I picked up this book on a whim, and I'm really glad I did. The book tells the story of a tragic mine fire in Kellog, Idaho. It follows many of the me...moreI picked up this book on a whim, and I'm really glad I did. The book tells the story of a tragic mine fire in Kellog, Idaho. It follows many of the men up to and through the horrific event. The book is a little slow to get going, but once it does, the story is well-told and suspensful (even knowing how it turns out). I will admit that I did skip to tend to find out the cause of the fire, and I wish that that - the cause - had been made clear earlier on.(less)
This was the first book of Richard Hugo's I ever read, and I fell in love with his poetry. He has a way of writing about a place that makes it univers...moreThis was the first book of Richard Hugo's I ever read, and I fell in love with his poetry. He has a way of writing about a place that makes it universal, that finds the symbols and themes in the ordinary that we can all connect with and relate to. His language is very concrete and succint; this is not a flowery poet. And yet the direct language has a music all its own. Themes are subtley presented, yet clear.
My favorite poems include: "Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg" (an oft quoted poem that includes the line "...The last good kiss / you had was years ago", which was the basis for the title of "The Last Good Kiss" by James Crumley, another late Montana author), "The Freaks at Spurgin Road Field" (a modern loose vilanelle), and "West Marginal Way".
Richard Hugo also wrote a book called "The Triggering Town", in which he talked about how places played an important role in his poetry. I recommend that anyone who reads and enjoys this book of collected poem should also check out "The Triggering Town". (less)
[I know this review is being posted *way* after the book was published, but it's more catch-up from the old book blog.]
I started this book about 9:00...more[I know this review is being posted *way* after the book was published, but it's more catch-up from the old book blog.]
I started this book about 9:00 p.m. one evening. I didn't put it down until I'd finished reading it at 1:00 in the morning. This is the second book I've read by this author, and it definitely didn't disappoint. There won't be much snarking in the following paragraphs.
Our heroine is Selena Jones, an FBI legal attaché and Athena Force (yep, it's one of a loosely connected series) graduate. She is married to Colin Jones, a CIA operative. Colin and Selena are going through a rocky patch--something to do with him kissing another woman--and Selena decides that a change of job scenery is order. So she takes an assignment to work at the embassy in the fictional Middle Eastern country of Berzhaan.
Berzhaan is on the verge of civil war, and a group of Kemeni rebels takes over the capitol building while Selena is there visiting the Prime Minister. Selena isn't taken hostage with every one else because she is in the bathroom throwing up and worrying that she is pregnant (she and Colin had been trying before she fled the country). Now it's up to Selena to stop the rebels and free the hostages. Kind of reminds me of Die Hard (the first--and only good--movie), but it does so without screaming "derivative".
Unlike many romance novel heroines--even ones in this series--Selena is realistically tough and vulnerable. She has some great kick-butt scenes, and her interactions with the lead villain, Tafiq Ashurbeyli, are interesting. Her fears about her possible pregnancy added a layer of depth, and I liked that fact that she didn't get overwhelmed by the distractions of Colin, baby, etc.
The author also does a good job of describing the world of the book--the weapons, the fighting, the lingo. Another book I read from this line ("Parallel Lies" by Kate Donovan) had a horribly constructed backdrop for the story. In this book, I bought it.
I think the weakness in this book is the romantic element (and hence only a 4-star).
First, the reason that Selena fled to Berzhaan turns out to be a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING. Remember that Colin was working undercover--and Selena knew that--when she saw him kissing the woman. So why did she automatically assume that the kiss was romantic instead of a just-doing-my-job kiss? That is never explained satisfactorily.
Second, Colin is not well developed, and most of the relationship scenes occur over the telephone, with Selena in the capitol building and Colin in the U.S. and later in Berzhaan. Late in the book, Colin and Selena do meet up in person under circumstances that had me saying, "Oh yeah, if it was that easy to [you'll have to read the book], then how come no one else did it?"
So overall, I can recommend this book to anyone who likes feisty heroines and lots of action. Ms. Durgin is definitely on my buy list in the future. (less)
[Yes, this is posted quite some time after the book came out, but I'm catching up on getting the older reviews from my blog copied onto Goodreads.]
WAR...more[Yes, this is posted quite some time after the book came out, but I'm catching up on getting the older reviews from my blog copied onto Goodreads.]
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS ALONG WITH THE SNARK
When I read, I dog-ear pages that contain snippets of dialogue or description that I want to remember. It doesn't bode well for a review when I start doing that on page 13 - and all of the dog-ears are for stupid stuff.
In Vickie Taylor's "Her Last Defense," Texas Ranger Clint Hayes joins forces with Dr. Macy Attois, a virologist with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. When the book opens, a small plane carrying virologists from the CDC, a sample of the particularly deadly virus, and a virus-infected monkey crashes in the Sabine National Forest in Texas. Clint, who sees the crash from the cabin where he is staying while on medical leave from the Rangers, and some of the locals respond to the crash. They get a nasty surprise when our heroine, Dr. Macy Attois, shows up next day with her team from the CDC and quarantines the entire area and the people working at the crash site. Because calling ahead and telling the rescuers to stay away would have been well...the SENSIBLE thing to do. But then there wouldn't be a story.
Clint is not happy about being told he might be a walking dead man, but he helps Macy keep the stereotypical locals--who speak in stereotypical dialect--compliant with the quarantine. Macy discovers that, although the virus container was not ruptured in the crash, three of the plane's occupants are missing, as is the Typhoid-Mary monkey. One of the missing people is David Brinker, Macy's ex-fiancé of about two days. Another is the pilot.
And thus the game is afoot.
Clint and Macy search for errant monkey together and get caught in a rainstorm. Macy falls over a muddy embankment, and Clint catches her--with his right arm, which was injured in a recent shooting. When he tries to pull her up, his arm shakes, and she slips into the gully and is washed downstream. (All together now..."Cliffhanger." Yeah, that movie with Sylvester Stallone and John Lithgow, although the most blatant rip-off of that movie was in "Situation: Out of Control" by Debra Webb. But that's another review.) Macy bobs along, eventually latching onto a log stuck in the bank, and there she finds the murdered pilot.
Macy has twisted her ankle, and she and Clint are both cold and wet--so Clint decides that they should stay overnight in a nearby fire lookout tower. Just the two of them. But first, since Macy has lost her respirator in the dunking, Clint gives her his. Now BOTH of them might be exposed to the virus. They can die together. Oh joy! Once they get to the tower...yep, you guessed it. They hump like bunny rabbits until the chopper comes to pick them up the next morning.
A lot of stuff happens from here on out, including David walking out of the woods, Macy recovering the monkey, the Rangers finding the third missing passenger, Macy getting infected with the virus, and Clint thwarting would-be terrorists and finding an antidote for the virus and saving Macy. To be honest, I started skimming near the end, but I'm pretty sure that's what happened. Oh yeah, and then they get married.
Macy comes off mostly as likeable and competent, and I have only two complaints:
First, why in the hell would she fall for a jacka$$ like Clint?
Second, when Clint asks her why she became a virologist, she says she went into virology because of a bad relationship and that "the laboratory environment, with its bulky suits and airtight work chamber, provided her some necessary emotional distance from her coworkers" So she made her career choice because of a man. Not because she liked a challenge, or because wanted to work on the cutting edge, or any one of many much more interesting reasons. Yikes! And even in this, the author is inconsistent. Despite the above quote, Macy is described throughout the bookas having a close relationship with her team. She even calls them "like family" at one point.
Clint, on the other hand, needs a swift kick in the rear end. When the story opens, he is brooding about the imminent loss of his job as a Texas Ranger. The nerves in his right shoulder are injured so badly that he cannot hold a gun steady to shoot (or pull Macy up the bank). Cannot hold a gun with his right hand, that is. Now the first thing I thought was, "Learn to shoot with your left hand." Unfortunately, it takes Clint 246 pages to figure this out, all the while brooding about how he is so unworthy of being with Macy because he *sob* can't be a Ranger anymore *sob*.
Clint speaks in the "local dialect", calling people "yahoos" and the virus a "bug." It's not cute; he just sounds uneducated. When Macy tells Clint that she was taking the virus back to Atlanta to try to make a vaccine, he accuses her of playing God. Puh-leeze. What kind of backward attitude is that? Now if he had made an intelligent comment about why transporting the virus on a *plane* might not have been wise, I could have respected him.
When confronted with the stereotypical (and, believe me, there's a lot of that in this book) rude and slightly full-of-themselves CDC security guards, Clint resorts to violence. Twice. And later, after a conversation with David---who, remember, has just been dumped by his fiancée (Macy) and survived a plane crash, exposure, dehydration, and major surgery--Clint thinks to himself that he would have slugged David if David had made an issue out of Clint and Macy liking each other. Yup, `cause it's so unreasonable for David to maybe still have an ounce of feeling for Macy a mere THREE DAYS after he was dumped. Made me root for David for a few pages.
But by far the dumbest, most self-centered, most I-have-no-sense-of-priorities thing Clint does occurs about half way into the book. In Macy's desire to recover the monkey alive, she inadvertently steps in front of a soldier's gun and shoots the monkey with a tranquilizer dart before the soldier can kill it. Clint sees this and gets angry. So angry that he shoves her into his truck and drives her to his cabin. When he gets there, he says, "Um,...er,....I forgot what I was going to say. Just don't step in front of a gun again." Huh? So when time is of the essence, and they've finally got the monkey so they can find out if the monkey is contagious, if the area is in danger, etc...Clint takes time out for an aborted personal chat. Arghh. He doesn't deserve to be in law enforcement.
Surprsingly, I found out after I wrote this review that this book is a 2006 RITA finalist for Best Long Contemporary Romance. My faith in the RITA's is now at an all time low. (less)
It's been a long time since I have read a book that made me laugh out loud so many times-and not in a good way....more[Another old review from my book blog]
It's been a long time since I have read a book that made me laugh out loud so many times-and not in a good way. I'm just thankful that I switched completely from dog-earing pages to taking written notes while reading. Otherwise this book would not have been in good enough shape to dispose of at the used book store.
Five years ago, Sabrina Sullivan's father, a partner in a high tech security company called Perimeter, was killed by an assassin's bomb. Theo Howell, her father's partner, believed that Sabrina and her sister, Michelle, were the assassin's next targets and arranged for them to disappear into a witness protection program. They have been in hiding since then.
Now it's five years later. Twenty-three-year-old Michelle takes off with her new boyfriend on a romantic vacation. Yes, the boyfriend has ulterior motives that relate to Sabrina's father's death. Yes, he's using his charm to convince Michelle not to leave their secret romantic getaway location. And yes, he's surreptitiously drugging Michelle to get information - BUT - Sabrina knows none of this when she goes crazed-Mother-Hen on her sister and blows their witness protection identities by returning to Perimeter to ask for their help in finding Michelle. Sabrina's evidence of the boyfriend's nefarious intentions? He insists that Michelle leave her cell phone at home.
Zach Lansing has taken her Sabrina's father's place at Perimeter. He and Theo agree to help Sabrina. Zach initially tries to shut Sabrina about of the investigation, but she pushes her way in. They begin to unravel the details of who killed who and when and why. They find Michelle and eliminate the threat that been hanging over the sisters for five years. Etc., etc. etc.
Sabrina and Zach drove me up a figurative wall. Both come off as caricatures.
Sabrina has one note: protecting her sister is her "mission" in life. She is portrayed as the perfect little spy to be, trained by her father before his death. She's a twenty-five-year-old with some training, but no real world experience (and no practice in the previous five years, remember), who repeatedly one-ups Zach, who has been playing spy professionally for much longer. At one point, she also pushes around a very large bodyguard-type guy. Literally pushes. Huh? Did her years-old spy training also give her superhuman strength?
Her biggest TSTL moment comes, however, when with the help of Zach and Perimeter, Sabrina figures out approximately where Michelle and the boyfriend are. After whining incessantly through the book any time she wasn't fully included in all parts of the investigation, she lies to Zach about what she found and sends him on a wild goose chase...so she can find and confront the boyfriend herself! That pegged the needle on my brand new hypocrisy-meter. Fortunately, it's still under warranty.
Zach is hot-headed, both in words and in action. This shoot-first-and-think-later attitude strikes me as a trait that would be rather, um, detrimental to his chosen profession. At times, I found myself wishing Zach would put that temper to good use and just strangle Sabrina and be done with it. The secondary characters of Michelle and her boyfriend, John, are much more realistic and sympathetic. Heck, even the bad guys were more interesting than Sabrina, although with names like Adonis and Pluto, I have to recommend the author get a new "Name Your Baby" book for characters.
Vague language and spotty details of the high tech world of security abound. I stopped counting the number of times the word "crew" was used (in reference to the team that Zach was supposedly commanding) after I reached twenty. The impression I got was that the world in which this was set was just as much a mystery to the author as it was to me. So she tossed in some lingo and voila! Instant background for a spy story.
That's not good enough for me though. Spend your money on something else.(less)
I also found this book at a used book store. I was going through a phase reading a lot of poetry that used nature to explore human themes, and this bo...moreI also found this book at a used book store. I was going through a phase reading a lot of poetry that used nature to explore human themes, and this book was a wonderful fit. The poems are free verse, some more structured than others, and steeped in natural imagery drawn from animals, the woods, water, and of course, the titular moons.
Some of my favorite poems include:
"At Blackwater Pond" which starts out "You know how it feels, / wanting to walk into / the rain and disappear - / wanting to feel your life / brighten and grow weightless / as a leaf in fall."
"Sleeping in the Forest" which starts with "I thought the earth / remembered me, she / took me back so tenderly, arranging / her dark skirts, her pockets / full of lichens and seeds..." and ends with "...By morning / I had vanished at least a dozen times / into something better."
"Beaver Moon - The Suicide of a Friend" which includes the lines "When somewhere life / breaks like a pane of glass" and "...you turn in your bed / to watch the moon rise, and once more / see what a small coin it is / against the darkness...".
I love the simple yet beautiful expression in these poems. Even though most are nominally about an aspect of the natural world, they still speak of human issues - of nostalgia, of the loss of a friend, of family relationships, and of the poet finding herself. I highly recommend this short collection. (less)
Would it be cliché to say I love this book of poems about love?
This is Ms. Peacock's fourth book of poems, but it is the first of hers that I have re...moreWould it be cliché to say I love this book of poems about love?
This is Ms. Peacock's fourth book of poems, but it is the first of hers that I have read. This was another used book store gem of a find (the other was "Twelve Moons" by Mary Oliver which I have also reviewed). Most of the poems are free verse, but rhyme is often incorporated. Some of the poems are modern takes on formal poetry. All-in-all, it's a nice mix that continually surprises the reader.
The book is broken into three parts: Part 1 - First Love, Part II - Mother Love, and Part III - Another Love. The opening poem, "Why I Am Not a Buddhist", serves an introduction to book. The poem speaks about the author's love of emotion, of want, of desire. It includes the lines, "... I love the things I've sought-- / you in your beltless bathrobe, tongues of cash that loll / from my billfold--and love what I want: clothes, / houses, redemption. ...".
My favorite poem - "Lullaby" - occurs in Part I. The poem starts out, "Big as a down duvet the night / pulls the close Ontario sky / over the naked earth. ...". The other poems in part one explore the love of a boyfriend/spouse/significant other. In this section, I also particularly liked "The Wheel" and "The Purr". Ms. Peacock is does not shy away from explicit language, yet it never feels forced or vulgar.
Part II deals with Ms. Peacock's relationship with her mother. Part III explores religion, faith, and other types of love. A couple of poems that I particularly liked from the latter poritons of the book include:
"The Spider Heart" which begins, "Sleeping with my husband in my mother's bed / the night she died, I expected the tree-- / the one that Emerson said grew tall and wide / after his father died--but woke up instead / with a spider wedged in my rib cage..."
"The Guilt" which begins, "Guilt creeps like sheets of insects that erase / bodies down to their skeletons..."
This is another book I highly recommend. I've read this one so many times I've broken the hardback binding and need to get another copy.(less)