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.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Light in the Ruins

The Light in the Ruins

Chris Bohjalian

1943: Tucked away in the idyllic hills south of Florence, the Rosatis, an Italian family of noble lineage, believe that the walls of their ancient villa will keep them safe from the war raging across Europe. Eighteen-year-old Cristina spends her days swimming in the pool, playing with her young niece and nephew, and wandering aimlessly amid the estate’s gardens and olive groves. But when two soldiers, a German and an Italian, arrive at the villa asking to see an ancient Etruscan burial site, the Rosatis’ bucolic tranquility is shattered. A young German lieutenant begins to court Cristina, the Nazis descend upon the estate demanding hospitality, and what was once was their sanctuary becomes their prison.

 Serafina Bettini, an investigator with the Florence police department, has her own demons. A beautiful woman, Serafina carefully hides her scars along with her haunting memories of the war. But when she is assigned to a gruesome new case—a serial killer targeting the Rosatis, murdering the remnants of the family one-by-one in cold blood—Serafina finds herself digging into a past that involves both the victims and her own tragic history(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
The short review:
Brilliant! Go order this right now. You’re welcome.

The long review:

This story is told in alternating chapters. Some chapters are based in 1943 and others are in 1955. All is set in Italy. Interspersed are short chapters related to the individual who is killing the remaining Rosati family. The main female characters are Serafina and Christina. In 1943, both women are teenagers and in many ways are polar opposites of each other. Christina Rosati is a teenager who has everything to lose due to the ongoing war and Italy’s alliance with Germany. Slipping away is her privileged life as the only daughter of a marchese, along with her very first romance. Unfortunately, this romance is with a German officer. Serafina on the other hand has nothing to lose, because all for her is already lost. Her family has been killed and her only option is to join up with partisan’s fighting against the Nazis, who have been busy pillaging anything of value from Italy, under the guise of being allies.

By 1955, Serafina is a detective and is assigned to a investigate the case of who is gruesomely murdering the Rosatis. Because of this, she meets up with Christina. At this point, both women have more similarities than differences. Both carry the emotional scars that the end of the war brought them and Serafina has the added burden of physical scars from an event that occurred as the German’s were trying to flee Italy.

This story was very intense. It is one of those books that was so suspenseful, I did not want to put it down. I could not read fast enough, yet I didn’t want it to end. This was so well written that I felt every heartache, every scary moment, and at the end, I was surprised at the identity of the killer.

Chris Bohjalian is on my very, very short list of favorite authors. I have discovered that having “favorite” authors can be a double edged sword. Yes, in most instances, books that I have read by a favorite are typically very good. Sometimes though, the level of anticipation and expectation sets the bar so high that I’m not sure the books even have a fair chance to come up to snuff.

Not so with The Light in the Ruins. I thought this was outstanding and was far beyond anything I had expected. Bravo Mr. Bojhalian.

I am grateful to Doubleday Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: July 9, 2013.