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 na├»ve 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.