Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Passenger

Lisa Lutz

From the author of the New York Times bestselling Spellman Files series, Lisa Lutz’s latest blistering thriller is about a woman who creates and sheds new identities as she crisscrosses the country to escape her past: you’ll want to buckle up for the ride!

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.

She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy―and dangerous―alliance is born.

It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation, to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret…can she outrun her past?

With heart-stopping escapes and devious deceptions, The Passenger is an amazing psychological thriller about defining yourself while you pursue your path to survival. One thing is certain: the ride will leave you breathless (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Tonya Dubois finds her husband Frank dead after apparently falling down the stairs. Instead of calling the police, she packs her bags and takes off. So begins our journey with this mysterious women. Just who is she and what is she really running from?

What’s it like to spend life on the run? To always be looking over your shoulder, never knowing who to trust? To change identities at the drop of the hat for fear you’ve been found? As we run with Tonya, we get to find out what all this is like. We also get to read email exchanges between her and someone from the past. From these emails, we know something happened that caused her to go on the lam several years ago, but don’t find out what happened until the very end. As Tonya runs, she encounters both people who want to help her and those who don’t.

I thought this was a fast paced mystery. I liked Tonya and my heart would pound each time she had to change her identity and make a fast escape. I actually thought the author found a unique way to end her story and liked the twist at the very end.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster, via Netgally, for allowing me to read this very entertaining novel in exchange for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Nowhere Girl

Susan Strecker

The day Savannah was killed she was fifteen minutes late to meet me." So begins bookseller favorite Susan Strecker's second novel of twin sisters and the murder that left one twin behind.

Savannah was the popular bad girl skipping school and moving quickly from one boyfriend to the next, so when she didn't meet Cady as promised, Cady wasn't surprised and the truth was Cady was already a bit mad at her. When Cady suddenly becomes short of breath she realizes Savannah is in trouble, but within minutes Savannah is gone.

Years later Cady, now a bestselling author of suspense, spends her time interviewing killers, hoping each interview will help her understand what happened to her sister. Despite Savannah's death, the bond Savannah and Cady share has never been broken. Savannah still comes to Cady, but the clues her sister sends don't add up until a chance encounter while researching her latest novel provides a missing piece of the puzzle.(from Netgalley) 

My Thoughts
Cady and Savannah are identical twins. Savannah dies when they are young teenagers. Everyone thinks she was murdered. Savannah’s murder was never solved. Fast forward several years, and Cady has become a writer of murder mysteries. When a local police office reopens the investigation on Savannah’s death, the end result is something no one ever expected. What really happened to Savannah?

I know I’m reading a good book when my nose is glued to the pages and I hang up my “do not disturb” sign. This was one of them! From the very first page, I was sucked into the story. I really liked the characters. The author did a great job of weaving the past with the present. There were several characters that I thought might have been responsible for Savannah’s death, so I was surprised by the ending.

I really like Ms. Strecker’s writing style, so I was pleased to see this was her second novel. I’m looking forward to checking out her first book. I’m fairly certain I’ve found a new author to add to my favorites list.

My thanks to Thomas Dunne Press/St. Martin’s Press, via Netgalley, for allowing e to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Murder of Mary Russell

Laurie R. King

Laurie R. King's bestselling Mary Russell–Sherlock Holmes series weaves rich historical detail and provocative themes with intriguing characters and enthralling suspense. Russell and Holmes have become one of modern literature's most beloved teams. But does this adventure end it all?

Mary Russell is used to dark secrets—her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond.

And what of the other person to whom Mary Russell has opened her heart: the couple's longtime housekeeper, Mrs. Hudson? Russell's faith and affection are suddenly shattered when a man arrives on the doorstep claiming to be Mrs. Hudson's son.

What Samuel Hudson tells Russell cannot possibly be true, yet she believes him—as surely as she believes the threat of the gun in his hand. In a devastating instant, everything changes. And when the scene is discovered—a pool of blood on the floor, the smell of gunpowder in the air—the most shocking revelation of all is that the grim clues point directly to Clara Hudson.

Or rather to Clarissa, the woman she was before Baker Street.

The key to Russell's sacrifice lies in Mrs. Hudson's past. To uncover the truth, a frantic Sherlock Holmes must put aside his anguish and push deep into his housekeeper's secrets—to a time before her disguise was assumed, before her crimes were buried away.

There is death here, and murder, and trust betrayed.

And nothing will ever be the same.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Clara Hudson, Sherlock Holmes housekeeper, comes home to discover blood on the carpet and Mary Russell missing! Is Mary dead or alive?

In this installment of the wonderful Mary Russell series, we learn all about Clara Hudson’s past - from her childhood up until the time she meets Sherlock Homes. We finally find out about her elusive past and the secret she and Sherlock have been keeping for many many years.

I think these stories are smart and very entertaining. I love the thought process that everyone involved goes through as they try to solve the puzzle of Mary’s disappearance and the aftermath. The characters are intelligent and observant and the author has a delightful ability of keeping the reader interested from beginning to end. Another great mystery!

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

Monday, April 18, 2016


Matthew Desmond
From Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stick up after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

The fate of these families is in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former school teacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs the worst trailer park in the fourth poorest city in the country. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, “Love don't pay the bills.” She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending over half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality—and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation, while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
To be honest, I’m not sure what attracted me to this book. As a middle class, middle-aged white female, I have never been touched by poverty and I have no intention of ever becoming a landlord. This book first caught my eye when it was reviewed in our local paper and I have seen it mentioned a few times in articles regarding poverty.

My initial intent was to read this book in snippets. For some reason, I thought it might be something that was not going to hold my attention. I could not have been more wrong. From the very first chapter, I found this book hard to put down.

Mr. Desmond has a unique ability to intertwine statistics with personal stories, with the result being this very readable book. I got caught up in the age old battle between tenant and landlord, the games that are played as one tries to outwit the other. It would be hard to cast blame on either tenant or landlord as each side seems to be working the system to best fit their needs. The author did a great job presenting the facts and explaining the how the system works.

This was eye-opening and there were many times that I found myself saying “wow” and shaking my head. No one was more surprised than me at how much I learned from this book.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Five Days Left

Julie Lawson Timmer

Mara Nichols is a successful lawyer, devoted wife, and adoptive mother who has received a life-shattering diagnosis. Scott Coffman, a middle school teacher, has been fostering an eight-year-old boy while the boy’s mother serves a jail sentence. Scott and Mara both have five days left until they must say good-bye to the ones they love the most.

Through their stories, Julie Lawson Timmer explores the individual limits of human endurance and the power of relationships, and shows that sometimes loving someone means holding on, and sometimes it means letting go (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
What a remarkable story about about two families who both have only five days left to deal with an unimaginable situation. Mara Nichols has Huntington’s disease and in five days time, is going to kill herself so her family does not have to become her caretaker. Scott Coffman and his wife Laurie have been foster parents to Curtis. Curtis’s Mom is getting out of jail, and the Coffman’s have five days left to spend with him.

This is the story of how these two families spend these five days. The only connection between the two is a support chat room. While their issues are different, both families are dealing with something that most people around them will never encounter, and therefore, never understand.

While the main focus is on Mara and Scott, we do get to see how the situations they are in impacts their whole family. I found this to be both gut wrenching and uplifting. A powerful story about love and family.

A very impressive debut from an author I will surely follow.

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

Friday, April 8, 2016

Try Not To Breathe

Holly Seddon

Some secrets never die. They're just locked away.

Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten by the world. Who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.

Soon Alex's routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter's story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived, but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from uncovering the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she's not just chasing a story—she's seeking salvation.

Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.(from Netgalley)

My Thoughts
Alex Dale is a freelance journalist. She has a drinking problem, her marriage has failed and she is desperately trying one more time to get it together. She decides to write a health care related article on people who are in a vegetative state. She hears that there is ground breaking research in the possibility of being able to communicate with some of the patients. She encounters Amy Stevenson, a young woman who had been assaulted fifteen years earlier. The attack left her with serious injuries and she appears to be non-cognizant. For some reason, Alex forms a bond with Amy and decides to try to solve the mystery of who attacked her, something the police were never able to do. Where will her research take her?

I was surprised to see that this was a debut novel. It was very well written. It starts out slowly as we get to know the main characters. The pace starts to pick up as Alex slowly put the pieces together of what happened to Amy fifteen years ago. I found the book hard to put down, had great suspense and interesting characters.

Bravo Ms. Seddon!
My thanks to Balantine Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Woman in Blue
Elly Griffiths

Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway returns in a new thrilling mystery from the best-selling Elly Griffiths.
The murder of women priests in the shrine town of Walsingham sucks Dr Ruth Galloway into an unholy investigation.
When Ruth's friend Cathbad sees a vision of the Virgin Mary, in a white gown and blue cloak, in the graveyard next to the cottage he is house-sitting, he takes it in his stride. Walsingham has strong connections to Mary, and Cathbad is a druid after all; visions come with the job. But when the body of a woman in a blue dressing-gown is found dead the next day in a nearby ditch, it is clear Cathbad's vision was all too human, and that a horrible crime has been committed. DCI Nelson and his team are called in for the murder investigation, and soon establish that the dead woman was a recovering addict being treated at a nearby private hospital.
Ruth, a devout atheist, has managed to avoid Walsingham during her seventeen years in Norfolk. But then an old university friend, Hilary Smithson, asks to meet her in the village, and Ruth is amazed to discover that her friend is now a priest. Hilary has been receiving vitriolic anonymous letters targeting women priests - letters containing references to local archaeology and a striking phrase about a woman 'clad in blue, weeping for the world'.
Then another woman is murdered - a priest.
As Walsingham prepares for its annual Easter re-enactment of the Crucifixion, the race is on to unmask the killer before they strike again... (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

I say this every time I review a book in this series.  I just adore Ruth Galloway.  A single Mom, she is smart, dedicated and has the dry English wit that I find so very funny.
In this latest series installment, it’s Ruth’s friend Cathbad who finds a murdered women.  While Ruth is involved in solving the mystery of who killed her, this time we get to spend quite a bit of time with Nelson,  the father of Ruth’s daughter.  Ruth and Nelson are still trying to figure out exactly what their relationship means and how to make it work as they go about their daily business.
I think all the books in this series are smart and entertaining.  This one kept up the momentum!  I also picked up a new saying - Jesus wept (you’ll have to read the book to understand that one.)
My thanks to Quercus Books, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.