Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Life'll Kill Ya: "The Death of Bees" by Lisa O'Donnell

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell is set in the poorer neighborhoods of Glasgow, Scotland and is both very funny and...very disturbing and extremely well written. It grabs you on page one and throws you into the lives of 15 year old Marni and her 12 year old sister Nelly. Both sisters are bright and gifted and in a more perfect world would be planning careers at Oxford or touring as a concert violinist...but in the world they live in, surviving is first on the list and as the book begins, getting harder to do. Both their parents are now dead. Grimly and gruesomely described by the girls, in alternating chapters. Their parents were drunks and druggies and not so big on things like providing food.
Faced with what to do with their Dad, who may or may not have molested Nelly, who may or may not have smothered him with her pillow while he slept, and after leaving him there for a week, the situation is dire! Also, their mother has hung herself in the garage. What to do? They finally bury them in the garden and try to carry on going to school, hanging with their mates. Marni seems to be making some not very constructive choices in her daily life. Nelly, on the other hand, speaks in the voice of a Victorian aristocrat and is literate and  big on self preservation.
Their neighbor, an elderly gay gentleman named Lennie, who is still mourning the loss of his partner, keeps tabs on the girls from his window and eventually invites them in to feed and look after them as much as they allow him to, and a bond forms which is the heart of the book. These are characters you believe in and hope the best for. There are traps and snares all around to drag the girls under such as an ice cream man who deals drugs and unexpected allies such as Vlado,  a sometimes softhearted gangster from Russia. The Death of Bees is unique and a stand alone classic of contemporary fiction you'll want to read and read, again!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tough Love: "Shiver" by Karen Robards

Samantha Jones is a 26 year old single mom trying to earn enough to support her 4 year old son, Tyler. She drives an old tow-truck left to her by an "uncle" and repossesses cars at night for a place called A+ Collateral. She keeps a gun by her side and a tire iron under the seat. She's street smart and savvy and a very pretty girl who doesn't let that get in the way of what she needs to do to pay the rent and feed Tyler. Then, one night, she goes out to repossess a BMW. She hooks the chain to the car and cranks it onto its rear wheels when she notices a light is on. The trunk's open... she goes to check it out, and ...finds a man in the trunk, beaten up and bound. Earlier, we've learned this man is Danny Panterro, FBI agent undercover as Rick Marco, federal witness against a ruthless gang of drug lords and  ...as we learn, pretty darn gorgeous and sexy! Back to the trunk, Danny's been shot in the thigh and left there while the gangsters follow a false lead he gave them to buy time.
Before Sam has a minute to take in what is going on...she's tossed in the trunk with Danny. This is just the beginning of this romantic thriller. Will they survive this ordeal and get away? What about Tyler, at home with a neighbor? And, most of all can these two attractive people, Sam and Danny, find a way around all these obstacles and act on their growing chemistry???
This is the first of Karen Robards books I've read and it is a fun, addictive read, with tension, great characters, a sweet mom and son relationship, and action, action, action!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Different Kind of Love Story: "Me Before You" by JoJo Moyes

Will Traynor was a dashing, handsome, dynamic corporate guy, loving rock climbing, company take-overs and beautiful, sexy women. Until, one day, something happens that totally alters his fast-track life.
Louisa Clark (Lou) is a 26 year old woman who has spent the past 6 years working at a local cafe, living at home with her parents and sister and nephew and dating a man whose passion for extreme sports might be stronger than his passion for her... as, after 7 years he still hasn't proposed, or even asked her to move in.
Then, Lou is laid off work. The cafe is closing. Louisa's paycheck helps keep her family afloat as things look iffy for her Dad's job, as well. Time to hit the job center.
Louisa turns down several suggestions from her job adviser who finally suggests "care assistant". Despite her reservations Lou decides to interview for this position, care giver to a quadriplegic, a man confined to a wheelchair. She arrives at the interview and is met by the man's mother. It's a posh house and grounds and the woman looks at Lou, who is a "creative dresser"... and decides to try her out as she thinks Lou's chattiness will be good for her son, Will Traynor.
Yes, Will! That Will. He is now trapped in a body that can't move below the neck and has only partial use of one hand. He has a male nurse, Nathan, who looks after all his medical needs, drugs, etc. It's easy to understand why Will might be depressed and sarcastic to Lou, who tries to fill the days with offers of tea and cleaning his rooms. Is there hope for these two to come to some sort of peaceful co-existence? I will say that this is a wonderful, heartbreaking book. The author draws you into Lou's and Will's lives and they become people whom you come to care very much about. Be warned! There will be much crying but also laughs, as we get to know Lou's warm, devoted and supportive family. "Me Before You" is  a love story you can believe in and one that is very highly recommended!