Friday, June 28, 2013

The Book of Secrets

Elizabeth Arnold

After more than twenty years of marriage, Chloe Sinclair comes home one night to find that her husband, Nate, is gone. All he has left behind is a cryptic note explaining that he’s returned to their childhood town, a place Chloe never wants to see again.

While trying to reach Nate, Chloe stumbles upon a notebook tucked inside his antique copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Written in code, the pages contain long-buried secrets from their past, and clues to why he went home after all these years. As Chloe struggles to decipher the notebook’s hidden messages, she revisits the seminal moments of their youth: the day she met the enigmatic Sinclair children ane the increasingly dangerous games they played to escape their troubled childhoods; the first time Nate kissed her, camped out on the beach like Robinson Crusoe; and the elaborate plan she and Nate devised, inspired by Romeo and Juliet, to break away from his oppressive father. As the reason for Nate’s absence comes to light, the truth will forever shatter everything Chloe knows—about her husband, his family, and herself. (from Netgalley).

My Thoughts

When Chloe first meets the Sinclair children, she is just a young girl and the Sinclair family’s life seems idyllic. The Grace, Cecilia, Nate Sinclair are beautiful, their mother home schools them and they play strange games on their secluded property. The only oddity is Mr. Sinclair. Chloe cannot be around when he is home and he has some strange, mystical hold over the whole family. We learn bits and pieces of their growing up years as an adult Chloe, who has married Nate, tries to figure out what circumstance has caused her husband to suddenly disappears.

Each chapters is a different thread that the author has woven into a magical tale. This book really kept me guessing and I was very much caught off guard by what we discover at the end. This is another one of those books to relish in its detail as we watch all the pieces of the puzzle fall in place. Quite enjoyable!

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

Publish date: July 2, 2013.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Karin Slaughter

Will Trent is a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent whose latest case has him posing as Bill Black, a scary ex-con who rides a motorcycle around Macon, Georgia, and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. The cover has worked and he has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer who thinks he might be a useful ally. But undercover and cut off from the support of the woman he loves, Sara Linton, Will finds his demons catching up with him.

Although she has no idea where Will has gone, or why, Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s shooting is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.

In a novel of fierce intensity, shifting allegiances, and shocking twists, two investigations collide with a conspiracy straddling both sides of the law. Karin Slaughter’s latest is both an electrifying thriller and a piercing study of human nature: what happens when good people face the unseen evils in their lives (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
This book was very intense. From the beginning, there was an undertone of something or someone evil lurking. Who would turn out to be the bad guy?

Investigator Will Trent has a history with Detective Lena Adams. He is trying to create a future with Dr. Sara Linton. When these two worlds collide, all hell breaks loose. There were a few graphic parts that made me worry whether Will was going to make it to the end of the story. I kept telling myself - this is a series and surely the author wouldn’t do in a main character, but it sure did get tense.
I must say, this kept me on the edge of my seat!

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

Publish date: July 2, 2013.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Miracle Pie
Edie Ramer
Katie Guthrie has pie magic. Intuition tells her what to bake. Whether it’s a
Goodbye Pie or a Welcome Home Pie, it will turn out perfect and be waiting for
the person who needs it most.

She cherishes her life in the small village of Miracle,
Wisconsin, and has no desire for change. But to help a friend, she agrees to
film a cooking pilot show. Only to realize the filmmaker is the dying boy
Katie used to call her angel when she lived in Chicago with her junkie mother.

Gabe Robbins is no angel, and he’s no boy anymore. Burned out after a three-year stint building a hospital
in Africa, Gabe ignores his demons by living day-to-day and filming wedding
videos. Nothing deep, nothing he has to become invested in. Nothing that will
get under his skin, until…

Watching Katie create her pies from behind his video
camera makes him realize what he’s missing. Thanks to Katie and her pies, Gabe
discovers his passion again. But will it lead him to his heart’s desire…or will
this miracle take him away from Katie forever? (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
I typically steer clear of romance novels, but honestly, this was just plain cute. Heart-warming more than anything. I love the concept that Katie baked pies based some deep seated intuition of what is going to happen in hers or someone else’s life. Gabe is good hearted (and sexy).

This was a quick, light, cozy and fun read. I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone on this one. I would like to read more in the Miracle series.

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

Publish date: December 27, 2012.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The 9th Girl

Tami Hoag

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag brings back her fan-favorite Minneapolis investigators Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska in the haunting new thriller The 9th Girl.

"Kovac had seen more dead bodies than he could count: Men, women, children; victims of shootings, stabbings, strangulations, beatings; fresh corpses and bodies that had been left for days in the trunks of cars in the dead of summer. But he had never seen anything quite like this . . . "

On a frigid New Year's Eve in Minneapolis a young woman's brutalized body falls from the trunk of a car into the path of oncoming traffic. Questions as to whether she was alive or dead when she hit the icy pavement result in her macabre nickname, Zombie Doe. Unidentified and unidentifiable, she is the ninth nameless female victim of the year, and homicide detectives Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska are charged with the task of not only finding out who Zombie Doe is, but who in her life hated her enough to destroy her. Was it personal, or could it just have been a crime of opportunity? Their greatest fear is that not only is she their ninth Jane Doe of the year, but that she may be the ninth victim of a vicious transient serial killer they have come to call Doc Holiday.

Crisscrossing America's heartland, Doc Holiday chooses his victims at random, snatching them in one city and leaving them in another, always on a holiday. If Zombie Doe is one of his, he has brought his gruesome game to a new and more terrifying level. But as Kovac and Liska begin to uncover the truth, they will find that the monsters in their ninth girl's life may have lived closer to home. And even as another young woman disappears, they have to ask the question: which is the greater evil--the devil you know or the devil you don't? (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
This book hit the ground running and didn’t stop until I got to the end. The were some good plot twists and turns along the way. I liked the witty banter between all of the detectives who have worked together for many years. There was a good level of suspense and an ending that I did not see coming.

This is book #4 in a series that involves Detectives Kovac and Liska. The author gives just enough background information so that the reader won’t feel lost if that haven’t read any of the earlier books in the series (which applies to me). I am definitely interested in continuing to read the series to see where Ms. Hoag decides to take her characters.

Many thanks to Penguin Group/ Dalton, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: June 18, 2013.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Conspiracy of Alchemists

Book One in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow

Liesel Schwarz

LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—a high-flying dirigible pilot with a taste for adventure and the heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, steampunk, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

It is 1903, and the world is divided between light and shadow. On the side of light is a wondrous science that has transformed everyday life by harnessing magical energies to ingenious new technologies. But each advance of science has come at the expense of shadow—the traditional realm of the supernatural.

Now two ancient powers are preparing to strike back. Blood-sucking immortal Nightwalkers and their spellcasting Alchemist allies have a plan to cover the whole world in shadow. All they require is the sacrifice of a certain young woman whose past conceals a dangerous secret.

But when they come after Elle, they get more than they bargained for. This enterprising young woman, the daughter of a scientific genius, has reserves of bravery and determination that even she scarcely suspects. Now she is about to meet her match in more ways than one: a handsome yet infuriating Warlock named Hugh Marsh,whose agenda is as suspect as his charms are annoyingly irresistible (from Netgalley)
My Thoughts

I have a very bad habit of sometimes starting a series without reading the first book. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. I am so glad I got to start this series with book #1. I am now a part of the Elle and Marsh fan club! This book was so much fun. There was lots of suspense as to how this book was going to end - who would survive to move on to the next book?

Ms. Schwarz has written an amazing mix of fantasy and steampunk with just enough romance to keep the plot enticing. An outstanding debut and I am looking forward to continuing with this story.

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

Publish date: March 5, 2013.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Movement of Stars

Amy Brill

A love story set in 1845 Nantucket, between a female astronomer and the unusual man who understands her dreams.

It is 1845, and Hannah Gardner Price has lived all twenty-four years of her life according to the principles of the Nantucket Quaker community in which she was raised, where simplicity and restraint are valued above all, and a woman’s path is expected to lead to marriage and motherhood. But up on the rooftop each night, Hannah pursues a very different—and elusive—goal: discovering a comet and thereby winning a gold medal awarded by the King of Denmark, something unheard of for a woman.

And then she meets Isaac Martin, a young, dark-skinned whaler from the Azores who, like herself, has ambitions beyond his expected station in life. Drawn to his intellectual curiosity and honest manner, Hannah agrees to take Isaac on as a student. But when their shared interest in the stars develops into something deeper, Hannah’s standing in the community begins to unravel, challenging her most fundamental beliefs about work and love, and ultimately changing the course of her life forever.

Inspired by the work of Maria Mitchell, the first professional female astronomer in America, The Movement of Stars is a richly drawn portrait of desire and ambition in the face of adversity (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I started this book with some hesitation. I was certainly interested in the part about stars and astronomy, but wasn’t sure about the time period and the religious basis. For some reason, I thought the story would be stodgy, filled with “thees” and “thys” and stuffiness.

I could not have been more wrong. I felt an immediate connection to Hannah. She was bright and spunky in a time when bright and spunky females were not appreciated. Due to the time period and her religion, womens lives were dictated by men. Hannah refuses to give up on her dreams and forges her way to an amazing place in history.

I think that Ms. Brill did an outstanding job with this piece of historical fiction. It was never boring and I cheered for Hannah every step of the way. This is an inspiring story of a women who stood up against the odds. What a delight!

I would like to thank Riverpress Hardcover, via Netgalley, for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: April 18, 2013.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Time Flies

Claire Cook

Years ago, Melanie followed her husband, Kurt, from the New England beach town where their two young sons were thriving to the suburbs of Atlanta. She’s carved out a life as a successful metal sculptor, but when Kurt leaves her for another woman, having the tools to cut up their marriage bed is small consolation. She’s old enough to know that high school reunions are often a big disappointment, but when her best friend makes her buy a ticket and an old flame gets in touch to see if she’ll be going, she fantasizes that returning to her past might help her find her future . . . until her highway driving phobia resurfaces and threatens to hold her back from the adventure of a lifetime.

Time Flies is an epic trip filled with fun, heartbreak, and friendship that explores what it takes to conquer your worst fears . . . so you can start living your future.

My Thoughts
In traditional Claire Cook style, this was light and funny along with some touching, insightful moments.... Two besties hook up for a HS reunion sharing their current lives while reminiscing about being teens. I never could quite guess their ages, but with references to things like Bonne Bell, strawberry Lip Smackers, and songs like Van Morrison's “Moondance" or Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game"- I sure felt comfortable with the two ladies.

Ms Cook is my go to author when I want something entertaining and this book did not disappoint me.

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

Publish date: June 11, 2012.

Friday, June 7, 2013


How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled Off the Most Audacious Rescue in History

Antonio Mendez and Matt Baglio

The true account of the 1979 rescue of six American hostages from Iran

On November 4, 1979, Iranian militants stormed the American embassy in Tehran and captured dozens of American hostages, sparking a 444-day ordeal and a quake in global politics still reverberating today. But there is a little-known drama connected to the crisis: six Americans escaped. And a top-level CIA officer named Antonio Mendez devised an ingenious yet incredibly risky plan to rescue them before they were detected. Disguising himself as a Hollywood producer, and supported by a cast of expert forgers, deep cover CIA operatives, foreign agents, and Hollywood special effects artists, Mendez traveled to Tehran under the guise of scouting locations for a fake science fiction film called Argo. While pretending to find the perfect film backdrops, Mendez and a colleague succeeded in contacting the escapees, and smuggling them out of Iran. Antonio Mendez finally details the extraordinarily complex and dangerous operation he led more than three decades ago. A riveting story of secret identities and international intrigue, Argo is the gripping account of the history-making collusion between Hollywood and high-stakes espionage. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

The debate I always have when dealing with a book-to-movie situation is this - do I read the book first and then see the movie? See the movie first and then read the book? Maybe read the book while trying to watch the movie?!?!?!?!

Since I really want to see the movie, I decided that I would read the book first and I am so glad I did. While I remember the Iran hostage crisis, I have to honestly say I had no idea that six people had escaped being taken hostage and where hiding out with the help of some folks with the Canadian embassy (THANK YOU CANADA!!!!).
This book reviewed the time period leading up to the hostage crisis, which was very helpful in understanding the circumstances under which the six Americans in hiding where trying to survive. Americans where not being held in kind regards and neither was anyone who was perceived as trying to help them. The author gave quite a bit of background regarding espionage and exfiltrations. It was quite an undertaking to make this a successful operation and I found the story to be very entertaining.

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

Publish date: September 17, 2012.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Boys in the Boat

Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics

Daniel James Brown

For readers of Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit and Unbroken, the dramatic story of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler's 1936 Berlin Olympics

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant. It will appeal to readers of Erik Larson, Timothy Egan, James Bradley, and David Halberstam's The Amateurs.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

We meet Joe Rantz and the other boys in the boat at the beginning of their freshman year at the University of Washington, 1933. We follow them through each year of rowing, leading up to the 1936 Olympics held in Nazi dominated Germany. Along the way, we learn so many things. The author provides significant detail regarding the art of rowing and the construction of the racing boats. He touches on important aspects of the time period - the great Dust Bowl, the Depression, the building of the Grand Coulee Dam. And sadly, the rising power of Adolph Hilter and Nazi Germany.

The author provides such an intimate look into Joe’s life that I felt like I knew him personally. My heart ached for Joe as he struggled to overcome his personal demons. But ultimately, as with the other boys, Joe persevered to achieve his goal.

I love books like this! It is such an inspiring and uplifting story. It is a testimony to hard work, teamwork, holding on to your dreams and never giving up. Even though I knew the end result, my heart still pounded while reading about each race the boys were in. And the final race at the Olympics - what a nail biter!

I’m always amazed when a writer can take a piece of history and turn it into a page turning, thoroughly entertaining, story. Bravo Mr. Brown, for a job well done. This is a story I will remember for a long, long time.

I am grateful to Penguin Group - Viking, via Netgalley, for giving me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: June 4, 2013.