Thursday, March 28, 2013

Doodling - Jonathan Gould

This is another of the books that I won as a prize at the end of 2011, but didn't get around to reading 'til last year.

Neville Lansdowne is our hapless Everyman.  The modern world simply moves too fast for him, so he lets go and falls off.  Really.  He literally lets go, and falls off into space. Pretty soon, he finds himself adrift in an asteroid field.  When he spots an asteroid with a flag planted on it, he lands on it -- and that's when his adventure really begins.

This is a very much a novella -- just 68 pages on my Nook -- so it's a quick read, but but it's fun.  It's absurd in the same way that Alice in Wonderland is absurd, and it's a send-up of modern life in the same way as The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  I quite enjoyed Doodling -- it's a cute little book.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Upgrade - Stephen Hise

What's the one thing every guy wants?  To have beautiful women fall all over themselves to be with him, that's what.  And that's the subject of Stephen Hise's Upgrade.

Brent Schoenfeld is a brilliant businessman, extremely smart, and richer than Croesus, but he's a schlump -- an average-looking guy who no woman would look at twice if he wasn't sitting on a pile of cash.  Every day, Schoenfeld looks out the window of his office and drools over the women he sees on the sidewalk.  There's one woman in particular who takes his breath away every time he sees her.  But he knows she would have no reason to look twice at him, and the knowledge eats away at him.

Finally, he pays a doctor to perform an experimental procedure on his sex appeal.  It's hideously expensive, but he pays every penny.  And it works!  Suddenly women are falling all over him.  Instead of spending every night at the office, or watching TV at home, he's getting more action than he knows what to do with.  And he works hard to gain the notice of that hot woman he fell for while watching her from his office window.

From there, as you might expect, things get complicated in a hurry.  And the ending provides a nice twist that I didn't see coming.

There were a couple of spots when the point of view changed from third person limited (focused on Brent) to third person omniscient (what I like to call the "little did he know..." voice).  That took me out of the story a little.  But overall, Upgrade was great fun to read.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Blackbirch Woods - Meredith Anne DeVoe

Another genre I typically don't read is contemporary Christian (for somewhat obvious reasons).  But I picked up this one at the behest of the author, and I did find myself enjoying the story.

The main characters are Violet Aubrey, a young woman who lives in the present day, and Willis Wood, a man whose life began more than two hundred years before.  There's something spooky in the Blackbirch Woods, and it managed to trap Willis two centuries ago.  He can never die, but must only manifest during the hours of darkness.

Violet's family likes to camp in the Blackbirch Woods. The year that Violet is seven, she wanders away from her family's campsite in the dark; Willis finds her and takes her back.  They meet again several times over the course of her teenaged years, and he falls hard for her.  Then she goes off to college.  But instead of getting on with her life and forgetting Willis, she finds herself drawn back to the woods.  She knows now that she loves him.  The question is whether her love will be strong enough to bring him out of the darkness, once and for all.

The Christian theme wasn't too heavy-handed.  In my Smashwords review, I wrote, "The author has done a fine job at making the characters believable, and the creepy things are suitably creepy."  If you don't mind books with some God talk in them, give Blackbirch Woods a try.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Lust for Danger - K.S. Brooks

I'm not a huge fan of either books or movies where people make a habit of waving guns in the air and stuff blows up real good.  But I find myself liking Brooks' "Agent Night" books, and if you do like this sort of thing, you'll probably like them, too.

Lust for Danger is the first in what is currently a three-book series (and why didn't I know there was a third book 'til just now?  Note to self: Must speak to the author...).  The main character in each is Kathrin Night, a badass special agent who works for the Bureau of International Trauma Analysts, a secret United Nations agency.  She's been trained by both the FBI and U.S. Navy Intelligence, and she has the requisite nerves of steel, as well as the brains and physical training, to get herself out of just about any situation.  But make no mistake, Agent Night is all woman.  She appreciates the feel of silk and the taste of a good wine, and she's not above using her body to get what she wants.

As the book opens, Agent Night steps out of her New York apartment in her nightgown to buy milk for her breakfast, and casually foils an armed robbery at the convenience store in the process.  Not long afterward, B.I.T.A. sends her to Maine to check out an explosion that leveled a factory.  Her boss believes some terrorist group is responsible, but so far, none has come forward.  It's up to Kathrin to figure out what happened.  But soon enough, she begins to suspect that terrorists aren't involved at all, and that in fact the attack was politically motivated.  B.I.T.A. is immediately ordered off the case, so Kathrin -- suspecting a cover-up -- goes off the clock to find out what really happened.  Chasing her quarry across several continents, she discovers a far-reaching plot for mass murder, and nearly becomes a victim herself.

The book is fast-paced, of course, and both "lust" and "danger" are well-represented in its pages.  Thriller fans should love Lust for Danger.