Friday, May 31, 2013


M.J. Rose

In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus—and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.

Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey—where Hugo conducted the séances—hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different—Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.

What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists.

My Thoughts

This was a great read from start to finish. I liked the interchanging story line between Victor Hugo in the 1850s and current day Jac L’Etoille. The tale covers many topics - reincarnation, mythology, spiritualism, and Celtic lore. The author masterfully weaves the past and the present together and by the end, we get to see how everything and everyone connects.

This is the fifth book in The Reincarnationists series. I have only read one other book from the series, but did not feel this in any way kept me from enjoying this one. I liked the mystery and intrigue, the ookie spookie undertone. Ms. Rose has quite a talent for keeping the reader engaged. I definitely want to read the other books in this series.

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

Publish date: May 7, 2013.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Lavender Garden

Lucinda Riley

The internationally bestselling author of The Orchid House takes readers from Nazi-occupied Paris to the contemporary glamour of the Cote D’Azur in an emotionally gripping novel of love, duty, and desire.

With her dazzling novels The Orchid House and The Girl on the Cliff, Lucinda Riley effortlessly transported readers between distant times and locations and earned accolades from reviewers and readers around the world. In The Lavender Garden, her most powerful novel so far, she tells the mesmerizing tale of heroism and betrayal inside an aristocratic French family across half a century.

Le Cote d’Azur, 1998: In the sun-dappled south of France, Emilie de la Martinieres, the last of her gilded line, finds herself the sole inheritor of her childhood home, a magnificent chateau and vineyard. With the house comes a mountain of debt—and almost as many questions: What was the purpose of the secret room she finds hidden beneath the wine cellars? Why did her beloved father never speak of his decorated service in Word War II? Why has Emilie always felt at odds with her own family background?

Paris, 1944: A bright, young British office clerk, Constance Carruthers, is sent to Paris to be part of Churchill’s Special Operations Executive during the climax of the Nazi occupation. Separated from her contacts in the Resistance, she stumbles into the heart of a wealthy, socially prominent family who regularly entertain members of the German elite even as they plot to liberate France. In a city rife with collaborators and brave members of the Resistance, Constance’s most difficult decision may be determining whom to trust with her heart.

As Emilie discovers what really happened to her family during the war and finds a connection to Constance much closer than she suspects, the chateau itself may provide clues that can unlock the mysteries of her past, present, and future. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I must say, I really liked this story. Lot’s of breath holding suspense, especially with regards to Constance’s part of the story. The where certainly times that I wanted to smack Emilie for her naivete. Geesh - how stupid can you be? But in the context of her character, I decided here behavior was understandable. As I always say, when a character makes me react in some way - good or bad - the author must be doing something right!

This is the first book I have read by Ms Riley. I liked the way she pulled it all together at the end. There was one surprise that I did not see coming. I very much enjoyed her writing style and have already added her two other books to my reading list.

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

Publish date: June 11, 2013.
Table for Seven

Whitney Gaskell

On New Year’s Eve, Fran and Will Parrish host a dinner party, serving their friends a gourmet feast. The night is such a success that the group decides to form a monthly dinner party club. But what starts as an excuse to enjoy the company of fellow foodies ends up having lasting repercussions on each member of the Table for Seven Dinner Party Club.

Fran and Will face the possibility that their comfortable marriage may not be as infallible as they once thought. Audrey has to figure out how to move on and start a new life after the untimely death of her young husband. Perfectionist Jaime suspects that her husband, Mark, might be having an affair. Coop, a flirtatious bachelor who never commits to a third date, is blindsided when he falls in love for the first time. Leland, a widower, is a wise counselor and firm believer that bacon makes everything taste better.

Over the course of a year, against a backdrop of mouthwatering meals, relationships are forged, marriages are tested, and the members of the Table for Seven Dinner Party Club find their lives forever changed. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

The last few books I’ve read have been set during times of war and I felt I needed a break from this tense setting. I was looking for something light and easy to read. Often funny, sometimes sad, this book was just what I needed.

I think the author did a good job representing the relationship between the seven people involved in this tale. This was an interesting mix of personalities. I’m glad the author included in the group both married and single people. I loved the addition of Leland, an elderly neighbor who was wise and intuitive. The book was a bit predictable and you know what? Sometimes predicatable is just fine.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group/Bantam, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: April 23, 2013.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I'll Be Seeing You

Suzanne Hayes, Loretta Nyhan


Written literally in correspondence style between two authors who haven’t met, I’ll Be Seeing You is an original and heartfelt story that takes place between two women during World War II.

"I hope this letter gets to you quickly. We are always waiting, aren't we? Perhaps the greatest gift this war has given us is the anticipation..."

It's January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor's wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other's unwavering support.

A collaboration of two authors whose own beautiful story mirrors that on the page, I'll Be Seeing You is a deeply moving union of style and charm. Filled with unforgettable characters and grace, it is a timeless celebration of friendship and the strength and solidarity of women (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Oh how I enjoyed the past few days getting to know Rita and Glory. I really liked how this story was written. Through their exchange of letters, we get to see both women grow and change. They support each other through their struggles and sadness, through the good times and the bad, through times of uncertainties and loneliness. What a special bond they developed.

I’m a bit sad to have to say goodbye to these two women. The authors did such a great job of making them seem real. I think the way the authors collaborated to write the book made the story ring true.

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

Publish date: May 28, 2013.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

He's Gone: A Novel

Deb Caletti

What do you think happened to your husband, Mrs. Keller?”

The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.

As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I tell you what, I held my breath right to the very end on this one. The author did a great job of keeping the suspense going all through the book. As I was getting close to the end I kept thinking “holy crap - really? Is this what Dani did?” (Of course I can’t tell you what that means or what the answer is.)

I know one, thing, I did not like Ian. He starts out looking like a lost soul, but as we read through the story - not so much. I liked the way the author was truthful about the relationship between Dani and Ian. It felt honest and real.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group/Bantam, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: May 21, 2013.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

His Majesty's Hope

A Maggie Hope Mystery
Susan Elia MacNeal

For fans of Jacqueline Winspear, Laurie R. King, and Anne Perry, whip-smart heroine Maggie Hope returns to embark on a clandestine mission behind enemy lines where no one can be trusted, and even the smallest indiscretion can be deadly.

World War II has finally come home to Britain, but it takes more than nightly air raids to rattle intrepid spy and expert code breaker Maggie Hope. After serving as a secret agent to protect Princess Elizabeth at Windsor Castle, Maggie is now an elite member of the Special Operations Executive—a black ops organization designed to aid the British effort abroad—and her first assignment sends her straight into Nazi-controlled Berlin, the very heart of the German war machine. Relying on her quick wit and keen instincts, Maggie infiltrates the highest level of Berlin society, gathering information to pass on to London headquarters. But the secrets she unveils will expose a darker, more dangerous side of the war—and of her own past (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I sure do like Maggie Hope. I just finished book #2, Princess Elizabeth’s Spy, and decided to jump right into #3, His Majesty’s Hope. In book #2, I thought the story was fun and cute. I also thought that this theme would continue, but such was not the case. His Majesty’s Hope has a much more serious tone.

Our heroine, Maggie is still smart, spunky and determined not to be held back because she is a female. In this story, she parachutes into Germany for what is supposed to be a simple, in and out, undercover spy endeavor. She unexpectedly ends up staying longer and oh the horror she discovers. People die in this story and it really takes a tole on our girl Maggie.

I thought the author did an outstanding job of representing the time period that this story represents. Because of what is happening to the Jews and to children labeled as “disabled”, the underlying feeling of the book is very ominous. Because of what happens to Maggie, we are left wondering if she be able to overcome her experience. Will she ever be happy again? What a great cliffhanger!

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: March 14, 2014.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Anthony Marra

In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed--a failed physician--to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonja, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees and mourns her missing sister. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.
With The English Patient's dramatic sweep and The Tiger's Wife's expert sense of place, Marra gives us a searing debut about the transcendent power of love in wartime, and how it can cause us to become greater than we ever thought possible. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is a story that is going to stay with me for a very long time. It was so beautifully written and I ended up with such mixed emotions - sad, angry, hopeful........ This is one of those books that you really want to devote time to - it is not faced paced, nor should it been read that way. The author truly has this amazing way of putting words together and much of this would be missed if a reader tried to skim.

While fiction, this is based on a true time period in Chechnya history. I am always amazed that people actually survive times like those outlined in this story. The strength of character, the determination to survive, to be honorable when times are desperate. Unfortunately, we must also read about the opposite - taking advantage of the weak, profiting off people who have nothing and even betrayal.

At times, this was difficult to read due to the harshness of the realities of war and it’s aftermath. Oh how I wished this could have been a story that was neatly wrapped in a bow at the end. But, this would not have held true to the rest of the story and I am glad the author chose not to do that.

Honestly, when I read a book like this, I am humbled. Do we really understand what it is to live under the light of freedom? This book will make me thankful everyday for all that I sometimes take for granted and I hope I never forget.

A first novel by Mr. Marra that should not be missed. Certainly an author to watch.

I am so grateful that I was given permission by Crown Publishing Group, via Netgalley, to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: May 7, 2013.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Alton Gansky

A man’s lifeless body is found in the fresh soil of San Diego’s botanical garden. Cause of death is asphyxiation, an easy call for the medical examiner. More mysterious, however, are the tiny drops of blood on the victim’s skin, resulting from hundreds of punctures.

A rabbi leaving his house for work expects a regular day at the synagogue. That quickly changes when he discovers a dead man on his front lawn, clearly beaten to death.

Motorcycle riders racing along the empty streets of an abandoned military base stumble across another man’s corpse, its skin revealing long, red-purple marks of a thrashing given with wood dowels.

The numbers mount. Each week another victim and another mysterious clue in a game of mass murder the police don’t want to lose. The solution rests with Dr. Ellis Poe, a religious professor who only wishes to be left alone with his books and classes.

But evil must be faced, and the choice is no longer his own.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I connected with the story right from the beginning. The two main detectives Carmen Rainmondi and Bud Tock, are responsible for investigating some bizarre and very gruesome murders. Along with this, Carmen is fighting demons from her past having to do with the murder of her sister when they were in high school.

I liked the relationship between Carmen and Bud. They worked well together and often exchanged witty, sarcastic comments. There was some interesting connections between Carmen, Ellis Poe and the killer. I thought the author did a very good job of weaving the plot and sub-plots together.

I enjoyed the two main characters so much, I was hoping this was going to be a series - but I do not find any evidence of that. Alas, parting is such sweet sorry.

My thanks to B&H Publishing Group, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this for an unbiased review.

Publish date: May 1, 2013.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gary McMahon

Welcome to Number One Oval Lane, the last house at the top of the hill. Robert Mitchell thought he lived there with his wife and children, but he doesn’t. Not anymore. A new family—the Corbeaus—has taken up residence, and they are on a deadly mission for mischief.

Soon Robert will understand the true nature of ownership, and he will discover that real life is nothing more than a story…a horror story.

We're playing games now. We're just beginning (From Netgalley)

My Thoughts

The theme song from The Twilight Zone kept playing through my head as I read this - although with the sex and violence, it would have to be The Twilight Zone - circa 2013.

Take an ordinary family and stick them in the middle of an unexplainable, bizarre situation and see who is still standing when all is said and done. I must say, it ended differently than I thought. I love when that happens.

This was a short story and it zipped from beginning to end. My first book from this author and I must say - well done on the creep level!

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

Publish date: April 30, 2013.