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Below are reviews on books and database reviews written by the Joplin Public Library's librarians that were not posted on the Joplin Globe.

May 23, 2010 - Book Review: “Money to Burn” by James Grippando (compact disc audiobook)

Michael Cantella is a rising star at Saxton Silvers, Wall Street’s leading investment bank. Michael and his love interest, Ivy Layton are on a Bahamian cruise sponsored by Saxton Silvers when he and Ivy decide leave the group, charter a boat and get married. Michael awakens from their wedding night to discover Ivy missing. After Ivy’s DNA is found in the body of a shark he is cleared as a murder suspect.

Seven years later finds Michael is living the good life. He is married to Mallory, his beautiful new wife, and has a successful career on Wall Street with a seven-figure investment portfolio. On the eve of his 35th birthday he logs onto his computer to check his portfolio and is shocked to learn that his investments have been completely wiped out. Is this a case of identity theft or something more sinister? Since a great deal of his wealth consisted of shares in Saxton Silvers, the price of the stock begins to drastically drop in price. Wall Street begins to panic and the bank collapses. Employees of Saxton Silvers blame Michael for its financial ruin.

Michael is accused of a murder, a kidnapping as well as insider trading, and he discovers his life might be in danger as well. He’s certain he is being framed—but who is behind the scheme, and why? His only clue is a new email. Is it possible that Ivy is still alive and has something to do with his current predicament? Michael’s wife has locked him out of their apartment and is threatening divorce so he is now homeless as well as penniless. He calls upon his estranged brother to be his lawyer.

James Grippando has written a timely gripping financial thriller that could have been torn from recent headlines. An excellent storyline along with nonstop action and suspense and riveting characters make for a great novel. The fine narration by Jonathan Davis thoroughly engages the listener.

May 23, 2010 - Book Review: “The First Rule” by Robert Crais (compact disc audiobook)

Joe Pike, former mercenary and former cop, is featured in the latest Robert Crais thriller. Frank Meyer and his family are ruthlessly slaughtered during what appears to be a home invasion. Only their Serbian nanny barely clings to life. After being questioned by the LAPD, Pike sets out to avenge the deaths of Frank and his family. Frank had been a mercenary under Joe Pike’s command but left the team ten years ago when his wife Cindy insisted that he give up his dangerous life for family life. The nanny’s sister, Rina a Serbian prostitute, and Pike connect the killings to Serbian mobsters who most likely kidnapped Rina’s baby. Supposedly the crime boss is the infant’s father. Rina had hidden the baby with her sister, and the crime boss’s motives likely involved the infant.

The police logically assume that Frank was dirty because there had been other similar crimes, and the victims were criminals who had cash or drugs in the house. Frank had gotten into the garment import business after leaving his former life as a mercenary, and Pike is determined to prove that his friend had stayed clean. Pike calls upon a couple of his former team members and his PI sidekick, Elvis Cole, to assist him in taking on the Serbian band of killers. An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent is also interested in the Serbian mob since they may have imported 3,000 automatic rifles to sell to a Los Angeles gang. The Serbian mobsters quickly realize that you don’t mess with Pike. He’s lethal!

Robert Crais has delivered a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that shows a softer side of Joe Pike. We gain a little more insight into the character of the enigmatic, silent man behind the sunglasses. Add superb writing and a terrific plot that takes several twists and you have a winner. Robert Crais narrates his novel.


June 22, 2008 - Book Review: Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan

4-8th Grade

Eleven-year-old Maya has lived a sheltered life since the death of her parents six years before. Since that time, she has been living with her paternal grandmother in a posh California community, but due to her grandmother’s overbearing personality and strict rules, Maya feels like a captive. However, all of that changes when Maya’s grandmother has a fatal stroke and arrangements are made for her to live in Wyoming, with her maternal relatives—her grandfather Moose, her great-uncle Fig, and her great-aunt Vi.

Maya barely remembers her parents, much less the relatives she is traveling thousands of miles to live with. She has an even harder time transitioning since her grandmother, who despised Maya’s mother, told her many lies about that side of her family. Maya arrives at the ranch in Wyoming filled with fear and trepidation, but despite her fear, Maya slowly settles into her new life and soon learns to ride horses and even develops a relationship with her bratty cousin.

A unique aspect of the story is the intermingling of chapters between what is taking place in Maya’s life and scenes from the life of a wild mustang named Artemisia. As readers will surely guess, Maya’s and Artemisia’s paths cross, with the two developing a bond that allows them to survive a harrowing experience. Despite this bond, Maya must eventually make a heartbreakingly, painful decision about Artemisia’s fate.

Award-winning author Pam Muñoz Ryan, who also wrote Esperanza Rising, Becoming Naomi Leon, and Riding Freedom, has crafted another stunning novel. The suspense combined with the allure of a mysterious, wild horse makes for a moving read. Readers will drink in every last word of this latest addition to the ever-popular, horse story genre.


June 22, 2008 Book Review: Riding Lessons by Sara Gruen

Adult Fiction Eighteen-year-old Olympic hopeful Annemarie Zimmer’s dreams were shattered along with her body when her beloved horse Harry was put down after a horrific jumping accident. Her body is eventually restored, but her equestrian dreams are forever placed on hold when she marries and moves from New Hampshire to Minnesota.

Almost twenty years later she finds herself without a job, due to being laid off; without a husband, since Roger left her for a twenty-three year-old intern; and without a way to rein in her strong-willed, fifteen-year-old daughter Eva. With little tying her down, she decides to move home, but upon telling her mother, finds that her father has been diagnosed with ALS.

Annemarie arrives to find her father rapidly deteriorating, and in an effort to help, takes over managing the family farm, with disastrous results. Meanwhile, she acquires a damaged horse, who has the same unusual brindled markings as Harry. She is soon focusing most of her energy in finding out the mystery horse’s true identity.

Sara Gruen, who is the best-selling author of Water for Elephants, has written a complex, moving novel. The mass appeal of horses may be the initial draw, but readers will soon discover there is much more involved in this multifaceted narrative. Regardless of how one stumbles upon this gem, it will be a struggle to put it down.