Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

The Missing Ink, by Karen E. Olson

The Missing Ink (Tattoo Shop Series #1)Finished 12-16-11, rating 4.75/5, mystery, 299 pages, pub. 2009

Book 1, Tatoo Shop series

“Can I help you, Officer?” I politely asked his profile.  I knew how to talk to cops: Keep it cordial, no sudden moves.

He was studying the frosted letters on the window, his hands on his hips.  He didn’t look ready to grab the gun or the nightstick that flanked his stocky frame.  He turned his head slowly, his mouth set in a grim line, eyes narrowed as they settled on my face.

It unsettled me.  Usually people stared at the ink on my left arm-a detailed replica on Monet’s water lily garden, complete with a weeping willow and footbridge-or the dragon that creeps up over my right breast under my tank top.

Chapter 1

Brett Kavanaugh, owner of The Painted Lady tattoo shop in Las Vegas, is the last person to have seen a prominent runaway bride.  Brett is caught up in the mystery and finds herself doing some investigative work of her own, leading her to a dead body and big trouble.  Her brother and roommate, Tim, is a detective and tries to save her from herself with limited success.  She also teams up with a rival tattooist and a sexy Brit who obviously knows way more than he should about the missing woman and the dead man.

Brett is awesome.  She owns her own tatoo shop, but she also has a fine art degree in painting, so she’s got credentials.  She moved out to Vegas when she needed to leave the east coast and remains unimpressed with all the trappings of Vegas.  She sees it as an illusion and that makes her a smart cookie.  She is independent (which leads to some dumb decisions) but relies on the help of her friend and co-worker, Joel.  She obviously is too brave for her own good or she wouldn’t be involved in the murderous mess at all.  What’s not to love?

I have no interest in getting a tatoo and I am no fan of Las Vegas (Was there once, stayed at the Four Seasons and the Luxor.  Was sick the entire week so maybe Vegas didn’t get a fair shake) so it was a bit of a surprise to me that I loved this book so much.  I’d seen all the positive reviews, but was turned off by the cover for some reason.  This will end up being one of my favorite books this year and I can’t wait to read the next one in the series.  Who knows, maybe Brett will eventually convince me that tats are cool :) (I do think that a high proportion of people with tattoos are cool, but remain less enamored with the tattoos themselves)

This book had the perfect voice and a strong mystery to make it a fast and fun read.

I checked this book out of the library.

December 20, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 15 Comments

Killer Summer, by Ridley Pearson

Killer Summer (Walt Fleming Series #3)Finished audio 12-1-11, rating 4.5/5, thriller, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio, 9 hours 12 minutes.  Read by Phil Gigante

Book 3 in the Walt Fleming series

County sheriff Walt Fleming is a man on the verge of divorce, a presence in the life of his nephew, and the lawman in charge of securing the elite wine sale in Sun Valley.  Millions of dollars will be paid for three bottles of wine once owned by John Adams.  When Walt discovers a murdered man he detects his way to a complicated plan to steal the wine.

There were so many twists, turns and red herrings that this was a home run for me.  There were a lot of interesting subplots that kept me interested on many levels.  Not only was Walt a good investigator, but his personal relationships made for great storylines and I loved the way all aspects of his life came together for this mystery.

I picked this up because it was set in Idaho and I didn’t realize that this was part of a series until I was done.  I loved this as a standalone, but if you are interested the first of the series is Killer Weekend.

I checked this audio out of the library.

December 8, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 7 Comments

Buried Prey, by John Sandford

Buried Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #21)Finished 9-29-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 390 pages, pub. 2011

#21 in the Prey series

Series main character  Lucas Davenport has been in Minnesota law enforcement for all 21 novels.  He started as a detective and now works as an investigator for Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  He’s married to a surgeon and has three children with another on the way.

What makes him special? Lucas is a tough guy who doesn’t mind bending the rules to catch the bad guy.  He has the smarts to track down leads and the muscle and charm with the ladies to make them talk.  He’s also filthy rich and a clotheshorse.

This is what Sandford said about him in 2004, “I’ve always thought of him as a kind of sociopath who is slightly warped. Of course, Davenport changed a lot throughout the stories, he became calmer… “

Supporting Cast His police friends Del, Jenkins, Shrake, Marcy and Sandy are all on the case.  A pregnant Weather and adopted daughter Letty try to keep him from doing something stupid.  Should I tell you that one of them won’t be in the next book?  Oops.  Forget I said anything.

The story Two young sisters disappeared in the 1980’s and were discovered buried under a house in 2011.  The sisters were the first case Lucas worked on and a good portion of the book is a flashback to that case with a young Lucas getting his first big break.  Now that the bodies have been discovered he is ready to find the murderer who got away.

How does it stack up with the rest of the series?  I fell in love with Lucas in the first half of this series, but felt that the last few have been uninspired.  This one is as good as some of the first and it feels like the series is back on track.

Can it be read as a stand-alone?  I always think it’s better to read a series from the beginning, but because of the flashback section I think this is one of the rare occurences where it would be it okay to read alone.

Who should read it? Fans of police procedurals and fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.

This was from my personal library.  I picked it up (and way too many other books from my wish list) from Border’s for practically nothing.

September 29, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 14 Comments

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

Dead until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #1) (True Blood)Finished 9-26-11, rating 4.5/5, Vampire mystery, 292 pages, pub. 2001

You can tell I don’t get out much.  And it’s not because I’m not pretty.  I am.  I’m blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial, and I have a waspy waistline.  I look good in the warm weather waitress outfit Sam picked for us: black shorts, white socks, black Nikes.

But I have a disability.  That’s how I try to think of it.

The bar patrons just say I’m crazy.

Either way, the result is that I almost never have a date.  So little treats count a lot with me.

And he sat at one of my tables-the vampire.

Chapter 1

Sookie is a waitress in Louisiana.  Bill is a vampire trying to assimilate into the human world.  While vampires are now legal beings they are not really accepted so when dead waitresses start showing up, Bill is in trouble.

I really don’t read vampire stories.  I did read the first Twilight and was entertained, but not so overwhelmed that I wanted to read more.  So, I skimmed all the reviews on this one and thought that I would give it a try someday, but it wasn’t until I picked this first one up at Border’s and then realized it would help me on two challenges that I started to read.  The verdict is still out on vampires in general, but I totally loved this book.

What’s there to say about Sookie that has’t already been said?  Sookie knows who she is and isn’t afraid to show the world. She hadn’t really considered the upside of her ‘disability’ and it was fun to see her start to see herself in a new light.  I loved that she was brave and impulsive and looking for some excitement.

The plot had more serious twists than I was expecting and that’s a good thing.  The mystery was solid, but it was much more fun finding out more about vampire protocol.  A vampire book I loved.  Who knew?

This was so much fun to read that I know I will be continuing on with Sookie, Bill & Co.  It was light and fun and told with great humor and sass.

This was from my personal library.  I picked it up (and way too many other books from my wish list) from Border’s for practically nothing.

September 28, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 17 Comments

The Secret Adversary, by Agatha Christie

The Secret Adversary (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading)Finished 7-27-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 158 pages, pub. 1922

Tuppence and Tommy are two old friends who run into each other in London after WWI is over and jobs are scarce.  Both are out of work and need money.  They decide to advertise in the paper,

“Two young adventurers for hire.  Willing to do anything, go anywhere. No unreasonable offer refused-if pay is good.” 

Before they place the ad a man approaches Tuppence with an offer of easy money.  What she walks into is a world of men bent on ruining England and she and Tommy are thrust into work as spies for the government.  The two are searching for a woman named Jane Finn and the papers she saved when she survived the sinking of the Lusitania.  There are many who befriend them, but they never know quite who to trust.  I didn’t either.

I loved Tuppence.  She was quick and sharp and smart.  Tommy grew on me too.  He was described as slow, but able to see facts for what they were and not to be swayed by lies.  Together they were a perfect team.  I was completely entertained by this duo as they survived by their wits.  I know she wrote more stories about the two of them and I can’t wait to read more of their later adventures.

I enjoyed this one more than her first book.  It felt different, less of a murder mystery, more of a spy novel.

This was from my personal library.

This is my second book for this challenge and Christie’s second novel.

Fun Fact-One of the reasons poison figures so prominently as a means of murder in her
books is because Christie herself worked with pharmaceuticals during WWI.

July 27, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 9 Comments

Husband and Wife, by Leah Stewart

Husband and WifeFinished 7-21-11, rating 4.75/5, fiction, 344 pages, pub. 2011

When Nathan and I married, I was a poet.  When we met, I was a poet.  When Nathan confessed, I was a mother, a business manager, a wife.  I’m not saying I held this against him.  I’m saying he held it against me.

Chapter 1

Nathan is a stay at home dad and author.  Sarah works a 9-5 job to provide financial stability for their family.  On the day the galleys arrive for his new book, Infidelity, Nathan confesses that he had cheated at a writer’s conference.  Sarah tries to stay sane, but after only a few days she kicks Nathan out and finds herself a mostly single mother.

This book spoke to me.  As a new mom, Sarah’s struggle to find her identity was one I could understand.  I think any mom and wife, especially ones with young children now, will find themselves nodding in agreement with many of Sarah’s thoughts.  I felt completely understood.

That being said, Sarah is no saint and some of the things she does are destructive and dangerous.  But Stewart does such a good job of making me understand Sarah that I never totally wrote her off.  I felt her pain.  I didn’t like Nathan either, he seemed like a loser with a capital L, until I started to understand their relationship and marriage- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I love stories about marriage and all the complications that inherently make themselves known.  When one person cheats, can trust be restored?  Can she stay in the marriage?  When a woman becomes a mother, is she still the same woman she was before?  Should she be?  Is there a way to be a mother and retain your identity and your dreams?  Again, the identity issues are ones I’m struggling with right now so I loved this book.  As an older mom this passage made me nod my head,

“My mother was twenty-two when she had me.”

“My mother was twenty-five.”

“Can you imagine?  That was when we were in grad school.  Can you imagine having had kids at that age?  I didn’t even know who I was.”

She settled back into the couch cushions.  “Don’t you think knowing who you are makes it harder?  I mean, you know who you are, and then it becomes really hard to be who you are.” 

Chapter 16

For some reason this book inspired me.  It made me take a step back to look at me, not just the mom or the wife.  And then I had to go back to being mom, but those minutes mattered!  I highly recommend it.  I look forward to reading Leah’s other two books.

I bought this book on Tuesday night, read my post here.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 16 Comments

A Room with a View, by EM Forster

A Room with a View and Howards EndFinished 6-7-11, rating 4.5/5, classic, 246 pages, pub. 1908

This she might not attempt.  It was unladylike. Why?  Why were most big things unladylike?  Charlotte had once explained to her why.  It was not that ladies were inferior to men; it was that they were different.  Their mission was to inspire others to achievement rather than to achieve themselves.  Indirectly, by means of tact and a spotless name, a lady could accomplish much.  But if she rushed into the fray herself she would be first censured, then despised, and finally ignored.

Chapter 4

Lucy is a young Englishwoman who is blessed with a loving mother and brother, a comfortable home and the ability to travel.  When she and her cousin, Charlotte, visit Florence, Italy, they enjoy their time spent with others of their ilk.  When Mr. Emerson and his son, George, are thrown in to the mix, people respond to their unconventional and brutish ways by cutting them off or trying to ignore them.  Lucy, in her youth, was confused and intrigued by the two who paid no attention to social norms.  She is looking for something big, something more and the Emerson’s offer her a way of viewing the world that is fresh and new.

I loved this short gem of a romance.  It addresses a young woman’s coming of age during the early 1900’s, a time that demanded little from her.  Lucy knew she wanted more, but she didn’t know what more meant.  Because she was scared of her feelings for a man who did not follow society’s rules she fled home to the security of a place that told her what her place was in the world.

I loved Lucy’s transformation and the humor Forster used to make this book fun and still important.  I loved the whole thing and was especially charmed by the end.  I’m looking forward to finding this on film.

This book is from my personal library and was chosen for me by Candice and Jenny.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Short, sweet, and enjoyable.”  Jenny

“A personal favorite.”  Candice

This book counts toward Molly’s

A Classic Bribe

at Quirky Girls Read.  Why not join in the fun?

June 10, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 19 Comments

HeartSick, by Chelsea Cain

Heartsick (Gretchen Lowell Series #1) by Chelsea Cain: Book CoverFinished 5-10-11, rating 4.25/5, thriller, 324 pages, pub. 2007

He picked up the phone. “Yeah,” he said.  He was sitting in his living room in the dark.  He hadn’t planned it that way.  He had just sat down a few hours before and the sun had set and he hadn’t bothered to turn on the light.  Plus, the dingy apartment, with its sparse furnishings and stained carpet, looked slightly less cloaked in blackness.

Henry’s gruff voice filled the phone line.  “He took another girl,” he said. And there you had it.

The digital clock that sat on the empty bookcase blinked insistently in the dim room.  It was an hour and thirty-five minutes off, but Archie had never bothered to reset it.  He just did the math to calculate the time. “So they want to reconvene the task force,” Archie said.

Chapter 2

Archie is a damaged police detective out on medical leave until a serial killer reels him back in.  Susan is a damaged newspaper reporter asked to cover Archie and his new task force as they investigate a series of murdered high school girls.  Gretchen is a damaged serial killer (is there any other kind?) who still has her hooks in Archie, even from prison.

So, this is your standard serial killer thriller until you add all of the baggage these three are carrying.  I love flaws and Archie has many.  He gets aroused by a woman who held him captive and tried to kill him, takes way too many pills, and has abandoned a family who loves him.  And the worst part?  He knows his fate and doesn’t want to be saved.

Susan was my favorite character.  The reporter with the pink hair who has father figure issues and while Archie uses pills to deal with his pain, she uses sex to deal with hers.  But she also had a vibrant  humanity.  She still cared about not exploiting victims and being a real reporter who did stories that matter.

Gretchen is one crazy serial killer.  She and Archie’s relationship really creeped me out.  That she could creep me out from prison is saying something.

It’s the characters that made the story, even though the plot was good too.  My only complaint is that the end felt a little too much like a standard thriller wrap up when the rest of the story had been unique.  But that is not stopping me from adding the next book in this series to my reading list.  I can’t wait to revisit these characters.

I almost forgot to mention how much Portland, Oregon comes alive.  I’ve always wanted to visit and now I feel as though I have!

Highly recommended for thriller fans.

This book is from my personal library.

May 11, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 20 Comments

Agatha Christie #1 The Mysterious Affair at Styles

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (Hercule Poirot Series) by Agatha Christie: Book CoverFinished 4-22-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 224 pages, pub. 1920

Emily Inglethorp- wealthy mistress of Styles.  Murdered in front of her family.

Mr. Inglethorp- Gold digger and hated and suspected by all.

John Cavendish- Oldest member of the family and in need of money.

Mary Cavendish- Wife of John who is carrying on with another man.

Lawrence Cavendish- Younger brother without charm or influence.

Cynthia- Lives at the house at the invitation of the family.

Miss Howard- Companion to Mrs. Inglethorp.

Dr. Bauerstein- A little too familiar with certain memebers of the family.

Captain Hastings has been sent home to recover from sickness on the field of WWI, but has nowhere to go when he runs into his old friend, John Cavendish who invites him to stay at the family estate of Styles in Essex.  While there Hastings sees his old friend and ex-Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, who is also familiar with the family.  When Emily is murdered in locked room (and yes, also in front of her family), Hastings and Poirot are on the case and find no shortage of suspects.

So, I’ve never read an Agatha Christie novel (but I did listen to one on a car trip last year).  Yes, I know, why then sign up for a challenge to read ALL of her over 80 novels?  I have no good reason except that I kept reading Margot’s posts for the challenge, I like mysteries and I wanted to do it.  The challenge is to read them in order, so I started with this, her first, and confess that it was better than I thought it would be.  I was really impressed by how easy  and entertaining this book was.  Captain Hastings and Hercule Poirot are both characters I look forward to seeing again in later books and am going to see if I can track down the movie for this one.  I loved the mystery and did not figure it out until I was told by Hercule.  Hopefully, I’ll get more adept at recognizing the clues as I continue.

I am happy I signed up for this challenge and recommend this book to all mystery lovers.  It does not feel as though it was written in 1920 and I think you’ll be impressed at Christie’s debut novel.

Fun Agatha Christie fact – Agatha Christie is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Bestselling Author. Her books have sold over 2 billion copies in 44 languages.

I checked this book out of the library.

April 23, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 14 Comments

Live Wire, by Harlan Coben

Live Wire (Myron Bolitar Series #10) by Harlan Coben: Book CoverFinished 4-17-11, rating 4.5/5, fiction, 371 pages, pub. 2011

Book 10 of the Myron Bolitar series.

“I’m not going to rehash my mistakes right now.  That’s not the point anyway.  We were good parents, I guess.  Most are.  Most are trying their best and if they make mistakes, it’s from trying too hard.  But the truth is, we parents are at the most, say, auto mechanics.  We can tune up the car and make sure it has the proper fluids.  We can keep it running, check the oil, make sure it is road ready.  But the car is still the car.  When the car comes in, it’s already a Jaguar or Toyota or Prius.  You can’t turn a Toyota into a Jaguar.”

(Myron’s dad)  Chapter 8

Myron started his business, MB Reps, working as a sports agent after a knee injury ended his NBA career before it began.  He is an agent with a heart and his business has expanded to represent all types of jocks and artists.  When one of his first clients comes to him for help, he doesn’t hesitate to do what he can.  And when he does what he can he gets caught up in a mess that has serious repercussions for everyone he loves.

Myron’s best friend, Win, is there to back him up with his influence and muscle even when he knows Myron is making a mistake.  His Dad tells him to step away, but Myron can’t, not when his estranged brother’s wife shows up hooked on heroin and he sees his 15-year-old nephew for the first time.  Now all Myron needs to do is figure out why his brother’s wife is harassing his client.  There are rock stars, mob bosses, and drug dealing teachers all in the way of Myron and his quest to save his client and maybe even his brother.

Myron is a smart ass, but one with a certain humanity and goodness and I am always rooting for him and his even bigger smart ass friend, Win, to save the day.  And they usually do, but this time they do not come away unscathed.  I love this series but by the end of this one I was sad.  Not because I didn’t want it to end (although there was that), but because the series felt like it was winding itself down and now I wonder if we’ll see Myron and gang in the same way again.  I don’t think I’m spoiling anything here by saying that Myron’s nephew, and by association Myron, will be the focus of Coben young adult book due out in the fall.   I hope Myron will be back front and center someday.  That being said, if you have not read any of the other Myron books, this is not the place to start and I think you will be missing very important background info.

Coben is the king of pop culture references.   If you haven’t read him yet, you are missing out on a witty and current author.

This book is from my personal library.

April 20, 2011 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | | 22 Comments

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