Monday, January 5, 2009


by Charlaine Harris
Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 9780441016990
Paperback, 304 pages, $7.99
Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Book one of the Southern Vampire Mystery series introduces young, attractive Sookie Stackhouse, cocktail waitress in a small town in Louisiana. Sookie has telepathic abilities which she and others look upon as a disability. She lives with her grandmother and cat and keeps to herself because she desires silence after hearing other people’s thoughts while working. Sookie is intrigued when she meets Bill, her first vampire, not only because he’s a vampire but because she can’t read his thoughts. Sookie rescues Bill from a couple intent on draining him, and she and Bill become friends, which leads to a romantic relationship.

Since Bill’s appearance, people are turning up dead, including Sookie’s grandmother. The police initially suspect Bill but begin to focus their investigation on Sookie’s brother, who had contact with each of the victims. With Bill’s encouragement, Sookie uses her telepathic abilities to try to find the murderer, placing herself in danger.

This is an engaging concept, a mind reader in a world in which vampires are attempting to integrate into society. Vampires drink synthetic blood and are surrounded by fans called fang-bangers, which makes for intriguing scenes. Harris provides a good read, wrapping a well-done mystery around a plethora of interesting characters, vampiric and human.


Stories of Dying and Living
by Marcia M. Cham
BookSurge Publishing
ISBN: 9781439204030
Paperback, 260 pages, $16.99
Genre: Autobiographical

Marcia Cham is a retired pastor who presently works as an on-call chaplain at a medical center near her home in North Carolina. As pastor, Ms. Cham has officiated at funerals while providing comfort to family and friends of the deceased. She has dealt with a plethora of deaths, from babies to friends to her own family, all the while trying to deal with her own questions about and fear of death.

This book is Cham’s journey as she seeks to face her fears so she can put them aside while serving others. Cham’s witty style and heartwarming stories are not only entertaining but endearing. She shows an amazing propensity to draw the reader into her story so that the reader feels her pain, shares her grief, and rejoices with her love for life and God. She offers her reader insightful advice regarding how to help someone who is grieving the death of a loved one and shares letters she has written to her family about her own death. An incredible book that should be shared with family and friends, one that will encourage discussion about a subject that is often put aside and rarely talked about: death.


By John Grisham
New York, NY
ISBN: 9780385515047
Hardback, 358 pages, $27.95
Genre: Legal thriller

For years, Krane Chemical dumped chemical toxins into the water supply of Bowmore, Mississippi, causing major illnesses and deaths from cancer to rise significantly. Upon the filing of a lawsuit against Krane, the company closes down its facilities and moves to Mexico. When a jury in rural Mississippi returns a large verdict against Krane Chemical, its owner, billionaire Carl Trudeau, is not only angry but vengeful. Trudeau vows to himself not one cent will be paid to any defendant and instructs his company’s law firm to appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court. His reasoning is calculated: justices are elected to the Supreme Court in Mississippi and an election is looming. Trudeau and his minions begin a search for the perfect candidate to put into the Supreme Court; one that will hopefully reverse the verdict against Krane. Once that candidate is found, millions of dollars are expended in order to ensure his seat on the State Supreme Court.

Although genred a legal thriller, this is more along the lines of a political statement. There are no courtroom theatrics, which could have breathed a bit of life into a plodding storyline. There are no likeable characters in this book; even the altruistic attorneys for the plaintiff come across as superficial and too willing to just give up and go away. Although the ending is probably more realistic than not, it, nevertheless, is disappointing.


By Karen Rose
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 9780446509206
Hardback, 436 pages, $16.99
Genre: Romantic suspense

GBI special agent Daniel Vartanian is still reeling from the deaths of his brother Simon, a well-known serial killer, and his parents, who died at the hands of Simon, when called back to his hometown to investigate the brutal murder of a young woman found in a ditch, wrapped in a blanket. This murder is similar to that of Alicia Tremaine 13 years earlier. Daniel is shocked when he meets Alicia’s identical twin sister, Alex Fallon, who approaches him for help finding her stepsister, Bailey Crighton. Daniel believes his brother Simon was involved in the murder 13 years earlier, and when more women are killed in the same manner, suspects someone is acting on Simon’s behalf. Daniel becomes attracted to Alex, who appears to have been targeted by the killer, and is determined no harm will come to her. To complicate matters, important men in the community are turning up dead. Could these murders be tied together or are there two separate killers?

This romantic suspense is a very good read although readers may become distracted by the numerous characters and the two ongoing investigations. The chemistry between Alex and Daniel, two emotionally damaged people, is well-done. Characterization is in-depth and revealing, although the suspense at times becomes lost in the complicated plot.