310292678.

A bookie meets his end at the hands of the no-nonsense Mafia mobster, Nick Moretti. That event will foster a series of conversations and illegal actions that focus on how not to get caught and have one's future ruined. A typical scenario? Well, this one's got a bit of a different twist to it.

An Illinois Senator has been criminally convicted and is forced to resign. It's up to the Governor to appoint an interim Senator. His choices are a Chicago Judge, Reese McKelvie, or an evangelistic preacher, Eric Snow. The former engages in some manipulation in order to free the murderer, Nick Moretti; and the plot unwinds with him telling the Bugatti family. As the violent consequences follow, it seems there's no way to pull back the forces aiming to eliminate all threats to the Judge's senatorial selection!

At the same time, Eric Snow and his legal adviser are doing everything possible to secure the position as well. Meanwhile, miracles are happening in his former church, and he only wants to distance himself from acknowledging the special answers to faith-filled prayer. His once faith-filled life becomes divided until inspired words break through the hard veneer he's been developing.

Ambition has different meaning to those reaping its different consequences. The Ambition is a novel about examining choices and looking around at the lives one affects on all levels of life and death! Lee Strobel has crafted a realistic, conscious-raising story that every reader will long remember and ponder! Outstanding!

Up A Dry Creek by Avery Flynn

Up A Dry Creek. Avery Flynn. Evernight Publishing. June 2011. 168 pp. PB and E-Book. ISBN #: 9781926950518.

Claire Layton owns Harvest Bistro in Dry Creek, Nebraska. Her restaurant is highly popular because of evenings like the Full Moon Special which includes a 7-course dinner. But her tension-filled evening is about to ramp up quite a bit on her nerves. For at the end of the evening, as she is carrying the putrid garbage out to the dumpster bin, she sees a single arm sticking up from the garbage. Yes, she discovers a dead young woman who has been viciously murdered.

Within minutes, she's got the local police, really her brother Hank, and a hunk of a guy named Jake Warrick, who says he's an investigator there to make the police do their job correctly. He's a sight to behold to Claire; and while she's put off by his sassy attitude, that same demeanor and his gorgeous body are hitting her like an electric current!

But her hope of it all coming to a peaceful conclusion comes to an end with a threatening phone call and a demand for her silence. Jake and Claire hit it off in one way but there's quite a bit of verbal sparring happening that's right on the line between sexual teasing and mocking. Who is the murderer and can Jake and Claire get past their mistrust to solve the crime committed against this rich young woman? Why is the murdered woman's father such an angry, demanding man and what is the real reason he is so adamant that Jake find certain items connected to the dead gal?

Secrets thread through the past of Claire, Jake, the murdered girl, and her family. The steamy sex happening fairly quickly and the gradually revealed motives behind this crime rivet the reader to the pages, reading and flipping at an outrageous rate, just as the outrageous relationship titillates and wavers in a consistent cycle of unremitting passion.

Up A Dry Creek is hot romantic fiction with a mystery to solve that keeps one solidly engaged to the very last page. Nicely done, Avery Flynn!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Threading the Needle by Marie Bostwick

Threading the Needle. Marie Bostwick. Kensington Publishing Corporation. June 2011. 352 pages. ISBN #: 9780758232175

Madelyn Beecher has been giving the good life for many years, spending willy-nilly and never wondering where a penny is coming from. Hers is a marriage of convenience, as she is the trophy wife, beautiful and able to make her way through upper society without a blip. She lacked knowledge and so was thought beautiful but dumb at one time but quickly remedied that by slowly reading through the dozen books her husband, Sterling Baron, insisted she read. All in all, Madelyn has overcome the horrible rejection she suffered as a young girl who was rejected by her best friend and the chaos she created through some unwise choices as a young woman before her wedding. But Madelyn's world has now, in the present, hit rock bottom, her husband indicted on fraud charges from the Ponzi scheme rip-offs he conducted that robbed hundreds of whatever money they had. In plain English, she's a pariah again but this time because of being the wife of a criminal hated by the many he duped!

Having hocked her jewelry and everything else, Madelyn discovers an inheritance that she must redo, the home where she grew up and now hers with her grandmother's death. She is pretty useless in the beginning but quickly develops a set of skills she never realized she had. Her support in these endeavors is the loveliest part of this story.

In town are Tessa and Lee Woodruff, Tessa being the gal who years ago crushed Madelyn with unexpected shunning. But now she's got her own problems. Tessa and Lee's world is crumbling financially as his business isn't enough to get by and Tessa's small store where she sells home-made herbals is failing. Stressed out, they begin arguing which grows worse when Madelyn returns to town and decides to set up a small bed and breakfast inn.

To tell more would be a spoiler, but this reviewer assures every potential reader that this novel is one of the most touching stories read in a long time. It's so real it's almost tangible, showing the evolution from spiteful, small-mindedness to the compassionate, giving nature of fierce and caring characters. There are great segments on quilting that are the heart of this tale, piecing together appropriate old segments that yield a tapestry of love sure to warm the hardest of hearts!

Absolutely delightful, Ms. Bostwick!

Lie for Me by Karen Young

Lie for Me. Karen Young. Simon Schuster Adult Publishing Group. August 2011. 368 pages. ISBN #: 9781416587644.

Tucker Kane, a successful builder, is about to get the shock of his wife. Approaching his house in order to collect some rare wood before the house is demolished, Tucker notices his dog is very excited in a nervous, upset way. Entering the home, he has his first shock, that a woman is lying on the floor murdered, and his second, that it’s his ex-wife, Margot. Immediately after calling the police, he calls his fiancĂ©, Lauren, and is interrogated by the local police. We then discover the real killer waiting near the home and allowing us into his or her thoughts, that evidence is going to be planted to make sure that Tucker takes all the blame!

As the plot continues, we learn that Tucker has some secrets he’s kept from Lauren that indicate he just might have violent tendencies. It seems a family member might have been hurt by Tucker, Margot may have lost a fetus because of him, and the murder weapon finally found links him to the killing. Margot’s mother is sure he is the murderer but her father believes Tucker is innocent. Lauren won’t lie to protect Tucker and the fact she is asked to provides a huge leap into doubt about his innocence, as well as other hints that are slowly revealed. Lauren’s job may be in jeopardy because of her association with Tucker and Tucker can’t prove the threatening phone call he’s received!

Eventually, Tucker runs away for quite some time, and Lauren as well as the entire town now believes his fugitive status proves his guilt. But the plot is far from over and there are no spoilers here. Lauren begins to take a more active role, despite her doubts, in finding information that would lead to discovering who really murdered Margot, and the rest of this novel moves like lightning until the reader finally learns the astonishing identity of the killer and the motives behind this death as well as another shooting before it’s all over!

Fast-paced, well-plotted, and tense, Lie For Me is a great story sure to engage every reader who loves a riveting crime thriller/mystery! Superb!