Monday, December 31, 2012

A Life in Parts



On an ordinary winter day, Loretta Goebel was wrapping Christmas gifts in her basement when the doorbell rang. She rushed to answer it and, in her haste, she banged her hand on the banister as she ran up the stairs. This seemingly innocuous injury resulted in the amputation of both her legs, her left hand, and most of the fingers on her right hand. While suffering through several rounds of amputations and painful prosthetic parts, she had to adapt to life without fingers or feet. Fiercely independent, she refused to succumb to life as an invalid. Even the simplest things seemed insurmountable at first, but with the support of her family and friends, she relearned how to do everything-from feeding and dressing herself to driving a car. Loretta's adjustment and recovery led to a friendship with Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, also an amputee. Heather helped Loretta find comfortable and attractive artificial legs that allowed her to regain her confidence and to feel feminine again.Through all her pain and loss, Loretta never gave up, and her story of triumph is a testament to anyone who is struggling to adjust to difficult circumstances.(Synopsis and cover image from Netgalley).
 

My Thoughts:

Inspiring!

Two thoughts came to mind as I was reading this book:

A quote I just recently saw on Facebook "What looked like a setBACK could've actually been a setUP for God to do something greater in your life!!". For all the negatives and difficulties the author faced, she ultimately chose a path of being positive and working hard to make her life the best possible under her circumstances.

The book also reminded me about how life can turn on a dime. The story is a good example that we should live each day to the fullest and to be thankful for what we have, because we never know when everything could change.

Thank you to Stonebrook Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 8. 2012.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

White Horse (White Horse #1)

by Alex Adams

THE WORLD HAS ENDED, BUT HER JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN.

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places(synopsis and book cover from Netgalley)
 

My Thoughts:

I quite enjoyed this book. Zoe is a strong main character and the story revolves around her life both pre and post apocalypse.

White Horse is the term given by the media for a Pope Pharmaceutical experiment gone terribly wrong - the result of an attempt to cure cancer that ends up decimating humanity. Most everyone dies, some are immune and then there are the horrible mutations who know doubt wish they were dead.

A wonderful debut by Ms. Adams. Fast paced, lovely prose, a well written good vs evil. A strong outing for the first book of a trilogy. I am anxiously awaiting the next two. At this point, I would say I am not interested in being a post - apocalyptic survivor. I am curious to see how the author continues to handle this story line and whether I will change my mind.

Thank you to Atria/Emily Bestler Books and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: December 18. 2012.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Little Wolves
by Thomas Maltman
A tragic act of violence echoes through a small Minnesota town

Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife (and washed-out scholar of early Anglo-Saxon literature) who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own. A penetrating look at small-town America from the award-winning author of The Night Birds, Little Wolves weaves together elements of folklore and Norse mythology while being driven by a powerful murder mystery; a page-turning literary triumph (Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads).
 
 
My Thoughts

Mesmerizing!

I picked this up to just read a few chapters to get a feel for the book and see if I thought I would like it. Before I knew it, I was half way thru and did not want to put it down.

The author’s writing is so lyrical and descriptive. There is that undertone of evil that really drew me in and the pages just flew. This was one of those books where you tend to block out everything that is going on around you. I got so wrapped up in the story that I feel like I just came back from a mini vacation for my brain. Hot dog!

This is Mr. Maltman’s second book. I have no doubt that I will be reading his first and watching for  new releases.

I thank Soho Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: January 8, 2012.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Killer in the Wind

byAndrew Klavan

Three years ago, working vice for the NYPD, Dan Champion uncovered a sex slavery ring run by a kingpin known only as the Fat Woman. Obsessed with bringing her down, Champion infiltrated a world of sexual obsession and perversity. He broke the case, but the case also broke him. He started taking drugs and soon began to form hallucinations…a dead child prowling the streets of New York…a beautiful woman named Samantha who would have given him the love he always wanted—if she’d only been real.

Now Champion is a small town detective, chasing burglars and juvenile delinquents, hanging out at the local tavern where he is romancing a waitress. The ghosts and hallucinations are finally behind him as he begins to rebuild his life. Then one night Champion is called to examine the body of a woman who has washed ashore. Yet when he looks at her face, he sees that it’s Samantha, the woman he dreamed about long ago...a woman who doesn’t exist.

Suddenly, Champion is haunted again, only this time it’s by a team of expert killers who want to make sure he never finds the truth: the truth about the dead child who wanders through his imagination; the truth about the lover who inhabits his dreams; and the truth about a killer who has been on the run — in the wind — for a lifetime. The ghosts of the dead are all around him, and Champion has to find out who murdered them, fast, or he could become one of them himself. (Synopsis and book cover from Goodreads)



My Thoughts
Outstanding!

What a roller coaster ride this was. My heart is still pounding from the last 50 pages. I thought the author did a great job of writing a fast paced, twisted mystery. Quite different from anything I have read recently and I am looking forward to reading more from this author. I love it when I find books like this that are from authors who are new to me.

Congrats Mr. Kravan!

Thank you to Grove/Atlantic, Inc. and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: January 8, 2013.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See


A studio executive leaves his family and travels the world giving free reign to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to hide for 20 years.

In her tour-de-force first novel, Juliann Garey takes us inside the restless mind, ravaged heart, and anguished soul of Greyson Todd, a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free reign to the bipolar disorder he's been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years. The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson's travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson's eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo twelve 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward. This is a literary page-turner of the first order, and a brilliant inside look at mental illness.(synopsis and book cover from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Amazing!

When I first started this book. I had difficulty getting into the rhythm of the writing. Honestly, I put it down after reading about a fourth and really had no intention of picking it back up.

I am soooooo glad I did!

For some reason, when I picked it back up - it all started to make sense. Some of the things the main character thinks while in the midst of his craziness made me laugh out loud. Some of his thoughts were profound. And then, of course, some thoughts were just - well - crazy!

And all along the way, I’m thinking - how will this end? I can’t tell, but it was enough to make me cry. All in all - this really was an amazingly beautiful story.

Many, many thanks to Soho Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: December 26, 2012.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War

by Jeffrey Engel (Editor)

In the decade following the first Gulf War, most observers regarded it as an exemplary effort by the international community to lawfully and forcefully hold a regional aggressor in check. Interpretations have changed with the times. The Gulf War led to the stationing of US troops in Saudi Arabia, an important contributing cause of the 9/11 attacks. The war also led to a long obsession with Saddam Hussein that culminated in a second, far longer, American-led war with Iraq.
In Into the Desert, historian Jeffrey Engel has gathered an all-star cast of contributors to reevaluate the first Gulf War: Michael Gordon of the New York Times; Sir Lawrence Freedman, former foreign policy advisor to Tony Blair; American Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan Ryan Crocker; Middle East specialist Shibley Telhami; and Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations. Engel and his contributors examine the war's origins, the war itself, its impact within the Arab world, and its long-term impact on military affairs and international relations. All told, Into the Desert offers an astute reassessment of one of the most momentous events in the last quarter century (synopsis and book cover from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

Very Educational.

I do have this fascination with the working of the Middle East. I enjoy reading the ins and outs of politics and policy-making. This book was excellent in explaining the background of the Gulf War. Early in the book, there were two passages that I felt clearly explained it’s intent:

“This book examines the Gulf War anew. It’s goal is to explain, within the broad categories of history, strategy, politics, military affairs and public opinion, what the initial war over Kuwait meant to participants at the time; what it continues to mean to journalists, scholars, and policymakers still engaged in the region.......”

Then, with regards to the writings of the different contributors:

“Collectively, their purpose is to inform readers unfamiliar with these events why they mattered .....”

When I read that second passage, I thought - that’s me! I am one of those readers unfamiliar with the events that lead to the Gulf War and I really did find this book to be fascinating and informative.

Many thanks to Oxford University and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book for an unbiased review.

Publish date: December 3 2012.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ratlines


Ireland 1963. As the Irish people prepare to welcome President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors, a German national is murdered in a seaside guesthouse. Lieutenant Albert Ryan, Directorate of Intelligence, is ordered to investigate. The German is the third foreigner to die within a few days, and Minister for Justice Charles Haughey wants the killing to end lest a shameful secret be exposed: the dead men were all Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government in the years following World War II.

A note from the killers is found on the dead German's corpse, addressed to Colonel Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's favorite commando, once called the most dangerous man in Europe. The note simply says: "We are coming for you."

As Albert Ryan digs deeper into the case he discovers a network of former Nazis and collaborators, all presided over by Skorzeny from his country estate outside Dublin. When Ryan closes in on the killers, his loyalty is torn between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before? Ryan learns that Skorzeny might be a dangerous ally, but he is a deadly enemy (synopsis and book cover from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

Excellent!

I have decided that I like Irish authors and this book is a perfect example why. There so much history to draw from. This book had it all - murder mystery, plot twists, back stabbing.....what more could a reader ask for?

Thank you to Soho Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: January 1, 2013

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Keeper of the Night (The Keepers: L.A. #1)
By Heather Graham
 
In their new Keeper roles, these extraordinary women must balance the fate of the world with their desires…

New Keeper Rhiannon Gryffald has her peacekeeping duties cut out for her—because in Hollywood, it’s hard to tell the actors from the werewolves, bloodsuckers and shape-shifters. Then Rhiannon hears about a string of murders that bear all the hallmarks of a vampire serial killer, and she must confront her greatest challenge yet. Together with Elven detective Brodie McKay, they head to Laurel Canyon, epicenter of the danger, where they uncover a plot that may forever alter the face of human-paranormal relations.

My Thoughts

Traditional Heather Graham.

As we know from the synopsis, this book is about Rhiannon, who is keeper of the vampires. It’s her job to keep everyone on the straight and narrow. Easier said than done, especially in L.A. Plus, she is new to the job and is being tested to see if she can handle her new responsibilities. There are two cousins who are also keepers - Barrie, Keeper of the Shapeshifters and Sailor, Keeper of the Elven.

It’s nice to have a go-to author for when I want to read some thing I know will be light and fun. This book did not disappoint! It was fast paced - a mystery with some romance on the side. In the hands of Ms. Graham - this story line is always entertaining.

Here’s what is really cool. Ms. Graham has joined with Harley Jane Kozak and Alexandra Sokoloff to write what is to be a four book series. What I do know, is the next book is called Keeper of the Moon by Ms. Kozak, an author I have never read, so I am looking forward to this book.

If Keeper of the Night as any indication of what is to come, I think this series is going to be a blast!

Thank you to Harlequin and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: December 18, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Great North Road


New York Times bestselling author Peter F. Hamilton’s riveting new thriller combines the nail-biting suspense of a serial-killer investigation with clear-eyed scientific and social extrapolation to create a future that seems not merely plausible but inevitable.

A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family—composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone “brothers” have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies.

Or maybe not so friendly. At least that’s what the murder of a North clone in the English city of Newcastle suggests to Detective Sidney Hurst. Sid is a solid investigator who’d like nothing better than to hand off this hot potato of a case. The way he figures it, whether he solves the crime or not, he’ll make enough enemies to ruin his career.

Yet Sid’s case is about to take an unexpected turn: because the circumstances of the murder bear an uncanny resemblance to a killing that took place years ago on the planet St. Libra, where a North clone and his entire household were slaughtered in cold blood. The convicted slayer, Angela Tramelo, has always claimed her innocence. And now it seems she may have been right. Because only the St. Libra killer could have committed the Newcastle crime.

Problem is, Angela also claims that the murderer was an alien monster.

Now Sid must navigate through a Byzantine minefield of competing interests within the police department and the world’s political and economic elite . . . all the while hunting down a brutal killer poised to strike again. And on St. Libra, Angela, newly released from prison, joins a mission to hunt down the elusive alien, only to learn that the line between hunter and hunted is a thin one.(book cover and synopsis from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Incredible!!!!

I requested this book from Netgalley because the synopsis looked interesting. When I saw the publish date was Dec. 26, 2012, I set it aside so I could read and review it closer to this date. When I finally took a closer look at it, I discovered two things that struck terror in my heart:
the book is 976 pages and the genre is science fiction!!!!!!

Why do I phrase it like this? I have read some sci-fi in the past and while it has been fine, this is not really a genre that I gravitate towards. Also, 976 pages - really? Did I even want to go there?

Being the slow reader that I am, I decided I better start early if I had any hope of finishing the book close to the publish date (if I even finished it. Sci-fi - 976 pages - really?).
 
So, here it is, the end of November and I have finished this totally amazing book. From page 1 to page 976, the book never let me down. You know how sometimes with a lengthy book there are times you think - oh man, shoot me now. Or - just get on with it. Or - blah, blah blah - so much filler.
 
Not with this story. Not once. Honestly, I am flabbergasted. I am in awe. The author weaves such an intricate tale and it all made sense. I applaud you Mr. Hamilton. In research, I find that you are a seasoned author and it shows. I am just so happy I decided to give this book a try. What a totally unexpected surprise. I even did a happy dance.

Thank you to Random House/Del Ray and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.



 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Memoir of the Sunday Brunch


For Julia Pandl, the rite of passage into young-adulthood included mandatory service at her family's restaurant, where she watched as her father - who was also the chef - ruled with the strictness of a drill sergeant. At age twelve, Julie was initiated into the rite of the Sunday brunch, a weekly madhouse at her father's Milwaukee-based restaurant, where she and her eight older siblings before her did service in a situation of controlled chaos, learning the ropes of the family business and, more important, learning life lessons that would shape them for all the years to come. In her wry memoir, she looks back on those formative years, a time not just of growing up but, ultimately, of becoming a source of strength and support as the world her father knew began to change into a tougher, less welcoming place. Part coming-of-age story a la The Tender Bar, part window into the mysteries of the restaurant business a la Kitchen Confidential, Julie Pandl provides tender wisdom about the bonds between fathers and daughters and about the simple pleasures that lie in the daily ritual of breaking bread. This honest and exuberant memoir marks the debut of a writer who discovers that humor exists in even the smallest details of our lives and that the biggest moments we ever experience can happen behind the pancake station at the Sunday brunch.(Overview and book cover from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Part I of this book was hysterical. I mean laugh out loud, slap your leg, tears rolling down your face funny. Ms. Pandl has an ability to take normal, everyday activities and make them very entertaining. As the youngest of nine, she had lots of material to work with.

Part II was a 180 degree turn around. While there was still some humor, this part related to her family as her parents got older. She talks about the effects that diabetes had on her Mom. She writes about her relationship with her Dad as she became an adult herself.

After the extreme humor in Part I, I initially struggled with the more serious nature of Part II. I wasn’t sure I liked this change of pace. But by the time I finished the book, I had changed my mind. It’s easy to like a humorous story, but the story of aging parents - not so easy. Ms. Pandl handles this with poignancy and grace.

Many thanks to Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill and Netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: November 13, 2012.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Seventh Day

by Michael Alexander



Detective Nick McCallister investigates a rash of suicides-three on the south end and three

west end, his own son Justin among them. Something evil is happening in the city. McCallister comes face to face with that evil when Satan's personal assistant Nathan appears in his living room late one night and asks if he's ready for the truth. While an escape from reality is actually what he wants, McCallister knows Nathan must be stopped-but he has no idea how to proceed.

McCallister is already being sucked downward by the emotional undercurrent from a failing marriage, Justin's suicide, and the investigation of his own police force over the grim murder of a local African American civil rights activist.

He's drawn into the ugliest corners of a truth he never could have imagined, a world where the myths of civilization are exposed, the Inquisition analyzed, and the Holy Bible rewritten. McCallister is challenged to determine what is truly good and what is truly evil after he realizes his son and his wife have made their own informed and untimely decisions (overview and book cover from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is a somewhat non-traditional good versus evil story, in that it leans mostly on the side of evil. We learn in great detail what Nathan is doing here on earth and believe me, it’s pretty frightening! And, there is no winner at the end.

I’ll be honest with you, I somewhat struggled with the first 50 pages of this 200 page book. This part did not feel like it flowed very well. It jumped between Nick’s personal life and work life in a way that just did not work for me.

BUT - after that - all I can say is wow. The pace really picked up and it became quite a page turner. Unfortunately, we are left hanging at the end. I want to know more about Nick! Is he going to take Nathan’s offer or the one given to him by the Sentinels? I want more! I want more!

Good job Mr. Alexander.

Thank you to Smith Publicity and Netgalley for allowing me to read this for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 17, 2012.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sweet Tooth


Serena Frome, the beautiful daughter of an Anglican bishop, has a brief affair with an older man during her final year at Cambridge, and finds herself being groomed for the intelligence service. The year is 1972. Britain, confronting economic disaster, is being torn apart by industrial unrest and terrorism and faces its fifth state of emergency. The Cold War has entered a moribund phase, but the fight goes on, especially in the cultural sphere. Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is sent on a secret mission codenamed Sweet Tooth, which brings her into the literary world of Tom Healey, a promising young writer. First she loves his stories, then she begins to love the man. Can she maintain the fiction of her undercover life? And who is inventing whom? To answer these questions, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage - trust no one   (Book cover and overview from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Ingenious!

Serena comes across as self-adoring but at her core is very good hearted. I often laughed at her private thoughts, which is all the more interesting given the ending. Tom is sweet natured and seems naive, but don’t let that fool you.
 
Another book where the ending totally surprised me. Along the way, my theory on how this would end was forever changing and none of my thoughts where right! This is the second book I have read by Mr. McEwan and I am sold. How exactly do you come up with a story like this? In my humble opinion, this story was just smart, smart , smart.

Lucky me for getting this from Doubleday Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: November 13, 2012.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Slammed

by



Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.
Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.
Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart (from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

This was excellent!

I was a bit skeptical going into this book. This has an average rating of 4.4 on Goodreads. I’m not sure I have seen a book with this many reviews have such a high average. Was it really that good? And just what the heck is slam poetry and how is this going to play into the storyline?

The answer is YES - it really is that good. I want you to read it, so I am not going to tell you what slam poetry is all about. I absolutely fell in love with every character (except one - read the book). And I even teared up. Now that is saying a lot from me. I might think a book is sad - but actual tears due to a story are fairly rare from me.

And this is a debut novel for Ms. Hoover - no way. Bravo, Ms. Hoover, Bravo!

I want to thank Atria Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: January 5, 2012.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Kind of Christmas (Virgin River #20)

by

PATRICK RIORDAN ALWAYS THOUGHT THAT NOTHING COULD MATCH THE ADRENALINE RUSH HE GETS FROM HIS JOB. BUT THIS CHRISTMAS, PATRICK’S PULSE IS REALLY RACING...

The Riordan brothers may have a reputation for being rough-and tumble, but Patrick has always been the gentle, sweet-natured one. These days, his easygoing manner is being tested by his high-octane career as a navy pilot. But for the Riordan brothers, when the going gets tough…the tough find the love of a good woman.
Except the woman who has caught Patrick’s attention is Jack Sheridan’s very attractive niece.
Angie LeCroix comes to Virgin River to spend Christmas relaxing, away from her well-intentioned but hovering mother. Yet instead of freedom, she gets Jack Sheridan. If her uncle had his way, she’d never go out again. And certainly not with rugged, handsome Patrick Riordan. But Angie has her own idea of the kind of Christmas she wants—and the kind of man!
Patrick and Angie thought they wanted to be left alone this Christmas—until they meet each other. Then they want to be left alone together. But the Sheridan and Riordan families have different plans for Patrick and Angie—and for Christmas, Virgin River–style (from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

As you can see from the title, this is book #20 in the Virgin River series. Dare I tell you that this is the first book I’ve read of the series. Where the H have I been!?!?!?!

This was a very satisfying read. The author made the characters very real. I liked Angie and Patrick, and cheered for them as they try to work through their struggles. Both bring a history of trauma and pain the made them very endearing.

I see from reading other reviews that the Virgin River series is VERY popular. From reading just this one book, I now understand why. Off I go to find book #1 so I too can meet all the folks from Virgin Rivers.
 
Many thanks to Harlequin Publishers and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 30, 2012.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Merry Ex-Mas




Christmas in Icicle Falls... Between Yuletide traditions, winter sports and mistletoe hanging everywhere, Christmas is the best time of year in Icicle Falls, Washington. But this year it's not so merry-for three of its residents, anyway.
Cass Wilkes, owner of the Gingerbread Haus bakery, was looking forward to her daughter, Danielle's, wedding...until Dani announced that she wants her father, Cass's ex, to walk her down the aisle. Seriously? And, since every B and B is full, it looks like he, his trophy wife and their yappy little dog will be staying with Cass.
Her friend Charlene Albach arrives at their weekly chick-flick night in shock. She's just seen the ghost of Christmas past: her ex-husband, Richard, who left her a year ago, running off with the hostess from her restaurant, Zelda's, to start a new life (and restaurant) in Seattle. Now the hostess is history and he wants to kiss and make up. Hide the mistletoe!
And bring out the hot buttered rum, because the holidays aren't so easy for Ella O'Brien, either. Ella, who's newly divorced, is still sharing the house with her ex while they wait for the place to sell, and they are still fighting over all the things they fought over when they were married. The love is gone. Isn't it?
But Christmas has a way of working its magic. One of these women is about to rediscover love, another is going to remember what's important in life and the third will find a new dream in the new year. Merry Ex-mas, ladies!
Between Yuletide traditions, winter sports and mistletoe hanging everywhere, Christmas is the best time of year in Icicle Falls, Washington. But this year it's not so merry-for three of its residents, anyway (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I have to honestly tell you, I think this is my first ever story with a Christmas theme. I could not have picked a better place to start than with a story based in Icicle Falls. I have really gotten to like the folks in this town. I like how the author writes what her characters are really thinking on the inside versus how they are acting on the outside. You know, when internally you’re thinking “what the heck” or “no way” or “stick it” but on the outside we are saying “why sure!” or “gee, thanks” or “I’d love to”.

These are fun reads when you want something light that will make you feel good. I’m pretty sure I’m going to hang out in Icicle Falls for many years to come.

Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased opinion.

Publish date: October 30, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court


From the prizewinning author of The Nine, a gripping insider's account of the momentous ideological war between the John Roberts Supreme Court and the Obama administration.

From the moment John Roberts, the chief justice of the United States, blundered through the Oath of Office at Barack Obama's inauguration, the relationship between the Supreme Court and the White House has been confrontational. Both men are young, brilliant, charismatic, charming, determined to change the course of the nation—and completely at odds on almost every major constitutional issue. One is radical; one essentially conservative. The surprise is that Obama is the conservative—a believer in incremental change, compromise, and pragmatism over ideology. Roberts—and his allies on the Court—seek to overturn decades of precedent: in short, to undo the ultimate victory FDR achieved in the New Deal.
This ideological war will crescendo during the 2011-2012 term, in which several landmark cases are on the Court's docket—most crucially, a challenge to Obama's controversial health-care legislation. With four new justices joining the Court in just five years, including Obama's appointees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, this is a dramatically—and historically—different Supreme Court, playing for the highest of stakes.
No one is better positioned to chronicle this dramatic tale than Jeffrey Toobin, whose prize-winning bestseller The Nine laid bare the inner workings and conflicts of the Court in meticulous and entertaining detail. As the nation prepares to vote for President in 2012, the future of the Supreme Court will also be on the ballot.
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My Thoughts

It just so happened that on the day the Supreme Court was going to issue it’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA aka Obamacare), I had an appointment with my physician whose office is located within a hospital. Hmmmm - healthcare reform + doctor + hospital - seemed like a good time to ask people their opinion of the Affordable Care Act and their perception on how it would impact them. I, along with the rest of the country was anxiously awaiting the ruling. When it was announced that the Court decided to uphold the ACA, and this decision involved a stunning vote from Chief Justice John Roberts, I was curious as to how the Court came to their final decision.

As luck would have it, this book showed up on my radar screen and seemed like it might have the answers I was looking for. Not only did it do that, but The Oath provided me with a brief education on the Court and the Justices.

The book begins with the flubbed oath taking that started President Obama’s current term. It ends with the Court agreeing to rule on the constitutionality of the PPACA, the arguments presented by both sides, and the decision making process of the final rule. In between are chapters that talked about past and present justices, how they came to be on the Court and some of their beliefs and background that help shape whether they are conservative or liberal.

I learned a great deal from this book. I really like Mr. Toobin’s writing style. He is informative, yet entertaining. It certainly appears to be well researched. As someone with no legal background, I found the book to be fairly readable in that it did not contain too much legal speak. 
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the workings of the Supreme Court and how their decisions impact the nation.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Secret Keeper


1959 England. Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths some people go to fulfill them, and the strange consequences they sometimes have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers and schemers, play-acting and deception told against a backdrop of events that changed the world (from Goodreads)
 
My Thoughts
 
I just read the last 30 pages of this in the bathroom with the door closed so no one could find me - this is that good!
I am in awe of this story. It is one of those slow paced mysteries where the author drops a clue in every once in awhile that made me think “oh really? or “hmmm - now I wonder what that means?” Ms. Morton weaves such an intricate tale, I found it difficult to put down. The ending - oy - totally unexpected. Totally.
This is the first book I have read by Ms. Morton. I’m am so glad that I did, sad that I am at the end of this totally amazing book, but happy to know she has other stories out there that I still need to read!
I am eternally grateful to Atria Publishing and Netgally for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 16, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Jimmy The Stick


The Lindbergh kidnapping was one of the most highly publicized crimes of the 20th century. Charles Jr., the 20-month-old son of the famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, was abducted on March 1, 1932 from his home in New Jersey. The first week after the kidnapping was a time of fear, confusion and utter disbelief as America scrambled to come to terms with the horror, protect their own kids, and find someone to blame.

Jimmy the Stick is a historical mystery that takes place during this chaos. After retiring from a career of running with mobsters and working as a bootlegger, Jimmy started a speakeasy in New York City. Evoking the atmosphere of the 1930s Prohibition, his bar is a place where crooks, police and civilians can come for a nice drink in a dark and discreet atmosphere. His “retirement” ends, however, on the day after the kidnapping when he’s inexplicably beat up at his bar, then brought to New Jersey to protect his former partner’s son from Lindberg’s same fate. There, he discovers, the suburban calm of the rich is anything but, and worse, his crooked past is threatening to catch up to him…(from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

I received an email from the publisher asking if I would consider reading this book since I have read historical fiction before.

“Why not?” I thought. But hey - wait a minute - what if I don’t like the story?

Well, not to worry, because I liked it a lot. I got involved with the story line right from the beginning. There is always something going on that keeps the story moving along at a good pace.Jimmy the Stick is a very likeable character. He is street wise and stands by his friends.

I thought the author captured the tone of the time period quite well. Mr. Mayo - I hope you have more stories for us in the future.

Thank you to Open Road Media/Mysterious Press for allowing me to read - via Netgalley - this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review. I’m sure glad you asked!

Publish date: October 16, 2012

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Double Blind: A Novel


Twenty-nine-year-old Lisa Newberry can barely make it through the day. Suddenly widowed and a survivor of a near-fatal attack, she is wracked with grief and despair. Then she hears of a medical trial for a tiny brain chip that emits electrical pulses to heal severe depression. At rope’s end, Lisa offers herself as a candidate.

When she receives her letter of acceptance for the trial, Lisa is at first hopeful. But—brain surgery. Can she really go through with that? What if she receives only the placebo?

What if something far worse goes wrong?

Written in the relentless style for which Brandilyn Collins is known, Double Blind is a psychological thriller with mind-bending twists. Lisa faces choices that drive her to the brink, and one wrong move could cost the lives of many.(from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

Once Lisa Newberry gets her brain chip, she immediately starts to feel better. But just as quick, she starts having nightmares that seem more real than dreamed. Is it the chip? If not, where are these images coming from and what could they possibly mean?

This was a great read. Fast paced and I think, believable. Lisa is a fighter and determined to find out the truth at any cost. The story had my heart pounding from the suspense.

This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I am looking forward to reading some of her other stories.

Thanks to B&H Publishing Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchanges for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 15, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Darkness Rising (East Salem Trilogy #2)

by Lis Wiehl and Pete Nelson

The evil that's in East Salem is no longer content to hide in the shadows. The stakes-and the darkness-are rising.

Dani Harris thought there wasn't much left that could surprise her after serving as a forensic psychiatrist in East Salem. And Tommy Gunderson has faced few challenges in his life that he couldn't overcome by either physical strength or his celebrity status.

But as they race to uncover what's really happening behind the high walls of St. Adrian's Academy, it becomes clear that supernatural forces have been at work here for generations. And now their focus is on making sure Dani and Tommy don't interfere.

When the unseen becomes seen, faith is the only weapon strong enough to fight in a battle involving not only murder and betrayal-but angels and demons.(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This was excellent! I do love a tale about good versus evil. I did not realized when I pick this up that it is book two of a trilogy. I don’t feel that not reading book one had any impact on my enjoying the story. I definitely want to go back and read the first book now.

I liked both Dani and Tommy. The seemed real, had flaws and sometimes struggled with their faith. The story was suspenseful and it was hard to put down - oh that I was one of those people who can read all night and still work the next day!

Many thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishing and NetGallet for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 3, 2012.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book


A book about losing your place, finding your purpose, and immersing yourself in what holds community, and humanity, together—books

Wendy Welch and her husband had always dreamed of owning a bookstore. When the opportunity to escape a toxic work environment and run to a struggling Virginia coal mining town presented itself, they took it. And took the plunge into starting their dream as well. They chose to ignore the “death of the book,” the closing of bookstores across the nation, and the difficult economic environment, and six years later they have carved a bookstore—and a life—out of an Appalachian mountain community.

A story of beating bad odds with grace, ingenuity, good books, and single malt, this memoir chronicles two bibliophiles discovering unlikely ways in which daily living and literature intertwine. Their customers—"Bob the Mad Irishman," "Wee Willie," and "The Lady Who Liked Romances," to name a few—come to the shop looking for the kind of interactive wisdom Kindles don't spark, and they find friendship, community, and the uncommon pleasure of a good book in good company.

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap will make you want to run to the local bookstore, and curl up in an arm chair with a treasure in bound pages.(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This book was good in so many ways it made my head spin. The author has quite a wit and I often laughed out loud (Light Commander, Light Off!). She also brought up many thought provoking topics regarding all things books: e-reader vs paper books; big box book stores vs independent vs used; buy online or shop local. And while she always offered an opinion, the information was presented factually and I never felt like I was being told which option to pick (although I will say I did feel a bit guilty reading a story about a used bookstore on my e-reader.)

This was so well written, I often found myself thinking “the author is such a good story teller”. As it turns out, she actually had a past job telling stories. Her ability to tell a tale translated well onto the written page. I loved how she showed the importance of the store, not just in selling used books, but as being part of the community and providing a gathering place for a variety of local characters.

I can count on one hand the number of used bookstores I have visited. Sadly, anything local is no longer opened. I believe the author and her husband have been blessed that their little bookstore has been accepted by the community of Big Stone Gap. And in kind, the community has been blessed that the couple opened their bookstore in Big Stone Gap. Isn’t it great how life works?

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 2, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Better Than Chocolate


Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations, ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed up her first fabulous recipe. But now it looks as if they're about to lose Sweet Dreams to the bank—and that would be a disaster, not only for the family but for the town of Icicle Falls, Washington. Can Samantha, the oldest daughter and new head of the company, come up with a way to save it?After Samantha does some brainstorming with her mother and sisters, inspiration strikes. They'll have a chocolate festival! Time's running out, but the Sterling women are determined and the town's behind them, so everything's bound to go smoothly….

Or not. Events seem to be conspiring against Samantha, and her mother's attempts to help aren't helping. To make matters worse, the fate of her company is in the hands of her archenemy, Blake Preston, the bank manager with the football-hero good looks. It's enough to drive her to chocolate. But Blake's also enough to convince her that there’s something better than chocolate (from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

Well, folks, no one was more surprised than me as to how much I liked this book. I lean more toward dark, twisted, suspense and mystery. Chick-lit is not a genre I seek.

That being said, I enyoyed this story. The characters were believable, so much so there was one I wanted to slap. I liked Samantha and her determined attitude. And yes, there was some romance, but nothing sappy and it didn’t overwhelm the story line.

So, it appears that I’ve learned something. Chick lit can be very likeable when it is written this well. At the end of the book, I discovered that there is another book (Merry Ex-Mas) coming out in November with more tales from Icicle Falls - Yippee!

Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for letting me read this for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 25, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Forgiven: A Novel


In this stylish, haunting novel, journalist and novelist Lawrence Osborne explores the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of Moroccan Muslims and Western visitors who converge on a luxurious desert villa for a decadent weekend-long party.

David and Jo Henniger, a doctor and children's book author, in search of an escape from their less than happy lives in London, accept the invitation of their old friends Richard and Dally to attend their annual bacchanal at their home deep in the Moroccan desert – a ksar they have acquired and renovated into a luxurious retreat. On the way, the Hennigers stop for lunch, and the bad-tempered David can't resist consuming most of a bottle of wine. Back on the road, darkness has descended, David is groggy, and the directions to the ksar are vague. Suddenly, two young men spring from the roadside, apparently attempting to interest passing drivers in the fossils they have for sale. Panicked, David swerves toward the two, leaving one dead on the road and the other running into the hills.

At the ksar, the festivities have begun: Richard and Dally’s international friends sit down to a lavish dinner prepared and served by a large staff of Moroccans. As the night progresses and the debauchery escalates, the Moroccans increasingly view the revelers as the godless "infidels" they are. When David and Jo show up late with the dead body of the young man in their car, word spreads among the locals that David has committed an unforgivable act (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This was very good. Not fast paced, but a slow simmering suspense. I’m going to share one extra tidbit to make this even more enticing. The father of the young man that David struck and killed shows up at the ksar. He wants David, and ONLY David to come back to their village to attend his son’s burial and as such, atone for what he did.

Oh really? A bereaved Muslim father wants an unbeliever, an infidel, to come alone to their distant village. What happens to David? And in David’s absence, what’s his wife up to? The Muslim servants at the party find out very early about the “accident”. This, along with the hedonistic activities that are taking place, also creates an undercurrent of tension. Does anyone come out of this unscathed?

Well written. Heart Pounding. Descriptive. Sizzling.

Bravo Mr. Osborne.

Thank you Crown Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 25, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins the unlikely pilgrimage at the heart of Rachel Joyce’s remarkable debut. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.

Still in his yachting shoes and light coat, Harold embarks on his urgent quest across the countryside. Along the way he meets one fascinating character after another, each of whom unlocks his long-dormant spirit and sense of promise. Memories of his first dance with Maureen, his wedding day, his joy in fatherhood, come rushing back to him—allowing him to also reconcile the losses and the regrets. As for Maureen, she finds herself missing Harold for the first time in years.

And then there is the unfinished business with Queenie Hennessy. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts


Little did I know when I started this book how much I was going to enjoy it. Who couldn’t help but fall in love with Harold Fry? He starts his journey with such a simple intent, not yet knowing what this path would help him discover. The author tells a fine tale of the people he meets along the way, his wife Maureen back at home, and finally at the end of the road, Queenie. I laughed, I cried, I cheered for both Harold and Maureen.

This book certainly stands out as one of the best I have read this year and a new all time favorite. I love the message of hope, redemption, dreams and perseverance. This is our first novel from Ms. Joyce and all I can says is Wow! I am looking forward to more from this very talented author.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Low Pressure





Bellamy Lyston Price was only 12 years old when her older sister Susan was killed on a stormy Memorial Day. Bellamy's fear of storms is a legacy of the tornado that destroyed the crime scene as well as her memory of one vital fact that still eludes her...

Now, 18 years later, Bellamy has written a novel based on Susan's murder. It's her first book, and it's an instant sensation. But because the novel is based on the most traumatic event of her life, she's published it under a pseudonym to protect herself and her family.

But when a sleazy reporter for a tabloid newspaper discovers that the book is based on a real crime, Bellamy's identity - and dark family secrets -- are exposed. Suddenly, she finds herself embroiled in a personal conflict and at the mercy of her sister's killer, who for almost two decades has gotten away with murder...and will stop at nothing to keep it that way (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This was a fun roller coaster of a read. Full of unexpected surprises and a boatload of characters who are possible suspects. A good mystery with a mix of romance. The plot moves along quickly and really held my interest.

You can tell Ms. Brown is a seasoned writer. I have enjoyed a few of her other books because they are so well written and this one did not disappoint.

Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 18. 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Those We Love Most




A bright June day. A split-second distraction. A family forever changed.

Life is good for Maura Corrigan. Married to her college sweetheart, Pete, raising three young kids with her parents nearby in her peaceful Chicago suburb, her world is secure. Then one day, in a single turn of fate, that entire world comes crashing down and everything that she thought she knew changes.

Maura must learn to move forward with the weight of grief and the crushing guilt of an unforgivable secret. Pete senses a gap growing between him and his wife but finds it easier to escape to the bar with his friends than face the flaws in his marriage.

Meanwhile, Maura's parents are dealing with the fault lines in their own marriage. Charismatic Roger, who at sixty-five, is still chasing the next business deal and Margaret, a pragmatic and proud homemaker, have been married for four decades, seemingly happily. But the truth is more complicated. Like Maura, Roger has secrets of his own and when his deceptions and weaknesses are exposed, Margaret's love and loyalty face the ultimate test.

My Thoughts

The author did a excellent job of writing a story about loss, grief, love and family. I liked the way we get to know the four main characters in depth. Not only do they have to deal with a tragic event, but each has private issues to overcome. While the basis of the story involves sadness, ultimately it is about faith and perseverance.

Ms. Woodruff’s writing style is detailed and eloquent. While I have not read any of her non-fiction books, I thought this was a good first endeavor into the world of literary fiction.

Thank you to Hyperion and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 11, 2012

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Empty Glass



In the early-morning hours of August 5, 1962, Los Angeles County deputy coroner Ben Fitzgerald arrives at the home of the world's most famous movie star, now lying dead in her bedroom, naked and still clutching a telephone. There he discovers The Book of Secrets - Marilyn Monroe's diary - revealing a doomed love affair with a man she refers to only as "The General." In the following days, Ben unravels a wide-ranging cover-up and some heartbreaking truths about the fragile, luminous woman behind the celebrity. Soon the sinister and surreal accounts in The Book of Secrets bleed into Ben's own life, and he finds himself, like Monroe, trapped in a deepening paranoid conspiracy. The Empty Glass is an unforgettable combination of the riveting facts and legendary theories that have dogged Monroe, the Kennedy's, the Mafia, and even the CIA for decades. It is an exciting debut from a remarkable new thriller writer. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Well, well, well - this was pretty darn interesting. I was too young in 1962 to remember the death of Marilyn Monroe, but have certainly heard all the stories surrounding the mystery of her last few years and her supposed suicide. I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t so sure the topic would interest me, but boy, was I wrong. This book pulls the different theories surrounding Marilyn’s death together in a very readable, entertaining and fast paced mystery.

This is a debut from Mr. Baker. All I can say is - Bravo! This author is definitely on my list as someone to watch for his next book. What story will you tell us next?

Thank you to Penguin Group/Blue Rider Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 19, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Vanishing Point




One of the finest crime writers we have, Val McDermid’s heart-stopping thrillers have won her international renown and a devoted following of readers worldwide. In The Vanishing Point, she kicks off a terrifying thriller with a nightmare scenario: a parent who loses her child in a bustling international airport.

Young Jimmy Higgins is snatched from an airport security checkpoint while his guardian watches helplessly from the glass inspection box. But this is no ordinary abduction, as Jimmy is no ordinary child. His mother was Scarlett, a reality TV star who, dying of cancer and alienated from her unreliable family, entrusted the boy to the person she believed best able to give him a happy, stable life: her ghost writer, Stephanie Harker. Assisting the FBI in their attempt to recover the missing boy, Stephanie reaches into the past to uncover the motive for the abduction. Has Jimmy been taken by his own relatives? Is Stephanie’s obsessive ex-lover trying to teach her a lesson? Has one of Scarlett’s stalkers come back to haunt them all? (from Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

This was very good. I wouldn’t call it fast paced, because the author spends a large amount of time helping us understand how Stephanie and Scarlett’s relationship went from business to close friends. This is integral to the whole story line, and through the process, I grew to really like both women.

There’s a twist close to the end that caught me off guard but was very well thought out. Initially, I did not like the very, very end. Once I let the story settle and gave the ending more thought, I decided maybe there was just no other way for this tale to close.

I am very excited, as this was my first Val McDermid book. I’m looking forward to reading more from this very talented author.

Thank you to Grove/Atlantic, Inc. (Atlantic Monthly Press) and Netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 4, 2012.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden--from 9/11 to Abbottabad


From the author of the New York Times bestselling Holy War, Inc., this is the definitive account of the decade-long manhunt that killed the world’s most wanted man, Osama bin Laden.
Al Qaeda expert and CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen paints a multidimensional picture of the hunt for bin Laden over the past decade, including the operation that killed him. Other key elements of the book will include:

A careful account of Obama’s decision-making process as the raid was planned

The fascinating story of a group of CIA analysts—largely women—who never gave up assembling the tiniest clues about OBL’s whereabouts

The untold and action-packed history of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the SEALs

An analysis of what the death of OBL means for al Qaeda, and for Obama’s legacy.
Just as Too Big to Fail captured, in riveting detail, the anatomy of this decade’s financial disaster, so too is Manhunt one of the key stories of this decade: the authoritative, immersive account of the operation that killed the man who organized the largest mass murder in American history (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts


We know the beginning of this story - the horror of 9/11. We know the middle - the ongoing search for bin Laden, the reported sightings (described as - “Where’s Waldo”) and the occasional released propaganda video confirming bin Laden’s continued existence. We know the end - bin Laden is killed. So I have to ask myself - why read this book?

Here’s the answer. The author has written a very well researched, extremely readable story of all the steps along the way. The most fascinating part was the decision making process involved once it was determined there was a high likelihood Osama bin Laden had been found. Even up to the very end - this was not a 100% certainty. What were the different options along with the pros and cons of each? I have to say, reading the last few chapters - my heart was pounding! Remember the famous photo of the President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and several high ranking military and cabinet members sitting around a small table intently watching as the action was taking place? At this point, I was so invested in the story, I felt like I was right there.

If you think that have even a fleeting interest in this topic, here is the book to read! Highly informative and entertaining.

Publish date: May 1, 2012



 

 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mother of Pearl





Barrie Graeber has two great kids, a loving husband, and a respected job as the high school counselor in her close-knit community. Without warning everything unravels when her teenage daughter, Pearl, is betrayed by friends and lashes out.

Nothing prepares this mother for the helplessness that follows when her attempts to steer her daughter back on course fail and Pearl shuts her out...

Emotionally riveting and profoundly moving, MOTHER OF PEARL brings us into the heart of a mother bound by an incredible burden, who ultimately finds she must recognize her own vulnerability and learn to trust in something much bigger (from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

Do you ever start a book and think - ok, I know what this is going to be about? Well, I did that with this book and got it totally wrong!

It was interesting to read the different reactions to what happened to Pearl. I liked the way Barrie fought for her daughter even though everyone was telling her to let it go. She just knows something is not right and refuses to give up on finding the truth.

I think at it’s heart, this book is about having faith even during times of struggle. A long time ago, there was a show called Touched by an Angel. One of the characters said “having faith doesn’t mean we will never have bad experiences. It means we will have something to hold on to and help us through bad experiences”. That is what I thought of as I read this book. Even though the basis of this story is sad, in the end it has a positive message.

A well written debut by Ms. Gilbert. I look forward to more from this very Talented author.

Thank you to Abingdon Press and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 1, 2012.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Uninvited (Krewe of Hunters #8)

by




1777: In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Landon Mansion is commandeered by British Lord Butcher Bedford. He stabs Lucy Tarelton who spurned his king and his love leaving her to die in her father's arms. Now: After the day's final tour, docent Allison Leigh makes her rounds while locking up and finds a colleague slumped over Bedford's desk, impaled on his own replica bayonet. Resident ghosts may be the stock-in-trade of stately Philadelphia homes, but Allison a noted historian is indignant at the prospect of ghost hunters investigating this apparent murder. Agent Tyler Montague knows his haunting and his history. But while Allison is skeptical of the newcomer, a second mysterious murder occurs. Has Butcher Bedford resurfaced Or is there another malevolent force at work in Landon Mansion Wary, yet deeply attracted, Allison has to trust in Tyler and work with him to discover just what uninvited guest dead or alive has taken over the house. Or their lives could become history (from Goodreads)
 
My Thoughts

This Krewe of Hunter series are my go to books when I want a guaranteed fun read. I always enjoy how the author mixes history, murder mystery and a small bit of romance. The stories move along nicely and I never get bored. Sometimes, I don’t want to cry, or have my stomach in knots from suspense or have bad dreams from something too graphic. All of those emotions can make for some very good reading. But when I simply want to be entertained, come to the end of a book and think “wasn’t that nice” - this is where I go.

Publish date: August 28, 2012.