Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Welcome to Serenity

Title: Welcome to Serenity
Author: Sherryl Woods
Published: December 1st 2008 by Mira Books
Format: Paperback, 408 pages
Genre: Romance
Series: The Sweet Magnolia's #4

I am still not sure how I feel about this book. For me, the ending was empty with no true conclusion.

Jeanette Brioche, the esthetician at the Corner Spa in Serenity, South Carolina, has her life in order. She loves her friends and their families but she is missing something in her life. In walks Tom McDonald, the new town manager. Theirs is a rock start and it gets bumpier when she realizes that his mother is the woman that ran her out of the last spa that she worked at.

As the holiday season is quickly approaching, they are both active on the committee organizing the annual Christmas festival. There is an attraction and with Tom trying to work out his growing interest in Jeanette with her need for independence and his mother’s need for him to move back home and take his rightful place in Charleston society, things get bumpy before they find their way.

As I said, the ending was empty for me. What did Jeanette actually agree to? Is she going to give up her own dreams and stability so Tom can pursue his own? Not sure where I stand with this book since I have enjoyed, to a point, the previous books. I enjoy the women of Serenity, I just wish that there was some reality before the happily ever after endings.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Black Book

Title: The Black Book
Author: James Patterson and David Ellis
Published: May 4th 2017 by Century
Format: Hardcover, 448 pages
Genre: Suspense

I should know better than to drop everything and pick up a new Patterson just because someone else had said that it was the best book that they had read in a long time. A Patterson is a Patterson is a Patterson. They all seem to follow the same plug and play format and when the book has reached its ending, Patterson or co-author finds it necessary to add a couple more unnecessary chapters.

In a way, this book begins in the middle and works past and present when Detective Patti Harney finds her twin brother Detective Bill Harney near death from a gunshot to the head in the bedroom of assistant state’s attorney Amy Lentini. Only in a Patterson book, can a character take a straight through shot to the brain and come out of it with only memory loss and a limp.

Working backwards, and on face value, what lead up to this was a raid on a brothel and a missing black book. Apparently, everyone from executives, political leaders, and the head of a church frequented this brownstone and with so much at stake, names and pictures were released. What no one knew, outside of a very small contingent, Billy was also working undercover for Internal Affairs. Now the question is - why was Billy and his partner shot. Was it involving the black book or what he discovered during his undercover work?

With no memory and Billy being accused of murder, how is this going to unwind? There is the usual Patterson twist, one that you could see coming, but it was not until the end that you would find out the direction. Multiple characters were set up and if you have read Patterson long enough, you know to expect the least likely.

I could not wait until this book was over. Granted, the build-up was interesting but once again, Patterson lost me with dragging out the ending when the book was already over.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Oh, Fudge

Title: Oh, Fudge
Author: Nancy Coco
Expected Publication: August 29th 2017 by Kensington
Format: eBook,Paperback, 352 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Candy Coated #5

This one just missed the spot for me. For some reason, I had thought that this book was further down in the life of Allie McMurphy but it is mere weeks after her last adventure of finding a body and still within her first year on Mackinac Island and ownership of the McMurphy Hotel and Fudge Shop.

Allie walks into the local Butterfly House only to discover her cousin Tori is back and is currently standing over a woman who has a garden spade sticking out of her chest. Allies is not sure of the circumstances, but she knows that her cousin could not be responsible. Tori may be trying to get a portion of the McMurphy and had her lips on Allie’s boyfriend, but she is no killer and the cousins need to stop battling and work on this together.

As the story tries to gain momentum, the local gossips are in full force explaining that Barbara Smart made it a habit of seducing any and every man on the island. She had no problem doing what she wanted and hid nothing from prying eyes. She might have made some promises to her friends, but if that got in the way of her endgame, so be it, she could always make other friends.

Add in a secondary story about diamonds found in a shipment of butterfly chrysalis and now you have an additional source of suspects and queries leading to the big question of “are these two crimes related” or is this just another day on the island.

This easy read series does not need your undivided attention and allows for those quick breaks from your stressful day. There are some nice things going on in this book, unfortunately, they are overshadowed by the relentless meanderings and the all too frequent - “how did you jump to that conclusion”, that distracts the reader.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Unraveling Oliver

Title: Unraveling Oliver
Author: Liz Nugent
Expected Publication: August 22nd 2017 by Gallery/Scout Press
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 272 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

Usually, I am not a fan of a book told backwards, but as you unfold or unravel Oliver, there is no other way. Each character is being interviewed and in the telling of their individual stories, the truth of Oliver is revealed and reviled in this psychological thriller. As you read, you are putting bits and parts together. It is not until the author voices the actual words that you find yourself gasping at the realization of where she is going with this narrative. That the little fragments are coming together and where once you had felt sorry for Oliver, you grow to despise who he is and what he had done to those around him.

There is no shocking or surprising revelation that Alice is in a coma. Oliver took responsibility from the start. What there was, was that boiling point and when Alice, dear sweet perfect Alice, went too far and looked into the box that she was told never to touch that Oliver’s lies came pouring out. Oliver could not have that, he had constructed his story too finely to have it all unravel now.

There is nothing random about Oliver or this book, each part of the story is finely tuned, on point with the times and truths of the generation. From Oliver hidden away by a father that could not come to terms with his own choices. A wife that was blinded by her belief in a man, a friend that was not willing, until it was too late, to see what was in front of him. People eager to see only a small part and assumed a larger picture and in the end, a psychopath that was willing to lie to the one and only person that needed nothing from him but the truth.

I admit, in the beginning I actually felt sorry for Oliver. How could the world be so torturous to a young boy? Yet, by the end, there was no pity left. There was raw emotion, yet no lasting feeling of sorrow for who he had become. Was Oliver born with a broken mind or did the world break it for him. I guess that is a question that will never be answered and what would make for a great reading group discussion. Each person will come away with a different response to this book, but at the same time, I will guarantee you that no one would want to be part of Oliver’s world.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Medical Examiner

Title: The Medical Examiner
Author: ****
Published: James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Format: Paperback, 144 pages
Genre: Suspense
Series: Women's Murder Club #16.5

When it comes to writing a novella, it should not be too hard to keep facts straight. Was Joan Murphy missing 24 or 48 hours? How can a person pop over to San Bernardino from San Francisco for a notification when that would involve a one-way jaunt of over 6 hours? Little things like this drive me batty when it comes to a Patterson book.

I am used to this author just throwing stuff in with no apparent thought and trying for sensationalism when it comes to the backgrounds of characters, but this book was silly. Two people found dead in a hotel room, one may not have been so dead after all, a person missing 24 or was it 48 hours, a love triangle or was it a convenience with an extra person, PTSD and bullets flying.

Once again, it is all on me that I chose to pick up this book. The only redeeming quality is that Claire Washburn makes more than a passing appearance, which I enjoyed since she is the one character from the Women’s Murder Club that is given too little attention.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Education of a Coroner

Title: The Education of a Coroner
Author: John Bateson
Published: August 15th 2017 by Scribner
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
I am actually surprised as to how much I enjoyed this book. The beginning is a bit dull and I found myself skimming parts, but once I got into the actual findings and how the investigators were able to dig through the obvious to the actual, the book took a surprising turn for me.

John Bateson takes his time interviewing Ken Holmes and recounting his thirty-six year career at the Marin County Coroner’s Office starting as a death investigator and ending as the three-term, elected coroner. There are actual case studies, but there is no gruesome gore. In his career, Holmes focused on the family members. He emphasizes how important the job of coroner is when it comes to working with people compared to police investigators who are only looking at the facts of a homicides and do not take time with outward appearing suicides. Sometimes you do not know what you have until all the details are examined. How all the pieces may not become known until decades later, but a focused coroner investigator is always on the lookout for the parts that make up the whole.

Granted, this reads more like a memoir where Ken Holmes only recounts the “saves” in his long career, and recounts the “if it was not for me” stories, but such is life. He has a fulfilling career and it was interesting to see it from an insider’s perspective.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Seeing Red

Title: Seeing Red
Author: Sandra Brown
Expected Publication Date: August 15th 2017 by Grand Central Publishing
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 432 pages
Genre: Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
This is one of those books that you did not want to see end. Though the story was concluded, you did not want to let go of the suspense and intrigue that Sandra Brown had built. Just as one part was winding down, you found yourself breathless as a new revelation reared its head and the characters were either exposed for who or what they were or a wild conclusion that you had jumped to on your own had come to pass.

Billed as a sexy romantic thriller, I did not really see the romantic side, I saw raw unbridled passion between two characters that had too much too lose if the story that they were chasing went anymore sideways than it already had.

Lives changed the morning of the 1992 bombing of the Pegasus Hotel where 192 people died and one man, Maj. Franklin Trapper, became an instant hero. Being forced to live in his famous father’s shadow has been nothing but torment for his son John. There were things about the bombing that never sat right with him so when he became an ATF agent, he took on the Pegasus case as his own personal crusade. Little did he know, but that was going to be his downfall and the one thing that would cause a permanent wedge between father and son.

In walks the brash and beautiful TV reporter Kerra Bailey. With the anniversary of the bombing quickly approaching, she wants an interview with the now reclusive Major. With every door slammed in her face, she searches out John. This is her last chance to come face to face with the Major and get her life-changing interview if only John would make that first introduction.

There are people that do not want this interview to take place. The mere fact that these two individuals coming together and comparing notes could destroy what others had built their careers on. Within an hour of the interview, bullets are flying with Kerra barely escaping two would-be killers and the Major clinging to life.

At points, were the story is running out of steam, there are revelations and twists exposed that leaves the reader gasping and holding the book tighter in a mad race to the end. Once you pick up this book, I certainly hope that you do not have plans for the next day or two since you will not be putting this down until the true puppet-master is revealed.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Murder on the Thames

Title: Murder on the Thames
Author: Matthew Costello and Neil Richards
Published: December 19th 2013 by Bastei Entertainment
Format: eBook, 119 pages
Genre: Short Story Mystery
Series: Cherringham Crime Series #1

Short stories are not easy to write, yet the writing team of Matthew Costello and Neil Richards did an excellent job.

Former NYPD homicide detective Jack Brennan has retired to Cherringham hoping for a quiet life on a boat after the death of his wife. Sarah Edwards has just returned to Cherringham, a quiet town in the Cotswolds, from London after the collapse of her marriage. When a woman’s body is found in the river, Sarah needs help in finding answers since the local police consider it an open and shut case.

Sammi Jackson and Sarah had been friends before they had both gone in different directions, though they had chosen different paths, Sarah does not want to let her friend down. With the help of Jack, whom has grown quite board and listless, the two set off to find the answers that the police do not want to look for.

This is the first installment of the Cherringham Crime Series and I have to say that I am hooked. The authors do not talk down to their readers and just enough is laid out so the reader is not left in the dark or conclusions are jumped to without enough backstory.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Lavender House

Title: The Lavender House
Author: Hilary Boyd
Published: August 8, 2017 by Quercus
Format: eBook, Paperback 432 pages
Genre: Romance
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and the Publisher for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

I enjoy Hilary Boyd’s books; they are more along the lines of mature romances instead of the sweaty sheet books that are too prevalent in this genre.

Love hurts no matter what your age and unfortunately, fate is not yet finished with Nancy de Freitas. Having given up her own music career when she married, Nancy now finds herself alone when Christopher walks out after thirty-four years. Four years later, she is all that is holding her small family together. Her ailing mother Frances refuses to get the medical treatment that she needs, her daughter Louise is in a troubled marriage to a man that cannot see beyond his own dreams to understand that his family is suffering. And two adorable granddaughters that are of the age where they can both see and need to be sheltered from the dynamics surrounding them.

Taking an evening for herself, Nancy is introduced to Jim, a pseudo successful, but past his prime, country singer. There is a spark, but Nancy knows that she has more pressing responsibilities at home then starting up with a man that may not be completely honest when it comes to his current situation.

Yet she cannot get this man off her mind. This may be her last chance at not being alone, that is until fate once again steps in. Does she choose Jim and the new life that he has to offer or does she stay firmly within her comfort zone and resign herself to the needs of her family.

That is what I like about Hilary Boyd – she writes realistic characters. We can feel Nancy’s pain and confusion and we can understand why Jim is not willing to let go. We find ourselves constantly preaching to and cheering on this couple and it is not until the last pages that we can finally exhale and hope that destiny has finally connected this couple.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Chapter and Hearse

Title: Chapter and Hearse
Author: Lorna Barrett
Published: August 3rd 2010 by Berkley Prime Crime
Format: Paperback, 326 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Booktown Mystery #4

This is one of those series that I continue reading with no real reason why. I guess it is because I love the idea of a town centered on bookstores that each specialize in a different genre and with a murder or two thrown in to keep things interesting.

When a gas explosion kills the owner of the history bookstore ‘History Repeats Itself’, Tricia Mills, owner of the mystery bookstore, ‘Haven’t Got a Clue’, must spring into action before her sister Angelica’s boyfriend is accused of the crime. It is not as if Tricia has any free time since she is responsible for two bookshops since Angelica is on a book tour with her cookbook and it appears that she herself is having a bit of trouble. There is curious tampering and downright acts of violence that are following Angelica and not wanting to upset Tricia, she leaves this information out of their conversations. With Angelica’s boyfriend not talking about what he knows, Tricia is left to investigate on her own and hopefully, she will find the answers before the next plot twist sends the reader down a weedy path.

With recurring characters, this is an easy series to pick up and put down. A perfect summer read where you do not have to concentrate too deeply and from time to time just the right amount of humor.