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Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich

Plum Lovin’ by Janet Evanovich is another between-the-numbers novel where Stephanie Plum and Diesel set out on another adventure to corral another unmentionable, Bernie Beaner, is on the loose causing havoc. Diesel shows up at Stephanie’s and informs her she now must become a relationship expert until Annie Hart is safe, but Stephanie only has a few days to complete the work.

With another ridiculous cast of characters, Janet Evanovich will have readers giggling and rolling on the floor with laughter. Stephanie must find a Valentine’s date for a motor vehicle worker with a number of undisciplined kids and a house full of animals, a vet with a knack for attracting gold diggers, a virgin, and help her sister and boyfriend get married.

In the process, hives pop up all over the characters’ skin, Delvina reappears looking for a “hot” necklace that was stolen from him, and Diesel and Stephanie make plans to get married. While Morelli is not in here much, Ranger does make an appearance, though Stephanie spends her Valentine’s Day with the family and Diesel. Lula is always hilarious with her wise cracks and alternative perspective. Although this is not literature at its finest, it will surely entertain readers and provide a light read full of comedy.

***Don’t forget my Arlene Ang, Secret Love Poems, giveaway***

Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich

Audio books make the commute fly by on most occasions and Janet Evanovich‘s Plum Lucky, a Between-the-Numbers novel, is no exception. My husband and I seem to be hooked on these Between-the Numbers novels because they are humorous, ridiculous in some instances, and fast-paced.

Stephanie Plum and Diesel are back on the hunt, but not for Sandy Claws this time–Snuggy O’Connor who thinks he’s a leprechaun. This little person not only thinks he’s a leprechaun, but that he can disappear from sight on a whim to steal from mobsters and others. Oh, he also thinks he can talk to animals, like horses.

This reader would have snorted coffee through her nose if she were drinking any when Snuggy talks to a doberman at a mobster’s home and the dog convinces him to merely take his clothes off to disappear in front of everyone’s eyes. Can you say the emperor’s new clothes?

Grandma Mazur returns and finds a bag of money on the sidewalk, which happens to be stolen from a mobster by Snuggy. Grandma doesn’t know, heads off to Atlantic City, and is in gambler’s paradise before disaster strikes and she’s kidnapped by a mobster, Delvina. Snuggy wants to pay off Delvina to get his horse, Doug, back from the mobster and Stephanie and Diesel must team up with Snuggy to recoup the gambled money and pay off Delvina to get Grandma back.

From the snarky comments between Stephanie, Snuggy, Diesel, Grandma Mazur, Lula, and Connie to the details of Atlantic City and Daffy’s casino, Evanovich paints a vivid scene with an eclectic cast of characters. Ranger even makes an appearance in this one, along with Morelli.

This made the commute fly by, and I am looking forward to the next Between-the Numbers novel on audio.

Also Reviewed By:
The Movieholic & Bibliophile

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich’s Visions of Sugar Plums is a fun holiday listen. The hubby and I listened to this book on our morning commutes and it was a short one at only 3 discs. Visions of Sugar Plums is a “Between the numbers novel.”

I haven’t read any of the number novels yet, but I do have them–thanks to my mom. We started with this audio book and found it amusing. It’s not as funny as A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, but it is mildly funny.

The main character, Stephanie Plum, is a bounty hunter working through the holidays to catch a defendant, Sandy Claws, who jumped bond. She hasn’t had time to get a tree or presents for her New Jersey-based family. One morning she wakes up to a strange, yet hunky man, in her kitchen. He introduces himself as Diesel, but she wonders if he’s a killer, burglar, or alien. Turns out he’s in town bothering her for a whole other reason–the spirit of Christmas. Will she get the presents she needs for her family, will Diesel help her find the spirit of Christmas, and will she apprehend Mr. Claws?

My favorite parts of this novel involve the “elves” and Plum’s Grandma Mazur. They make this novel fun and festive. One of my favorite scenes is when Mazur is searching for her dentures, which are missing, before her “stud muffin” arrives for their date. They eventually find the dentures in a stuffed dinosaur and they are painted with pretty rainbows thanks to a little girl named Mary Alice, Plum niece. I couldn’t stop laughing as I imagined my grandmother’s dentures in her mouth with rainbows and other brightly colored images on them. Talk about a winning smile.

My husband loves the part where Plum and Diesel enter the toy factory looking for Sandy Claws and find a bunch of “midgets” dressed as elves. Let’s just say you shouldn’t call elves midgets. . .they get feisty and start a riot. Imagine elves screaming, “Get her!” And jumping up onto a female bounty hunter to regain their respect.

For a light holiday read, this book will fit the bill. I wouldn’t have paid full price for the audio book, but it’s worth a check out at the library.

***Don’t forget about the Gods Behaving Badly Contest, which runs through January 5 at Midnight EST.***

Fixing Hell by Col. (Ret.) Larry C. James, Ph.D.

Fixing Hell by Col. (Ret.) Dr. Larry C. James, Ph.D. is a nonfiction book about how one army psychologist takes on the task of cleaning up after public relations nightmares at detention centers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Abu Ghraib, Iraq.

Dr. James is sent to reform these prison/detention centers after scandals break out regarding the treatment of prisoners and detainees. After conducting research and reviewing the Stanford Prison Experiment, which details how otherwise “good” people can commit atrocities in a prison system, Dr. James heads to Cuba.

He outlines some ground rules before he gets to Guantanamo Bay. One of the main rules he sets forth is that leaders must be seen and present. James walks throughout the complex at different hours of the day, even at 2 a.m. He finds that some of the guards on duty in the wee hours are asleep at their posts, while others claim to have never seen a colonel or other military leaders.

Dr. James leaves Guantanamo only to be sent shortly thereafter to Abu Ghraib following the highly public denigration of Iraqi prisoners at the detention center. Soldiers at the prison disrobed prisoners, posed them naked in a human pyramid, and shot photos of the incidents, which were later plastered all over the news. As a psychologist, Dr. James was sent to the detention center to clean up the facility and establish protocols to prevent further incidents.

The audio of this book was well read and engaging. It certainly kept our attention during our early morning commutes, and it was intriguing to get an insider’s look at the military’s psychology department and protocols. My husband enjoyed the details about how Dr. James remedied the problems at Abu Ghraib and the insight those details provided about the actual facts of the situation.

However, the last chapters of the book slowed down the flow of the book for us. Dr. James offers a great deal of explanation about how the media played up the Abu Ghraib incidents and printed misinformation that maligned the reputations of fellow psychologists and himself. While we understood his need to set the record straight, the information was unnecessary given the timeline he issued throughout the book. Any reports placing him or his colleagues at the detention centers during the scandalous incidents could easily be dismissed.

With that being said, anyone interested in military or war history will enjoy this insider’s look at the Iraq War, Abu Ghraib, and the military’s psychology unit.

About the Author:

Colonel Larry C. James, PhD, served as the Chief, Department of Psychology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the past five years. In this capacity, he also was the Chief Psychologist for the Army’s northeast region and had responsibility over 100 psychologists in this region. Currently, Dr. James is the Chief, Department of Psychology, Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu, Hawaii. During the Military’s response to 9/11 at the Pentagon, Col. James was the Chief Psychologist for the Mental Health Task Force. Dr. James has been awarded the Bronze Star and the Joint Service Commendation medals for his superior and distinguished services during the global war on terrorism. In 2003, he was the Chief Psychologist for the Joint Intelligence Group at GTMO, Cuba, and in 2004 he was the Director, Behavioral Science Unit, Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib, Iraq. Col. James was assigned to Iraq to develop legal and ethical policies consistent with the Geneva Convention Guidelines and the APA Ethics Code in response to the abuse scandal. Also, while at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, Dr. James was tasked with developing a mental health clinic to deliver services to approximately 8,000 prisoners.

***Don’t forget my giveaway for an inscribed copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin. Deadline is Dec. 21 and the contest is international.**

***Check out the winner of the Green Beauty Guide and an announcement about First Book.***

Christopher Moore Audiobook Winners!

Out of 24 entrants, randomizer.org selected #8 and #21, which means Lenore of Presenting Lenore and Wrighty of Wrighty’s Reads are the winners of one audiobook by Christopher Moore.

Wrighty selected Fluke.

Lenore will have to choose between her top two picks of The Stupidest Angel and You Suck!

Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror is another audiobook to entertain, even at 5 A.M. on the commute into the city. My husband and I have gotten into a habit of listening to audiobooks in the car when we travel to and from work, and when we take little road trips.

Christopher Moore’s books seem to be the most addictive for us even with the sometimes dark humor and harsh content. The Stupidest Angel is no exception.

The book is set in Pine Cove, Calif., where the Archangel Raziel is set upon Earth to grant a Christmas wish to one child. That child is Josh Barker. Unfortunately, Josh has no idea what is in store when he asks the angel to bring Santa Claus back to life.

With characters like a Warrior babe named Molly, a pot-smoking constable–her husband, a DEA helicopter pilot, and a evil developer, among others, there was nothing to do but sit back and laugh at the follies, misunderstandings, and interactions between these characters. Of course, there had to be a speaking, sunglasses wearing, fruit bat named Roberto! These characters stumble around in their relationships with one another, insulting their spouses and their friends, only to make up in the end, but the ride is raucous.

It gets even crazier in Pine Cover when Molly goes off her medications and starts hearing the narrator in her head, giving her direction. She wonders off into the woods naked and carrying a Japanese sword where she meets Raziel who only wants to eat the marshmallows out of the cocoa packets. Meanwhile, zombies are raging war against the townspeople at the Lonesome Christmas celebration in the local church. The resolution to this story is truly in the Christmas spirit, but the ride to its conclusion is hilarious and action-packed.

Also Reviewed By:
Firefly’s Book Blog
SomeReads
Books I Done Read

It is a Dirty Job!


Christopher Moore’s Dirty Job is set in San Francisco, Calif., much like the vampire novels I have reviewed here and here. This book starts off with Charlie Asher and his wife Rachel, and they are about to have a baby. In one fateful moment, Charlie’s world is turned upside down and inside out. His wife dies and he is left to be a single parent to his daughter, Sophie. This doesn’t tell you anything the reader won’t find out in the first few pages of the book.

***Spoiler Alert***

Charlie looks up to find a 7-foot tall black man standing over his dying wife and he’s wearing a sea green leisure suit. Minty Fresh is a death merchant, and that is exactly what Charlie has become by seeing him. His wife dies, leaving him to parent his daughter alone. Charlie wakes up and finds notes on his bedside with people’s names on them. These are the souls he must collect within the allotted time frame. Their souls get caught in material objects that only he and the other death merchants can see glowing red. Missing those soul vessels can spell dire trouble for the residents of San Francisco. The trouble that emerges shortly after a series of missteps by Charlie and others in the book. And only the luminatus can save them and the city.

***End Spoiler Alert***

My husband and I listened to this audiobook on our commutes to and from work. It was a riot to listen to, and I had a great time roaring with laughter at 5 A.M. People driving alongside us on the highway must have thought we were crazy.

I just love Moore’s dark humor and his witty descriptions of his characters, their actions, the city, and the dark beings that live beneath the city. The Morrigan, the dark beings, play off of one another’s weaknesses and bumble around the city trying to steal souls and bring darkness to the city.

Moore’s imaginative language, plush with imagery, takes a witty look at death, life, from his 14-inch high squirrel people to the goth-girl turned chef to the Asian bride perusing ex-cop who works in Charlie’s Second Hand store.

One scene in particular will make you stand up and say I better get the most out of this life. I must enjoy that wedge of cheese, every little lick, nibble, and swallow. The plot and language had us running through the audiobook and refusing to get out of the car when it came time to get into the office. While the plot was a little predictable, I enjoyed every minute of this book.

Also Reviewed by:
Monniblog
Books & Other Thoughts
No More Grumpy Bookseller

Bloodsucking Fiends

Christopher Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends is the first book in the vampire series with C. Thomas Flood and Jody. It’s too bad that I read You Suck first. However, even though I knew what happened at the end of this book, it was still a great read.

***Spoiler Alert***

C. Thomas Flood arrives in San Francisco from Indiana with stars in his eyes about his future as a writer in the city after living in small town, unionized Indiana. He arrives and stumbles upon an apartment for $50 weekly and he shares his room with 5 Wongs. The funniest part of this living situation is that the Wongs are illegals seeking a way to become legal citizens of the United States. They leave bouquets on his bed unbeknowst to Tommy.

After running into the Emperor of San Francisco and his men (a golden retriever and a terrier), he gets a job at the Marina Safeway, which will help him keep a roof over his head while he writes. He makes fast friends with the night crew, one of which translates what the Wongs, his roommates, are after. Tommy discovers they have asked for his hand in marriage and have attempted to court him with flowers.

Moving along in the story line, Jody is accosted outside of her work one evening and she black out, only to awaken as a vampire. She makes her way home to Kurt, her live-in boyfriend, who has little sympathy for her plight. She eventually bashes him on the head, drinks his blood, and books it to a motel.

***End Spoiler Alert***

These are just some of the uncanny events that occur in this book from ghastly murders to robbery to explosions and cops chasing the Marina Safeway gang. This book is chock full of fun and adventure as well as humor. Between this book, You Suck, and Dirty Job (which the husband and I are listening to on CD) Christopher Moore’s books are wrought with unique humor that will have every reader doubled over in the stomach pain of laughter.

Rose Red and the Haunted Diary

Joyce Reardon and Stephen King’s The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red was the latest audio book selection of my husband for our daily rides to and from work. It is billed as a thriller or suspense novel, but I found that the diary format did not lend itself to suspense over the audio. I’m not sure if I would feel differently if I had read the hard copy of the book.

The book begins with Ellen Rimbauer and her budding relationship with her future husband John Rimbauer, who is building a mansion to surpass all mansions in Seattle–Rose Red. The construction of the home is rittled in controversy as it is built on an Indian burial ground and contractors are killed on the site.

Her marriage to John is wrought with marital turmoil as she continues to uncover the depths of her husband’s perversity and sexual desire. While the premise of the house being haunted is obvious from Ellen’s visits to psychics in Chinatown and the various disappearances inside the home, I was not scared while this audio book played, and I found it a bit predictable.

The diary is entertaining until you get near the end when the supposed paranormal investigator, Joyce Reardon, interrupts the narrative to interject her reasons for eliminating portions of the narrative and to explain about speculation at the time of Ellen Rimbauer’s behavior after major events happen in the house, etc.

Overall, this was a good book to listen to in the car and maybe to pick up and read, but it is not something that will frighten you. It is interesting to see how Ellen learns how to take control of her life with the help of her African handmaid Sukeena.

If you have reviewed this book, feel free to drop me a link and I will add it to the review.

Bronzed Vampires, You Suck

Christopher Moore’s You Suck audio book is another find at the library that I should have taken out in book form. This book had us roaring with laughter in the car on the way to work over the weeks we listened to it.

***Spoiler Alert***

This is a vampiric tale of one young fledgling, Jody, turning her Midwest boyfriend, Tommy Flood, into a vampire so they can be together forever. Jody, who was turned by an older vampire, Elijah, teams up with Tommy and his co-workers at the San Francisco Marina Safeway to bronze the older vampire who has gone on a killing spree among the sick and infirm. Jody hopes to get away from the elder vampire and take Tommy into her dark world.

Along the way, Tommy starts getting used to his vampiric ways, but eventually “enjoys” some aspects of his nature too much for his Midwestern sensibilities. Tommy adopts the name Lord Flood with his minion, Abby Normal–o yes, you guessed it an old fashioned play on words. She is nothing short of normal by today’s standards with her Gothic clothes, her sarcasm, attempts to fit in with the rebels, and her love of the undead…but she also has a perky side and you eventually discover her favorite literary character is not from Lovecraft, but it is Pipi Longstocking, a perkier side of Abby.

Even Abby falls in love, and its not with a vampire or her gay friend, Jared.

***End Spoiler Alert***

Not only is their vampire hunting, love, sex, drugs, and stealing, but there is sarcastic humor, self-deprecating humor, and twists of fate in this book that are great. The narrator chosen to read this novel was well selected. Her character voices were believable.

What made the vampire book for me, beyond the vampires of course, was the narration, hilarious lines, and the character of Abby Normal. I would love to see an entire novel of her adventures from Moore; that would make great reading. I recommend this book, You Suck, in any form you choose. I’m going to have to go out and get the hard copy to add to my collection since I foresee myself reading it for the first time, only to re-read it again and again.

A Soldier’s Promise

I’m not one for audio books, but the husband couldn’t resist this one when we were browsing through the discount book section. The audio book, A Soldier’s Promise, chronicles the struggles of our troops in Iraq, particularly those of First Sergeant Daniel Hendrix. I probably would never have picked up this book off the shelf because I tend to find these stories drawn out and boring in parts. However, given the way this story was read, I may have liked to read the actual book because the writing style is not obtuse or too militaristic. We were listening to this audio book on and off for about three weeks in the car as we drove into work together, so it took us longer than it would have taken me to read it on my own, but he enjoyed it. This book is set just after the fall of Saddam.

***Spoiler Alert***

The beginning of the book starts off before Hendrix leaves his wife for duty and after his unit, Dragon Company, completes specialized training. Once in Iraq, there are a series of ambushes and other events that occur, but things start to turn around for the American troops when informants turn up at their checkpoint offering information about insurgents in exchange for money or other items. The troops come to expect any Iraqis to seek monetary gain for their information, until Jamil enters the checkpoint demanding to be arrested.

The book does not completely focus on just the American troops, and I think this is what caught my attention the most. The chapters alternate between the troops and Jamil’s family. His father is a leader of one of the insurgency movements in Husaybah, Iraq. His father and his neighbor are blood thirsty and eager to battle American troops. His father wants his son to join the insurgency and stage raids and use other guerrilla tactics against the Americans. Jamil is not interested in this life and eventually sees the Americans as the only way to escape his abusive father.

At the checkpoint, he is taken into custody and begins informing the Americans about his father and the local insurgency’s weapons and plans. The troops, after much debate, agree to stage a raid, ultimately capturing Jamil’s father and several others. The problem is that his father’s neighbor, Sayed (excuse the spelling here), is on the loose and even more blood thirsty than Jamil’s father.

Jamil, who garners the nickname Steve-O, becomes a great asset to Dragon Company and the marines that take their place, but in the process a 14-year-old boy grows up too fast and loses his family to the insurgency and Iraq’s battle with itself. Hendrix promises that he will one day get the boy out of Iraq into the safety of the United States.

***End Spoiler***

I was captivated by the images in this audio book and was captivated by the underlying message that as humans we are all striving toward similar goals. We all want to be loved for who we are, we all want to be independent of other’s rule and oppression, and we are all capable of seeing past prejudice to find the humanity within. We also all have the capacity to do the right thing when the time is right. I would recommend this audio book for long road trips or just commuting to and from work.