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)


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.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Broken Lands

by Kate Milford, Andrea Offermann (Illustrator)
A crossroads can be a place of great power. So begins this deliciously spine-tingling prequel to Kate Milford’s The Boneshaker, set in the colorful world of nineteenth-century Coney Island and New York City. Few crossroads compare to the one being formed by the Brooklyn Bridge and the East River, and as the bridge’s construction progresses, forces of unimaginable evil seek to bend that power to their advantage. Only two orphans with unusual skills stand in their way. Can the teenagers Sam, a card sharp, and Jin, a fireworks expert, stop them before it’s too late? Here is a richly textured, slow-burning thriller about friendship, courage, and the age-old fight between good and evil (from Goodreads).
My Thoughts

This was excellent. I’ve been telling everyone this book is Stephen King-ish, a descriptive term meaning ookie spookie.
I fell in heavy like with Jin and Sam. For young teenagers, they have already experienced many of life’s unpleasant moments. Jin is resilient and strong. Sam is street smart and loyal. Together they must stand up against evil.
I was not aware when I requested this book that it was classified as juvenile fiction and honestly, I could not tell this from the writing. It was suspenseful, magical and just down right entertaining!
Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchnage for an unbiased review.
Publish date: September 4, 2012.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Gingerbread House

by Carin Gerhardsen, Paul Norlen (Translator)
In a short space of time, several bestial murders occur in central Stockholm. When criminal investigator Conny Sjöberg and the Hammarby police begin to suspect that there’s a link between the murders, Sjöberg goes completely cold. There is a killer out there whose motives are very personal, and who will not be deterred.The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen is the first in the Hammarby series, thrillers with taut, suspenseful plots and unexpected twists and turns. This haunting novel explores schoolyard bullying among young children and the effect it has on them when people look the other way. Many of the scenes in this book are self-experienced and based on Gerhardsen’s own childhood. Urban settings and strong portraits of authentic characters are crafted in depth and detail, insuring the books will linger in the reader’s mind long after the finish.The Gingerbread House is written in the same tradition as the Sjöwall / Wahlöö crime novels, and has been described as a book version of the tv series The Wire. It is not only published by the same publisher as Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy, but by the same editorial team. (from Goodreads)
My Thoughts

This was a good book The story moved along quickly and the detective team was likeable. I especially liked how the author showed us the personal and professional lives of some of the investigators - especially lead detective Conny Sjoberg. One minute he’s investigating a murder and the next he’s changing a dirty diaper. It made the characters seem real. The book also sends a frightening message about the effects of bullying - yikes!

So, if I understand correctly, this is Ms. Gerhardsen’s first book translated into English. I have just one thing to say to the publisher: WE WANT MORE!! WE WANT MORE!! Please don’t make us wait too long before you let us read more from this very talented author.

Tack så mycket to Stockholm Text and Netgalley for allowing me to read this for my unbiased review.

Publish date: June 5, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lessons Learned

A young girl needs to spread her wings, but a young woman needs roots.

English teacher Sarah Bray never thought she’d return to Sycamore Falls, but a traumatic event at her inner-city school leaves her desperate for the sanctuary of home. By returning to her roots, an older and wiser Sarah hopes to deal with the demons of her present and confront the ghosts of her past.

She discovers a kindred spirit in Lucas Miller, a teacher from New York with demons of his own. They quickly become friends – bonding through Lucas’s culture shock and their mutual desire to build new lives. When they open their wounded hearts to each other, their friendship effortlessly evolves into romance.

Their love is put to the test when Matt, the quarterback of the football team, shares his deepest secret with Sarah. When the conservative community finds out, Sarah and Lucas – along with the town of Sycamore Falls – are schooled in the lessons of acceptance, tolerance, and love. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

This was a well written debut novel. I thought it gave a good representation of the positives and negatives of living in a small town. The message sent about bullying and non-acceptance is relevant in today’s world. One of the worse things we can do when someone is being bullied is to do nothing at all. In this tale, we get to see the results of both action and inaction. The story also talks about dealing with life’s negatives and trying to move forward.

The only thing that bothered me was what I perceived to be Sarah’s sexual teasing with Lucas in the early part of their relationship. The only thing I can think is that the author was using this to show Sarah’s level of conflict as she tries to recover from her traumatic event and determine if she is really ready to make a commitment.

So, all in all a good book. Fast read, good messages and relevant topics.

Thank you to the Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House and Netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 6, 2012.

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Taker (The Taker trilogy #1)
True love can last an eternity . . . but immortality comes at a price. . . .On the midnight shift at a hospital in rural Maine, Dr. Luke Findley is expecting another quiet evening of frostbite and the occasional domestic dispute. But the minute Lanore McIlvrae—Lanny—walks into his ER, she changes his life forever. A mysterious woman with a past and plenty of dark secrets, Lanny is unlike anyone Luke has ever met. He is inexplicably drawn to her . . . despite the fact that she is a murder suspect with a police escort. And as she begins to tell her story, a story of enduring love and consummate betrayal that transcends time and mortality, Luke finds himself utterly captivated.

Her impassioned account begins at the turn of the nineteenth century in the same small town of St. Andrew, Maine, back when it was a Puritan settlement. Consumed as a child by her love for the son of the town’s founder, Lanny will do anything to be with him forever. But the price she pays is steep—an immortal bond that chains her to a terrible fate for all eternity. And now, two centuries later, the key to her healing and her salvation lies with Dr. Luke Findley.

Part historical novel, part supernatural page-turner, The Taker is an unforgettable tale about the power of unrequited love not only to elevate and sustain, but also to blind and ultimately destroy, and how each of us is responsible for finding our own path to redemption (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts
I took me three times to get hooked, but oh I am so glad stuck with this book. It was only those first few chapters that I found a bit slow. After that, it became a page turner. I thought it was suspenseful, this tale with a mix of paranormal, underlying evil and unrequited love. The ending left me wanting more of this mysterious story. Lucky me book #2, The Reckoning, is already out and waiting for me on my kindle.

Publish date: September 6, 2011.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Little Night

Clare Burke’s life took a devastating turn when she tried to protect her sister, Anne, from an abusive and controlling husband and ended up serving prison time for assault. The verdict largely hinged on Anne’s defense of her spouse—all lies—and the sisters have been estranged ever since. Nearly twenty years later, Clare is living a quiet life in Manhattan as an urban birder and nature blogger, when her niece, Grit, turns up on her doorstep.

The two long for a relationship with each other, but they’ll have to dig deep into their family’s difficult past in order to build one. Together they face the wounds inflicted by Anne and find in their new connection a place of healing. When Clare begins to suspect her sister might be in New York, she and her niece hold out hope for a long-awaited reunion with her. (from Goodreads)
My Thoughts

I thought this book was a good representation of the power of an abusive relationship and the life long impact it can have on those involved. I also felt it told a nice story regarding the power of love and forgiveness.
That being said, I have to tell you I struggled with this book, especially that last quarter. To me, it became disjointed and somewhat repetitive. I had many unanswered questions at the end, to the extent I thought maybe there would be a sequel.
I know Ms. Rice is a prolific author and I think maybe I just ended up with the wrong book as my first read.
Thank you to Penguin Group, via Netgalley, for allowing me to reaf this for an unbiased review.
Publish date: June 5, 2012

My Rating: Please see my comment under "My Rating System".

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lucretia and the Kroons

Lucretia’s best friend and upstairs neighbor Sunny—a sweet pitbull of a kid, even as she struggles with a mysterious illness—has gone missing. The only way to get her back is for Lucretia to climb the rickety fire escape of their Queens tenement and crawl through the window of apartment 6D, portal to a vast shadowland of missing kids ruled by a nightmarish family of mutants whose designs on the children are unknown. Her search for Sunny takes Lucretia through a dark fantasyland where she finds lush forests growing from concrete, pigeon-winged rodents, and haunted playgrounds. Her quest ultimately forces her to confront the most frightening specter of all: losing, forever, the thing you love the most.

Lucretia and the Kroons is a dazzlingly imaginative adventure story and a moving exploration of the power of friendship and the terror of loss. This all-new novella serves as the perfect companion piece to The Devil in Silver, a thrillingly suspenseful work of literary horror that continues the story of Lucretia. (from Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I enjoyed this little novella. It was simply written and carried several messages. As mentioned in the overview, the story tells a tale of losing something you love the most. I also felt it told a message about family and the importance of not judging someone for the way they look.
I liked this enough that I have now added The Devil in Silver to my TBR list!
Thanks to Random House Publishing via Netgalley for allowing me to reaf this in exchange for an unbiased review.
Publish date: July 23, 2012
My rating: 4 of 5

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Bellwether Revivals

Part Secret History, part Brideshead Revisited for the 21st century, The Bellwether Revivals is a page-turning, romantic, eerie tale of genius and, possibly, madness; a stunning debut for fans of Sarah Waters, Donna Tartt, and Lauren Goff.

The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris's charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal -- and perhaps more -- through the power of music.

In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden's powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden's parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

I am quite simply amazed that this is a debut book for Mr. Wood. I was immediately pulled into the story. As the synopsis tells us, the story opens with dead bodies and of course, at this point, we don’t know who is who and how we even got to this point. The tale of Oliver, his happenstance meeting with Iris and the ensuing saga of his relationship with her, her brother Eden and their small group of friends is really quite captivating. What’s up with Eden - this rather snooty, self centered, upper crust snobbish, pretentious, nut job?  Oh - by the way, I did not care for Eden. Is he crazy as a loon or does he really have some mystical power to heal through music?

I really enjoyed this book - no real lags or downtime. It held my interest and there was no forcing myself to finish. Not so much a fast paced thriller as an even paced story where the tension builds because we know something is definitely amiss. I certainly am interested in seeing more books from this very talented author.

Thank you to Penguin Group (USA) and Netgalley for allowing me to read this for an unbiased review. (Lucky me)

Publish date: June 28, 2012

My rating: 5 of 5

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wallflower in Bloom: A Novel

From the acclaimed bestselling author of Must Love Dogs comes a winning and witty new novel about a woman who emerges from the shadow of her overbearing family and finds herself “dancing with the stars.” Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the around-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as gatekeeper to Tag at his New England seaside compound. Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman, who just happens to be having the baby he told Deirdre he never wanted. While drowning her sorrows in Tag’s expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use his massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. It’ll get her back in shape, mentally and physically. It might even get her a life of her own. Deirdre’s fifteen minutes of fame have begun. Irresistible and offbeat, Wallflower in Bloom is an original and deeply satisfying story of having the courage to take a leap into the spotlight, no matter where you land. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts
Deirdre is surrounded by family whose lives all center on her guru brother Tag. Along with that, everyone she encounters wants to use her as their way to get to Tag. Does anyone like Deirdre just for herself and not her connection to her brother? Her stepping out to do DWTS is going to be a true test of who she is and who she might become.

Every once in awhile I want to just read a simple, fun book and boy, did this one fit the bill. It was light, fluffy, airy - and I mean this as a compliment to the author. Deirdre has a very dry wit and sometimes things come out of her mouth that are just laugh out loud funny. I liked how the author prefaced each chapter with little mantras - sayings that Tag was so well know for i.e. “You don’t have to be a winner to start, but you have to start to be a winner”. She would then fit the saying into the context of that chapter.

Very nicely done, Ms. Cook. Very nicely done.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster, along with Netgalley, for allowing me to read this for an unbiased review.

Publish date: June 5, 2012 (this means you can get it NOW!!!!!)

My rating: 5 out of 5
You Don't Want To Know

In Ava’s dreams, her son, Noah, looks just the way she remembers him: a sweet two-year-old in rolled-up jeans and a red sweatshirt. When Ava wakes, the agonizing truth hits her all over again. Noah went missing two years ago, and has never been found. Almost everyone, including Ava’s semi-estranged husband, assumes the boy drowned after falling off the dock near their Church Island home.
Ava has spent most of the past two years in and out of Seattle mental institutions, shattered by grief and unable to recall the details of Noah’s disappearance. Now she’s back at Neptune’s Gate, the family estate, her strength slowly returning. But as Ava’s mind comes back into focus, she can’t shake the feeling that her family, and her psychologist, know more than they’re saying. Are they worried for her well-being—or anxious about what she might discover?
Ava secretly visits a hypnotist, hoping to restore her memories. But the strange visions and night terrors keep getting worse. She is sure she’s heard Noah crying in the nursery, and glimpsed him walking near the dock. Is she losing her mind, or is Noah still alive? Ava won’t stop until she gets answers, but the truth is more dangerous than she can imagine. And the price may be more than she ever thought to pay. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Poor Ava, she really doesn’t know who to trust. Living on an island, surrounded by family who, while they seem to care for her, also seem to have some underlying animosity towards her. There is one person, the mysterious Mr. Dern, that might be someone she can trust. Is he on team Ava or team everybody else? And what about her son Noah? Is he alive or was he even real to begin with?

This book started off slow for me, although it held my attention enough for me to want to continue. It got better about half way in and then really picked up in the last quarter. I’m glad I stuck with it, as there were some twists toward the end that made it worth my while.

I thank Kensington Publishing and Netgalley for allowing me to read this for my unbiased review.

Publish date: August 7, 2012

My rating: 3.5 of 5