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.