Tuesday, April 25, 2017

One Good Thing

Title: One Good Thing
Author: Wendy Wax
Published: April 25th 2017 by Berkley
Format: eBook, Paperback 432 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Ten Beach Road #5

I had to keep reminding myself of Nikki’s age. Granted, a forty-seven year old woman pregnant with twins would be uncomfortable but her incessant whining had me putting down this book on more than one occasion. I do not know what Wendy Wax was thinking with this, there must have been some other way of bringing this couple back together.

The women continue to be at their wits end. The legal wrangling over the ownership of ‘Do Over’ is not going in their favor and the selling of the condos or memberships at the beach club are not moving fast enough to pay off the loans leaving Bella Flora and Kyra with looming debt and no way, other than using her son’s father and his business proposal, to bail them out.

Maddie is continuing to questioning her relationship with music icon William Hightower and her ex-husband Steve is still lurking in the background. Yet, there is a spark that he just might be getting his life back in order.

Unfortunately, what started the book, Palm Beach matron Bitsy Baynard’s husband leaving her broke when he skipped out with a younger woman, was left to flounder. This could have been an excellent storyline, maybe even one that involved Maddie’s ex-husband Steve riding in to the rescue, but it was just left as empty as the rest of the book. Maybe this will be drug out further in subsequent books since she did finally find an attorney to take her case.

Then there is Avery, trying her best to keep the women afloat but her personal life is what brings her down. She and Chase are definitely on the outs with Chase’s son rebelling at every turn. Not sure how they will address their relationship in the next book, but it looks as if they are currently parked in the overused land of ‘maybe, but let me find myself first’.

Like all of the storylines, this book came across as a placeholder. Very little forward momentum with any of the characters or their stories. Babies were born. Relationships redefined. Overall – nothing here to look at folks.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

I Found You

Title: I Found You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Expected Publication: April 25th 2017 by Atria Books
Format: eBook,Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

This book takes shattered people, shatters them again, and then finds a way to put them back together that not only makes them stronger but gives them hope and purpose.

When Alice Lake decides to take a jacket to a lonely looking man that has been sitting on the beach in front of her home for hours, she did not realize that she would be involving herself in a 20-year old mystery. Alice is notorious for making bad life choices so it is no surprise that she invites him back to her home and allows him to live in her shed for the time being. Unaware of his own name or how he got there, the man that Alice’s children have name “Frank”, just knows that his answers are on this stretch of coastline.

Outside of London, Lily Monrose, a young recently married Ukrainian woman waits for her husband to arrive home. He is always on the same train, always answers his phone when she calls, always draws her bath at night and treats her in a way that no one has ever treated her before. What she did not know, was that her husband was not the person that she thought he was. His name is a fake, his passport a lie.

In 1993, the Ross family takes their annual vacation to the seaside town of Ridinghouse Bay. Kirsty, a young 15-year-old is smitten with a 19-year-old that she meets on the beach. Her brother Gray does not trust Mark, there is just something wrong with him. He warns his sister and their parents, but Mark comes from a local wealthy family, what could possibly go wrong.

Ms. Jewell expertly weaves these three stories together. As your brain intertwines the three narratives, you find yourself trying to figure out exactly who the man on the beach is. With various twists that prevent you from reaching the conclusion too quickly, you are drawn to this book in a way that only a well-written psychological thriller can.

Monday, April 17, 2017

A Cast of Vultures

Title: A Cast of Vultures
Author: Judith Flanders
Published: February 21st 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Sam Clair #3

Part publishing, part neighbor curiosity, part relationship issues, part unexplained fires, and a whole lot of humor, makes this a perfect weekend book.

Samantha Clair wants to deal with her hangover in peace, but that is not to be when Viv, a delightful reoccurring character, ask for help when her neighbor has gone missing. The missing neighbor quickly takes a backseat when a fire destroys a house that lodged squatters. Funny, everyone in the neighborhood knows that a family and others lived there, but the local police had no idea. It was not until Sam informed her detective boyfriend of the situation before matters were taken seriously, that and a body was found in the rubble.

This is a tight community and when Sam offered her front garden to one of the now homeless to grow some vegetables, Jake’s police antenna goes into full alert which puts quite a strain on the Sam and Jake relationship. A relationship which on the outside is in trouble, but they manage to make it work. They still seem to be working on trust, but when two people who do not see things in the same way, tackle the same issues, there are going to be problems.

There is a great deal going on in this book, if one part does not catch your attention, another half dozen will. You will be delighted in the mother daughter relationship between Sam and Helena and the pseudo mother son relationship between Sam and a neighborhood boy. People, their relationships, and humor are central to this book.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sunshine Beach

Title: Sunshine Beach
Author: Wendy Wax
Published: June 21st 2016 by Berkley
Format: Paperback, 420 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Series: Ten Beach Road #4

The excessive whining over money and finances was a drawback in this book, I understand that the women needed to find backing for their next home renovation project, but it was a bit too much. There is a great deal of rehashing of the prior books in this series. The reader is reminded on a couple of occasions of the Ponzi scheme that had gotten the women into their current situation and Nikki’s reluctance to have any further contact with her brother. There is a bit of forward movement with this part of the story, but Nikki’s has another secret. One that will both terrify her and delight her at the same time.

Maddie is still with Wild Bill and her ongoing angst of “she is good enough” was beginning to wear thin. Kyra is somewhere in her on again off again relationship with her son’s father who is going to funny extremes to see his son. Surprisingly, there were only a few brief mentions of Avery’s grief over the loss of her mother. Plus, there is a new designer on the scene that waits until the last minute to reveal why he is so good at what he does.

Stumbling across a dilapidated beachfront hotel, the women get it into their heads that this would be the perfect renovation project for their yet newly unnamed show. Since they quit “Do Over” so publicly, they are now in need of a new network, project and cash. How hard could an independent show be? Turns out that the wreck of a hotel is owned by locals and has quite a dubious past. Wendy Wax does an interesting job here in trying to throw in some depth, but it was too little too late.

This book was intended to be a mindless summer type read, but I was hung up over the numbers. Loans, costs and profit figures did not add up. I know, that is not what this book was supposed to be about, but still, it started to distract me. Yet, I will continue with this series, I figure that I am invested this far, why not ride out their adventure.

Monday, April 10, 2017

One Perfect Lie

Title: One Perfect Lie
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Published: April 11th 2017 by St. Martin's Press
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 384 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Clear your calendar because you are going to want to read this book in one setting. Ok, maybe two since the book is divided up into three sections and it is not until section two that you get to the non-stop action. Granted, in section three, you are going to hit a part that has you wondering what Lisa was thinking and if she had spent too much time at the circus, but still, you will forgive that as you barrel to the end.

Central Valley, PA is an idyllic town. A place that a man can picture settling down with a family. At least that is what Chris Brennan tells school officials as he applies for a temporary teaching and coaching position at the high school. Chris has prepared his background story; no one could tell where the real man ends and ‘Chris Brennan AP Government teacher and coach’ begins. As your mind wonders who exactly Chris is, there is a slip up or two, but as Chris narrows down his “unwitting” the story takes off.

Chris has only three days to find his person. Three days until the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing and he knows that someone on this baseball team is going to be involved in a deadly attack. Chris has done his research. There are four boys that match the profile and as he, and the reader, analyzes each, the full story begins to unfold.

Lisa Scottoline does an excellent job in keeping the reader unbalanced. From the beginning, there is no clear-cut target and you find yourself unsure if you can trust anyone. Each child and parent is held up to a microscope. They are each examined as people and as parents. As worlds are crumbling, in the end, who will be left unscathed?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Lucky Bastard

Title: Lucky Bastard
Author: Deborah Coonts
Published: May 14th 2013 by Forge Books
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Fiction
Series: Lucky O'Toole #4

It has been a while since I have read a book by Coonts so I thought that I would get back on the crazy train and see what Lucky has been up to.

Lucky O’Toole, the general manager of mayhem at the Babylon Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, has seen her fair share of shenanigans, but this week seems to be never ending. Deborah Coonts is throwing the whole load into this book. A week that begins with a dead woman on the hood of a Ferrari with a stiletto in her neck ends with a baby in her arms as she climbs out of a storm drain after a near death drowning experience. You will also have to add in a poker room manager with a few sneaky secrets, a French Chef and his adorable son, Shady Slim Grady’s questionable heart attack and his cowgirl attired wife Betty Sue wanting to throw an over the top Celebration of Life party, and the return of someone that will have Lucky questioning her future.

There are many characters that the reader has to keep straight, but since this is the fourth (in addition to a couple novellas) book, the series reader will have no problem keeping most of them straight. The multiple story lines may be a different matter, but the author keeps the flow moving and there might only be a couple of times that you have to remind yourself who someone is.

Lucky’s mother Mona is still one of my favorite characters in this series, where else would you find a former madam who is now wanting to run for a council position and her past would not be held against her. A woman who says what she is thinking and has no problem with the insanity that is going on around her – even if she is the one that is causing a great deal of it on her own and is in the last trimester of a later life pregnancy.

This series needs to be read from the beginning to not only understand whom Lucky is but to get a firmer grasp on her friends, but more importantly, her enemies.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Man Overboard

Title: Man Overboard
Author: J. A. Jance
Published: March 21st 2017 by Touchstone
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Ali Reynolds #12

I read these books solely for Leland Brooks, how dare J. A. Jance ship him off, I understand the reasoning behind why he left, but these books will be less entertaining without him there.

There is definitely a creepy factor to this book; the ability to develop Artificial Intelligence to the point that cyber stalking has no limits definitely has me worried. I do not know how much is real and how much is speculation, but J. A. Jance is riding a sharp edge here.

Roger McGeary was the only friend that Stuart Ramey, High Noon’s cyber genius, had at school. They were a united front when it came to the bullying that was directed at them. They lost contact after high school, so when Roger’s aunt Julia tracked town Stu to find out what had happened to her nephew he could not say no.

Children of a parent that has committed suicide are more likely to commit suicide themselves and psychiatrist Dr. Amelia Cannon has been studying this phenomenon for years. When her electronic files have been hacked, she decides that this is a good time to walk away from her practice and to care for her dying mother, unaware that the hacker, Owen Hansen and his alter ego, are using this information to cyber stalk her patients. Owen wants to see them die at their own hands and now it is up to Ali Reynolds and the team at High Noon Enterprises to stop him before there are any more deaths.

This high stakes game has Stuart going non-stop. The action is intense and the technical knowledge is heightened. Jance takes her readers into a backdoor of this technology that will leave you wondering how secure your smartphone is and who has access to your most personal information.

Though it appears that Jance is closing the Leyland door, she has giving you more insight into Stuart and Cami, two characters that are important, yet did not have their background stories fully told. A new character, or two, has been added so we will have to wait and see what they will have to offer. I just hope that the humor that was all Leyland Brooks can be brought out in other ways.

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Awakening

Title: The Awakening
Author: Amanda Stevens
Expected Publication: March 28th 2017 by Mira
Format: eBook, Paperback, 416 pages
Genre: Paranormal
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Graveyard Queen #6

That is one of the most intense endings that I have read in a very long time. After meandering through most of the book, the ending was a blur, which I had to read twice to make sure that I had grasped it all.

Amelia Gray, a cemetery restorer, has taken on Woodbine in Charleston, South Carolina. A forgotten cemetery where the well-to-do bury their secrets --namely their mistresses and illegitimate children. A far corner has called out to Amelia, a corner that is sheltering a marker in the shape of an old-fashioned baby crib with an epitaph that reads Shush…Lest She Awaken. There is no name on the memorial that dates back fifty or so years, yet Amelia is drawn to it. Maybe it is the fact that she is a ghost seer, a death walker or just the plan fact that the dead reach out to her and want her to act as their detective. Amelia has a love hate relationship with her talent that she refers to as a curse, yet she cannot turn away when a child is involved.

As she returns to her work, the grave continues to calling out to her. Mercy - is that the child’s name or what she is asking for? Coincidently, as the ghost is calling out to her she is experiencing remembered moments and conversations. How or why are these disjointed memories related to the grave? What is she being told that she yet does not understand?

John Devlin is back. He and Amelia are no longer together. John has taken on the family business. A business with a shady side, but John is not doing this just for himself. He has others to protect and this is the best way to keep those that he loves safe. He is now engaged, or is it a business relationship, to Claire Bellefontaine, and with her comes her creepy older brother Rance Duvall. Dr. Rupert Shaw is still a mentor and friend to Amelia, yet he is hiding secrets. As Amelia discovers the truth, their relationship is at a crossroads. Whom was he really trying to protect?

The Conge, which was revealed in the previous book (as a reminder, the books need to be read in order even though there are small bits of rehashing in each one) is back in full occult force and out to rid the world of unnaturals like Amelia.

Dread is looming over Amelia. She cannot tell if it is something, or someone, coming for her or if something else is ending. Either way, she has to prepare. She has to be ready so her secrets are not revealed or the people that she cares the most for are not held accountable. As I said, you will muddle through the middle of this book, but the ending is not to be missed. There is a great deal going on and Amanda Stevens ties up quite a few of her characters. By the time that you get to the end, you just might find yourself wanting to read it again to see all the breadcrumbs that had been left for you.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Chalk Pit

Title: The Chalk Pit
Author: Elly Griffiths
Published: February 23rd 2017 by Quercus UK;
May 30th 2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt US
Format: ebook, Hardcover 384 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Ruth Galloway #9

I think that I am having my own version of a love affair with this series. A new book in the Ruth Galloway series forces me to put everything else aside and devote the day to nothing but reading. I love the people and the places that Elly Griffiths takes us to and there is just something about Ruth that makes you want to cheer her on even though her outside relationships tend to lead her only to troubles and heartache.

Ruth, a forensic anthropologist who loves a good intellectual puzzle, is called in when bones are discovered after an architect starts excavating for a new underground restaurant. The bones look old and possibly pot polished. Turns out that the bones are newer than she thought and with local rough sleepers going missing or being murdered, there are too many questions being asked and not enough answers.

With a shakeup at the station, DCI Harry Nelson is battling his own hell on earth with a new woman boss. Superintendent Jo Archer seems to be under the misguided belief that Nelson is ready to sit in an office and do paperwork instead of joining his investigative team. How can he do that when bones have been discovered at the restaurant site and there are well-used tunnels branching off? Tunnels that seem to be running all over town and one has recently caved in due to a sinkhole.

When it comes to investigating DCI Harry Nelson and his team are being pulled in many directions. What does Archer want them to do? Follow the tunnels, find the missing women who may have gone underground, figure out who is killing the men living on the street that seem to have too much information or find Clough’s partner that has just gone missing.

This book is nonstop from the beginning. Dealt a devastating blow, Ruth once again is questioning her relationship with her parents. She has tried to do the best that she can but raising a daughter on her own and having parents that have their own views has never been easy. It is on a narrow ledge that she walks and seeking comfort in Nelson has its own drawbacks. Little does she know that Harry was about to make her life easier only to discover that his own life just got more complicated.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Forever, Again

Title: Forever, Again
Author: Victoria Laurie
Published: December 13th 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover, 360 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal

After a somewhat dull and plodding storyline that was reminiscent of books that I had read in the late 70’s - Victoria Laurie ventured down the reincarnation highway and took an odd turn at the end.

High school junior Lily and late 80’s Amber are see-sawing their stories. Lily Bennet has been having the same reoccurring nightmare since she was four years old. It is not until she has moved back to her father’s hometown, and through the help of hypnosis, that she reveals that she is the reincarnation of Amber Greeley. The same Amber Greeley that was rumored to have killed her boyfriend and then committing suicide thirty years before.

There are many ridiculous points to this book. How old is Lily’s mother and when did she finish medical school if she is only now doing her residency? I would love to know what program that Amber’s best friend went through that she should get an associate’s degree in architecture and then jump to a master’s and the of all things a PhD. Not to mention some silly FBI-in-training program for high schoolers that made Lily’s current boyfriend a prodigy when it comes to police investigation. To top it off, exactly how many teens in the 1980’s were able to run out and get life insurance on their own. Really, Ms. Laurie, a bit of research would have been helpful.

The only reason that I gave this book a chance was due to Ms. Laurie’s enjoyable prior attempt at young adult writing - ‘When’ - Disney Hyperion (January 13, 2015). ‘Forever again’, on the other hand, felt “fill in the blank” from the beginning, with nothing new or unique and at times repetitious with over the top teen angst.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Hopefuls

Title: The Hopefuls
Author: Jennifer Close
Published: July 19th 2016 by Knopf Publishing Group
Format: Hardcover, 310 pages
Genre: Fiction

Throughout this book, I was reminded of the television series “Seinfeld”, a show that was about nothing. This book, “The Hopefuls” is about nothing. It is a bland telling of twenty something’s wanting to make it in DC politics and losing sight of themselves and their marriage along the way.

Beginning somewhere in the 2000’s, when Obama is on the rise, narrator Beth chooses to leave her beloved New York for Washington, DC when her husband takes a new job. They develop a rather strange, and at times, incestuous relationship with Texans Jimmy and Ashleigh Dillon. Over the next four years, the couples are inseparable as both husbands, using each other when necessary, strive for their next high profile job.

Things come to a head when Jimmy is tapped to be the next Texas Railroad Commissioner (thankfully Ms. Close describes how this job has nothing to do with the actual railroad) and asks Matt to be his campaign manager.

Where once the lines were drawn, and now with Beth and Matt living in the Dillon’s basement, hostilities begin and egos are getting in the way. There is too much alcohol, marriages are in trouble, and people are not getting the attention or atta-boys that they need. Life in the political spotlight is not what Beth had envisioned and it is tearing everyone apart.

The funny thing, politics was never what Beth wanted. She had always envisioned a quiet life with a family and becoming an author. By the end of the book, you can see Matt gathering a second wind. He moved to this new neighborhood with an alter motive, unfortunately, Beth noticed this just a little too late.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A Bed of Scorpions

Title: A Bed of Scorpions
Author: Judith Flanders
Published: March 1st 2016 by Minotaur Books
Format: Hardcover, 310 pages
Genre: Mystery
Series: Sam Clair #2

Maybe it was me, but for most of the book, I kept confusing some of the characters. There are a great many and after a while, who was married to whom and who was a partner of whom just started to blend. Granted, that was not the main crux of the book, but I did find myself having to go back a couple of times to remind myself.

Book two in the Sam Clair series has Sam meeting her former lover Aidan Merriam for lunch; they do not see each other often so this is both a surprise and a welcomed get-together. Instead of the usually friendly Aidan, she sees a man that is deeply distraught by the suicide of his partner at the Merriam-Compton gallery.

Turns out that this is no casual lunch, Aidan has an ulterior motive and once again, to the chagrin of her current boyfriend, Jake Field, Sam is drawn into the investigation of what on the surface looks like a suicide but in reality the layers go much deeper and with repercussions that could turn the art world on its ear and land Sam in the hospital if not on the coroners slab.

I am enjoying this series and in particular the relationship between Sam and her mother. There is the dynamic of love, frustration and deep respect that just bounces off the pages. I do hope that Judith Flanders continues with both of these women and that there will be many more encounters between them.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Likely Story

Title: A Likely Story
Author: Jenn McKinlay
Published: November 3rd 2015 by Berkley
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Library Lover's Mystery #6

Said, said, said – I swear the author must have used this word three hundred times. Honestly, readers can figure out who is speaking when it is a short conversation between two people.

Lindsey Norris, director of the Brian Creek library, volunteers to take books to one of the Thumb Islands inhabited by reclusive brothers Steward and Peter Rosen. Jumping on the water taxi captained by her ex-boyfriend Sully, the two set off on an uneventful adventure until they reach the dock and Steward is not there to greet them.

The brothers are an odd sort, and with prior knowledge, Sully knows that the Rosen’s booby-trapped their property to keep trespassers away. Dodging the foils, they discover Peter murdered and Stewart missing. They do not believe that Stewart could be responsible, but who else would have access to this hoarders haven full of stuff that Stewart gathers from his nightly forays into town.

Apparently, the Rosen’s come from an interesting past and someone is trying to right the wrongs of fifty years ago and lay claim to their inheritance. The story is straightforward and the clues are there all along, but the reader trudges on constantly being reminded who is speaking and by the end, you can easily check off this sixth book in the Library Lover’s series.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost (Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural)

Title: The Case of the Green-Dressed Ghost (Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural)
Author: Lucy Banks
Expected Publicatin: March 7th 2017 by Amberjack Publishing
Format: eBook, Paperback, 284 pages
Genre: Young Adult / Paranormal
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Dr Ribero's Agency of the Supernatural #1

I cannot figure out which genre that this book belongs in. I am sure that it should be paranormal young adult, but there are a couple of parts, that come across more grown-up. Nothing that a teen should not be reading, but a bit out of place from the usual.

On his mother’s dying bed, 22-year-old pale pudgy academic Kester Lanner is directed to find his father. A father that Kester never knew about - actually, never even questioned since it had always been his mother and himself. Turns out that mom was keeping quite a few secrets and when he tracks down Dr. Rubio and his Agency of the Supernatural in Exeter, Kester’s world is literally shaken, or whatever it is called when a ghost will not let him go.

Spirit hunting is not a job that a nervous scholar would seek out, but as it turns out, his mother had her own talents and apparently, that gift did not fall far from the tree. With the help of his father and his merry band of psychics, Kester is in for quite the battle with a mysterious lady in green that is trying to sink her claws into him and any woman that is nearby.

I am still not fully sold on this series, I see interesting potential, but a clearer line needs to be drawn when it comes to the genre. I do hope that Lucy Banks continues to include folklore and legend, not to mention humor, in the next books in this series, since it was interesting to see a new take on one of my favorite ghost stories of the past.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Everywhere That Mary Went

Title: Everywhere That Mary Went
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Published: November 1st 1993 by HarperTorch
Format: Paperback, 368 pages
Genre: Legal Thriller
Series: Rosato and Associates #1

When you are focused on becoming a partner at one of the top firms in Philadelphia, a couple of telephone hang-ups or some evil mail does not hit your radar. When the notes become personal, she knows that she has a stalker. Brent, her friend and secretary, tries to monitor it, but even he is not safe.

Mary DiNunzio is still reeling from her husband’s death after a hit and run accident. It is not until a second person is killed in an eerily familiar way that Mary starts connecting the dots and confronts police Detective Lombardo. He needs to do a better job or she will go after him, and since she is an attorney, she knows where to hit hard.

Knowing that her stalker is someone close to home, she reaches out to Ned Waters, another person up for partnership. It is not until they spend the night together that she wonders if she had made a mistake. Dots are connecting in his direction, and since he had mental health issues in his past, should she keep her distance from him -- or his father. That is definitely where the arrows point, but no good author makes it that easy on her readers.

With nowhere to turn, Mary seeks refuge in her sister. Being an identical twin, their relationship is a balance of good and evil. Since Angie is a cloistered nun, with only one visit home per year, the sisters step around each other gingerly. That all changes at the end of the book and readers are left wondering why and what will happen next.

There are plenty of changes in store for Mary and the reader is just being their journey with Rosato and Associates. I do not know where book two will lead, but the surprising moment at the end of book one will make for an interesting adventure for the DiNunzio sisters.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Whale of a Crime

Title: Whale of a Crime
Author: Karen MacInerney
Published: Published January 16th 2017)
Format: Kindle Edition, 221 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: A Gray Whale Inn Mystery #7

I enjoyed this, the seventh book in the series, more than the previous offerings. There was no added fluff, just a nicely flowing book with multiple side stories to keep the layers fluid without the usual “let’s get on with it” feel.

Innkeeper Natalie Barnes finally has her inn booked to capacity and things are going smoothly. That is until a touring company has a couple of guests that have more on their mind than the scenery. When the ship captain’s body is pulled from the water and odd things begin to happen at Gray Whale, Natalie and John are beginning to believe that someone is not only out to complicate their lives, but to also shut down the inn itself.

Turns out that the captain has been on the island before and left a trail of broken hearts in his wake. The new boyfriend of Natalie’s best friend is charged, but things are not that simple. As Natalie digs, the past reveals itself, but not before a few other problems get in her way such as Natalie’s domineering sister, rumors of a new resort on the island, and a travel writer that seems to be making the wrong type of waves.

There is one clue that is dropped in the middle of the book and if you did not pick it up, that is ok, it all comes to light in the end and you find yourself saying, “Shoot, I knew that had to be important”. Good job Karen MacInerney and thank you for bringing us back to Cranberry Island.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Feels Like Family

Title: Feels Like Family
Author: Sheryl Woods
Published: April 1st 2007 by Mira Books
Format: Paperback, 393 pages
Genre: Romance
Series: Sweet Magnolias #3

‘Feels Like Family’ centers on 40-something Helen Decatur who having spent a lifetime moving her education, law practice and financially stability forward has decided that she is missing something. Maybe it is time for have a child. She has been going back and forth for a while. When she begins spending time with the pastry chef at Sullivan’s, she makes up her mind that he will father her child.

Unfortunately, she decides this on her own and without his knowledge tricks him into fatherhood. Not something that he is ready for since he is still reeling from the death of his wife and premature infant. Being the old-fashioned sort, he decides that maybe Helen, and her shoe collection, just might be worth the effort.

Things are not simple in Serenity, North Carolina. There are several side stories – While representing a client, Helen’s life is in danger, one of Dana Sue’s employees suffers a breakdown with the challenges of being a single mom but being a romance, you know how that is going to be tied up. Tess, another woman from Sullivan’s needs help with the false deportation of her husband and Helen, seeing a way to jab at another attorney, takes on this case as well.

You have to take this series for what it is – a feel good romance. There is no depth and the writing is a bit choppy with paragraphs and chapters jumping with very little transition or the explanation of time. So accepting that downfall, if you are looking for a way to spend a rainy afternoon, take a chance and visit the likable and funny women of Serenity.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A Darkness Absolute

Title: A Darkness Absolute
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published: February 7th 2017 by Minotaur Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 416 pages
Genre: Suspense
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Casey Duncan #2

Is it wrong when you start telling a book to “get on with it already”? It was not that this book was unbearably dragging, but I really wanted to get to the meatier parts. The parts that would tell me who the kidnapper was and how they were doing it and not dwell in the emotional turmoil that Casey Butler and Eric Dalton are constantly going through. While on that point, let’s stop with Eric constantly growling – that was getting a bit redundant.

This is definitely a series that you have to begin with the first book, “City of the Lost”, to understand Rockton and how the inhabitants were chosen. A town so off the grid that an airplane flying over this part of the Yukon would not see it. A town created by a counsel to house residents that need to step away from the prior lives if they want to keep living. This is not a place for everyone, and those here, have secrets of their own.

What begins with Detective Casey Butler and Deputy Will Anders trying to track down a runaway resident turns into a harrowing ordeal when they are hit with a sudden blizzard and seek shelter in a cave. Once there, they hear a voice calling for help and stumble onto a hole holding a woman that is barely alive. Turns out Nicki, who was also thought to be a runaway, but that was a year ago, has been kept here. Now the question is - who has been holding her captive and where are they now?

As the team of Butler, Dalton and Anders try to piece the kidnapping story together, they come up with many scenarios that need to be tracked down. Could this be one of their own behind the kidnapping or even a hoax that Nicki was part of? Then the bodies of two more women turn up and the town is on edge. Who is behind this and can they figure it out before more residents go missing.

Kelley Armstrong is a genius when it comes to complicating a story, just when you think that you have it narrowed down, she throw in yet another plausible snag and the reader is chasing down that right along with everything else that is going on. This is definitely a book that needs to be read in large chunks or you will lose the momentum and suspense that is being built. Be warned, this book is on the dark side and if you are skittish just read it with the lights on, but by all means, read this series. The characters, dialogue, and psychological insight will stay with you for a long time.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The Quiet Game

Title: The Quiet Game
Author: Greg Iles
Published: July 1st 2000 by Signet
Format: Paperback, 580 pages
Genre: Crime Fiction
Series: Penn Cage #1

Way behind in getting to this series, but well worth the wait. Greg Iles draws Penn Cage with such a fine point that the reader can feel not only every word spoken, but also every breath drawn.

Penn Cage, an attorney and novelist, is recovering from the death of his wife and has decided that it is now time to leave Houston and return home with his young daughter. Modern day Natchez, Mississippi still reads like the segregated south. When Penn’s father confides in him that he is being blackmailed over a murder that occurred decades prior involving the bombing death of a black man, Penn cannot walk away. Coming to his father’s aid, Penn and newspaper publisher Caitlin Masters trek down a very rocky road angering Klansmen, a judge, the director of the FBI, the police and his old high school sweetheart who has a couple of secrets of her own.

With no one talking and the town playing their version of the quiet game, Penn has no option other than going against his own ethical code. He is going to expose the truths and in so doing will turn this Southern city inside out.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I Liked My Life

Title: I Liked My Life
Author: Abby Fabiaschi
Published: January 31st 2017 by St. Martin's Press
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 272 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Have you ever read a book where you have loved and cheered on every character? ‘I Liked My Life’ is that kind of book. Told from multiple perspectives the reader is brought into the lives of the Starling family after the suicide of Madeline.

What her family cannot come to terms with is that she showed no signs of depression or suicidal tendencies, there was no note only a shopping and errand list left on the counter. Eve, her usual self-absorbed sixteen year old daughter, was being more independent by the day and her work obsessed husband Brady were her world. Through there were difficult times, she loved her life, so why did she pick that day to die in such a horrendous way?

Neither Madeline nor Brady had happy childhoods and they were determined to make a better life for Eve. Each expresses their frustrations in alternating chapters. As Maddy watches over her family, she realizes that she has the ability to influence them. A whisper, a nudge, just the merest of things, to let them know that Maddy is still looking out for them. Pointing them and those around them in the right direction or reminding them of her love or special times. She even gets creative and tries a bit of matchmaking. Where she found or even knew about Rory was a confusion to me, but I let that part slide. As they rail against the sudden loss of their mother and wife, they know that she guides them. Yet, if she cared and loved them so much, why did she end her life?

As Maddy relays her thoughts and connections are made, she can feel her own ascension. When it becomes more challenging for her to hear or to be heard, she knows that her time is limited – this is when she makes one last push and relaying the most important message of all. One that will change everyone’s understanding of the day that changed all of their lives.

Though there are a few lulls, debut author Abby Fabiaschi has given her readers a wonderful book, I found myself rereading many passages because there is startling insight in this book. Quotable sections that you find have meaning in not only your life, but in the lives of those around you.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Unpunished

Title: Unpunished
Author: Lisa Black
Expected Publication: January 31st 2017 by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Format: ebook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Kensington for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book. Series: Gardiner and Renner

Lisa Black must have lost her momentum after finishing the first book in the Gardiner and Renner series “That Darkness’ since this book had none of the spark or interest that she had previous shown. ‘Unpunished’ reads like a hatchet job on the newspaper publishing industry instead of keeping a serial killer in check that was the premise of the first book and the basis of the relationship between the main characters.

When a relationship was founded on a criminalist and a serial killer within the police department, explaining the inner workings of newspaper publishing takes away from what was previously established. “That Darkness ” a book that I would recommend, was a cat and mouse game and this book, though a spark at the end, was a never ending monotony of how papers are printed and how big money is destroying journalism.

By the end, I did not care who was killing the newspapermen, and for that matter, why they were murdered. Lisa Black drug this book on interminably and by the end, I was thankful that it was over.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

City of the Lost

Title: City of the Lost
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Published: January 14th 2016 by Sphere
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Thriller
Series: Casey Duncan #1

Well, she fooled me with this one. All the clues pointed to the other guy, yet, they also pointed to the actual murderer.

Casey Duncan is playing roulette with her life. She confesses that she murdered a man to several therapists hoping that she can find one that will go around their oath and report her. She does not feel guilty for the murder, her boyfriend had left her in an alley when his drug deal soured and the men beat her within inches of her death. Once able to leave the hospital, she confronted him, unfortunately the gun went off.

Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from an abusive ex. All Diana talks about is an idyllic off the grid town that harbors people that need to disappear. A place that is available to them for a few years as a sort of reprieve where they can shed their old lives. Imagine no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. After the interview process, they discover that the town will only take Diana if Casey goes with her. This is not in Homicide Detective Casey Duncan’s plans, but she will play along for six months to get Diana settled.

Rockton is beyond isolated in the Yukon wilderness which begin to lead to problems all of their own. Drugs and alcohol are rampant. Women will resort to whatever means to earning credits and this puts Casey in a very precarious position with the townsfolk. Turns out that this town is also in need of a police detective, they have a murderer on the loose and Sheriff Eric Dalton needs help.

Everyone in Rockton has a secret. No one is who or what they seem. People are going to die. The town council has their own agenda and once again, Casey will put her life on the line not realizing that she was being played the whole time.

Monday, January 23, 2017

The Girl Before

Title: The Girl Before
Author: J.P. Delaney
Expected Publication: January 24th 2017 by Ballantine Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

The reader has to separate the truths and the lies. Truths are not fully true and the lies are not fully lies, and thus, the reader is brought into One Folgate Street, an experiment in living with all the warmth of a mausoleum, which in itself is another character in this book.

Edward Monkford, who is pathologically unable to cope with defiance or independence, is the designer of the home. After the deaths of his wife and son, he will only rent to a very select few. It is in this lengthy selection process, complete with pages of questions and dos and don’ts – about 200 stipulations in all, that he finds his version of perfection. Emma Matthews, having reported a brutal attack and in a precarious relationship with Simon moves in and this is where her dark tale is revealed. Within months, there is a death. Three years later, Jane Cavendish suffers the stillbirth of her daughter. She needs a fresh start – One Folgate Street is her answer.

This is a story of damaged people and how manipulation is the key, and the length, each is willing to go to for answers and redemption. There are times that you might have to put the book down and take a breath to reanalyze what you have just read, but that will not stop you from picking it right back up and diving into this twisted psychological thriller with both dread and anticipation.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Mephisto Club

Title: The Mephisto Club
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Published: September 12th 2006 by Ballantine Books
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Rizzoli and Isles #6

I am late to this read, but it is good to see that I am not the only one that compared it to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series. By this, I mean, that you have to pay attention to all the symbolism, iconology and the points of time that bring the clues together.

Dr. Maura Isles seems to take center stage in this book, Jane Rizzoli is an active character with her own family troubles brewing, but with Maura’s side story involving Father Daniel she has more playtime and therefore the reader sees more sides to her guarded character.

When Peter and Amy Saul welcome their 15-year-old nephew Dominic into their home after his mother ran off and the death of his father, they had no idea that they were actually bringing Damien from the Omen in. In short order, three of the four original family members are dead and Lilly Saul is running for her life.

With backward mirror writing, ritualistic killing and symbolism, the women are way out of their league and for most of the book Jane is playing catch up. In steps the Mephisto Club, a group named after the evil spirit to whom Faust, in the German legend, sold his soul, consisting of amateur investigators that have been studying the field and all forms of evil for decades - reminiscent of the 'The Vidocq Society'.

This is an odd group and Tess Gerritsen uses that against them in pointing the reader inward. When they start dying, the reader is left with very few clues considering Dominic had died in a drowning years prior, Lilly will only say that a demon is after her, Anthony Sansone, the head of the Metaphiso Club is his own form of creepy and Maura is too wrapped up in getting the priest into bed.

The ending feels rushed with a character that admits to being behind all this nonsense having barely been mentioned at all. Try as she may, this book was too much of a grasp and though it could have been read as a standalone, since very little of the previous books was mention, the reader will walk away wondering what Gerritsen was thinking.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Perilous Undertaking

Title: A Perilous Undertaking
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Published: January 10th 2017 by Berkley Books
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Veronica Speedwell #2

When reading this book, you almost forget that it is about a murder. Deanna Raybourn is so adept at dialogue that you find yourself more attuned to the bantering between Stoker and Veronica than worrying about the dead body in the bedroom.

Backing up to the first book in the series, ‘A Curious Beginning’, the reader is introduced to Revelstoke Templeton-Vane and Veronica Speedwell, a natural historian and a lepidopterist brought together after a failed kidnapping and a secret that could affect the royal family.

In this second installment, Veronica is invited to the Curiosity Club, “founded for the purposes of free discourse amongst accomplished ladies without the strictures of society limiting their conversation”, where she is introduced to Lady Sundridge. It did not take long for Veronica to suss out the true identity of her host, yet she was curious as to why a member of the royal family was getting involved in the Ramsforth case.

Myles Ramsforth stood accused of murdering his mistress, a talented artist named Artemisia, who was carrying his child. Since Ramsforth had discovered her body and was covered in her blood, the case was open and shut. Yet Ramsforth had an alibi; unfortunately, he would rather go to his hanging than speak the truth and ruin more lives.

Sir Hugo Montgomerie of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, a department within the Metropolitan Police that handles matters involving the royal family, is front and center with Stoker and Veronica. His main job is to protect the family, but he does seem to spend most of his time protecting Veronica from herself and to run interference when it comes to the rather loud and mind boggling antics of Veronica and Stoker.

The humor is what makes these books. The banter between the characters is exceptional -- and the bawdy humor is laugh aloud funny. Veronica is very matter of fact when it comes to her personal life and that keeps the proper Stoker a bit wobbly on his feet. When it comes to the grotto, a place of organized debauchery, you wish that you could be there to see the looks on their faces. Veronica comments that Stoker, more than anyone, walks with ghosts and it is this comment that helps to prepare the reader for a surprising fact from Stoker’s past.

For me, who the murderer was slightly obvious in the beginning, but Ms. Raybourn goes to such lengths to show all the characters that you want to discount what you have read in hopes that you jumped to the wrong conclusion. As I said, the murder is secondary to the relationships.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Real Murders

Title: Real Murders
Author: Charlaine Harris
Published: December 4th 2007 by Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 290 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Aurora Teagarden #1

Aurora Teagarden is a librarian in the small town of Lawrenceton, Georgia who enjoys hosting a monthly Real Murders club consisting of a dozen true crime buffs that study and discuss famous unsolved crimes. What they never expected, was to be in the middle of their very own.

On the evening of the meeting, one of their own goes missing; Aurora discovers her body laid out in a very familiar pattern. Now she is trying to explain this to the local detective and when he is not quite on board, another murder happens and this too is reminiscent of a real unsolved murder that is decades old. Roe is beginning to look more like a suspect than the helpful person she is trying to be.

Aurora is getting too close and someone is out for her. This time it is too close to home. She knows that the true killer has to be a member of her club, but who could it be. Maybe it is the newest visitor, a crime writer, but she is not sure since her own feelings for him might be getting in the way. This is a bit confusing for this staid librarian since she also seems to be capturing the interest of the police detective.

As the deaths pile up, Aurora is determined to find out who and why old crimes are copycatted and why she is being set up as the scapegoat. What comes out in the end is somewhat surprising since the whole book was rather sedate, by Harris standards, and then the realities appear. Who knew that the mildest amongst them could be hiding such darkness?