Friday, June 27, 2014

Review: The Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

Fans around the world adore the bestselling No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the basis of the HBO TV show, and its proprietor Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's premier lady detective. In this charming series, Mma Ramotswe navigates her cases and her personal life with wisdom, and good humor--not to mention help from her loyal assistant, Grace Makutsi, and the occasional cup of tea. 

Readers will agree that this touching and dramatic new installment in Alexander McCall Smith's beloved and best-selling series is the finest yet. In this story, Precious Ramotswe deals with issues of mistaken identity and great fortune against the beautiful backdrop of Botswana's remote and striking Okavango Delta. 

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi head to a safari camp to carry out a delicate mission on behalf of a former guest who has left one of the guides a large sum of money. But once they find their man, Precious begins to sense that something is not right. To make matters worse, shortly before their departure Mma Makutsi's fiance, Phuti Radiphuti, suffers a debilitating accident, and when his aunt moves in to take care of him, she also pushes Mma Makutsi out of the picture. Could she be trying to break up the relationship? Finally, a local priest and his wife independently approach Mma Ramotswe with concerns of infidelity, creating a rather unusual and tricky situation. Nevertheless, Precious is confident that with a little patience, kindness and good sense things will work out for the best, something that will delight her many fans.

My Review: 
How does Alexander McCall Smith keep coming up with these story lines for the No. 1 Detective Agency?  I have no idea, but I'm hoping he has plenty more to share with us.  We are brought back to Botswana once again to watch Mma Makutsi and Mma Ramotswe solve mysteries in their common sense way. 

The book opens with a strange incident encountered by J.L.B. Matekoni.  As he travels to help a woman in need, he ponders many things along the way, as he usually does.  When he arrives at his destination things seem out of place but he can't quite put his finger on it.  He has suspicions and questions whether he should share his concerns with Mma Ramotswe.  Deciding against it, he keeps the information to himself, not knowing that Mma Ramotswe with up to her elbows with the problem at hand.  

I think the most significant part of this segment is the accident that cripples Phuti Radiphuti.   As his relatives swoop in care for Phuti, at the same time they block Mma Makutsi from his life.  Thankfully, with the help of Mma Ramotswe and other friends, Mma Makutsi is right back by Phuti's side where she belongs.  I can't help but wonder if these two will ever get married in the future.  You may laugh, but deep down I think I want to see Mma Makutsi and Charlie the apprentice get together...time will tell!

There is one main mystery that Mma Makutsi and Mma Ramotswe need to solve.  The assignment sends them on their first overnight business trip together as they head to the wilderness and a safari.  Their everyday lives could not have prepared them for the dangers of a safari, but luckily they come out unharmed.  With themes of mystery and relationships you may enjoy this book as much as my book club did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book is from my personal library and I read to it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mailbox Monday-June 23

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

Here is what showed up at my place:
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (audiobook)

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner (audiobook)

Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa (audiobook)
Well it looks like my car rides will be set for awhile with these new audiobooks!  I'm excited to give Stephen King a chance again, as I tried reading him years ago and just couldn't manage it.  How about you?  Did you get a new book in the mail that you can't wait to dive into?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Audiobook Review: Moving Target by J.A. Jance

Title:  Moving Target

Author:  J.A. Jance

Narrator:  Karen Ziemba

Unabridged Length:  10 hrs, 38 mn

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website
In this high-stakes thriller from New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance, Ali Reynolds spans continents to solve a cold case murder and to figure out who wants a young juvenile offender dead.

Lance Tucker, an incarcerated juvenile offender and talented hacker in his own right, is set on fire one night and severely burned while hanging Christmas decorations in a lockup rec room. B. Simpson, Ali Reynolds's fiancé and the man who helped put Lance in jail, feels obliged to get to the bottom of what happened. With Ali off in England to help Leland Brooks at a reunion with his long-estranged family, B. turns to someone else to help out: Ali's good friend and Taser-carrying nun, Sister Anselm.

Meanwhile, in Bournemouth, Leland's hometown, Ali begins to investigate the decades-old murder of Leland's father, which Leland himself was once suspected of committing. With unsolved murders on both sides of the Atlantic, Ali, B., and Sister Anselm are united by their search for answers and the jeopardy they get into as a result.

From the author praised for her "inimitable, take-no-prisoners style" (Kirkus Reviews), Moving Target sends Ali on a trans-Atlantic adventure and straight into the path of a deadly killer.

My Review: 
I can't pass up a good suspense novel every now and then and that is exactly what I expected when requesting this one.  Although it did contain action and suspense, it seemed to be a different level of excitement than I am accustomed to from this genre.  The story seems to revolve around young Lance, a young computer geek who was actually tried and convicted for hacking into the school district's computer program.  

Lance created a software program assisting him with his hacking abilities that many agencies would like to get their hands on.  If Lance is not willing to give up the program easily, many are willing to do whatever is necessary to obtain the program.  Lance becomes worried not only for his own life, but the lives of his family members, as others who have had access to the program start turning up dead.  He just got out of jail for his cyber crime and now being confined to a hospital bed he has no way to offer protection to his loved ones.

People from different walks of life suddenly show up around Lance, offering help or protection.  He struggles to figure out who he can trust but finally makes the right decisions in the end.  His decisions will set his entire family on a path of financial independence for the rest of their lives.

I don't know why I had a problem with this audiobook.  I listened to the first couple of discs without retaining much at all.  Finally around the fourth disc I found myself enjoying the story, but not loving it.  I muddled through it as I was to a point where I really wanted to know how it turned out, but then the last couple of discs were like jibberish to me once again.  I know I wouldn't have enjoyed reading this one, but I can't say the listening experience was enjoyable either.

With themes of murder, mystery, and cyber crimes, you may enjoy this book much more than I did.  I did find some enjoyment out of it as I didn't give up and wanted to see how it ended.  I recommend this book for personal leisure or as a book club selection for those enjoying the thriller genre.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-June 17

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

This week my teaser is from China Dolls by Lisa See:
I also wanted to avoid the kitchen, where my sisters-in-law would ignore me and my mother would struggle for something to say as though anything she could utter could possibly change my status in the household or the world.  How could I live in a compound with three generations of my relatives-all so alive with all their breathing, eating, and siring-and still be so lonely?

pg. 32
***Please note that this is from an Advanced Reading Copy so the final printing may change.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mailbox Monday-June 9

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

Here is what surprised me:

After reading The Dinner by Koch I decided I need to read more of this man's work.  So did anything in your mailbox surprise you this week?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Review and Blog Tour: The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani

Thanks once again to Trish from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be a part of this tour.  This is the final installment in the trilogy and I loved the opportunity to read it as part of the tour.

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:
For over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This historic business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the school teacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past . . . and a secret.

A piece of surprising news is revealed at The Feast of the Seven Fishes when Valentine and Gianluca join her extended family on a fateful Christmas Eve. Now faced with life altering choices, Valentine remembers the wise words that inspired her in the early days of her beloved Angelini Shoe Company: "A person who can build a pair of shoes can do just about anything." The proud, passionate Valentine is going to fight for everything she wants and savor all she deserves -- the bitter and the sweetness of life itself.

Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, The Supreme Macaroni Company is a sumptuous feast of delights: a portrait of a woman and the man she loves, her passion for craftsmanship, and the sacrifices it takes to build and sustain a family business while keeping love and laughter at the center of everything.

My Review:
I will tread carefully as I attempt to write a review for the final book of this series without giving too much away.  We are swept across the globe once again, from New York to Italy, as we follow Valentine's hopes and dreams.  We've been cheering Valentine throughout the series to have the opportunity for love, and now it is at her doorstep.

Valentine loves Gianluca with all her heart, but struggles to commit to him as a partner should.  She seems to think that compromise is one-sided, not requiring any changes or sacrifices on her part.  She is driven to make her shoe business grow and all other events come in second place compared to the Angelini Shoe Company.

I found myself bothered by Valentine's selfishness in this novel, but I suppose a woman in her mid-thirties, who has had years of independence, may find it difficult to adjust.  With more of her family helping with the business, she learns to delegate, not having to take control of every transaction of the company.

This book was a whirlwind for me.  Once Valentine allows love into her life it all just blew by so quickly.  I tried to savor her experiences the best I could, from the romance to her newfound appreciation of Italy, but being the final segment, I guess it had to end.  With themes of love, forgiveness, family, and secrets, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I recommend this novel for personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher to participate in this blog tour and provide an honest review.