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:


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


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



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.