Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Here and Now

Ann Brashares

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.
But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Prenna was ingrained with all the rules just like her fellow time travelers. When she finally decides to trust Ethan, everything she believes in falls apart.

What an entertaining and thought provoking YA novel. I thought the author used this interesting premise to write about what might happen due to global warming and how much we all take for granted. From that perspective, this story was rather frightening. But at it’s heart, this really is a love story. And I liked that the author didn’t give me the ending that I wanted. I think that would have been the easy way out. Good job Ms. Brashares!

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

You Should Have Known

Jean Hanff Korelitz

Grace Reinhart Sachs is living the only life she ever wanted for herself. Devoted to her husband, a pediatric oncologist at a major cancer hospital, their young son Henry, and the patients she sees in her therapy practice, her days are full of familiar things: she lives in the very New York apartment in which she was raised, and sends Henry to the school she herself once attended. Dismayed by the ways in which women delude themselves, Grace is also the author of a book You Should Have Known, in which she cautions women to really hear what men are trying to tell them. But weeks before the book is published a chasm opens in her own life: a violent death, a missing husband, and, in the place of a man Grace thought she knew, only an ongoing chain of terrible revelations. Left behind in the wake of a spreading and very public disaster, and horrified by the ways in which she has failed to heed her own advice, Grace must dismantle one life and create another for her child and herself.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Grace Sachs is a therapist who counsels couples and individuals who are struggling with relationships. She doesn’t sugar coat anything with her clients and frequently let’s them know that there signs that their relationship were doomed from the very beginning. Her first “relationship” book, called You Should Have Known, is about to hit the bookshelves. She is married and has one son. When a mother from het son’s school is murdered and her husband disappears, Grace begins to wonder if she should have heeded her own advice.

The first half of this story was mostly narrative and I can sometimes struggle with this. But it occurred to me that we need this so the we could truly understand Grace. We need to know what her life was like, who her acquiantances are, and how she see the world so we can understand what she is losing as her world falls apart. The second half of the story is where the action really picks up. Is there a connection between the murder woman and her missing husband?
I really did enjoy this book. I thought it was quite the page turner. The author did a great job of building suspense. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Korelitz, but it will not be my last.

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

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Collector of Dying Breaths

M. J. Rose

Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer. Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fragrances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the potential to reanimate the dead. In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country but the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals. But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, Rene doesn’t begin to imagine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.

Paris, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile, is trying to recover from personal heartache by throwing herself into her work, learns of the 16th century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality. She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breathes he had collected during his lifetime. Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Florentin’s mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection. A woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir… a purpose for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means. This mesmerizing gothic tale of passion and obsession crisscrosses time, zigzagging from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first century France. Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit chateaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Jac L’Etoile has been enticed by a wealthy brother and sister to research the possibility of bringing back the dead by mixing their last, dying breath with an ancient elixir created by a perfumer from the 1600‘s. She is intrigued by the concept and has her own personal reason for wanting it to work.

I first met the character of Jac L’Eoilte in The Book of Lost Fragrances. Jac has the ability to go back to past lives. She struggles with trying to understand some of the visions. In The Collector of Dying Breaths, she “sees” the story of Rene le Florentin and his lover, Isabeau, who works as a spy for Queen Catherine of France.

This book is told in alternating chapters of past and present. The author has a wonderful ability to draw the reader into the story from the very beginning. I found both Jac and Rene’s story to be very interesting and liked the way the author connected these two individuals from two very different time periods. This was a great tale from start to finish!

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Lost Sisterhood

Anne Fortier

Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world.

Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is the story of Myrina, the first Amazon queen, and Diana Morgan, an Oxford lecturer. Diana has been fascinated by the stories of the Amazons because her grandmother claimed to be one. Everyone passed Grandma off as being a little off kilter (aka - the lights are on, but no one’s at home), but Diana sensed there was something behind her Grandmother’s stories. When Diana is given the opportunity to finally find out the true stories behind the Amazons, she just can’t resist.

Told in the alternating voices of Myrina and Diana, I found this story to be very interesting. We meet Myrina as a young girl, and her path to becoming the first queen of the Amazons is often filled with struggles and sadness. On the other hand, Diana’s story provides much historical information, lots of adventure and a touch of romance.

I really liked the way the author wove this story. As Diana’s adventure uncovers clues about the Amazon, Myrina’s story explains the history behind each artifacts creation. I know nothing about the Greeks, or the story behind Troy, so I found this part of the book fascinating. For me, this is the kind of book that as a reader, I had to toss all caution to the wind. Was everything plausible - maybe not. But honestly - who cares. It was a fun read and kept me interested.

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

Far Gone

Laura Griffin

To save her only brother, Andrea Finch must face down a criminal mastermind, the FBI, and her own demons in this thrilling novel from the author of the bestselling Tracers series.

Police detective Andrea Finch is a rising star in her department until a split-second decision derails her career. Disgraced and disillusioned, she’s on leave from her job when she gets an urgent call from her younger brother. She’d prefer to ignore his latest plea for cash, but this time instinct tells her something is very wrong. Andrea’s search for answers takes her to a dusty Texas border town where danger lurks in plain sight and nothing is quite what it seems.

FBI agent Jon North is working undercover in west Texas investigating an unsolved murder that may be linked to a broader plot. But when the evidence points to Andrea’s brother, Jon finds that persuading the stubborn cop to help will be harder than cracking his toughest case.

Andrea must find a way to do what’s right while protecting her only sibling. As the clock ticks down on a deadly plot, Andrea and Jon race to confront a heartless killer who will stop at nothing to deliver a final, terrifying message(from Edelweiss & Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I like both of the main characters, Andrea Finch and Jon North. Andrea is loyal to her brother and is determined to find out the truth regarding his involvement with a home grown terrorist group. Jon wants to help her, but also has a job to do trying to prevent another attack on American soil. They are both strong willed and frequently butt heads. It is their strength and weakness that also cause them to be attracted to each other.

This was excellent! Fast paced and went right down to the wire with suspense. Just enough romance to make the relationship seem real and be a good fit with the rest of the story line. Ms. Griffin sure knows how to hold the readers attention.

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Midnight Rose

Lucinda Riley

Spanning four generations, The Midnight Rose sweeps from the glittering palaces of the great maharajas of India to the majestic stately homes of England, following the extraordinary life of a remarkable girl, Anahita Chaval, from 1911 to the present day . . .

In the heyday of the British Raj, eleven-year-old Anahita, from a noble but impov­erished family, forms a lifelong friendship with the headstrong Princess Indira, the privileged daughter of Indian royalty. As the princess’s official companion, Anahita accompanies her friend to England just before the outbreak of WorldWar I. There, she meets young Donald Astbury—reluctant heir to the magnifi­cent, remote Astbury Estate—and his scheming mother.

Ninety years later, Rebecca Bradley, a young American film star, has the world at her feet. But when her turbulent relationship with her equally famous boyfriend takes an unexpected turn, she’s relieved that her latest role, playing a 1920s debutante, will take her away from the glare of publicity to a distant cor­ner of the English countryside. Shortly after filming begins at the now-crumbling Astbury Hall, Ari Malik, Anahita’s great-grandson, arrives unexpectedly, on a quest for his family’s past. What he and Rebecca discover begins to unravel the dark secrets that haunt the Astbury dynasty . . .

A multilayered, heartbreaking tale filled with unforgettable characters caught in the sweep of history, The Midnight Rose is Lucinda Riley at her most captivating and unforgettable (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This is the second book I have read by Lucinda Riley and I honestly love her stories. We get to know Anahita and Rebecca through alternating chapters until we finally find out how their lives connect. I thought Ms. Riley did an outstanding job of pulling all of this together. This was one of those books I could immerse myself in, and when I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it. I love when a story let’s me escape into a different world, and this one certainly did that. I am definitely interested in continuing to read more this very talented storyteller.

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