Wednesday, December 25, 2013

These Broken Stars

Amie Kaufman

It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts

Holy smokes! I just read the last page and all I know is - I want more!

Tarver and Lilac - he’s a young soldier/hero and she is the daughter to one of the wealthiest men in the universe. Could they be any different? And yet, when they become survivors on a desolate planet, they must overcome their differences if they are to survive.

I could not put this book down. I loved these two teenagers, struggling to stay alive and falling in love. This is categorized as YA/teenager but I still found the story to be quite captivating. What a great read!

My thanks to Disney Hyperion, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.
Publish date: December 10, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Tuscan Rose
Belinda Alexandra

FLORENCE, 1914. A mysterious stranger known as The Wolf leaves an infant with the sisters of Santo Spirito. A tiny silver key hidden in her wrappings is the one clue to the child’s identity. . . . FIFTEEN YEARS LATER, young Rosa must leave the nuns, her only family, and become governess to the daughter of an aristocrat and his strange, frightening wife. Their house is elegant but cursed, and Rosa—blessed with gifts beyond her considerable musical talents—is torn between her desire to know the truth and her fear of its repercussions. All the while, the hand of Fascism curls around beautiful Italy, and no citizen is safe. Rosa faces unimaginable hardship: her only weapons her intelligence, intuition, and determination . . . and her extraordinary capacity for love. (from Netgalley)
My Thoughts
Rosa was a young teenager when she left the sheltered life of the convent to become a governess for a wealthy Italian family. Strange and mystical things happen while she is with them. In trying to help another staff member, Rosa is accused of being an enemy of the state. I don’t want to say any more, but it is at this point that Rosa’s life takes a dramatic turn that impacts her forever.
This story started off strong for me, but then went into a bit of a lull to the point where I wasn’t sure I would want to finish. I can only say, I’m sure glad I decided to continue reading. I think it was because I liked Rosa and I wanted to see how her story ended. Even though she is young, Rosa is determined to survive. The suspense really picked up in the second half of the story and it became a real page turner. This is my first book to read by Ms. Alexandra and I really would like to read more.
Many thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: November 19, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Morning Glory

Sarah Jio

Fleeing an East Coast life marred by tragedy, Ada Santorini takes up residence on houseboat number seven on Boat Street. She discovers a trunk left behind by Penny Wentworth, a young newlywed who lived on the boat half a century earlier. Ada longs to know her predecessor’s fate, but little suspects what Penny’ mysterious past and her own clouded future are destined to converge. (from Edelweiss)

My Thoughts:

In this story we spend time with Ada and Penny. After a tragic accident, Ada decides to quit her job, leave New York City and move to Seattle. She rents a houseboat that once belong to Penny. Penny mysteriously disappeared fifty years ago. Neighbors who where around at the time Penny went missing have a “pact” not to discuss the events that occurred the night she went missing. As Ada works to discover what happened to Penny, her life moves forward. As we read about Penny’s life fifty years ago, her life is slowly falling apart.

I loved this story. Sarah Jio’s writing is so vivid. My heart was sad for both Penny and Ada as we learn what events has brought sorrow to their lives. I liked both ladies and really wanted to see both of them end up happy.

This book started out slowly - in a good way. The more I read, the more the suspense built. By the end, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Whew - what a great read!

Many thanks to Scribner, via Edelweiss, fow allowing me to read this inexchange for an unbiased review.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Study in Darkness

Emma Jane Holloway

If being the niece of the master detective Sherlock Holmes affords Evelina Cooper any special privileges in Victorian London, she has yet to encounter them. In the second book of this marvelous new trilogy, she must navigate a world of paranormal fantasy, romance, and mystery all on her own (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is book two of The Baskerville Affair. This was just as much fun as book one. The story has everything - steampunk, mystery, power-struggles, magic, sorcery and a bit of a love story to boot!

Evelina (Evie) is pretty much out on her own in this tale. She is learning about her magic abilities from the dark, evil Dr. Magnus. She is still caught between the love of two men, Tobias and Nick. She is trying to do spy work for one of the Steam Kings in trade for saving the life of her Uncle Sherlock.

I’m really, really enjoying this whole story line. Book two was just as fast paced and intricately woven as book one. There is a lot going on in these stories and the author does a fantastic job of keeping the reader involved. Can’t wait for more!

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 29, 2013.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Study in Silks

Emma Jane Holloway

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.

In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Evelina Cooper is caught between her past life as a circus performer and the possibilities of her new life amidst London’s upper crust of society. When a murder occurs in the home of her friend, Evie decides to try and solve it. In the process, she becomes tangled in more mystery and intrigue that should could have ever imagined.

When I start a story that is 500+ pages by an author I am not familiar with, I sometimes think - boy, I sure hope I’m going to like this. Will I like the author’s writing style? Will the story be interesting enough to carry from beginning to end?

I’m thrilled to say the answer to my questions was a resounding Yes! I was hooked from the beginning. I really liked Evie - she’s smart, feisty and wants to be independent. She’s loyal and helpful to her friends. The story had plenty of twists and ended with a nice cliff hanger that left me wanting more. Fortunately, I have the next book - A Study in Darkness - waiting in the wings.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 24, 2013.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Land of Dreams
Vidar Sundstol

Winner of the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel and named by Dagbladet as one of the top twenty-five Norwegian crime novels of all time, The Land of Dreams is the chilling first installment in Vidar Sundstøl’s critically acclaimed Minnesota Trilogy, set on the rugged north shore of Lake Superior and in the region’s small towns and deep forests.

The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered near a stone cross on the shore of Lake Superior. Another Norwegian man is nearby; covered in blood and staring out across the lake, he can only utter the word kjærlighet. Love.

FBI agent Bob Lecuyer is assigned to the case, as is Norwegian detective Eirik Nyland, who is immediately flown in from Oslo. As the investigation progresses, Lance begins making shocking discoveries—including one that involves the murder of an Ojibwe man on the very same site more than one hundred years ago. As Lance digs into two murders separated by a century, he finds the clues may in fact lead toward someone much closer to home than he could have imagined.

The Land of Dreams is the opening chapter in a sweeping chronicle from one of Norway’s leading crime writers—a portrait of an extraordinary landscape, an exploration of hidden traumas and paths of silence that trouble history, and a haunting study in guilt and the bonds of blood (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

U.S. Forest Service police officer Lance Hansen discovers a gruesome murder. Because it occurred on Federal property, the case is turned over to the FBI. Because it involved a young man from Norway, a Norwegian detective is brought over to help investigate. Lance is essentially out of the investigative picture, except he holds one crucial piece on knowledge that could implicate a family member. Because Lance has a love of history for the area around Lake Superior, he is also researching a possible murder that occurred many years ago. How does this all tie together?

This is book one of the Minnesota Trilogy. I struggled a bit at the beginning of the story, but the more I read, the more involved I became. While I enjoyed the historical information, it did not always seem to fit into the story line. That being said, I did think this background detail ended up being important to the overall picture. I liked the second half of the book and thought the author left us with a nice cliff hanger. I am definitely interested now to find out how this story plays out and will be watching for the next two books.

My thanks to University of Minnesota Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 1, 2013.



Friday, October 18, 2013


Jennifer duBois

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.

Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.

Jennifer duBois’s debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and was honored by the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 program. In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. Who is Lily Hayes? What happened to her roommate? No two readers will agree. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how much we really know about ourselves will linger well beyond. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Lily is a foreign exchange student in Argentina. She connects with the quirky neighbor next door, Sebastien. To call Sebastien quirky is actually an understatement. Katy is another American foreign exchange student who lives with the same host family as Lily’s. When this story begins, we already know that Katy has been murdered. Cartwheel is the story of what took place prior to Katy being murdered, along with the investigation handled by Eduardo Campos.Along the way, we meet Lily’s parents and younger sister, who come to spend time in Buenos Aires after Lily is first arrested.

This was extremely well written. The author has a magical way with words. Because of the detailed writing, I felt like I knew Lily. But as the story unfolds, we come to ask - does anyone know the real Lily? And then there is Sebastien, who because of his odd nature, was probably my most favorite character. I loved his sarcastic wit and couldn’t wait to read what would come out of his mouth next.

I was hooked from the very first page. There was a lot going on with this story, but the author did a great job of connecting all the dots. Ms. duBois has been added to my list of authors to watch, as I am very interested in reading more of her writing.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Random House, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Commonplace Killing

Siân Busby

On a damp July morning in 1946, two schoolboys find a woman’s body in a bomb site in north London. The woman is identified as Lillian Frobisher, a wife and mother who lived in a war-damaged terrace a few streets away.

The police assume that Lil must have been the victim of a vicious sexual assault; but the autopsy finds no evidence of rape, and Divisional Detective Inspector Jim Cooper turns his attention to her private life.

How did Lil come to be in the bomb site – a well-known lovers’ haunt? If she had consensual sex, why was she strangled? Why was her husband seemingly unaware that she had failed to come home on the night she was killed?

In this gripping murder story, Siân Busby gradually peels away the veneer of stoicism and respectability to reveal the dark truths at the heart of postwar austerity Britain. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This story starts is mainly told from two perspectives - Lillian Frobisher, the murder victim and DI Cooper, the murder investigator. Lillian hates her life and wants nothing more than to be some place, any place, else. DI Cooper, while excellent at his job, has a sad and lonely personal life. The story switches back and for between how Lillian ended up murdered, and how Cooper finds out who was responsible.

It took me a while to get interested in this book. At first, I felt the author was giving too much information into the personal lives of Lillian and Jim. But the more I read, the more I decided this was integral. It was important to understand who Lillian was, why she hated her life and how this lead to her making a decision that ultimately lead to her demise. Similarly, it was necessary to understand DI Cooper, because his personal life impacted how he behaved on the job.

I liked the way the author folded this all together. The second half of the story really picked up the pace as Cooper gets closer and closer to solving the mystery. This ended up being a very enjoyable read.

I would like to thank Atria Books/Marble Arch Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 17, 2013.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Bones of Paris

Laurie R. King

New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King, beloved for her acclaimed Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, consistently writes richly detailed and thoroughly suspenseful novels that bring a distant time and place to brilliant life. Now, in this thrilling new book, King leads readers into the vibrant and sensual Paris of the Jazz Age—and reveals the darkest secrets of its denizens.

Paris, France: September 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to troll the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie de bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the decadent lifestyle that is suddenly available on every rue and boulevard.

As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.

Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts:

Harris Stuyvesant takes a job trying to locate a young American girl who has gone missing. Set in 1929 Paris, when surreal art is very popular, he becomes entwined in something far more sinister than the missing of one individual. When an old flame and a good friend get caught up in the evil doings, the story really becomes exciting!

I thought this was very smartly written. There are many characters, but the author did an outstanding job of keeping the story line straight and clear. I liked the cat and mouse of who was good and who was bad. There were several nice twists, and towards the end, I could barely put the book down.

This is book# 2 of what I hope is going to be a series. I have not read book #1, but I definitely will.

Merci beaucoup to Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell, vis Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 10. 2013.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Wishing Thread

Lisa Van Allen

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold? (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

In this story, we spend time with three sisters - Aubrey, Bitty and Meggie. Each has their own distinct personalities that sometimes clash not the they are reunited after the death of their aunt. Ultimately, their bond as family holds them together as they work through some life changing events that resulted from their aunt leaving them her knitting store - Stitchery.

I’m not a knitter, but I still found this story to be very cute. In the beginning, I was not sure this book was one I would enjoy, but I’m glad I stuck with it. It became more interesting as we got to know each character better. I liked the idea of knitting a spell or magic into a piece - a hat, or scarf, maybe some mittens or socks. Each sister had their own personality, but Aubrey was the one who could work the magic and I felt she was the one who had the most to lose after her aunt passed away. The ending was different than I had imagined and I like when that happens.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for a review.

Publish date: September 3, 2013

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Storycatcher

Ann Hite

From the author of the “wonderfully crafted” (San Francisco Book Review) Ghost on Black Mountain comes a haunting gothic novel set in the Depression-era South about two young women who form an unlikely alliance when the spirit of a dead woman takes up residence in their home.

Shelly Parker, a sixteen-year-old servant who works for the tyrannical Pastor Dobbins and his family, has had the gift of sight for as long as she can remember. She’s grown accustomed to coexisting with the spirits of the dead who roam Black Mountain, telling Shelly their stories and warning her of the dangers that surround her. When the ghost of Arleen Brown, a poor woman who died on the mountain during childbirth five years earlier, begins to pursue Pastor’s daughter Faith—hell-bent on revealing a terrible secret that she took to her grave—Shelly is the only person that can help her. The two young women soon find themselves tangled up in a web of secrets and lies that takes them from Black Mountain to the murky saltwater marshes of Georgia, uncovering long-hidden truths that put their own lives in danger…

Atmospheric and infused with supernatural elements, Hite’ novel is a rich and wonderfully eerie tale that will stay with you long after the story ends (from Netgalley)


My Thoughts

I’ve been wanting to read a spooky book and this one seemed like it might fit the bill. This story is told in several different voices. Some of the characters have passed and are still around to seek revenge or to give warning to an evil that is still alive. Some of the characters are of the living and are in harms way from this person who has wicked ways. Together, and in very interesting ways, they work their retribution.

I loved the dialect the author used. I don’t know any “mountain” people, but the writing felt real for the time period and the local. We know from the story that there is a very bad person, but it is not until the end that it all falls into place of how this one individual has impacted so many lives.

There is a very good story here. I will say that I was sometimes lost due to the number of characters. Overall I got the gist of the storyline and I really enjoyed the premise. I just frequently found myself saying - ok - who is this again?

My thanks to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 10, 2013.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Sandra Brown

Living on a remote island under an assumed name, novelist Parker Evans guards his secrets well. Fascinated by this reclusive genius, publisher Maris Matherly-Reed decides to pursue him. But this new project threatens an old commitment, a commitment at the very center of her life. Envy has all the ingredients of a Sandra Brown beach read bestseller. (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts
This was a fast paced tale that hooked me right from the start. I liked the plot twist and not knowing who was going to end up being a good guy or a bad guy (or girl). It seemed everyone was out to screw - literally and figuratively - Maris. Fortunately, she’s not quite as stupid as she sometimes came across. The real issue was - who exactly could she trust?

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Sandra Brown novel and this was a good choice to bring me back into the fold. She has quite a talent for keeping the reader guessing and writing with just the right amount of suspense. I couldn’t read this fast enough to see if Noah - Maris’s husband - was going to be successful in his evil deed or if someone would take him down.

I’m glad I picked this book up to remind me of Ms. Brown’s talent. I have no doubt I’ll be reading more of her books.

My thanks to Grand Central Publishing, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: 2002

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Born of Persuasion

Jessica Dotta

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Julia is very naive regarding the wicked ways of men who hold or want power. Events happen so quickly after the death of her mother that sometimes her head was spinning (as was mine) trying to figure out who was friend and who was foe. As her past slips away and her future looks precarious, we are left to wonder what will happen.

When I read stories about women of this era, I find it hard to imagine what it was like to have absolutely no say in running your own life. Sometimes I wanted to smack Julia. But honestly, she was only behaving in a manner befitting the time period. Since this is book one, I have a sneaking suspicion we are going to see this young lady eventually make a turn around in her submissive behavior.

I did get hooked into this story fairly quickly. I sometimes found myself rooting for the wrong person. There were some interesting twists and the ending left me wanting to know more about how Julia’s life will turn out. I look forward to reading the next books.

Thanks to Tyndale House Publishers, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 1, 2013.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Returned

Jason Mott

Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That's what all the Returned were."

Harold and Lucille Hargrave's lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they've settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time.... Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep-flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it's a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he's their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is a story about people returning from the dead and how the world reacts. The people who return are exactly as they were upon their deaths - the same age, the same personalities, the same health issues - the same everything. Many of the returned make their reappearance far from home and through the kindness of others, are presented back to their families. Some of the returned are never reconnected with loved ones, sometimes showing up in a foreign land, just as confused as the people who find them.

As the result of this phenomenon, the government creates The International Bureau of the Returned, who proceed to muck things up pretty good. As with many chaotic situations, there are the good guys and the bad guys. In this, book one, we see how people take sides and lives are changed forever.

I really liked two of the main characters, Harold and Lucille. They have the wit and wisdom of old age, often using humor as they struggle to come to terms with the return of their deceased son. Their reaction felt real and brought to mind many of the same questions. How would I feel if a loved one returned from the dead? Would I be happy or afraid? Accepting or wary?

Mr. Mott has presented a very interesting premise and I am very curious to see where he takes this story in future books.

I would like to thank Harlequin, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: August 27, 2013.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bones of the Lost

A Temperance Brennan Novel
Kathy Reichs
When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a desolate stretch of two-lane highway, Temperance Brennan fears the worst. The girl’s body shows signs of foul play. Inside her purse police find the ID card of a prominent local businessman, John-Henry Story, who died in a horrific flea market fire months earlier. Was the girl an illegal immigrant turning tricks? Was she murdered?

The medical examiner has also asked Tempe to examine a bundle of Peruvian dog mummies confiscated by U.S. Customs. A Desert Storm veteran named Dominick Rockett stands accused of smuggling the objects into the country. Could there be some connection between the trafficking of antiquitiesand the trafficking of humans?

As the case deepens, Tempe must also grapple with personal turmoil. Her daughter Katy, grieving the death of her boyfriend in Afghanistan, impulsively enlists in the Army. Meanwhile, Katy’s father Pete is frustrated by Tempe’s reluctance to finalize their divorce. As pressure mounts from all corners, Tempe soon finds herself at the center of a conspiracy that extends all the way from South America, to Afghanistan, and right to the center of Charlotte. “A genius at building suspense” (Daily News, New York), Kathy Reichs is at her brilliant best in this thrilling novel. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Tempe has a lot going on in this story. She is determined to identify a young girl found dead of what appears to be a hit and run. In the middle of this investigation, she gets asked to go to Afghanistan to oversee the exhumation of two Afghani’s who were killed by an American soldier. She is to use her expertise to determine if the locals were shot in self defense or if the soldier shot them in the back as they were running away. It was a this point in the story I was thinking - how is this going to all tie together? But in the traditional style of Ms. Reich’s writing, all the pieces come together in a very intriguing way.

It has been awhile since I’ve read a Temperance Brennan story and I sure do miss them! Tempe is smart, sometimes sarcastic, hard-working and dedicated to her job. I enjoy getting to see how her mind works as she interacts with her co-workers and significant others. The ending was perfect! Just enough suspense regarding Tempe’s personal life to lead us to the next book. I, for one, am looking forward to see what is in store for her.

Thanks to Scribner, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: August 27, 2013.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

With All My Love

Patricia Scanlan

A heartwarming novel about a shocking discovery that forever changes the lives of three generations of women.

When Briony McAllister takes a trip to visit her mother, Valerie, she uncovers a letter from her long-lost grandmother, bringing to light a nearly unforgivable act her mother has kept secret for decades. Having always believed that her grandparents didn’t want to see her, she finds that the opposite is true: her grandmother had been seeking her out all along, and it was her own mother who willfully kept them apart.

Devastated that her past has come back to haunt her, Valerie realizes that her daughter’s anger might cause their troubled family history to repeat itself in a new generation. Rich with emotion and featuring magnificent descriptions of Ireland, With All My Love deftly weaves the stories of the past and present to take us into the heart of a family at war. As the truth is revealed, so too are the complex yet enduring bonds between mothers and daughters (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
To me, the majority of this story is really about Valerie - how she got involved with Briony’s Dad Jeff, difficulties she had with certain family members and the reason why she and Briony disappeared from Jeff’s parents.

This story was well written. The author did a good job of writing about some of the tensions that can exist when an unplanned pregnancy occurs. I equally disliked both Valeria and Jeff’s mother, Tessa. I have to honestly say that close to the end, I could have shot both of them for their self-centered behavior. Their selfishness grew a bit tiring. Whenever these two connected and started their bickering I would think - here we go again! This ended up being a good tale about forgiveness and acceptance.

Thanks to Atria Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 30, 2013.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Five Days At Memorial

Life and Death at a Storm-Ravaged Hospital

Sheri Fink

Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina – and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice

In the tradition of the best investigative journalism, physician and reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at Memorial Medical Center and draws the reader into the lives of those who struggled mightily to survive and to maintain life amid chaos.

After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths.

Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.

In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters—and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This story is riveting. I picked it up with the intent to read just the first chapter to get a feel for the writing. That was it - I was hooked. The first half of this book is a very detailed, sometimes minute by minute account of what occurred at Memorial Hospital in New Orleans in the days following Hurricane Katrina. The second half is an equally detailed account of the investigation into some of the deaths that occurred at the hospital.

I still remember quite a bit of what we saw on TV about the conditions in New Orleans during the aftermath of Katrina, but nothing can prepare you for reading the details from people who actually lived the horror. I often put the book down to just take a breather from the tension as each day at Memorial got worse. Even when I wasn’t reading this, it was on my mind. Almost everyone I encountered would hear about this book - whether they wanted to or not (I never asked). So many questions came to mind regarding things like the ethics of triage, disaster preparedness, euthanasia, and assisted suicide just to name a few.

This story was extremely well organized. It flowed from beginning to end. While often technical, the information was presented in laymen’s terms and well defined. The first half read like a suspense novel, the second half like a murder mystery.

What I liked most about Ms. Fink’s writing is that she simply presents the information. She does not pass judgement on what took place at Memorial. At the end, she does document the final thoughts of many of the key players. The bottom line question is - what really happened at Memorial? Where some patients euthanized? Or where they given medication to keep them comfortable, and in their weakened state, succumbed to their illnesses. I think each read will have their own opinion. I know I have mine.

This is undeniably one of the best books I have read this year.

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

Publish date: September 10, 2013.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Astor Place Vintage

Stephanie Lehmann

Amanda Rosenbloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she’son just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman’s sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she’s connected to Olive in ways neither could ever have imagined. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This story is told in two voices - present day Amanda and early 1900‘s Olive. I fell in love with Olive immediately. Born into a reasonably well to do life, but in a time when women made few of their own decisions, her life takes a dramatic change. Instead of taking the easy way out, she continues to fight for her dreams to be an independent, career focused female. Amanda, on the other hand, did not sit well with me. I felt she did sometimes take the easy way out and did not warm up to her until almost the very end ot the story.

I love when an author writes in such a way that I end having very strong feelings for their characters. I found myself thinking of things I would say to both Olive and Amanda as I read about their journey. I thought Ms. Lehmann did a great job bringing both women to life. She slowly wove the story in and out to a very interesting conclusion. Her writing is detailed and entertaining.

Many thanks to Touchstone, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: June 11, 2013.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blood of the Lamb

Sam Cabot

The Historian meets The Da Vinci Code in this exhilarating supernatural thriller set in Rome, where rival groups are searching for a document that holds a secret that could shatter the Catholic Church.
This document, dear friend, will shatter the Church…..

Reading these words in a letter in a dusty archive, Thomas Kelly is skeptical. The papers to which they refer have vanished, but Father Kelly, a Jesuit priest, doubts anything could ever have had that power—until the Vatican suddenly calls him to Rome to begin a desperate search for that very document.

Meanwhile, standing before a council of her people, Livia Pietro receives instructions: she must find a Jesuit priest recently arrived in Rome, and join his search for a document that contains a secret so shocking it has the power to destroy not only the Catholic Church, but Livia’s people as well.As cryptic messages from the past throw Thomas and Livia into a treacherous world of art, religion, and conspiracy, they are pursued by those who would cross any line to obtain the document for themselves. Thomas and Livia must race to stop the chaos and destruction that the revelation of these secrets would create. Livia, though, has a secret of her own: She and her people are vampires.

In a sprawling tapestry that combines the religious intrigue of Dan Brown with the otherworldly terror of Stephenie Meyer, Blood of the Lamb is an unforgettable journey into an unthinkable past (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I remember when The Da Vinci Code first came out. Some of my more religious friends would not read it because they were told it was sacreligious and too controversial. I remember thinking - really? It’s just a story.

Well - for those of you out there that thought the Da Vinci code crossed some sort of line - wait until you read Blood of the Lamb!

I actually liked this story. While Thomas Kelly and Livia Pietro share the same cause and must work together to achieve it, they each start out thinking they have nothing in common because of their different backgrounds. The longer they are together, the more they come to understand that they share similarities - a love of history, a commitment to community and a responsibility to friends.

This was fast paced and entertaining. I thought it was well written. The end provided quite a different spin on the story of Mary Magdalene and Jesus. All in all - a pretty creative premise!

Thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Blue Rider Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: August 6, 2013.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ordinary Grace

William Kent Krueger

All the dying that summer began with the death of a child . . .

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.

Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother—he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.

Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God (from Netgalley).

My Thoughts

The first word that came to mind when I finished this was - Beautiful. Beautiful in the story that is tells, in the way it was written and in the message that it sends.

I loved that this was told through the eyes of thirteen-year old Frank. He is a fairly typical young teenagers - inquisitive about life, bold, sometimes mischievious and frequently funny. He really wants to understand what is going on and is relentless in finding out. Most importantly, he loves his family.

This story is not without tragedy and heartache. But in the end, there are such profound moments of redemption and healing that it makes the sadness bearable.

As I said in the beginning - Beautiful.

My thanks to Atria, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 19, 2012.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Winter In Full Bloom

Anita Higman

Lily Winter's wings are folded so tightly around her daughter that when empty nest arrives, she feels she can no longer fly. But Lily's lonely, widowed life changes in a heartbeat when she goes to visit a woman who is almost a stranger to her-a woman who also happens to be her mother. During their fiery reunion, her mother reveals a dark family secret that she'd been hiding for decades-Lily has an identical twin sister who was put up for adoption when they were just babies.

Without looking back, Lily-with her fear of flying-boards a jumbo jet and embarks on a quest to find her sister which leads half way around the world to Melbourne, Australia. Befriended by imprudent Ausie, he might prove to be the key to finding her sister. But her journey becomes a circle that leads her back home to attempt a family reunion and to find the one dream she no longer imagined possible-the chance to fall in love again (from Netgalley).


My Thoughts

I like when a book surprises me, and this is one that did. I did not realized when I picked this up that is was a Christian based story. This has a very nice message about faith. Lily’s life is not without struggles and I like how she used her beliefs to help her get through them.

This is definitely a heart-warming, feel good tale. The author does not overwhelm us with the religious aspect of it, but nicely interweaves that part throughout the story. Sometimes, I just want an uplifting, positive book to read and this one certainly fit the bill.

I’d like to thank Moody Publishers, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 19, 2013.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Wicked Girls

Alex Marwood

Eleven year-old Jade and Bel met for the first time one summer day, a day that began innocently enough, but that ended in calamity: six-year old Chloe is found dead and Jade and Bel are charged with her murder. This story follows the lives of these two girls, who will never be able to fully erase the events of that day and whose destinies are forever intertwined because of it.

Both women have tried to forget the horrific circumstances of their childhoods—Chloe’s death and the juvenile detention, isolation, and series of hard-knocks that followed it. Twenty-five years later, Jade and Bel have become Kirsty Lindsay and Amber Gordon, their true identities kept secret from their friends, families, and loved ones. Kirsty works as a journalist with two children and a loving husband. Bel, recently promoted at the amusement park in the seaside town of Whitmouth where she works, owns a house and lives with her long-term boyfriend. Neither has set eyes on the other since that fateful summer day.

But when a series of deadly attacks on women shakes the town of Whitmouth, Kirsty is sent there on assignment to cover the investigation. Amber and Kirsty, both entrenched in the growing turmoil, are forced to confront each other once again and to face the past that they have struggled so hard to hide.

As the Whitmouth murders escalate, Amber and Kirsty’s lives are threatened in ways neither could have foreseen, endangering the sense of normalcy that they have desperately struggled to maintain since changing their identities. As circumstances draw Amber and Kirsty closer and closer together, the two women are forced to make an incomprehensible decision that will cement their fates together forever.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

We first meet Kirsty (formerly Jade) and Amber (formerly Bel) when they are adults. We find out early that something “wicked” happened when they were young girls. The details of what happened unfold slowly and we don’t get the specifics until close to the end. As adults, the women were ordered to never, ever see each other, so when their worlds collide, all hell breaks loose.

This was very good. I thought the author did a great job of building suspense until I was reading faster and faster to see how it would all end. I also thought it was interesting how she incorporated into the story how the media can take a topic and spin it to get the most sensationalism. How often do we see this happen in real life? Too often as far as I’m concerned.

Does this end happily for everyone? Hmmmmm, I think you should read this to find out.

Many thanks to PENGUIN GROUP, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 30, 2013

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Yoga Sparks

108 Easy Practices for Stress Relief in a Minute or Less

Carol Krucoff

Given the popularity of yoga in this day and age, you probably know about the benefits it can have on both the mind and body. An increase in positive mood, a decrease in stress, better sleep, and fewer aches and pains are just a few. Maybe you’ve been busy, and have been meaning to try it—or maybe you have tried it but still find it difficult to fit into your schedule.

The most common excuse people give for not exercising is that they have no time. Between work, family, school, and social obligations, many of us are overbooked and scrambling to get things done in our daily lives. But what if there were quick, easy yoga exercises that could be integrated into your daily routine?

Yoga Sparks offers 108 quick, practical, and accessible yoga exercises that you can practice anytime, anywhere—no matter how busy or stressful your schedule. In this book, you will learn how yoga in “bite-size” pieces can become a healthy habit that can relieve emotional stress, increase your physical strength and flexibility, and help you to lead a happier, healthier life.

Whether practicing relaxed breathing while in traffic, sitting with proper alignment while working at your computer, or even balancing on one leg while waiting in line, the step-by-step, breath-by-breath practices in this book will help you bring the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of yoga practice into your daily life (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I always tell people that yoga is more than funny looking poses that twist you into a pretzel. This book is a good example of all the different aspects that make up a yoga practice: various breathing exercises, simple postures, meditation.

I liked how this was presented in simple, short chapters. The chapters are organized by different setting: at work, at home, etc. I think the author has written a very useful, easily understood book. She did a good job explaining the benefits of each practice along with simple instructions on proper form and technique. I can see me using this book on a regular basis.

Thank you to New Harbinger Publications, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: August 1, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Keeper of the Shadows

Alexandra Sokoloff

In their new Keeper roles, these extraordinary women must balance the fate of the world with their desires….

As a crime beat reporter, Barrie Gryffald’s work is risky enough when she’s investigating mortal homicides. But when a teenage shifter and an infamous Hollywood mogul are both found dead on the same night, her Keeper intuition screams, Otherworldly.

Reluctantly, she enlists her secret crush, Mick Townsend, a journalist with movie-star appeal. Together, they dig up eerie parallels to a forgotten cult-film tragedy. But it may be too late. With a cast of suspects ranging from vampire junkies to the ghosts of Hollywood past, no one can be trusted. Least of all Mick, who may well prove to be as unpredictable as the Others Barrie is sworn to protect (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This one was just as much fun as the previous two. Barrie really kicks butt and doesn’t hesitate to jump right into the middle of the action. She’s feisty and takes her role as Keeper of the Shapeshifters seriously. And then there is Mick - ooh-la-la (need I say more?)

I just love how this trilogy was written. Keeper of the Shadows is the final book, each written by a different author. I thought the author did a great job closing this second trilogy in the Keeper series.

Many thanks to Harlequin, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: May 7, 2013.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Girls of Atomic City

The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II
Denise Kiernan

The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in US history.

At the height of World War II, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was home to 75,000 residents, consuming more electricity than New York City. But to most of the world, the town did not exist. Thousands of civilians—many of them young women from small towns across the South—were recruited to this secret city, enticed by solid wages and the promise of war-ending work. Kept very much in the dark, few would ever guess the true nature of the tasks they performed each day in the hulking factories in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains. That is, until the end of the war—when Oak Ridge’s secret was revealed.

Drawing on the voices of the women who lived it—women who are now in their eighties and nineties—The Girls of Atomic City rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of American history from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage. Combining the grand-scale human drama of The Worst Hard Time with the intimate biography and often troubling science of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The Girls of Atomic City is a lasting and important addition to our country’s history.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

What a great story. It has such a personal feeling to it. You can really tell the author spent a lot of time and thought documenting individual stories while blending them in with the overall history of what was taking place at this point in history. The book was easy to read and very informative.

An uplifting and patriotic story.

Thank you to Touchstone, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.
Publish Date:  March 5, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Panopticon

Jenni Fagan

Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais’s school uniform is covered in blood.

Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counter-culture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor.
Anais finds a sense of belonging among the residents of the Panopticon – they form intense bonds, and she soon becomes part of an ad hoc family. Together, they struggle against the adults that keep them confined. When she looks up at the watchtower that looms over the residents though, Anais knows her fate: she is an anonymous part of an experiment, and she always was. Now it seems that the experiment is closing in.

Named one of the best books of the year by the Times Literary Supplement and the Scotsman, The Panopticon is an astonishingly haunting, remarkable debut novel. In language dazzling, energetic and pure, it introduces us to a heartbreaking young heroine and an incredibly assured and outstanding new voice in fiction (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is not a pretty story. There are no kids tip-toeing through the tulips. No sitting around the campfire, holding hands and singing Kumbaya and eating s’mores. Instead, we get a gritty, in your face story about young Anais, who has been raised in the child welfare system since birth. Failed foster care, failed adoptions, abused, using every and any drug she can get her hands on, Anais is a fighter.

I really liked Anais. She is smart. She has that sarcastic wit that you sometimes see in young teenagers who have been forced to grow up way to fast. She has a good eye when it comes to figuring out the adults in her life. I couldn’t help but cheer for her and hope that eventually something good would happen for this girl who had such a heartbreaking life.

At first I struggled with the use of Scottish terms, but once I got past that, the story really moved along. Even with the dour topic and setting, the author did a great job of interjecting humor. I’m glad I stuck with this book. My last thought as I finished this was that for some kids who have been raised in foster care, there is probably more truth to this story than make believe.

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

Publish date: July 23, 2013.


Sunday, July 21, 2013



Marcus Sakey

In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them; a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in—and betray his own kind.

From Marcus Sakey, “a modern master of suspense” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly), comes an adventure that’s at once breakneck thriller and shrewd social commentary; a gripping tale of a world fundamentally different and yet horrifyingly similar to our own, where being born gifted can be a terrible curse(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Well now, wasn’t this interesting - and very thought provoking. The author took some current day, government activities - wire tapping, surveillance cameras, monitoring of phone and internet data bases - all the things that are being sold to us as safety measures and terrorist counter-measures - and really put a different spin on them. He gives of a picture of the other side - how these techniques could be used to control and manipulate.

I think I am surprised at how much I loved this story. I say this because first of all, I have never read anything by Mr. Sakey, so I had no idea what I was getting in to.. Second, and I’m just being honest here, the synopsis sounded like the story could be just a little - well ------ weird.

The first third of the story was set up - who’s who and what’s what. After that, it really picks up and turns into a heart pounding thriller. As I’m nearing the end, I’m thinking - man, I don’t want this to be over. I really like the characters and I want more. So - I turn to the last page and what do I see? End of book one.

END OF BOOK ONE? You mean there’s going to be more!?!?!?! Yippee! Hot dog! Happy dance!

My thanks to Amazon Publishing, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 16, 2013.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Finding Colin Firth

Mia March

After losing her job and leaving the husband she dearly loves, twenty-nine-year-old journalist Gemma Hendricks is desperate to save her career by scoring an interview with Colin Firth. But a much more local story steals her heart—and just may save her rocky marriage too. Thirty-eight-year-old waitress Veronica Russo, shocked by the unannounced arrival of the daughter she gave up for adoption two decades ago, becomes an extra on the movie set, wondering if happy endings—and a real life Mr. Darcy—are even possible. Twenty-two-year-old student Bea Crane, alone and adrift, longs to connect with Veronica, her birth mother, but she’ll discover more than she ever imagined in this coastal Maine town. And just when they least expect it in a summer full of surprises, all three women may find what they’re looking for most of all…(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

For some reason, maybe the title, I started this thinking it was going to be all fluffy and cuteness. Actually, it turned into quite a heart warming story. I think author did a great job of making the three main characters very realistic. They had believable problems - uncertainty, loneliness and insecurities. But they also had positive attitudes, strength of character and a belief that if they kept trying, things would work out.

Through their stories, we get to know each woman’s past and present. I really enjoyed spending time getting to know these ladies. My only regret is that their story had to end. Honestly, I felt so connected with them, it was sad to read the last page and know that I was saying goodbye.

Very nicely done. I think I’m going to have to go back and read Ms. March’s first book. She is definitely one to watch.

Thank you to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 9, 2013.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Lemon Orchard

The Lemon Orchard

Luanne Rice

In the five years since Julia last visited her aunt and uncle’s home in Malibu, her life has been turned upside down by her daughter’s death. She expects to find nothing more than peace and solitude as she house-sits with only her dog, Bonnie, for company. But she finds herself drawn to the handsome man who oversees the lemon orchard. Roberto expertly tends the trees, using the money to support his extended Mexican family. What connection could these two people share? The answer comes as Roberto reveals the heartbreaking story of his own loss—a pain Julia knows all too well, but for one striking difference: Roberto’s daughter was lost but never found. And despite the odds he cannot bear to give up hope.

Set in the sea and citrus-scented air of the breathtaking Santa Monica Mountains, The Lemon Orchard is an affirming story about the redemptive power of compassion and the kind of love that seems to find us when we need it most.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Julia and Roberto - two souls struggling with life as they silently bear the burden of their own individual losses. Each of them is very different, but as we know, tragedy know no boundaries, has no rules and is not governed by socioeconomic status. And so they are drawn together and through their relationship, they begin to heal.

What a touching story and so well written. I was completely caught off guard by the ending - it made me gasp!

I will never listen to the immigration debate again without thinking of this book. Also, I ALWAYS tell people that I don’t read novels classified as romance. That has changed with reading this. I could not have made a better choice for my first foray into the prolific library that is Ms. Rice’s written word. Lucky me.

Muchas Gracias to Penguin Group Viking/Pamela Dorman Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 2, 2013.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Love All: A Novel

Love All: A Novel

Callie Wright

It’s the spring of 1994 in Cooperstown, New York, and Joanie Cole, the beloved matriarch of the Obermeyer family, has unexpectedly died in her sleep. Now, for the first time, three generations are living together under one roof and are quickly encroaching on one another’s fragile orbits. Eighty-six-year-old Bob Cole is adrift in his daughter’s house without his wife. Anne Obermeyer is increasingly suspicious of her husband, Hugh’s, late nights and missed dinners, and Hugh, principal of the town’s preschool, is terrified that a scandal at school will erupt and devastate his life. Fifteen-year-old tennis-team hopeful Julia is caught in a love triangle with Sam and Carl, her would-be teammates and two best friends, while her brother, Teddy, the star pitcher of Cooperstown High, will soon catch sight of something that will change his family forever.

At the heart of the Obermeyers’ present-day tremors is the scandal of The Sex Cure, a thinly veiled roman à clef from the 1960s, which shook the small village of Cooperstown to the core. When Anne discovers a battered copy underneath her parents’ old mattress, the Obermeyers cannot escape the family secrets that come rushing to the surface. With its heartbreaking insight into the messy imperfections of family, love, and growing up, Love All is an irresistible comic story of coming-of-age—at any age. (from Netgalley)


My Thoughts

I thought this was a very busy story as it weaves in and out of the lives of five main characters. The Obermeyers are one of those families whose lives look normal from the outside, but in all actuality, everything is falling apart.

I absolutely loved Julia, aka Jules. At fifteen, she is absolutely laugh out loud funny. She is right on the cusp of changing from sweet and innocent childhood to one where the realities of growing up are starting to appear. The time in life when we discover our parents are not infallible, a grandparent can be down right weird, and childhood friendships don’t always stay the same.

I must say that I ended up liking this story. While I had to read the very end twice to see if I missed something, the more I thought about it, the more I decided it was pretty smart.

This is a debut by Ms. Wright. I thought her writing was quite intriguing and she is someone that I would definitely like to read again.

My thanks to Henry Holt and Co., via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: June 25, 2013.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of Tranquility
Katja Millay
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

All Josh Bennett wants is to be left alone, and everyone allows it because they all know his story: each person he loved was taken from his life until at seventeen years old there was no one left. When your name is synonymous with death,
people tend to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, a new girl in town who won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of a mystery she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the
unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding--or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
This book has been on my to read list for awhile now. I can’t expain it, but for some reason I was hesitant to start it. Was this really a book I could get in to?

Now that I’ve finished it, the only question I have is - why did I wait so long to read it?

Josh and Natsya are teenagers who have had some serious difficulties in their lives that causes them to be loners. We find out relatively early what has happened to Josh, but it takes almost the whole book before we get to know what really happened to Natsya. You might say fate brought these two together, but really, it was their destiny.

Since most of the characters are teenagers, I felt the author was spot on in her writing of teenage behavior and attitude - oversexed boys and catty, clique girls. Ultimately though, this is a beautiful, beautiful love story. I am so glad I decided to give this book a try. It left me breathless.

It is amazing to me that this is Ms. Millat’s first book. What a joy! This is definitely an author to watch!

Many thanks to Atria Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchnage for an unbiased review.

Publish date: June 4, 2013.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Wishing Tree

The Wishing Tree

Marybeth Whalen

In The Wishing Tree, Ivy Marshall, a savvy, determined woman, finds out her husband has cheated on her on the same day her sister's perfect boyfriend proposes on national television. When Ivy's mother asks her to return to her family's beach home to plan her sister's upcoming wedding, she decides to use the excuse to escape from the pain of her circumstances. When her return to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, brings her face to face with her former fiance, old feelings rise to the surface and she wonders if there is a future for them. However, her husband has started tweeting his apology to her and doesn't want to give up on their marriage. As she helps prepare the wishing tree for her sister's wedding, she must examine her own wishes for the future and decide what love should be. (from Netgalley

My Thoughts
This story has a lot going for it. It’s about love - lost love and found love, old love and new. It’s about family, misunderstandings, forgiveness and faith. The author did a great job of pulling this all together into a very lovely tale.

A nice, uplifting and spiritual story. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Whalen and I definitely intend on checking out some of her other books.

Thanks to HCCP/Zondervan, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: June 4, 2013.