Friday, October 26, 2018

Look For Me

Book: Look For Me
Series: Detective DD Warren #9
Author: Lisa Gardner

The home of a family of five is now a crime scene: four of them savagely murdered, one—a sixteen-year-old girl—missing. Was she lucky to have escaped? Or is her absence evidence of something sinister? Detective D. D. Warren is on the case—but so is survivor-turned-avenger Flora Dane. Seeking different types of justice, they must make sense of the clues left behind by a young woman who, whether as victim or suspect, is silently pleading, Look for me.-Goodreads
Review: A family is massacred and their teenage daughter is missing, along with the family dogs. Was she involved with the killing or is she innocent? DD is on the case, with the help of Flora Dane. I love to addition of Flora to DD's team (of sorts) and I love their interactions today. The case itself was interesting and while I guessed a few parts of the ending, some of it was a surprise. 

Another great read in the DD Warren series. 

Grade: 4/5

The Banker's Wife

Book: The Banker's Wife
Author: Cristina Alger

On an early morning in November, a couple boards a private plane bound for Geneva, flying into a storm. Soon after, it simply drops off the radar, and its wreckage is later uncovered in the Alps. Among the disappeared is Matthew Lerner, a banking insider at Swiss United, a powerful offshore bank. His young widow, Annabel, is left grappling with the secrets he left behind, including an encrypted laptop and a shady client list. As she begins a desperate search for answers, she determines that Matthew's death was no accident, and that she is now in the crosshairs of his powerful enemies.

Meanwhile, ambitious society journalist Marina Tourneau has finally landed at the top. Now that she's engaged to Grant Ellis, she will stop writing about powerful families and finally be a part of one. Her entry into the upper echelons of New York's social scene is more appealing than any article could ever be, but, after the death of her mentor, she agrees to dig into one more story. While looking into Swiss United, Marina uncovers information that implicates some of the most powerful men in the financial world, including some who are too close to home. The story could also be the answer to Annabel's heartbreaking search—if Marina chooses to publish it.-Goodreads

Review: Annabel's husband has died in a plane crash after leaving London. Annabel struggles with his death and doesn't understand why Matthew was in London when he told her he was in a different country. Was he having an affair? Marina is an engaged journalist and her future father-in-law, a very wealthy businessman, is running for President. When her mentor is murdered after investigating a big story, Marina wants to know what he was working on. 

Two women. Two engaging storylines that eventually merge. This was fast paced and I loved the financial aspect to it. A fantastic read from start to finish. 

Grade: 5/5

Three Days Missing

Book: Three Days Missing
Author: Kimberly Belle

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: the call that comes in the middle of the night.

When Kat Jenkins awakens to the police on her doorstep, her greatest fear is realized. Her nine-year-old son, Ethan, is missing—vanished from the cabin where he’d been on an overnight field trip with his class. Shocked and distraught, Kat rushes to the campground where he was last seen. But she’s too late; the authorities have returned from their search empty-handed after losing Ethan’s trail in the mountain forest.

Another mother from the school, Stef Huntington, seems like she has it all: money, prominence in the community, a popular son and a loving husband. She hardly knows Kat, except for the vicious gossip that swirls around Kat’s traumatic past. But as the police investigation unfolds, Ethan’s disappearance will have earth-shattering consequences in Stef’s own life—and the paths of these two mothers are about to cross in ways no one could have anticipated.

Racing against the clock, their desperate search for answers begins—one where the greatest danger could lie behind the everyday smiles of those they trust the most.-Goodreads

Review: Kat's 9-year old son is kidnapped during an elementary school overnight trip. She's distraught, suspicious that her abusive ex-husband may be involved and wants her son back. Meanwhile, Stef, a politicians wife and mom to a son in the same class, finds herself involved with the case. 

I found the pacing of this book rather sluggish. Kat is written very well as a woman scorned who wants her son back at all costs, however it also doesn't make her very likable. There were very few characters so the 'culprit' was rather obvious, although there was a final scene at the very end that was good. 

Overall, I didn't love it or hate it. I will definitely read her next book. 

Grade: 2.5/5

The Girls in the Garden

Book: The Girls in the Garden
Author: Lisa Jewell

Imagine that you live on a picturesque communal garden square, an oasis in urban London where your children run free, in and out of other people’s houses. You’ve known your neighbors for years and you trust them. Implicitly. You think your children are safe. But are they really?

On a midsummer night, as a festive neighborhood party is taking place, preteen Pip discovers her thirteen-year-old sister Grace lying unconscious and bloody in a hidden corner of a lush rose garden. What really happened to her? And who is responsible?

Dark secrets, a devastating mystery, and the games both children and adults play all swirl together in this gripping novel, packed with utterly believable characters and page-turning suspense.-Goodreads

Review: Like a Liane Moriarty book, this starts off with a tragic event: Grace, 13 years old, is found unconscious in the communal garden that is surrounded by condos, apartments and single family homes. The book then jumps forward a few months leading up to the event. 

After a truly awful event involving their father, Grace, Pip and their mother move to a new flat in London, ready to start a new life. The girls soon meet the other kids who all share the central garden. Three home schooled sisters with seemingly perfect parents, a girl whose mother works with foster children but ignores her own daughter with a few boys sprinkled into the mix. This book is well written and really explores different types of parenting styles and asks the question "How well do we really know our children?" This was a solid 4* read for me until the end, which I felt had no real consequences.  

Grade: 3/5

Loot

Book: Loot
Series: Loot #1
Author: Jude Watson

On a foggy night in Amsterdam, a man falls from a rooftop to the wet pavement below. It's Alfie McQuinn, the notorious cat burglar, and he's dying. As sirens wail in the distance, Alfie manages to get out two last words to his young son, March: "Find jewels."

But March learns that his father is not talking about a stash of loot. He's talking about Jules, the twin sister March never knew he had. No sooner than the two find each other, they're picked up by the police and sent to the world's worst orphanage. It's not prison, but it feels like it.

March and Jules have no intention of staying put. They know their father's business inside and out, and they're tired of being pushed around. Just one good heist, and they'll live the life of riches and freedom most kids only dream about.

Watch out! There are wild kids on the loose and a crime spree coming . . . -Goodreads

Review: This year I'm leading a 5th grade book club at my daughter's school and this was our first pick. Twelve year old March's father is in the middle of a jewelry heist when he falls off a roof and dies. Afterwards, March discovers he has a twin sister and they are sent to an orphanage in NYC. They soon find themselves on quite an adventure. 

This was fast paced, fun and a great book for young readers. We had a lively discussion regarding who we'd rather grow up with (Alphie or Blue, the consensus was Alphie),  schooling, living in a city vs suburbia among other things. As an adult reading this, I realize the plot is not feasible but it will still great fun. It reminded me of a Heist Society targeted toward a younger audience. 

Grade: 4/5

The Keeper of Lost Things

Book: The Keeper of Lost Things
Author: Ruth Hogan

Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—

Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancĂ©e, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidently left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?-Goodreads

Review: Anthony, The Keeper of Lost Things, has been collecting random items for years. After his death, his housekeeper, a divorced lonely woman named Laura, is tasked with trying to match the items with their rightful owners. Told in alternating time-frames, we follow Laura in the present day and Eunice, a woman who goes to work for Bomber, a publisher in the 70s/80s. Both narratives come together at the end of the book. 

Like many books written with different timelines, I found myself really enjoying the Eunice/Bomber years. I loved Eunice, I loved Bomber and I loved their friendship. Their friendship also sparked some good discussion in book club as to the nature of their relationship. Is friendship enough for some people or do you "need" romance too? Some of us felt sorry for Eunice while others felt she lived the life she wanted. Bomber's sister was quite the character and I was very happy to see her last act in the book. 

The present day narrative with Laura was not as enjoyable. I found her almost devoid of any real personality and I was not emotionally invested in her at all. The ghost storyline did not seem necessary to the story. 

Overall, the Eunice/Bomber plot saved this book for me. I did like how Hogan tied the stories together at the end. This was a good book club selection as it sparked some good conversations.   

Grade: 3/5

Spinning Silver

Book: Spinning Silver
Author: Naomi Novik

Miryem is the daughter and granddaughter of moneylenders, but her father's inability to collect his debts has left his family on the edge of poverty--until Miryem takes matters into her own hands. Hardening her heart, the young woman sets out to claim what is owed and soon gains a reputation for being able to turn silver into gold.

When an ill-advised boast draws the attention of the king of the Staryk--grim fey creatures who seem more ice than flesh--Miryem's fate, and that of two kingdoms, will be forever altered. Set an impossible challenge by the nameless king, Miryem unwittingly spins a web that draws in a peasant girl, Wanda, and the unhappy daughter of a local lord who plots to wed his child to the dashing young tsar.

But Tsar Mirnatius is not what he seems. And the secret he hides threatens to consume the lands of humans and Staryk alike. Torn between deadly choices, Miryem and her two unlikely allies embark on a desperate quest that will take them to the limits of sacrifice, power, and love. -Goodreads

Review: I absolutely LOVED Uprooted and was so excited for this book. I saved this for last on our summer vacation. After burning through 8 books in 8 days I got to this one and...it took me over 2 weeks to finish it. I just had to check the page count on Goodreads because I can't believe it was only 466 pages, I would have estimated 1.5k. It started off good enough with Miryem, the daughter of an ineffective moneylender, taking over her father's business. I really admired Miryem's business sense and desire to support her family. She eventually hires Wanda, a peasant girl in town who has an abusive father to help around the house and eventually with the money lending business. While the girls weren't friends, I admired the work they did together. Another storyline (it all eventually ties in together) involved Irina, the daughter of a wealthy nobleman who is married off to a sinister Tsar. Lurking within the woods (in a different kingdom but they can travel back and forth) near all of these young women are Staryk (I couldn't help thinking about them as White Walkers from GoT). Miryem attracts the Stark kings attention with her ability to turn silver into gold and finds herself on a dangerous track that involves all of them. 

Okay-sounds pretty interesting, right? It was, at first. The world building (medieval times in eastern Europe/Russian area) was pretty interesting. The Staryk were plenty creepy. I loved the idea that Miryem was a version Rumpelstiltskin. The book just really became monotonous and dragged for what seemed like 1k+ pages. I was so bored I had to force myself to finish it. It lacked the humor of Uprooted and there was some romance thrown in toward the end that didn't seem believable. There are multiple points of view from Miryem, Wanda and Irina. Additional points of view were added as the book went on and it was just a little odd that we all of a sudden were getting chapters from Wanda's brother's viewpoint. There was even a random bit from Irina's husband. 

This book is very highly rated and I wish I could do the same. This was a complete "miss" for me. I will continue to read what Novak has planned next because she is a talented writer. 

Grade: 2/5