Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Last Breath

Kimberly Belle

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated….(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

When Gia Andrews father was convicted of killing her stepmother, her coping method was to become an aid worker and run as far away from her hometown as possible. When her Dad is released early because he has a terminal illness, she reluctantly returns to be a caregiver. While home, she makes more discoveries than she ever thought possible.

Lucky me that I picked this book to read on a day off. It was so engrossing, I finished it in one day. This ended up being a page turner, as we delve deeper and deeper into what happened to Gia’s stepmom. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, the plot would shift and a new clue would take me down a different path.

I thought this was an outstanding debut. Ms. Belle is definitely an author to watch.

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Boston Girl

Anita Diamant

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

When we first meet Addie Baum, she is 85 years old and is telling her life story to her granddaughter. Addie starts her story when she is a very young teenager, and takes us through her life until current day.

Initially, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Addie enough to want to read her story. But it wasn’t too far into the book that I changed my mind. Addie is strong willed, feisty and determined to break free of the staid life her mother has planned for her. There were not many opportunities for young women in the early 1900s, and Addie wants something more.

I like the way Ms. Diamant developed this character and tells Addie’s story. Addie’s fight to become an independent women during a time when this concept was unheard of made for a very interesting read.

I fell in love with Ms. Diamant’s writing after reading The Red Tent. I’m happy to report that The Boston Girl was another winner for me. I look forward to reading more books by this very talented writer.

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Empire of Sin

Gary Krist

From bestselling author Gary Krist, a vibrant and immersive account of New Orleans’ other civil war, at a time when commercialized vice, jazz culture, and endemic crime defined the battlegrounds of the Crescent City

Empire of Sin re-creates the remarkable story of New Orleans’ thirty-years war against itself, pitting the city’s elite “better half” against its powerful and long-entrenched underworld of vice, perversity, and crime. This early-20th-century battle centers on one man: Tom Anderson, the undisputed czar of the city's Storyville vice district, who fights desperately to keep his empire intact as it faces onslaughts from all sides. Surrounding him are the stories of flamboyant prostitutes, crusading moral reformers, dissolute jazzmen, ruthless Mafiosi, venal politicians, and one extremely violent serial killer, all battling for primacy in a wild and wicked city unlike any other in the world (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This story starts in the 1890s, when a decision was made to create a legalized vice district. The idea was to sequester things like prostitution, gambling, alcohol and music into one area, with the intent that this would make the rest of New Orleans safe and appealing to Northern investors. As you can imagine, there was alot of politics involved, both for and against the concept. In its heyday, this vice district was the place to go for anyone looking for action. It saw the beginning of jazz music and allowed interracial mingling. And it was these very same issues that brought about its demise in the 1920s.

This was so well written. The author seamlessly writes about this very interesting time period in the history of New Orleans. This was not just a statement of facts and statistics. Mr. Krist chose certain main characters to follow - well know brothel madams, astute businessmen, politicians and jazz musicians. By following along with them, we get the little nuances and side bar stories that make a historical piece so much more interesting. I really did find this to be an intriguing piece of New Orlean’s past and enjoyed the book from beginning to end.

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


Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Job

A Fox and O'Hare Novel

Janet Evanovich, Goldberg Lee

He’s a charming con man and she’s a dedicated FBI agent, and they’re about to drive each other crazy . . . again!

The FBI had one demand when they secretly teamed up Special Agent Kate O’Hare with charming con man Nicolas Fox—bring down the world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons. This time it’s the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what their target looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick Fox has a few tricks up his sleeve to roust this particular Knipschildt chocolate–loving drug lord.

From the streets of Nashville to the back alleys of Lisbon, from the rooftops of Istanbul to the middle of the Thames, Nick and Kate chase their mark. When they find themselves pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard and a Portuguese enforcer who gets advice from a pickled head, they decide it’s time to enlist some special talent—talent like a machete-wielding Somali pirate, a self-absorbed actor, an Oscar-winning special effects artist, and Kate’s father Jake, a retired Special Forces operative. Together they could help make this Fox and O’Hare’s biggest win yet . . . if they survive. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
FBI agent Kate O’Hare and con man Nick Fox are back together again to take down a well know drug lord. Unfortunately, he has had major plastic surgery to changes his looks. First they have to find him, and then they have to con him!

These O’Hare and Fox novels are such fun. Fast paced, witty and lots of action. There’s just that hint of attraction between Kate and Nick. I like the kooky characters that make up their con team. The scams that they need to pull off are usually a bit “out there” in their complexity and design, but this is part of what these stories so enjoyable. If you are looking for a light, entertaining read, make sure to check this out!

This is the third book in the O’Hare and Fox series and I look forward to reading more.

My thanks to Random House - Bantom Dell, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Sister’s Grave

Robert Dugoni

A new thriller from New York Times best-selling author Robert Dugoni.

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Tracy Crosswhite’s sister disappeared 20 years ago. While someone was convicted, she never felt that they got the right person. Her pursuit of the truth leads her down a path she would have never imagined.

This was a great read. It was well paced with just enough hints and clues to keep it interesting. The final third of the book really picked up on the action and there was a twist I did not see coming. I love it when an author throws me for a loop.

I liked Robert Dugoni’s writing style and plan on reading more of his books.

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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Book of Strange New Things

Michael Faber

A monumental, genre-defying novel over ten years in the making, from the internationally bestselling author of The Crimson Petal and the White. The Book of Strange New Things tells the story of Peter Leigh, a devoted man of faith called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him literally light years away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment and the ego-gratifying work of ministering to a native population hungry for the Bible--this "book of strange new things." But he soon begins to receive increasingly desperate letters from home. North Korea is devastated by a typhoon; the Maldives are wiped out by a tsunami; England endures an earthquake, and Bea's faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
A separation measured in galaxies, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. Peter's and Bea's trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and the responsibility we have to others.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Peter is selected to minister to the natives, called Oasans, at an outpost light years away from earth. His wife Bea is not chosen and must stay behind. As Peter becomes increasingly enamored with his missionary work, Bea’s life is falling apart as living on earth becomes more and more difficult.

This book surprised me in many ways. It’s labeled as science fiction, but other than the location and the native aliens, it didn’t really seem like science fiction. I thought it was a smart spin on a missionary tale. I liked how the Jesus Lovers (so called by Peter because he cannot speak their language) saw the Bible as the book of strange new things.

This is the first book I’ve read by Michael Faber. I must say, I liked his creativity and I am genuinely curious to read more by this author.

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

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Abyss Beyond Dreams

Chronicle of the Fallers

Peter F. Hamilton

The wait is over. Bestselling science fiction master Peter F. Hamilton is back with the first of a new two-book saga set in his popular Commonwealth universe. Distinguished by deft plotting, a teeming cast of characters, dazzling scientific speculation, and imagination that brings the truly alien to life, The Abyss Beyond Dreams reveals Hamilton as a storyteller of astonishing ingenuity and power.

The year is 3326. Nigel Sheldon, one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from the Raiel—self-appointed guardians of the Void, the enigmatic construct at the core of the galaxy that threatens the existence of all that lives. The Raiel convince Nigel to participate in a desperate scheme to infiltrate the Void.

Once inside, Nigel discovers that humans are not the only life-forms to have been sucked into the Void, where the laws of physics are subtly different and mental powers indistinguishable from magic are commonplace. The humans trapped there are afflicted by an alien species of biological mimics—the Fallers—that are intelligent but merciless killers.

Yet these same aliens may hold the key to destroying the threat of the Void forever—if Nigel can uncover their secrets. As the Fallers’ relentless attacks continue, and the fragile human society splinters into civil war, Nigel must uncover the secrets of the Fallers—before he is killed by the very people he has come to save.(Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Science fiction is hit or miss for me - mostly miss. I usually find the terminology confusing and too out there.

Not so with Mr. Hamilton’s stories. In fact, I always get excited when I see a new book by this author. His stories are very approachable and this was the case with The Abyss Beyond Dreams. The author has a great way of creating characters and building alien worlds.

I have not read any of the previous books based in the Commonwealth, but this did not hamper my ability to enjoy this tale. I look forward to reading book two.

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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Red Sari

Javier Moro

A transfixing novel about the Nehru-Gandhi family, told through the story of Sonia Gandhi, an Italian from modest origins who becomes one of the world’s most powerful women

In 1965 Sonia Maino, a nineteen-year-old Italian student, meets a young Indian man named Rajiv Gandhi. She is the daughter of a humble family near Turin; he comes from the most powerful lineage in India. It is the beginning of a love story that not even death can end. In the name of love, Maino leaves her past to blend in with her expansive new country, India, which worships twenty million gods, speaks eight hundred languages, and votes for five hundred political parties. Her courage, integrity, and devotion will turn her into a revered and beloved figure.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is the historical fiction story of Sonia Gandhi. Sonia was a nineteen year old, born and raised in Italy when she met Rajiv Gandhi, the son of Indira Gandhi. They fall in love and marry. When Indira was assassinated in 1984, Rajiv became Prime Minister. When he was assassinated, Sonia originally wanted to stay out of politics. She subsequently changed her mind and became President of the Congress Party.

Wow - what a story! Sonia’s transition from a shy Italian teenager to the leader of the Congress Party is really quite amazing. What I enjoyed the most was reading about the history, culture and traditions of India. The author has a wonderful way of providing detail while making the story enjoyable.

Many thanks to Open Road Integrated Media, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Wonder of All Things

Jason Mott

On the heels of his critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Returned, Jason Mott delivers a spellbinding tale of love and sacrifice

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. After the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds disappear.

Ava has an unusual gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. Now the whole world knows, and suddenly people from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to catch a glimpse of The Miracle Child. But Ava's unique ability comes at a great cost, and as she grows weaker with each healing, she soon finds herself having to decide just how much she's willing to give up in order to save the ones she loves most.

Elegantly written, deeply intimate and emotionally astute, The Wonder of All Things is an unforgettable story and a poignant reminder of life's extraordinary gifts. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Thirteen year old Ava is a healer. The only problem is, each time she heals someone, it takes a great toll on her physically. As a result of using her “gift” she is constantly cold and losing weight. Sometimes she is unconscious for several days.

This story brought up an interesting ethical dilemma. Should Ava be forced to use her gift, even if it brings her harm? If your loved one was sick and dying, would healing them at the expense of another matter?

I thought this was an interesting story line - simply told yet very thought provoking. The author let’s us in on each character’s inner thinking - how they feel about Ava’s gift and how it should or shouldn’t be used. It was hard not to worry about young Ava. She wants to help the people she loves, but she also understands the harm it will bring her.

This is the second book by Jason Mott and I am fortunate to have read both. He writes with heart and tells unique stories. I look forward to more stories from this very talented writer.
My thanks to Harlequin, via Netgalley, for allowing me to win this in exchange for an unbiased review.


Friday, October 10, 2014

The Children Act

Ian McEwan

Fiona Maye is a High Court judge in London presiding over cases in family court. She is fiercely intelligent, well respected, and deeply immersed in the nuances of her particular field of law. Often the outcome of a case seems simple from the outside, the course of action to ensure a child's welfare obvious. But the law requires more rigor than mere pragmatism, and Fiona is expert in considering the sensitivities of culture and religion when handing down her verdicts.
But Fiona's professional success belies domestic strife. Her husband, Jack, asks her to consider an open marriage and, after an argument, moves out of their house. His departure leaves her adrift, wondering whether it was not love she had lost so much as a modern form of respectability; whether it was not contempt and ostracism she really fears. She decides to throw herself into her work, especially a complex case involving a seventeen-year-old boy whose parents will not permit a lifesaving blood transfusion because it conflicts with their beliefs as Jehovah's Witnesses. But Jack doesn't leave her thoughts, and the pressure to resolve the case—as well as her crumbling marriage—tests Fiona in ways that will keep readers thoroughly enthralled until the last stunning page (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Fiona Maye is a judge in family court. Her rulings frequently have significant impact on the families involved. One of her cases involves a young teenage boy in need of a blood transfusion as part of his treatment for leukemia. He is a Jehovah’s Witness, a religion that does not condone blood transfusions. Fiona must rule for the hospital, who want to force the young teenager to get the transfusion, or the boy and his family who say they do not want him to receive the transfusion. In the meantime, Fiona is dealing with an issue in her personal life regarding her marriage.

Her decision in the Jehovah’s Witness case has repercussions far beyond what anyone could imagine. This impacts how she sees her marriage and ends up dealing with her husband.

As I have found with other books by Mr. McEwan, his writing is succinct yet descriptive. The Children Act is totally based on Fiona - her thoughts, her feelings and her reactions. What at first glance appears to be a simple story actually turns into an intricately detailed account of one woman’s struggle through a life changing event. The writing is straightforward with not much fluff. Mr. McEwan pulls this off quite well. He is rapidly moving up my list of favorite authors.

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Caroline Kepnes

Love hurts…

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect façade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This a story about stalking, told from the perspective of the stalker.

At the very beginning I was really struggling with this book. I did not like Joe - he was just too weird, too cocky, too into himself. Then, something happened (I can’t tell) that made me want to continue reading. THEN, when it did not end the way I thought it should have, I was really PO’d.
The more I thought about it, the more I decided this was actually a well written novel. I think it’s a good thing when the author doesn’t give me the status quo ending, even if it does make me mad. There was something oddly entertaining about this story and I’m glad I stuck with it.

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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A Sudden Light

Garth Stein

When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

But Trevor soon discovers there’s someone else living in Riddell House: a ghost with an agenda of his own. For while the land holds tremendous value, it is also burdened by the final wishes of the family patriarch, Elijah, who mandated it be allowed to return to untamed forestland as a penance for the millions of trees harvested over the decades by the Riddell Timber company. The ghost will not rest until Elijah’s wish is fulfilled, and Trevor’s willingness to face the past holds the key to his family’s future.

A Sudden Light is a rich, atmospheric work that is at once a multigenerational family saga, a historical novel, a ghost story, and the story of a contemporary family’s struggle to connect with each other. A tribute to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, it reflects Garth Stein’s outsized capacity for empathy and keen understanding of human motivation, and his rare ability to see the unseen: the universal threads that connect us all. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Do you remember that time as a kid or young teenager when you discover that the adults don’t have all the answers? That they make bad decisions and don’t always do things for the right reasons? And maybe, just maybe, you - the kid - might be the only one that has their act together?

Trevor’s parents are separated. He goes with his Dad to the house where his Dad grew up. There, he meets his funky Aunt Serena and his befuddled Grandpa Samuel. He also meets a ghost from the family’s past who cannot be set free until an injustice that occurred many years ago has been righted.

I thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age ghost story. It is about family, morals and righting a wrong. There were characters to love and characters to hate. The story weaves between past and present in a tightly woven plot. There was always something interesting going on to keep the story moving. A very good page turner.

I would like to thank Simon & Schuster, via Netgalley, for allwoing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Dancer and the Raja

Javier Moro

A fascinating novel that transports us to the fabulous world of the maharajas, abundant with harems, bacchanalian orgies, jewels, palaces, flamenco music, horses, Rolls Royce cars, and tiger hunting

On January 28th, 1908, a young Spanish woman sitting astride a luxuriously bejeweled elephant enters a small city in northern India. The streets are packed with curious locals, anxious to pay homage to their new princess with skin as white as the snows of the Himalayas. This is the beginning of the story, based on real events, of the wedding of Anita Delgado and the wealthy maharaja of Kapurthala, a grand story of love and betrayal that took place during almost two decades in the heart of an India that was on the verge of disappearing(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Ever since reading M.M. Kaye’s The Far Pavilions, I’ve pretty much been a sucker for books set in the time of British held India. For some reason, this place and time period just fascinates me.

In The Dancer and the Raja, Mr. Muro provides us with his interpretation of the life of Anita Delgado. Anita is a young 17 year old Spanish dancer when she catches the eye of the maharaja of Kapurthala. Her family is poor, the Raj offers an incredible monetary sum to marry Anita and this is seen as a huge opportunity for Anita to have a better life.

As a Spaniard married to a prince from India, Anita is never accepted by the the British who rule India, or by the Raja’s family. The prince’s other wives see her as a threat. The British feel that a European women should have never lowered her standards to marry someone from India. What was supposed to be an ideal life for Anita ultimately turns into one of loneliness and rejection.

I found this book mesmerizing. Javier Moro write with such rich description of India in the early 1900s. I learned a great deal about the history of India through this story. This was one of those books that as soon as I read the last page, I wanted to reread it all over again. It was that magical.

I truly want to thank Open Road Publishing, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this delightful book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Valhalla Prophecy

Andy McDermott


In a Stockholm museum, thieves steal an enormous Norse rune stone, but not before killing a security guard. When Nina Wilde, head of the International Heritage Agency (IHA), and her husband and ex-mercenary Eddie Chase arrive to investigate, they are told a chilling story: A scholar has discovered that the stone may be one of two keys to finding the mythological site of Valhalla, where the Vikings predicted the world’s final battle would begin. The second lies at the bottom of a Norwegian lake. But when Nina and Eddie race to the scene, they’re hit with a shocking surprise.

Covert agents from around the world are drawn into a lethal game, including a ruthless mole in the IHA. Then a disturbing secret surfaces from Eddie’s past, involving a mission in Vietnam and a woman he tried to save. Suddenly suspicious of her own husband, Nina cannot afford to stop the perilous search for the artifact. For somewhere in a remote wilderness, two forces are about to converge: one that could save the world. . . . and one that could destroy it(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

American archaeologist Nina Wilde and her husband,ex-SAS bodyguard Eddie Chase are at it again. This time, they are trying to get to a powerful secret weapon before the bad guys can find it and use it as a weapon of mass destruction. The chase is on!

As is typical of this series, there lots of action. Nina and Eddie are such likeable characters. Both are smart, witty and dedicated to their jobs. I like how Mr. McDermott weaves Norse mythology into the fictional story line. The ending certainly has me sitting on the edge of my seat to find out what will happen to Nina and Eddie next! Just the way a good series should leave us wanting more.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Shadow Protocol

Andy McDermott


Adam Gray is a cipher, a disciplined loner conditioned not to betray a single emotion. Part of an elite team spearheaded by a brilliant neuroscientist, Gray is a covert agent armed with PERSONA, a device that allows him to copy the brain patterns of the terrorists and operatives he meets in the field. For twenty-four hours he can recall their memories. He can know every detail of their plans. He can be America’s worst enemy—before he’s back to being Adam Gray again.

Now Gray and his team are racing to stop a plot to release a radioactive isotope that could kill millions. And in a nerve-racking clandestine meeting, Gray senses that his cover is cracked and that the mission—not to mention his life—may be in grave danger. But as they fight this violent conspiracy around the globe, another threat has emerged. This one has the perfect cover, the most unlikely double agent, and the most terrifying power of all. For a beautiful young scientist has discovered an unforeseen weakness in PERSONA: Adam Gray’s own past(from Netgallley)

My Thoughts

I have always been a fan of under cover, spy type novels and The Shadow Protocol really filled the bill.

Adam Gray is part of a government team whose activities are supposed to fly under the radar. A neuro-scientist has developed the ability to transfer one persons thoughts and memories to another person. Adam is the only person surgically enhanced to receive the transfer information.The good guys use this information against the bad guys/terrorist to find out about future attack plans.

Wow - talk about action packed - this story was relentless. At a little over 600 pages, I was pleasantly surprised out how quickly I got to the end. I thought the basis for the story was an interesting idea. There were some good plot twist along the way the helped to keep the this moving along. This was my first Andy McDermott novel but won’t be my last.

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Man Called Ove

Fredrik Backman

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Ove is a very simple man. Brought up mostly by his father who taught him to be responsible, work hard and follow the rules. Ove follows these principals into adulthood and struggles with the fact that not everyone else does. This is the story of how Ove and his neighboes, through a series of mishaps, finally come together to form an unlikely family.

This was delightful. If I wasn’t laughing, I was sniffling to hold back tears. Ove’s encounters with his neighbor are very funny. And while his personal story is sad, we really do need to know that piece of Ove so we can appreciate who he was at the end. This definately was a feel-good story and I am very glad I read it.
Thanks to Atria, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The House We Grew Up In

Lisa Jewell

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children’s lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they’ve never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in—and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family’s desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Lorelei and Colin Bird are parents to Meg, Beth and twins Rory and Rhys. A tragedy occurs one Easter Sunday when the kids are teenagers. From this point forward, the Bird family starts to fall apart in many unique ways.

This story is told from several perspective. Lorelei, who showed snippets of hoarding when the kids were young, goes all out when she ends up by herself. A majority of her story is told via emails to someone she has connected with online. As adults, each of the children’s lives have taken totally different paths and they hardly ever see each other. Colin does a total 180 once he and Lorelei divorce.

Talk about a dysfunctional family! Ms. Jewell did a great job on character development. This story flowed well and I thought the relationship (or lack there of) between the Bird family members seemed realistic. Sometimes, a tragedy will tear a family apart and another can pull it back together. All told, this was an enjoyable read.

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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

In the Kingdom of Ice

The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette

Hampton Sides

In the late nineteenth century, people were obsessed by one of the last unmapped areas of the globe: the North Pole. No one knew what existed beyond the fortress of ice rimming the northern oceans, although theories abounded. The foremost cartographer in the world, a German named August Petermann, believed that warm currents sustained a verdant island at the top of the world. National glory would fall to whoever could plant his flag upon its shores.

James Gordon Bennett, the eccentric and stupendously wealthy owner of The New York Herald, had recently captured the world's attention by dispatching Stanley to Africa to find Dr. Livingstone. Now he was keen to re-create that sensation on an even more epic scale. So he funded an official U.S. naval expedition to reach the Pole, choosing as its captain a young officer named George Washington De Long, who had gained fame for a rescue operation off the coast of Greenland. De Long led a team of 32 men deep into uncharted Arctic waters, carrying the aspirations of a young country burning to become a world power. On July 8, 1879, the USS Jeannette set sail from San Francisco to cheering crowds in the grip of "Arctic Fever."

The ship sailed into uncharted seas, but soon was trapped in pack ice. Two years into the harrowing voyage, the hull was breached. Amid the rush of water and the shrieks of breaking wooden boards, the crew abandoned the ship. Less than an hour later, the Jeannette sank to the bottom,and the men found themselves marooned a thousand miles north of Siberia with only the barest supplies. Thus began their long march across the endless ice—a frozen hell in the most lonesome corner of the world. Facing everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and frosty labyrinths, the expedition battled madness and starvation as they desperately strove for survival.

With twists and turns worthy of a thriller, In The Kingdom of Ice is a spellbinding tale of heroism and determination in the most unforgiving territory on Earth.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This book tells the story of the USS Jeannette, and the crew that attempted to sail her into the uncharted territory that is the North Pole.

This story is a perfect example of why I love to read. I was captivated from the first page to the very last. The author doesn’t just tell us about the voyage of the USS Jeannette. He starts by telling the reader about the era this took place in, the important players involved in making the expedition happen and the history of the crew members. We spend so much time with the crew that I almost cried at the end over who survived and who didn’t.

Never a dull moment, In the Kingdom of Ice was informative, educational, entertaining and both uplifting and sad. If history had been taught to me when I was a kid with the same talent as Mr. Sides, I may have actually paid attention!

Many thanks to Doubleday, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this outstanding book in exchange for an unbiased review. Lucky me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fear Nothing

Lisa Gardner

My name is Dr. Adeline Glen. Due to a genetic condition, I can’t feel pain. I never have. I never will.

The last thing Boston Detective D. D. Warren remembers is walking the crime scene after dark. Then, a creaking floorboard, a low voice crooning in her ear. . . . She is later told she managed to discharge her weapon three times. All she knows is that she is seriously injured, unable to move her left arm, unable to return to work.

My sister is Shana Day, a notorious murderer who first killed at fourteen. Incarcerated for thirty years, she has now murdered more people while in prison than she did as a free woman.

Six weeks later, a second woman is discovered murdered in her own bed, her room containing the same calling cards from the first: a bottle of champagne and a single red rose. The only person who may have seen the killer: Detective D. D. Warren, who still can’t lift her child, load her gun, or recall a single detail from the night that may have cost her everything.

Our father was Harry Day, an infamous serial killer who buried young women beneath the floor of our home. He has been dead for forty years. Except the Rose Killer knows things about my father he shouldn’t. My sister claims she can help catch him. I think just because I can’t feel pain doesn’t mean my family can’t hurt me.

D.D. may not be back on the job, but she is back on the hunt. Because the Rose Killer isn’t just targeting lone women, he is targeting D.D. And D.D. nows there is only one way to take him down. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Detective D.D. Warren suffers a fairly debilitating injury while re-visiting a crime scene where a sickening murder has occurred. While trying to recover, she gets involved in this murder investigation. Her healing process connects her with Dr. Adeline Glen, a pain specialist. Dr. Glen’s father was a notorious serial killer. Her sister has been in jail since her early teens for the murder of a young boy. Fear Nothing tells the story of how all these characters connect.

This is book #7 in the Detective D.D. Warren series. I must confess that I have not read all of the books, but this did not stop me from totally enjoying Fear Nothing. Ms. Gardner has quite a talent for slowly building suspense in her novels. This story goes right down to the wire with the reader wondering who the killer really is and whether or not D.D. will figure it out in time. I look forward to continuing with this series.

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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Before I Met You

Lisa Jewell

Jazz Age London, a passionate and forbidden interracial romance, and the unbreakable bond between a bright young woman and her eccentric grandmother come together brilliantly in this gem of a novel, perfect for fans of Downton Abbey, Twenties Girl, and The Chaperone.

Fresh out of university, Betty is ready to begin a new chapter of her life in London—one she hopes brings new friends, a big career break, and perhaps even true love. Following her dreams in bustling, grungy nineties Soho, she’s ready for whatever life has to throw at her. Or so she thinks…

In 1920s bohemian London, Arlette—Betty’s grandmother—is starting her new life in a time of post-war change. Beautiful and charismatic, Arlette is soon drawn into the hedonistic world of the Bright Young People. But two years after her arrival in London, tragedy strikes and she flees back to the country for the rest of her life.

As Betty tries to manage the ups and downs of adulthood, she’s distracted by a mysterious letter she finds after Arlette’s death—a letter written to a man Betty has never heard of but who meant the world to her grandmother. Will the secrets of Arlette’s past help Betty navigate her own path to happiness?

A heartwarming detective story and a captivating look at London then and now, Before I Met You is an unforgettable story about two very different women, separated by seventy years, but linked by a shared determination to make their dreams come true.

My Thoughts

This story is told in the alternating voices of Betty, from the 1990s, and Arlette, from the 1920s.

Arlette is Betty’s grandmother. Betty is trying to solve a mystery from her grandmother’s past while navigating through her own ever changing life.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Jewell and I found it to be very entertaining. I liked both characters and found their stories to be intriguing. I thought the author did a great job of weaving together the past and the present. This story was a nice mix of a mystery and a love story. I look forward to reading more books by Ms. Jewell.

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

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Catch

Taylor Stevens

Vanessa Michael Munroe, chameleon and information hunter, has a reputation for getting things done—often dangerous and not quite legal things.
The adrenaline-fueled work has left her with blood on her hands and a soul stained with guilt. Having borne the burden of one death too many, Munroe has fled to Djibouti, Africa. There, where her only responsibility is greasing the wheels of commerce for a small maritime security company, she finds stillness—until her boss pressures her to join his team as an armed transit guard on a ship bound for Kenya.
Days into the voyage, Munroe discovers the security contract is merely cover for a gunrunning operation of which she wants no part. The ship is invaded off the Somali coast and in a moment of impulse while fighting her way out, she drags the unconscious captain with her. But nothing about the hijacking is what it seems.
The pirates were never after the ship; they’d come for the captain. In chasing him, they make their one mistake: targeting Munroe raises the killer’s instinct she’s tried so hard to bury. Wounded and on the run, Vanessa Michael Munroe will use the life of her catch as bait and bartering chip to manipulate every player with a stake in the ship’s outcome, and find a way to wash her conscience clean.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

In this, book four of the series, Vanessa Michael Munroe works to save the lives of her fellow mates after their ship has been hijacked. Vanessa is able to escape with the ship’s captain. It seems the pirates are more interested in the captain than the ship and it’s contents. Vanessa plans to use the captain as a bargaining chip. Will her plan work?

Vanessa has her own demons to struggle with. She uses her street smarts to maneuver thru the murky underworld of pirating. The references to Vanessa’s past only made me want to go back and read the first three books in the series.

I’m jumping into this series at book four, but this in no way hindered my enjoyment of this smartly written novel. The authors writing is sharp and descriptive. I liked that this female lead character can take care of herself. There was a good level of suspense as Vanessa tries to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Accident

Chris Pavone

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.

Over the course of one long, desperate, increasingly perilous day, these lives collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril. The rich cast of characters—in publishing and film, politics and espionage—are all forced to confront the consequences of their ambitions, the schisms between their ideal selves and the people they actually became.

The action rockets around Europe and across America, with an intricate web of duplicities stretching back a quarter-century to a dark winding road in upstate New York, where the shocking truth about the accident itself is buried. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

A book has been written about a powerful media mogul. It is loaded with incriminating stories about the mogul’s past. The manuscript has been given to a literary agent to see if she can get it published. All of the people who want to get it published are driven by a personal need to succeed. Most, for one reason or another, are at the end of their literary careers and want one last blow out of a book. All of the people who don’t want it published have millions of dollars to try and get it stopped. The chase is on!

Holy smokes! This really was the equivalent of a roller coaster ride. The story unfolds slowly as we get to meet all the players and get to understand their roles (or so we think). Eventually the pace starts to pick up and before you know it, there are twists and turns, peaks and valleys, scary gut clenching moments of terror and excitement. By the end, I was breathless.

Mr. Pavone has quite the way with words. His writing is very nuanced and because of the plot twist, the reader really needs to pay attention.

Hold on to your seats. You are in for quite a ride!

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Lucky Us

Amy Bloom

“My father’s wife died. My mother said we should drive down to his place and see what might be in it for us.”

So begins this remarkable novel by Amy Bloom, whose critically acclaimed Away was called “a literary triumph” by The New York Times. Brilliantly written, deeply moving, fantastically funny, Lucky Us introduces us to Eva and Iris. Disappointed by their families, Iris, the hopeful star, and Eva, the sidekick, journey across 1940s America in search of fame and fortune. Iris’s ambitions take them from small-town Ohio to an unexpected and sensuous Hollywood, across the America of Reinvention in a stolen station wagon, to the jazz clubs and golden mansions of Long Island.

With their friends in high and low places, Iris and Eva stumble and shine through a landscape of big dreams, scandals, betrayals, and war. Filled with gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and surprising events, Lucky Us is a thrilling and resonant novel about success and failure, good luck and bad, the creation of a family, and the pleasures and inevitable perils of family life. From Brooklyn’s beauty parlors to London’s West End, a group of unforgettable people love, lie, cheat, and survive in this story of our fragile, absurd, heroic species.(from Netgalley)


My Thoughts

This is the story of several individuals who come together to form an unconventional family. There are two half sisters and their Dad, a kidnaped orphan, a night-club singer, and a cook. At the center of the story are Eva and Iris, the half sisters.

The oddest thing happened with this book. Throughout most of the time I was reading, I kept thinking - this is the strangest story. I’m not sure I really like this. But when I got to the last page and closed the book I thought - wow, what a story!

I think I had a hard time with how this family came together. But really, this is more a story of how we define family. It’s not necessarily about blood relationships, but about the people in our lives that hold meaning in our hearts. This delightful mix of quirky characters in Lucky Us came together out of desperation, but stayed together out of love.

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

Dear Committee Members

Julie Schumacher

Finally a novel that puts the "pissed" back into "epistolary."

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels. His star (he thinks) student can't catch a break with his brilliant (he thinks) work Accountant in a Bordello, based on Melville's Bartleby. In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This story is told through a series of letters written by Professor Jason Fitger.

I laughed so hard reading this that my stomach hurt and I had tears rolling down my face. Professor Fitger’s writes eloquently worded letters that are delightfully witty, frequently snarky and filled with cynicism. While set in the world of academia, anyone who has had to send politically correct emails or letters should get a kick out of Professor Fitger’s ability to say just exactly what he is thinking. I want to meet Jason Fitger!

This is a short book - under 200 hundred pages. I see myself reading this again when I need a good laugh.

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

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Book of Life

Deborah Harkness

The highly anticipated finale to the #1 New York Times bestselling trilogy that began with A Discovery of Witches

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

It was with a bit of trepidation that i started this, the third and final installment in the All Souls Trilogy. I so enjoyed the first two books and could only hope that the author would end the story of Diana and Matthew in a way that was meaningful.

The Book of Life met all my expectations and more! Diana and Matthew’s love story is put to the test as they battle to break the covenant that could deny their being together and put their children in harms way. There was some great suspense and lots of action.

I have to honestly say that now that all three books are out, I can see myself rereading this trilogy. I enjoyed it that much. I rarely say that about one book, much less a trilogy. So for me, this says a lot.

I am eternally grateful to Penguin Group/Viking, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Lemon Grove
Helen Walsh

Jenn and Greg have been married for fourteen years, and, as the book opens, they are enjoying the last week of their annual summer holiday in Deia, a village in Majorca off the coast of southern Spain. Their days are languorous, the time passing by in a haze of rioja-soaked lunches, hours at the beach, and lazy afternoon sex in their beautiful villa. It is the perfect summer idyll . . . until Greg's teenage daughter (Jenn's stepdaughter), Emma, arrives with her new boyfriend, Nathan, in tow.

What follows, over the course of seven days, is a brilliantly paced fever dream of attraction between Jenn and the reckless yet mesmerizing Nathan. It is an intense pas de deux of push and pull, risk and consequence . . . and moral rectitude, as it gets harder and harder for Jenn to stifle her compulsion.

This is a very smart novel about many things: the loss of youth, female sexuality, the lure of May/December temptation, the vicissitudes of marriage and the politics of other people's children. It is simultaneously sexy and substantive, and Helen Walsh's masterful, even-handed tone can't help but force the reader to wonder: "What would I have done?" (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Jenn and Greg are on their annual trip to Deia. This time they have allowed their 15-year-old daughter Emma to bring her equally young boyfriend Nathan. Jenn has an immediate attraction to 17-year-old Nathan. The Lemon Grove is the story of what takes place as these four characters spend the week together.

The author has an incredible way with words. Her writing is descriptive and the story was a quick read. Unfortunately, I found I just never cared about what was going on with any of the characters. Jenn’s behavior made no sense to me. One minute she is lusting (and more) after Nathan. The next minute she is angry at his obvious wondering eye with other girls in village and what this means for Emma. There was a slight build up of tension towards the end and then for me, it all fell flat.

I believe there is a reader for ever book. It just so happens that I was not the person who found this to be an enjoyable read.

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

Friday, July 4, 2014


Leila Meacham

One hundred fifty years of Roses' Tolivers, Warwicks, and DuMonts! We begin in the antebellum South on Plantation Alley in South Carolina, where Silas Toliver, deprived of his inheritance, joins up with his best friend Jeremy Warwick to plan a wagon train expedition to the "black waxy" promise of a new territory called Texas. Slavery, westward expansion, abolition, the Civil War, love, marriage, friendship, tragedy and triumph-all the ingredients (and much more) that made so many love Roses so much-are here in abundance(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

If you want to lose yourself in a good family saga, this is the book to do it with! The story covers three generations and numerous historical occurrences that happens during the ocer years of three families that move west to settle in Texas. From a character perspective, Somerest has it covered - characters to love, hate, cheer for and want to smack.

I was initially a bit intimidated by the 600+ size of Somerest, but the story was well paced and held my interest.

Many thanks to Grand Central Publishing for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Quick

Lauren Oliver

London, 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society, and finds love in an unexpected quarter. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Unnerved, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine city that greets her, she uncovers a secret world at the margins populated by unforgettable characters: a female rope walker turned vigilante, a street urchin with a deadly secret, and the chilling “Doctor Knife.” But the answer to her brother’s disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of one of the country’s preeminent and mysterious institutions: The Aegolius Club, whose members include the most ambitious, and most dangerous, men in England.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

James and Charlotte Newbury had a fairly sheltered childhood. James moves to London by himself and get mixed up with a very different group (emphasis on different). When he disappears, his sister comes to the rescue - or at least tries.

I found the first third of this book a bit slow going. Just as I was debating whether to continue, the story really picked up and oh boy, did it end up being good. Charlotte’s search for James is relentless and full of intrigue. Lots of scary characters and good suspense. I especially like the ending.

A strong debut by Ms. Oliver.

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

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Better World (The Brilliance Saga #2)

Marcus Sakey

The brilliants changed everything.

Since 1980, 1% of the world has been born with gifts we’d only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person’s most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional...and the rest of us.

Now a terrorist network led by brilliants has crippled three cities. Supermarket shelves stand empty. 911 calls go unanswered. Fanatics are burning people alive.

Nick Cooper has always fought to make the world better for his children. As both a brilliant and an advisor to the president of the United States, he’s against everything the terrorists represent. But as America slides toward a devastating civil war, Cooper is forced to play a game he dares not lose—because his opponents have their own vision of a better world.

And to reach it, they’re willing to burn this one down (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

A small percent of the population has been born with very unusual abilities. Referred to as brilliants, abnormals or abnorms, some folks in the regular population are threatened by the idea that the abnorms will take over the world. This story is the continuing struggle between the abnorms and the norms.

I loved the first book in this saga, and was thrilled to be given the opportunity to read book two. A Better World did not disappoint. Action packed and fast paced, this had great suspense. There are lots of characters to like and a few mixed in to not like (we do need balance here). A great ending that left me wanting more. Bring it on Mr. Sakey!

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014

That Night

Chevy Stevens

As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn’t relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren’t easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni, is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni's innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni's life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But in That Night by Chevy Stevens, the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Toni Murphy and her boyfriend Ryan were convicted of murdering Toni’s younger sister Nicole. Did they really do it?


When we first meet Toni, she is just being released from prison. The following chapters alternate between the time leading up to Nicole’s murder and Toni’s time in jail. The last part of the story has to do with Toni’s time after she has been released.

This was a well written story. It hooked me from the start. I thought there was a good level of suspense. I have always enjoyed Ms. Steven’s writing and this book is another example of why. She presents realistic characters (boy - did I want to smack some of the teenage girls in the story) and knows how to hold the reader’s attention.

My thanks to St. Marten’s Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in wxchange for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Little Mercies

Heather Gudenkauf

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Ellen Moore is a social worker who mostly works with troubled families. Ten-year old Jenny Briard comes from a troubled family. This is the story of how Ellen and Jenny are both fighting through a difficult period in their lives and how their paths cross.

I always get excited when I find out that Heather Gudenkauf has written a new novel. I find her writing to be thoughtful and relevant. She takes everyday people and writes realistic stories about them. What happened to Ellen could happen to anyone. There are probably more Jenny’s in the real world than any of us want to admit to. I loved the way the author tied the title into the meaning behind the story.

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

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer House with Swimming Pool

Herman Koch

When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he’s not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high profile doctor to the stars, Marc can't hide from the truth forever.

It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meier’s extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph’s later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer’s tragedy. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Dr. Marc Schlosser is well know with his patients for being pretty easy with writing prescriptions. This brings actor Ralph Meier to his practice. The two develop a somewhat loose relationship. One summer, Ralph invites Marc and his family to stay at their summer house with a swimming pool. Something bad happens to one of Marc’s daughters. Is it possible Dr. Marc sought his revenge via his medical treatment of Ralph?

The author has given us two despicable characters in Marc and Ralph. Marc has a blase attitude about both his medical practice and his marriage. Ralph is glutinous in every aspect of his life. It’s almost as if these two negative personalities were attracted to each other.

I will admit, I was not sure I was going to like this book. But given time, I discovered that the author wrote with strong description and a good dose of subtle humor. When I finish a book, I ask myself - would I read more from this author? With regard to Herman Koch - the answer is yes.

My thanks to Crown Publishing for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Remember Me Like This

Bret Anthony Johnston

Four years have passed since Justin Campbell’s disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what’s left of their family together.

Then, one afternoon, the impossible happens. The police call to report that Justin has been found only miles away, in the neighboring town, and, most important, he appears to be fine. Though the reunion is a miracle, Justin’s homecoming exposes the deep rifts that have diminished his family, the wounds they all carry that may never fully heal. Trying to return to normal, his parents do their best to ease Justin back into his old life. But as thick summer heat takes hold, violent storms churn in the Gulf and in the Campbells’ hearts. When a reversal of fortune lays bare the family’s greatest fears—and offers perhaps the only hope for recovery—each of them must fight to keep the ties that bind them from permanently tearing apart.(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts
This book hit home because we had a very similar situation occur in our general area. A young boy goes missing, only to be “found” four years later. I still remember thinking - wow, I wonder what that whole experience was like for this young boy and his family.

Obviously, I can’t answer that on a personal basis. But I get the feeling that this author has probably come fairly close to hitting the nail on the head. He writes about the people who were left to deal with the sudden disappearance of Justin the Mom and Dad, a younger brother and a grandfather. How their grief is tearing their world apart. How they don’y know if they should give up or hold on to hope forever.

And then - Justin is found! Oh - the joy, the disbelief, the yes to be asked and answered questions.

The writing was compelling. This is a story that unfolds slowly and by the end, my stomach was in knots. It was wonderful!

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

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Shadow Queen

Sandra Gulland

From the author of the beloved Josephine B. Trilogy, comes a spellbinding novel inspired by the true story of a young woman who rises from poverty to become confidante to the most powerful, provocative and dangerous woman in the 17th century French court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.
1660, Paris

Claudette’s life is like an ever-revolving stage set. From an impoverished childhood wandering the French countryside with her family’s acting troupe, Claudette finally witnesses her mother's astonishing rise to stardom in Parisian theaters. Working with playwrights Corneille, Molière and Racine, Claudette’s life is culturally rich, but like all in the theatrical world at the time, she's socially scorned.

A series of chance encounters gradually pull Claudette into the alluring orbit of Athénaïs de Montespan, mistress to Louis XIV and reigning "Shadow Queen." Needing someone to safeguard her secrets, Athénaïs offers to hire Claudette as her personal attendant.

Enticed by the promise of riches and respectability, Claudette leaves the world of the theater only to find that court is very much like a stage, with outward shows of loyalty masking more devious intentions. This parallel is not lost on Athénaïs, who fears political enemies are plotting her ruin as young courtesans angle to take the coveted spot in the king's bed.

Indeed, Claudette's "reputable" new position is marked by spying, illicit trysts and titanic power struggles. As Athénaïs, becomes ever more desperate to hold onto the King's favor, innocent love charms move into the realm of deadly Black Magic, and Claudette is forced to consider a move that will put her own life—and the family she loves so dearly—at risk.

Set against the gilded opulence of a newly-constructed Versailles and the War of Theaters, THE SHADOW QUEEN is a seductive, gripping novel about the lure of wealth, the illusion of power, and the increasingly uneasy relationship between two strong-willed women whose actions could shape the future of France.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Claudette was raised in a family of “players” - people who are in the theatre. As a young girl, she has a chance meeting with Athenais, another young girl who in later years ends up becoming a mistress to the king. Claudette becomes the only person Athenais can trust and ends up devoting most of her life in service to “The Shadow Queen.”

This was a thoroughly entertaining, well written historical fiction novel. The author paints a very interesting picture of 1600 France. The first half of the book is spent with Claudette and her family as they struggle to survive a life in the theatre. The second half of the books has to do with Claudette’s time within the French court, becoming the only person that Athenais trusts.

This book is another reason why I have become such a fan of historical fiction!
Thanks to Doubleday, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.