Saturday, April 28, 2012
Rating: 4 Stars
Title: Danger In Deer Ridge
Author: Terry Odell
Cover Design: Dave Fymbo
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 319 Pages
What do you do when your life turns upside down? Whatever it takes.
When Elizabeth Parker arrives in Deer Ridge with her eight-year-old son, she's constantly looking over her shoulder, afraid her husband won't believe she's dead, despite the new identity provided by the high-end firm of Blackthorne, Inc. Within hours of her arrival, a man shows up claiming he's there to hook up her gas line. When he keeps turning up, she's wary as to his motives. For Elizabeth, trust doesn't come easy. She'll never let her husband lay a hand on her son, no matter what, and if this man is working for her husband, she wants no part of him.
Mark Grinciewicz, Grinch to everyone who knows him, was Blackthorne, Incorporated's top pilot. When his ex-wife dies, he is left with custody of a five-year-old son he hardly knows, and everything changes. Determined to do what it takes to help his son adjust to a new life, Grinch finds himself tethered to the ground, unable to do what he loves—fly.
When he gets a call from Blackthorne, requesting that he take a simple assignment—teach a woman how to fit into the community under her new identity—he reluctantly accepts the task. Bad enough he's not supposed to let on he's aware of her identity, or that he's on her side. But what he doesn't know is that she has something her husband needs, and the man will do just about anything to get it back. Suddenly, everyone is a potential threat. Can Grinch break through her defenses and earn her trust in time to save her without endangering her son or his?
This is the first book I've read by Terry Odell and I really enjoyed it. Picking one in the Blackthorne, Inc. series was just luck, but I enjoyed this taste of the series enough to check out some others in the series. The plot develops at a good pace, one that's easy to read and keep up with, but also keeps driving the story forward. The characters are also very well developed and grow noticeably throughout the book.
The paranoia that Elizabeth Parker exhibits at the beginning of, and throughout, the book are believable and contagious. The feeling of it travels through the pages, up your arms and punches you in the gut. You get that feeling of paranoia yourself and can feel her fear of her husband finding her and taking her son. Despite the fear, she is determined to try not to let it show to Will, her son, hoping to give him as relatively normal of a childhood as she is capable of. If you've ever been a parent, it is easy to relate to the feelings and fear portrayed throughout the book, especially when certain situations arise.
The relationship that develops between the two boys (Grinch's son and Elizabeth's son) is cute to watch and the dynamics of the relationships with all of the characters is very real. It was also very interesting to have a book about a grounded pilot. It's not often you get one like that - usually it's the hotshot pilots, not one that is giving up what he loves for his son. The decisions that Grinch makes shows a lot about his character in a subtle way.
The imagery used in describing the Colorado mountains is extremely well done. I could just see the little town - just a quaint little, unassuming, country/mountain town - and especially the restaurant they took the boys too. I loved it! It made me want to get the map out and see if this place is real so I could visit.
The heart of the plot comes about when it's discovered that Elizabeth took something with her when she left her husband. If she had left well enough alone, she may have gotten away with hiding from him, but whether it was the human nature of greed, curiosity or, as she claims, an insurance policy, it comes back to bite her in the end. With the tension reaching new heights by the end of the book, it culminates in a nail biting situation that kept me reading well past bed time.
The romance that develops between Elizabeth and Grinch was relatable to anybody that has been hurt in a relationship before. It was slow to develop, showing them dealing with both of their feelings of fear and vulnerability. Because of that, it comes across as a much more real, and enduring, relationship. It can be hard to do this in the span of a book and still keep the plot moving forward, but Ms. Odell does an admirable job.
Whether you are a fan of Terry Odell's, a fan of the Blackthorne, Inc. series or are just finding this one, it is definitely one worth checking out. It kept me on the edge of my seat with suspense and tension and had a satisfying ending that wrapped things up nicely.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Rating: 5 Stars
Title: Blueberry Truth
Author: Ute Carbone
Publisher: Etopia Press
Cover Art: Annie Melton
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 285 Pages
Warning: Violence, mature language, and the implication of inappropriate home situations.
Beanie MacKenzie and her husband Mac have led perfect lives, with perfect families and perfect jobs they both love, he a leading cardiologist, she a teacher at a school for troubled children. Now they have the perfect home, a big house on a quiet Albany street, just perfect for raising a big family. Only the babies they’ve been trying so hard to conceive just won’t come.
Stressed in her marriage and fearing she may never bear children, Beanie throws herself into her work, surrounded by society’s throwaways. Enter Beanie’s new student, seven-year-old Blueberry Truth Crowley, a fiercely independent child whose life had been anything but perfect. Abused, neglected, and mistrustful of everyone around her, Truth throws a monkey wrench into the perfect order of Beanie’s classroom--and into her very life--challenging Beanie’s notions of motherhood, commitment, and family. But their unlikely bond may be just the thing to teach them both about love.
This inspirational little gem is written in the tradition of great stories like My Posse Don't Do Homework (the book that inspired the movie Dangerous Minds) and The Freedom Writers Diary, without the same level of violence. This book left me feeling inspired to go out into the world and do something good....something that matters or that makes a difference. It is one of those feel-good stories that will leave you feeling good for a while after reading it.
The characters are so real, they will seem like people you know - or could know. I love that Beanie and her husband, Mac, have been together since they were kids and know each other so well. The interactions between them are very realistic, whether it's them playing around, having a serious discussion or having an argument. The family dynamic was portrayed very well too. I loved Beanie's sisters and her parents and you could tell that they were a very close family. Unfortunately, it seems that like most real families, some of them had a hard time understanding that sometimes you just don't want to share everything with your family. At least not immediately.
Beanie is special needs teacher and when she gets a new student, named Blueberry Truth, she sees something special in her. Beanie understands her in a way that nobody else seems to and, ultimately, they recognize something in each other that the other needs. As Beanie struggles with having trouble conceiving, Blueberry struggles with being abandoned by her mother and placed into a less than ideal situation. Mac has a hard time understanding Beanie's need to help this mouthy, troublesome little girl and puts up roadblocks.
This is a very well written story about overcoming adversity, learning to find the good in the bad and seeing past the surface of a person to their heart. What they show you isn't always what is underneath. And regardless of a person's background or socio-economic status, you can always find common ground. That is a good lesson for everyone to learn, no matter what the age. "Truth" is a good name for Blueberry, because what it all comes down to is the truth of a person, not the package.
I highly recommend this book to anyone. This would also be a fantastic book for teenagers old enough to understand the topics addressed in this book and to open up discussions at home. An excellent first read for me from this author and I will definitely be checking out more from her in the future.