November 12, 2012 · 11:51 am
The Roundup – Some Quick Looks at Books
Wife 22: A Novel by Melanie Gideon (Ballantine Books) – Gideon’s creative novel is an all-too-much-fun story of a mid-life crisis wife who elects to take part in a marriage survey, and then decides that she might have fallen in love with the researcher assigned to work with her. “Soon I’ll have to make a decision – one that will affect my family, my marriage, my whole life.” Will Wife 22 sacrifice everything for a man she’s never seen or spoken to (and only exchanged e-mail messages with)? This is a story with an ending that the reader will never see coming – unless that reader just happens to remember a certain quite clever hit song from the year 1980.
“…when did the real world become so empty? When everybody abandoned it for the Internet?” Wife 22 is a novel about current times, in which human beings communicate by each and every means except true personal, face-to-face communication.
Jack 1939: A Novel by Francine Mathews (Riverhead Books) – Mathews came up with a great premise in this fictional account of a young John F. Kennedy. President Franklin D. Roosevelt secretly recruits JFK to be his spy in Europe during the period preceding the outbreak of World War II. The engaging, charismatic personality of JFK is here, but the intelligence of the future world leader is missing in action.
Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love and Loss by Rosemarie Terenzo (Gallery Books) – John F. Kennedy, Jr.’s former executive assistant tells us about what it was like to have the “dream job” of working for America’s Prince. It’s a fascinating account told by Terenzo, a young blue-collar Italian-American girl from the Bronx who became John’s scheduler and gatekeeper. The problem is that it feels like half a memoir; the deaths of John and his wife Carolyn Bessette in July of 1999 tragically interrupted the charged personal lives chronicled here. (Terenzo recalls that her final conversation with John was sadly banal.)
Discretion: A Novel by Allison Leotta (Touchstone) – Some readers will no doubt find this to be an exciting political-thriller about a young woman killed while visiting a U.S. Congressman’s hideaway office in the U.S. Capitol Building. But I was never able to suspend my disbelief in the main characters, especially the female protagonist, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Curtis. Curtis’s criminal investigation extends into the most sordid sexual aspects of the District of Columbia. It just seemed unnecessarily overblown.
The Distance Between Us: A Memoir by Reyna Grande (Atria Books) – This is a sad, yet moving and life affirming true story of three impoverished children in Mexico whose parents abandon them in order to escape to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side, the United States). Overcoming many obstacles, the two sisters and their brother eventually find their way to Los Angeles, where they discover that their parents are living apart from each other. Despite such a horrendous upbringing, the siblings survive and Reyna goes on to both forgive her dying father and to graduate from the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC).
Review copies were provided by the publishers.
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October 1, 2011 · 12:13 am
Deed to Death: A Novel by D. B. Henson (Touchstone; $14.00; 288 pages)
“Shame on your greed, shame on your wicked schemes…” Bob Dylan, “Thunder on the Mountain”
D. B. Henson’s Deed to Death is action-packed from start to finish. It opens with the death of Scott Chadwick, a real estate developer, who is on the cusp of his wedding to Toni Matthews, a real estate agent. When authorities rule the death a suicide, Toni takes matters into her own hands, challenging contemporary wisdom, and – before it’s all over – seemingly half the world.
If Toni were a cat, a sequel would not be possible (as all of her nine lives were used up in this tale). Good guys become bad guys, and, in some cases, morph back into good guys at the drop of a hat, forcing the damsel in distress to conjure disguises, secret plans, and take dangerous chances to vindicate her lover’s death. Forget putting her life back together. Survival becomes the name of the game.
Surprises come even more frequently in the final third of the book in the form of gunshots, kidnappings, and great escapes until, finally, the story concludes with the “real” good guys coming out on top.
The final, final ending is a bit contrived and probably unnecessary. It doesn’t seem to make much sense in light of the fact that the reader doesn’t gain much insight into the characters, subplots, and subtleties because that’s not really the point of this particular novel. Nonetheless, for what the novel sets out to do – to tell a suspense thriller the likes of which one might see on TV’s Lifetime or USA, it succeeds.
A review copy was received from the publisher. “…good fun. Exquisite plotting, stunning twists and a heroine you can’t stop rooting for make Deed to Death a fascinating debut.” Allison Leotta, author of Law of Attraction.
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Tagged as a novel, action packed, Allison Leotta, Bob Dylan, book review, contrived conclusion, D. B. Henson, Dave Moyer, debut novel, Deed to Death, fake ending, great escapes, Joseph's Reviews, kidnappings, Kindle Edition, Law of Attraction, Lifetime TV, multiple endings, national bestseller, Nook Book, popular fiction, recommended books, suspense thriller, Thunder on the Mountain, Toni Matthews, Touchstone Books, trade paperback, USA TV