Thursday, March 26, 2015

Season of Fear

Title: Season of Fear
Author: Brian Freeman
Published: March 3rd 2015 by Quercus)
Format: Hardcover, Pgs 448
Genre: Very Boring Political Thriller
Series: Cab Bolton #2

That was disappointing; I could not make it past page 100. What is touted as a political thriller is anything but. Yes, there are politics involved but thrilling it is not. I was bored senseless. What happened Mr. Freeman? Pretty sure you could have chopped twenty five percent of this book and the reader would have been more interested.

Guess I will have to stick with the Jonathan Stride novels. Funny how you can enjoy one series from an author but not get the same enjoyment from another.

I wish others better luck with this than I had.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Glass Kitchen

Title: The Glass Kitchen
Author: Linda Francis Lee
Published: June 17th 2014 by St. Martin's Press
Format: Hardcover, Pgs 384
Genre: Magical Realism

This is the perfect book for a spring weekend. Food, romance, three sisters that are wound together, an irrepressible preteen, humor and a bit of magic. It must be the weather since I am not usually a romance kind of reader, but this book seemed to hit me just right.

Portia Cuthcart, a recent Texas divorcee, leaves her home and lying politician ex-husband and heads to Manhattan. Back to an apartment that was left to her by her aunt. A woman that had taken in Portia and her sisters when their parents had been killed.

Portia did not only inherit this garden apartment, she had also inherited a magical gift of being able to see food – the perfect healing meals that a person needed. Be it down home southern cooking or a last minute meal for guests or a birthday cake. She did not always know the “why”, but she did know the need.

Making a go of living in New York is not easy with no job and an ex that is not coming through with spousal support. Now she must contend with the man that lives in the apartments above her. Portia’s sisters sold their interests to Gabriel Kane – a man that is nursing his own troubles and trying to raise to daughters on his own. He may understand finance but he does not understand his daughters or how to cook. After Gabriel’s daughter Ariel samples Portia’s cooking, she insists in the way that only Ariel could get away with, that he hire Portia to be their cook and in doing so, creates a bond between the two adults that heats up rather quickly.

Everyone within this story has a secret and as the book unfolds, the reader sees each one revealed. No one is spared and if it were not for the gift of “the knowing” that Portia possess, both the Cuthcart sisters and the Kane family would be facing even more emotional devastation.

Magical realism may not be for everyone, but it works in this book. There is a lightness in the story, but that is not to mean that it is silly, just that from time to time everyone needs a break and a chance to unwind - to take a vacation from their own heads and dream.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Title: Invisible
Author: James Patterson and David Ellis
Published: June 23rd 2014 by Little, Brown and Company
Format: Hardcover, 432 pages
Genre: Suspense

I was surprised to see that this book is a standalone since it reads more like his previous writing team series. A strong female character that is supported by male characters, a police procedural, a love interest, suspense and gross parts. To me, it was very reminiscent of The Women’s Murder Club but with only one lead female character.

Emmy Dockery is not an FBI agent with a badge and gun, but do not tell her that. She is a background support person that has recently been placed on leave due to her obsession with the belief that her sister was a victim of a serial killer. The usual FBI channels cannot verify this, but she will not give up.

She seeks out her ex-fiancé Books Harrison, who has left his FBI job to run a quaint bookstore. When Emmy comes walking in one day, Books knows that his life is about to turn upside down. He brushes off her wild imaginings and sends her on her way only to show up on her doorstep later that night wanting more information.

Of course, no one believes them until her theory starts to pan out. The arsons are related. The dates line up. Now they are in a race against the clock and the FBI higher ups to prevent the next horrendous death.

Since this is a Patterson, there is a twist at the end. One that I am sure others picked up on since there was a slight hint, but I completely disregarded it only to think, “Oh, I remember that”.

Patterson is an author that you will either love or hate. For me, some books are better than others are. Be that as it may, Patterson and his writing partner du jour put out quick reading summer fare that keep his hordes of fans wanting more.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Everything I Never Told You

Title: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Published: June 26th 2014 by Penguin Press
Format: Hardcover, 297 pages
Genre: Fiction

How could you not continue reading a book that begins: “Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” These nine words open up so much possibility and intrigue.

There is strangeness to the Lee family. A family with no friends that is made up of misfits. It is 1977 and a mixed race family is still looked upon as an oddity in Ohio. James, the father, is Chinese and Marilyn the mother, is a blonde haired blue eyed Caucasian. Lydia their golden child has characteristic of each, with her father’s black hair and almond shaped eyes the same color blue as her mother.

Though in the same house, the Lee’s do not know each other. They each live their own separate individual lives. When sixteen-year-old Lydia is found dead, each are trying to come to terms with what they knew and what they did not. Nath, the brother of Lydia, believes it is the boy across the street, but since Nath is “that Oriental boy”, the police will not take him seriously. Hannah, the youngest, misses her sister desperately and is left to pick up the pieces of her family all the while trying to remain invisible. They are each trying to come to terms with the police saying “suicide likely possibility.”

The Lee family is damaged. A marriage that was condemned from the start by Marilyn’s mother. The wound that was opened when Marilyn took time away from her husband and children with no forewarning and realizing that her dreams were never going to play out. A time when James was made to feel that it was a matter of time before a wife like Marilyn left a husband like him. Old fears lying coiled.

Nath gives up wanting to be seen, his acceptance to Harvard was barely a blip on the Lee family radar and Hannah realizes that she has never been seen. She is the quiet one that hides under tables and tries to use all of her inner strength to hold her family together but still she is invisible. The child that when she was born, her crib was placed in the attic where all the other unwanted things went.

Lydia knew that her parents loved her, I their own way, but their dreams were too heavy a burden. She knew that they favored her over Nath but she loved him and felt tethered to him. As long at Nath did not let go of her, she could absorb her parent’s dreams.

The Lee’s world orbited around Lydia and now with her gone, they must come to terms with all the missing parts in their lives. Unfulfilled dreams, embarrassments, seeing their own faults in their children. Children finally voicing their disappointments in their parents.

Sometimes our wishes and dreams are too much for our children. We do not see the stress and worry when they do not live up to our expectations. With Lydia now gone, Marilyn is left with her empty place. She had put her dreams away until she could unwrap them for her daughter. The place that her daughter can no longer fill, the place her husband no longer wants to be. Now that there is room, will invisible Hannah finally be seen? Will she finally have a place in her mother’s heart?

There is a twist near the end, one that was hinted at prior, but still it was surprising. This book hits on many issues and it was just one more thing that Lydia has been confronted with.

The very end, when all the puzzle pieces are put into place was emotional. The reader learns the truth and at the same time, there is so much more. This book is disturbing on so many levels and knowing everyone’s truth does not make it any easier. Everyone wants to blame their shortcomings on everyone else, but in the end, each had to make their own choices and live their own lives. Unfortunately, this truth came too late for Lydia.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Where They Found Her

Title: Where They Found Her
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Expected Publication: April 14th 2015 by Harper
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: Complimentary Copy from Amazon Vine

There are many characters in this book and over the first 50 pages, you will be introduced to most of them. So you are either going to have to keep notes or have an excellent memory as to whom they are, who they are related to and how each piece fits into the puzzle.

Ridgedale, New Jersey, is a small college town. Molly and her husband are recent transplants with Jason’s new teaching position in the English department and Molly is branching out as a reporter for the local newspaper. She is still grieving the loss of their second child, a daughter that was stillborn. Filling in for another reporter, Molly has been called out to a body that has been found by Essex Bridge, adjacent to the college. When she learns that the body is that of a newborn baby girl, she must once again confront her demons so she can report this story.

Characters that do not at first appear to be part of the overall picture play vital roles as the circumstances unravel. Pay attention. Little snippets are dropped and it is up to the reader to put the parts together. As each chapter concluded, I was beginning to wonder if these people could be anymore intertwined.

Then you will hit the part where you literally say aloud, “what the heck, that wasn’t discussed before”, only to see the next part of the story unwind. You have to stay focused on this book and most definitely need to read it in big chunks - no picking up and putting down with this book as you can so easily with others.

Molly is in deep and as Sandy, a life worn teenage girl, reveals what she knows, the story becomes riveting. No one is left unscathed.

Most books have a definite peak in the storyline. Where I thought this book peaked, was only a blip on the map. Up until the last pages, the reader continues to be dealt final blows and final twists.

I had enjoyed Ms. McCreight’s previous book – Reconstructing Amelia and I have to say that I think I liked this one better. She has a way of constructing a story with tidbits of information that has the reader wondering what was missed, but then you realized that you did not miss it, it was only a teaser for what was to come.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cold Betrayal

Title: Cold Betrayal
Author: J. A. Jance
Expected Publication: March 10th 2015 by Touchstone
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Touchstone for an opportunity to read an advance copy of this book.
Series: Ali Reynolds #10

If you give up on this book too soon you will be disappointed. I admit that the book started much too slow for me and when I ran into the paragraphs that completely recapped that horrible novella ”The Last Good-bye", I was ready to close the book and totally write it off.

Yet, there was something that drew me back. Maybe it was Betsy, the grandmother of Ali Reynolds’s daughter-in-law, and someone messing with her independence – think elder abuse, but as soon as polygamy and Colorado City was brought in as a second plot line, I was hooked. I know that sounds voyeuristic, but it did spice the book up.

Though Leland will always be my favorite character in these books, Sister Anselm is a close second. When she is called in to be a patient advocate of a young girl and her newborn daughter, she has no idea the can of worms she has opened when it turns out that Enid is a runaway from The Family. Sitting by her bedside, Sister Anselm is reminded of another girl, that looked very similar, that died more than a decade before. Not sure if the two situations could be related, she calls in her friend Ali Reynolds to help.

Betsy’s problems are put on the back burner with Stu and the remainder of High Noon Enterprises team while B. Simpson and Ali race around Arizona trying to get the bottom the illegal activities on the compound before more women and children are put in harm’s way.

I am not sure why two very different stories were told in the same book. Neither story relates to the other and when the reader is thoroughly enmeshed in the brutal-ness of the cult, suddenly Betsy’s problems are thrown back in and you lose your pace.

There is no real depth to Jance’s books so the reader can easily pick them up and put them down as life gets in the way, but without being too disparaging, I will admit that there is still an entertaining cord and memorable characters running through and that is what keeps me reading them.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Saint Odd

Title: Saint Odd
Author: Dean Koontz
Published: January 13th 2015 by Brilliance Audio
Format: Audio
Genre: Suspense
Series: Odd Thomas #7 (series finale)

The last of the Odd Thomas series is a revisit of sorts with the characters in the previous six books. There is not as much humor as the prior books, but the rhythm and place are the same. The reader knows that they are saying good-bye, but that does not make the adventure any less captivating.

Odd still calls himself a simply fry cook with a psychic magnetism that brings bad guys to him, a man that is destined to be with Stormy Llewellyn forever and a man that does not look for trouble but trouble has no problem finding him.

Odd is traveling back home to Pico Mundo, the carnival is back in town, the carnival with the gypsy mummy that gave him and Stormy their very first fortune that said that they were destined to be together forever. He wants to know what is in store for him now that Stormy is dead and he has missed her for far too long.

Going back to the mall where she was killed reignites his troubles. The cult members are back and they have even more deviation planned. With the help of previous characters, Odd sets out to save the town but what he remembers from his dream is more of a riddle and with the help of those around him, he will put the pieces together.

The plot of this book did not matter to me. It was all about the people. Characters both real and metaphorical that had helped Odd to become the man that he was. That treated him like a son and who helped him to not feel so alone.

I liked how Dean Koontz said his farewells with this book. Brought back old characters with just enough nudging for the reader to remember who everyone was and how they had been a part of Odd’s life. There was no heavy handedness and long drawn out chapters. Questions that you had in the past were finally answered and people found their peace at last.

The reader knows that they are saying good-bye, but that does not make the adventure any less meaningful. We have seen Odd grow and mourned with him when he has to make decisions that do not sit well with him. They are not his choices, just the choices that had to be made. I will miss his spirit and optimism and know that he and those that he helped are in a much better place.

Monday, March 2, 2015

An Appetite for Murder

Title: An Appetite for Murder
Author: Lucy Burdette
Published: January 3rd 2012 by NAL
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 310 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Key West Food Critic Mystery, #1

Funny how you can read one book by an author and not like it only to find out that another of their pseudonyms is behind a series that you are actually looking forward to continuing.

Roberta Isleib also writes under the name of Lucy Burdette in the Key West Food Critic Mystery Series. Though following the usual cozy mystery format, main character Hayley Snow, a recent Key West transplant, after following her boyfriend to this sunny local, has now found herself without a boyfriend, job or a place to live when said boyfriend has moved on to another woman.

Haley may be a bit stranded in the boyfriend arena, but she does have a friend with a houseboat and a love for food that was instilled in her by her mother. That is what she is going to rely on until she can get back on her feet.

There is one job prospect, the food critic position at Key Zest, a local magazine. The only problem standing in her way of getting this job is one of the co-editors who will make the final decision. Kristen Faulkner is the woman that her ex-boyfriend had replaced her with. To further complicate the matter, Kristen is found dead and Hayley is the prime suspect.

Not that Hayley was not saddened by Kristen’s death, but she really wants this job and if she has to find the killer to get her name off the suspect list and onto a byline, she will do what she has to.

The reader is treated to a foodie travelogue of Key West with a couple recipes on the final pages. I am not sure if any of the places exist that Haley wrote about, but even if they are only a mere likeness of what can be found in this tourist town a trip just might be in store.