Friday, December 31, 2021

High Voltage

Book: High Voltage

Series: Fever #9

Author: Karen Marie Moning

There is no action without consequence…

Dani O’Malley was nine years old when the delusional, sadistic Rowena transformed her into a ruthless killer. Years later, she’s tough, hardened, yet achingly vulnerable and fiercely compassionate, living alone by her own exacting code. Despite the scars on her body, driven by deeper ones carved into her soul, no one is more committed to protecting Dublin. By day, she ensures the safety of those she rescues, by night she hunts evil, dispensing justice swiftly and without mercy, determined to give those she cares for the peace she has never known.

There is no power without price…

When the Faerie Queen used the dangerously powerful Song of Making to heal the world from the damage done by the Hoar Frost King, catastrophic magic seeped deep into the earth, giving rise to horrifying, unforeseen consequences–and now deadly enemies plot in the darkness, preparing to enslave the human race and unleash an ancient reign of hell on Earth.

There is no future without sacrifice…

With the lethal, immortal Ryodan at her side, armed with the epic Sword of Light, Dani once again battles to save the world but her past comes back to haunt her with a vengeance, demanding an unspeakable price for the power she needs to save the human race and no one—not even Ryodan who’d move the very stars for her—can save her this time… -Goodreads

Review: Dani finally gets a book where she can be a badass. Super fun read! I loved her character development and the storyline was engaging. 4/5

 

  

A Court of Silver Flames

Book: A Court of Silver Flames

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #4

Author: Sarah J Maas

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other's arms.-Goodreads

Review: Nesta, the eldest sister, is not a character who is easy to like. Her actions in previous books make her seem selfish and rude but her interactions with Cassian gave me hope. The good? Cassian! Love him and everything about him. This was also spicy! I loved that. The not so good? Nesta. I understand her after reading this but I still don’t like her. Being inside her head was difficult to read. She is a depressed alcoholic who sufferers from self-hatred and lashes out against everyone. I am in a FB group about this book and people are very divided about her. Many see themselves as a ‘Nesta’ and empathize with her. Others have a ‘Nesta’ in their life and don’t’ care for her. I’m in this camp. I understand her but past trauma does not give you a pass to treat others like garbage. Was she apologetic? Kind of. She did develop friendships in this book and these bonds were well written. I loved her relationship with the house. The actual plot of the book was lacking as the majority of the book is about Nesta healing. There is a blood rite at the end that was simply ridiculous. **Spoilers alert**We are to believe that the only warriors who have completed this dangerous, difficult journey are the Bat boys but Netsa and her friends do it after a few months of training? Beyond comprehension. Of course, I will continue with the series but this was my least favorite installment thus far. 2.5/5

  

After I Do

Book: After I Do

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.

Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?-Goodreads

Review: When Lauren and Ryan hit a rough patch in their marriage, they decide to take a year off. While this wasn’t my favorite Jenkins Reid book, it’s certainly well written and nuanced. 3/5

  

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End

Book: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Happens in the End

Author: Atul Gawande

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. -Goodreads

Review: This should be required reading for everyone. And if you have an elderly/aging parent, don’t wait. Read this (or at least a synopsis) and have an honest conversation with your loved one about what they really want at the end. These are not easy conversations but necessary. 5/5

  

Ready Player Two

Book: Ready Player Two

Author: Ernest Cline

Days after winning Oasis founder James Halliday's contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything.

Hidden within Halliday's vaults, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the Oasis a thousand times more wondrous—and addictive—than even Wade dreamed possible.

With it comes a new riddle, and a new quest—a last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize.

And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who'll kill millions to get what he wants.

Wade's life and the future of the Oasis are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.-Goodreads

Review: This was an unnecessary sequel that focused on the love story between two characters I would have cared less about. 2/5

  

American Dirt

Book: American Dirt

Author: Jeanine Cummins

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?-Goodreads

Review: This is the story about a woman and her young son trying to escape the Mexican drug cartel and get to American. Fast paced and nerve wracking, I could not put this down. 5/5

  

Circe

Book: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child - not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power - the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.-Goodreads

Review: As a fan of mythology, I absolutely adored this story about Circe and her journey. Beautiful writing and fantastic story, I was immersed from page 1. Loved it! 5/5

  

The Midnight Library

Book: The Midnight Library

Author: Matt Haig

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.-Goodreads

Review: This was an interesting ‘sliding doors’ type concept that immediate drew me in. How would your life change if you had made different choices? I slowly went from loving the fictional story to feeling like I was reading a self help manual. Overall, I still enjoyed this, but it was unfortunately not the 5* read everyone else I know rated it.  3/5

 

The Girl Who Knew Too Much

Book: The Girl Who Knew Too Much

Series: Burning Cove #1

Author: Amanda Quick

When Hollywood moguls and stars want privacy, they head to an idyllic small town on the coast, where the exclusive Burning Cove Hotel caters to their every need. It’s where reporter Irene Glasson finds herself staring down at a beautiful actress at the bottom of a pool…

The dead woman had a red-hot secret about up-and-coming leading man Nick Tremayne, a scoop that Irene couldn’t resist—especially since she’s just a rookie at a third-rate gossip rag. But now Irene’s investigation into the drowning threatens to tear down the wall of illusion that is so deftly built around the famous actor, and there are powerful men willing to do anything to protect their investment.

Seeking the truth, Irene finds herself drawn to a master of deception. Oliver Ward was once a world-famous magician—until he was mysteriously injured during his last performance. Now the owner of the Burning Cove Hotel, he can’t let scandal threaten his livelihood, even if it means trusting Irene, a woman who seems to have appeared in Los Angeles out of nowhere four months ago…

With Oliver’s help, Irene soon learns that the glamorous paradise of Burning Cove hides dark and dangerous secrets. And that the past—always just out of sight—could drag them both under… -Goodreads

Review: After finding her boss dead, Irene takes a notebook, flees to the west coast and changes her name. Working at a gossip magazine, she ends up embroiled in more crimes. It was interesting reading a book set in a time before cell phones but I just never fully warmed to Irene and the mystery. 2/5

  

Winter At the Door

Book: Winter at the Door

Series: Lizzie Snow #1

Author: Sarah Graves

Moving from Boston to remote Bearkill, Maine, isn’t homicide cop Lizzie Snow’s idea of a step up. But breaking away from tragedy and personal betrayal is at least a step in the right direction. Her dead sister’s fate still torments her, as does her long-missing niece’s disappearance. Lizzie hopes to find the mysteriously vanished child here, amid the coming ice and snow. But in the Great North Woods, something darker and more dangerous than punishing winter is also bound for Bearkill.

The town is a world apart in more than distance—full of people who see everything, say little, and know more than they’ll share with an outsider. The only exceptions are the handsome state cop who once badly broke Lizzie’s heart and desperately wants another chance—and Lizzie’s new boss, sheriff Cody Chevrier, who’s counting on her years of homicide experience to help him solve his most troubling case, before it’s too late.

A rash of freak accidents and suicides has left a string of dead men—all former local cops. Now the same cruel eyes that watched them die are on Lizzie—and so is the pressure to find out what sort of monster has his hooks in this town, what his ruthless game is, and just how brutally he’ll play to win. Whatever the truth is, its twisted roots lie in the desolate backwoods of Allagash County: where the desperate disappear, the corrupt find shelter, and the innocent lose everything. It’s there that a cunning and utterly cold-blooded killer plans the fate of the helpless lives at his mercy—one of whom may be the lost child Lizzie will do anything to save. As a blizzard bears down, and Bearkill’s dark secrets claw their way to the surface, Lizzie gears up for a showdown that could leave the deep, driven snow stained blood red.-Goodreads

Review: Homicide detective Lizzie relocates from Boston to Maine and finds herself trying to help her new boss solve a rash of crimes. Her ex is in town trying to woo her back and she still hasn’t stopped looking for her niece who has been missing for years. This was a good book although Lizzie was not as strong as a protagonist as I would have liked. 3/5

  

The Last Widow

Book: The Last Widow

Series: Will Trent #9

Author: Karin Slaughter

A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor.

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves. -Goodreads

Review: Slaughter does it yet AGAIN. #9 in a series and she continues to write interesting, engaging stories that keep me interested from page 1 until the end. 4/5

  

Dirty Billionaire

Book: Dirty Billionaire

Series: Dirty Billionaire #1

Author: Meghan March

I've got a big...ego and an even bigger bank account. That's pretty much where my bio ends. Honestly, I don't need to say anything else. I've just sold 99% of women on going home with me. Do I sound like a jerk to you? That's because I am. And guess what? It works for me just fine. Or at least it did. Until I met her. Books talk about sparks flying. Screw that. With her, it was like emergency flares mixed with jet fuel. Or maybe just straight up napalm. Only one problem. She wouldn't tell me her name or her number when she disappeared from the hotel room after the hottest night of my life. Now I've had a taste of the perfect woman and I need it again. So what's a jerk to do? I took this problem to the street. A missed connection gone viral. And when I find her? I'm keeping her. -Goodreads

Review: Funny and spicy with a couple I rooted for! Fun read. 4/5

 

Just Watch Me

Book: Just Watch Me

Series: Riley Wolfe #1

Author: Jeff Lindsay

From the author of the wildly successful Dexter series comes a new, mesmerizing bad guy we can root for: Riley Wolfe. He’s a master thief, expert at disguise, and not averse to violence when it’s needed. It’s no accident, though, that Riley targets the wealthiest 0.1 percent and is willing to kill them when they’re in his way: he despises the degenerate and immoral rich and loves stealing their undeserved and unearned valuables.

In this series launch, Riley aims for an extraordinary target in a heist that will make history. Riley will try to steal the Crown Jewels of Iran. Yes, these jewels are worth billions, but the true attraction for grabbing them comes down to one simple fact: it can’t be done. Stealing these jewels is absolutely impossible. The collection is guarded by space-age electronics and two teams of heavily armed mercenaries. No one could even think of getting past the airtight security and hope to get away alive, let alone with even a single diamond from the Imperial Collection.

No one but Riley Wolfe. He’s always liked a challenge.

But this challenge may be more than even he can handle. Aside from the impenetrable security, Riley is also pursued by a brilliant and relentless cop who is barely a step behind him.

With the aid of his sometime ally, a beautiful woman who is a master art forger, Riley Wolfe goes for the prize that will either make him a legend—or, more likely, leave him dead.-Goodreads

Review: I love Lindsay’s Dexter series and was excited to start this one. Riley Wolf is a sociopath like Dexter but he’s a soldier (and without any dark humor). I liked this but the story didn’t grip me. 2.5/5

  

The Silent Wife

Book: The Silent Wife

Series: Will Trent #10

Author: Karin Slaughter

Investigating the killing of a prisoner during a riot inside a state penitentiary, GBI investigator Will Trent is confronted with disturbing information. One of the inmates claims that he is innocent of a brutal attack for which he has always been the prime suspect. The man insists that he was framed by a corrupt law enforcement team led by Jeffrey Tolliver and that the real culprit is still out there—a serial killer who has systematically been preying on women across the state for years. If Will reopens the investigation and implicates the dead police officer with a hero’s reputation of wrongdoing, the opportunistic convict is willing to provide the information GBI needs about the riot murder.

Only days ago, another young woman was viciously murdered in a state park in northern Georgia. Is it a fluke, or could there be a serial killer on the loose?

As Will Trent digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the cold case in order to find the answer. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear, and lies to become truth. But Will can’t crack either mystery without the help of the one person he doesn’t want involved: his girlfriend and Jeffrey Tolliver’s widow, medical examiner Sara Linton.

When the past and present begin to collide, Will realizes that everything he values is at stake . . . -Goodreads

Review: Will Trent #10 and Slaughter still nails it. Absolutely fantastic book in the series. 5/5

  

Pretty Little Wife

Book: Pretty Little Wife

Author: Darby Kane

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.-Goodreads

Review: Dark and twisty with an unlikable main character that I still care about? Sign me up. Thoroughly fun read! 4.5/5

  

The Nickel Boys

Book: The Nickel Boys

Author: Colson Whitehead

Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clear-sighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide 'physical, intellectual and moral training' which will equip its inmates to become 'honorable and honest men'.

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear 'out back'. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King's ringing assertion, 'Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.' But Elwood's fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.

The tension between Elwood's idealism and Turner's skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions.-Goodreads

Review: The Nickel Boys takes place in the 1960’s and focuses on the horrors that took place Nickel Academy, a “reform school” in Florida. This is an extremely quick read, but devastating and disturbing. 4/5

  

The Chanel Sisters

Book: The Chanel Sisters

Author: Judith Little

Antoinette and Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel know they’re destined for something better. Abandoned by their family years before, they’ve grown up under the guidance of pious nuns preparing them for simple lives as the wives of tradesmen or shopkeepers. At night, their secret stash of romantic novels and magazine cutouts beneath the floorboards are all they have to keep their dreams of the future alive.

The walls of the convent can’t shield them forever, and when they’re finally of age, the Chanel sisters set out together with a fierce determination to prove themselves worthy to a society that has never accepted them. Their journey propels them out of poverty and to the stylish cafés of Moulins, the dazzling performance halls of Vichy—and to a small hat shop on the rue Cambon in Paris, where a business takes hold and expands to the glamorous French resort towns. But when World War I breaks out, their lives are irrevocably changed, and the sisters must gather the courage to fashion their own places in the world, even if apart from each other. -Goodreads

Review: This was a really interesting historical fiction of Antionette and Gabrielle (CoCo) Channel from their early days to the early success of Gabrielle. Many people have given this book negative reviews because of Gabrielle’s relationship with the Nazi’s but this book focuses on the early years and I thought it was fascinating.

Grade: 4/5 

Greenlights

Book: Greenlights

Author: Matthew McConaghey

I’ve been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges - how to get relative with the inevitable - you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights.”

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It’s a love letter. To life.-Goodreads



Review: I absolutely loved the audible version of this book narrated by Matthew McConaghey. I may not agree with everything he has done in his life, but I love his non-apologetic attitude and outlook on life.

Grade: 5/5

The Best of Me

Book: The Best of Me

Author: David Sedaris

For more than twenty-five years, David Sedaris has been carving out a unique literary space, virtually creating his own genre. A Sedaris story may seem confessional, but is also highly attuned to the world outside. It opens our eyes to what is at absurd and moving about our daily existence. And it is almost impossible to read without laughing.

Now, for the first time collected in one volume, the author brings us his funniest and most memorable work. In these stories, Sedaris shops for rare taxidermy, hitchhikes with a lady quadriplegic, and spits a lozenge into a fellow traveler’s lap. He drowns a mouse in a bucket, struggles to say “give it to me” in five languages, and hand-feeds a carnivorous bird.

But if all you expect to find in Sedaris’s work is the deft and sharply observed comedy for which he became renowned, you may be surprised to discover that his words bring more warmth than mockery, more fellow-feeling than derision. Nowhere is this clearer than in his writing about his loved ones. In these pages, Sedaris explores falling in love and staying together, recognizing his own aging not in the mirror but in the faces of his siblings, losing one parent and coming to terms—at long last—with the other.-Goodreads


Review: Almost everyone I know is a Sedaris fan and he is a talented writer but if this wasn’t a book club selection, I don’t think I would have finished it. Tedious. 2.5/5




We Begin at the End

Book: We Begin at the End

Author: Chris Whitaker

Walk has never left the coastal California town where he grew up. He may have become the chief of police, but he’s still trying to heal the old wound of having given the testimony that sent his best friend, Vincent King, to prison decades before. Now, thirty years later, Vincent is being released.

Duchess is a thirteen-year-old self-proclaimed outlaw. Her mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent. Walk is in overdrive trying to protect them, but Vincent and Star seem bent on sliding deeper into self-destruction. Star always burned bright, but recently that light has dimmed, leaving Duchess to parent not only her mother but her five-year-old brother. At school the other kids make fun of Duchess―her clothes are torn, her hair a mess. But let them throw their sticks, because she’ll throw stones. Rules are for other people. She’s just trying to survive and keep her family together.

A fortysomething-year-old sheriff and a thirteen-year-old girl may not seem to have a lot in common. But they both have come to expect that people will disappoint you, loved ones will leave you, and if you open your heart it will be broken. So when trouble arrives with Vincent King, Walk and Duchess find they will be unable to do anything but usher it in, arms wide closed.-Goodreads

Review:I am not sure what I was expecting before I read this but it was a very sad tale about a 13 year old girl and her brother. Very well written and heartbreaking. 

 


Grade: 4/5 

Under Your Skin

 Book: Under Your Skin

Author: Sabine Durrant

Gaby Mortimer is the woman who has it all. But everything changes when she finds a body on the common near her home. She’s shaken and haunted by the image of the lifeless young woman, and frightened that the killer, still at large, could strike again.

Before long, the police have a lead. The evidence points to a very clear suspect. One Gaby never saw coming . . .-Goodreads

Review: 

Gaby is running in the park when she finds a body. Things start to unravel when she is arrested for the crime. I found this fast paced, interesting and I didn’t guess the ending. Thoroughly enjoyed it! 4/5

 

Kingdom of Shadow and Light

Book: Kingdom of Shadow and Light

Series: Fever #11

Author: Karen Marie Moning

From the moment MacKayla Lane arrived in Dublin to hunt her sister’s murderer, she’s had to fight one dangerous battle after the next: to survive, to secure power, to keep her city safe, to protect the people she loves.

The matter of who’s good and who’s evil can be decided by the answer to a single question: Whose side are you on?

Now, as High Queen of the Fae, Mac faces her greatest challenge yet: ruling the very race she was born to hunt and kill - a race that wants her dead yesterday, so they can put a pure-blooded Fae queen on the throne.

But challenges with her subjects are the least of her concerns when an ancient, deadly foe resurfaces, changing not only the rules of the game but the very game itself, initiating a catastrophic sequence of events that have devastating consequences and leave Mac questioning everything she’s ever learned and everyone she’s ever loved. Now begins an epic battle between Mortal and Fae, Seelie and Unseelie, would-be kings and would-be queens, with possession of the Unseelie King’s virtually unlimited power and the fate of humanity at stake.-Goodreads

Review: I thought Mac/Barrons storyline was over but here we are again. I actually enjoyed their storyline in this latest (last?) installment of the Fever series. My biggest gripe with this book was Dani. After building her up to be a badass character in the last several books, she had such a limited role here. It was very disappointing. Overall, enjoyed it but not the strongest in the series.

Grade: 3/5 

Remember Me this Way

Book: Remember Me this Way

Author: Sabine Durrant

Everyone keeps telling me I have to move on. And so here I am, walking down the road where he died, trying to remember him the right way.

A year after her husband Zach's death, Lizzie goes to lay flowers where his fatal accident took place.

As she makes her way along the motorway, she thinks about their life together. She wonders whether she has changed since Zach died. She wonders if she will ever feel whole again.

At last she reaches the spot. And there, tied to a tree, is a bunch of lilies. The flowers are addressed to her husband. Someone has been there before her.

Lizzie loved Zach. She really did.

But she's starting to realise she didn't really know him.

Or what he was capable of . .-Goodreads

Review: Lizzie’s husband Zach died over a year ago. She is dropping flowers off at his gave when she sees someone else has already been there and done the same. Who could it have been? Was Lizzie’s husband everything she thought he was? This was an enjoyable if predictable read.

Grade: 3/5 

The Rose Society

Book: The Rose Society

Series: The Young Elites #2

Author: Marie Lu

Once upon a time, a girl had a father, a prince, a society of friends. Then they betrayed her, and she destroyed them all.

Adelina Amouteru’s heart has suffered at the hands of both family and friends, turning her down the bitter path of revenge. Now known and feared as the White Wolf, she flees Kenettra with her sister to find other Young Elites in the hopes of building her own army of allies. Her goal: to strike down the Inquisition Axis, the white-cloaked soldiers who nearly killed her.

But Adelina is no heroine. Her powers, fed only by fear and hate, have started to grow beyond her control. She does not trust her newfound Elite friends. Teren Santoro, leader of the Inquisition, wants her dead. And her former friends, Raffaele and the Dagger Society, want to stop her thirst for vengeance. Adelina struggles to cling to the good within her. But how can someone be good when her very existence depends on darkness?-Goodreads

Review: A very strong follow up The Young Elites. Adelina is not a hero-rather, she is a dark character who I still somehow route for. Great storytelling, well developed characters, engaging plot and fast paced.

Grade: 4/5 

One True Loves

Book: One True Loves

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.-Goodreads

Review: One True Loves is essentially the story of Tom Hank’s wife from Castaway. Emma is married to her high school sweetheart and on their one year wedding anniversary, her husband is in a helicopter crash and presumed dead. After mourning him, she moves back to her hometown and eventually falls in love again and is engaged to be married. And then her husband is found. What does she do? I wasn’t expecting this to be as emotional as it was and Jenkins Reid once again proves how talented she is. Heartfelt, well-constructed and I hope never to be in Emma’s shoes.

Grade: 4/5 

The Box in the Woods

Book: The Box in the Woods

Series: Truly Devious #4

Author: Maureen Johnson

Amateur sleuth Stevie Bell needs a good murder. After catching a killer at her high school, she’s back at home for a normal (that means boring) summer.

But then she gets a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, formerly known as Camp Wonder Falls—the site of the notorious unsolved case, the Box in the Woods Murders. Back in 1978, four camp counselors were killed in the woods outside of the town of Barlow Corners, their bodies left in a gruesome display. The new owner offers Stevie an invitation: Come to the camp and help him work on a true crime podcast about the case.

Stevie agrees, as long as she can bring along her friends from Ellingham Academy. Nothing sounds better than a summer spent together, investigating old murders.

But something evil still lurks in Barlow Corners. When Stevie opens the lid on this long-dormant case, she gets much more than she bargained for. The Box in the Woods will make room for more victims. This time, Stevie may not make it out alive. -Goodreads

Review: After solving the Ellingham cold case, Stevie has been recruited to help solve a cold case at a summer camp. She enlists the help of her friends and starts investigating. Once again, I love Stevie and her sleuthing ways.

Grade: 4/5 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Hand on the Wall

Book: The Hand on the Wall

Series: Truly Devious #3

Author: Maureen Johnson

Ellingham Academy must be cursed. Three people are now dead. One, a victim of either a prank gone wrong or a murder. Another, dead by misadventure. And now, an accident in Burlington has claimed another life. All three in the wrong place at the wrong time. All at the exact moment of Stevie’s greatest triumph . . .

She knows who Truly Devious is. She’s solved it. The greatest case of the century.

At least, she thinks she has. With this latest tragedy, it’s hard to concentrate on the past. Not only has someone died in town, but David disappeared of his own free will and is up to something. Stevie is sure that somehow—somehow—all these things connect. The three deaths in the present. The deaths in the past. The missing Alice Ellingham and the missing David Eastman. Somewhere in this place of riddles and puzzles there must be answers.

Then another accident occurs as a massive storm heads toward Vermont. This is too much for the parents and administrators. Ellingham Academy is evacuated. Obviously, it’s time for Stevie to do something stupid. It’s time to stay on the mountain and face the storm—and a murderer.-Goodreads

Review: Multiple people are dead at Ellingham. Stevie thinks she has solved the case, or has she? Another strong book in the series. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Grade: 4/5 

The Vanishing Stair

Book: The Vanishing Stair

Series: Truly Devious #2

Author: Maureen Johnson

All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.

For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.-Goodreads

Review: A fantastic follow-up to Truly Devious. Stevie solved one crime but there are more mysteries to figure out.

Grade: 4/5 

Truly Devious

Book: Truly Devious

Series: Truly Devious #1

Author: Maureen Johnson

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. -Goodreads

Review: I’ve found my favorite YA series of the year. Truly Devious! Stevie is a true crime aficionado and gets accepted to the exclusive Ellingham Academy. All of the students there have some sort of special talent. Stevie’s goal? To solve the cold case of Ellingham’s founder’s wife and daughter who went missing years ago.  I thought this was creative, engaging and fun. This was a solid 5* read until the last chapter that just seemed to end mid-chapter.

Grade: 4.5/5 

Made You Up

Book: Made You Up

Author: Francesca Zappia



Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. -Goodreads

Review: This was a really well written YA novel about a girl with schizophrenia. I didn't love the ending but the rest of the novel was well constructed. 

Grade: 4/5 

The Atomic City Girls

Book: The Atomic City Girls

Author: Janet Beard

In November 1944, eighteen-year-old June Walker boards an unmarked bus, destined for a city that doesn’t officially exist. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has sprung up in a matter of months—a town of trailers and segregated houses, 24-hour cafeterias, and constant security checks. There, June joins hundreds of other young girls operating massive machines whose purpose is never explained. They know they are helping to win the war, but must ask no questions and reveal nothing to outsiders.

The girls spend their evenings socializing and flirting with soldiers, scientists, and workmen at dances and movies, bowling alleys and canteens. June longs to know more about their top-secret assignment and begins an affair with Sam Cantor, the young Jewish physicist from New York who oversees the lab where she works and understands the end goal only too well, while her beautiful roommate Cici is on her own mission: to find a wealthy husband and escape her sharecropper roots. Across town, African-American construction worker Joe Brewer knows nothing of the government’s plans, only that his new job pays enough to make it worth leaving his family behind, at least for now. But a breach in security will intertwine his fate with June’s search for answers.

When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth about Oak Ridge into devastating focus, June must confront her ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war itself.-Goodreads

Review: 1944: June Walker goes to a city in TN to work on a top secret project. I thought this was fascinating from a historical perspective but the actual characters were pretty dull and boring. This book did inspire me to research Oak Ridge, TN and the atomic bomb but this book itself was just okay.

Grade: 2.5/5 

The Perfect Daughter

Book: The Perfect Daughter

Author: DJ Palmer

Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenaged daughter Penny in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes. But they didn’t have a motive.

Grace blames herself, because that’s what mothers do—they look at their choices and wonder, what if? But hindsight offers little more than the chance for regret.

None of this was conceivable the day Penny came into her life. Then, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned, with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her, and her husband Arthur. But as she grew, Penny's actions grew more disturbing, and different "personalities" emerged.

Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists, many of whom believed she was putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t buy it. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. One determined psychiatrist, Dr. Mitch McHugh, helped discover someone new inside Penny—a young girl named Abigail. Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Mitch thinks Abigail is the key to Penny’s past and to the murder. But as Grace and Mitch dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets that put all their lives in grave danger. -Goodreads

Review: Penny is found over a dead woman with a bloody knife. Grace is certain this is more than just murder. This was a fascinating look into DID (disassociate identify disorder). Well written and engaging.

Grade: 4/5 

Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery

Book: Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery

Author: Catherine Gildiner

In this fascinating narrative, therapist Catherine Gildiner's presents five of what she calls her most heroic and memorable patients. Among them: a successful, first generation Chinese immigrant musician suffering sexual dysfunction; a young woman whose father abandoned her at age nine with her younger siblings in an isolated cottage in the depth of winter; and a glamorous workaholic whose narcissistic, negligent mother greeted her each morning of her childhood with Good morning, Monster.

Each patient presents a mystery, one that will only be unpacked over years. They seek Gildiner's help to overcome an immediate challenge in their lives, but discover that the source of their suffering has been long buried.-Goodreads

Review: This is an emotional read about five patients who survived incredible abuse.

Grade: 5/5

The Dutch House

Book: The Dutch House

Author: Ann Patchett

At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves.

The story is told by Cyril’s son Danny, as he and his older sister, the brilliantly acerbic and self-assured Maeve, are exiled from the house where they grew up by their stepmother. The two wealthy siblings are thrown back into the poverty their parents had escaped from and find that all they have to count on is one another. It is this unshakable bond between them that both saves their lives and thwarts their futures.

Set over the course of five decades, The Dutch House is a dark fairy tale about two smart people who cannot overcome their past. Despite every outward sign of success, Danny and Maeve are only truly comfortable when they’re together. Throughout their lives, they return to the well-worn story of what they’ve lost with humor and rage. But when at last they’re forced to confront the people who left them behind, the relationship between an indulged brother and his ever-protective sister is finally tested.-Goodreads

Review: A well written family drama about siblings whose step-mother essentially evicts them from their childhood home. Well developed characters and a feeling of melancholy.  I enjoyed this one. 

Grade: 4/5

The Hunting Party

Book: The Hunting Party

Author: Lucy Foley

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close? -Goodreads

Review: A group of friends go on holiday to a remote location and are snowed in. There are secrets and someone ends up dead. I guessed several of the twists but this was still a fun read. I think this would make a great movie or mini-series.

Grade: 4/5 

One by One

Book: One by One

Series: Ruth Ware

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?-Goodreads

Review: This is my favorite Ruth Ware book to date. A corporate retreat at a ski chalet does not go according to plan when everyone is snowed in and people are killed off one by one. I liked the atmosphere and characters.

Grade: 4/5 

The Book of Two Ways

Book: The Book of Two Ways

Author: Jody Picoult

Everything changes in a single moment for Dawn Edelstein. She's on a plane when the flight attendant makes an announcement: prepare for a crash landing. She braces herself as thoughts flash through her mind. The shocking thing is, the thoughts are not of her husband, but a man she last saw fifteen years ago: Wyatt Armstrong.

Dawn, miraculously, survives the crash, but so do all the doubts that have suddenly been raised. She has led a good life. Back in Boston, there is her husband, Brian, her beloved daughter, and her work as a death doula, where she helps ease the transition between life and death for patients in hospice.

But somewhere in Egypt is Wyatt Armstrong, who works as an archaeologist unearthing ancient burial sites, a job she once studied for, but was forced to abandon when life suddenly intervened. And now, when it seems that fate is offering her second chances, she is not as sure of the choice she once made.

After the crash landing, the airline ensures the survivors are seen by a doctor, then offers transportation wherever they want to go. The obvious option for Dawn is to continue down the path she is on and go home to her family. The other is to return to the archaeological site she left years before, reconnect with Wyatt and their unresolved history, and maybe even complete her research on The Book of Two Ways--the first known map of the afterlife.

As the story unfolds, Dawn's two possible futures unspool side by side, as do the secrets and doubts long buried beside them. Dawn must confront the questions she's never truly asked: What does a life well-lived look like? When we leave this earth, what do we leave behind? Do we make choices...or do our choices make us? And who would you be, if you hadn't turned out to be the person you are right now?-Goodreads

Review: I think this is a book that people will either love or hate. This is not a linear story-there are 2 timelines (almost like Sliding Doors)  and it takes a while to realize this. There is a lot (A LOT) of detail about Egypt and archeology. I love anything archeology related so this was fascinating to me. For those not interested, I can imagine it will be a tough/tedius read. This is the story about love, choices and lost love. I absolutely loved this!

Grade: 5/5 

Book: Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Author: Lisa Damour

In this sane, highly engaging, and informed guide for parents of daughters, Dr. Damour draws on decades of experience and the latest research to reveal the seven distinct—and absolutely normal—developmental transitions that turn girls into grown-ups, including Parting with Childhood, Contending with Adult Authority, Entering the Romantic World, and Caring for Herself. Providing realistic scenarios and welcome advice on how to engage daughters in smart, constructive ways, Untangled gives parents a broad framework for understanding their daughters while addressing their most common questions, including

• My thirteen-year-old rolls her eyes when I try to talk to her, and only does it more when I get angry with her about it. How should I respond?
• Do I tell my teen daughter that I’m checking her phone?
• My daughter suffers from test anxiety. What can I do to help her?
• Where’s the line between healthy eating and having an eating disorder?
• My teenage daughter wants to know why I’m against pot when it’s legal in some states. What should I say?
• My daughter’s friend is cutting herself. Do I call the girl’s mother to let her know?

Perhaps most important, Untangled helps mothers and fathers understand, connect, and grow with their daughters. When parents know what makes their daughter tick, they can embrace and enjoy the challenge of raising a healthy, happy young woman.-Goodreads

Review: An absolute must-read for parents of teenagers. 

Grade: 5/5

The Vanishing Half

Book: The Vanishing Half

Author: Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?-Goodreads

Review: This is the story of twin sisters. One, a single mom living in her prejudiced southern town with her dark daughter. The other-living with her white husband and white daughter, who have no idea about her past. This was well written, engaging and heartbreaking. 4/5

 Grade: 4/5 

My Dark Vanessa

Book: My Dark Vanessa

Author: Kate Elizabeth Russell

2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?-Goodreads

Review: This is one of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read. I went through a gambit of emotions reading this-horror, sadness, anger, grief. Excellent writing although very difficult subject matter.

Grade: 5/5 

An Anonymous Girl

Book: n Anonymous Girl

Author: Greer Hendricks


Seeking women ages 18 - 32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.-Goodreads

Review: Jess is a makeup artist in need of extra funds. She ends up in a psychology study with Dr. Fields. As Jess’s involvement goes well beyond filling out surveys, she tries to figure out what exactly is Dr. Fields trying to accomplishment. This was an engaging read-I absolutely loved Jess. The reveal as to the motivations of Dr. Fields was a tad ridiculous and her final act did not seem in line with the character but I still really enjoyed this one.

Grade: 4/5 

The Wife Between Us

Book: The Wife Between Us

Author: Greer Hendricks

When you read this book, you will make many assumptions.
You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife.
You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love.
You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle.
Assume nothing.-Goodreads

Review:  How can a relationship that seems so perfect take a dark turn? I enjoyed this one although I guessed the twist. I enjoy the author's writing and will definitely read more.

Grade: 3/5

The President's Daughter

Book: The President's Daughter

Author: Bill Clinton, James Patterson

Michael Keating is a former Navy SEAL -- and a former President of the United States, now relocated to rural New Hampshire after a brave but ill-fated military mission cost him his second term.

All he wants is to sink into anonymity with his family (and his Secret Service detail). But when he's briefed on an imminent threat against his daughter, Keating's SEAL training may prove more essential than all the power, connections, and political acumen he gained as President.-Goodreads

Review: This was a fast paced thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. Enjoyable!

Grade: 3.5/5 

Ice Planet Barbarians

Book: Ice Planet Barbarians

Series: Ice Planet Barbarians #1

Author: Ruby Dixon


You'd think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you'd be wrong. Because now, the aliens are having ship trouble, and they've left their cargo of human women - including me - on an ice planet.

And the only native inhabitant I've met? He's big, horned, blue, and really, really has a thing for me.-Goodreads

Review: One of my friend’s said this series is her guilty pleasure and I swear I tried, but this was one of the most ridiculous books I’ve ever read. Zero (ZERO) character development. Ridiculous plot. I cannot believe there are 20 books in this series. 

Grade: 1/5

Eight Perfect Murders

Book: Eight Perfect Murders

Author: Peter Swanson

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne's Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox's Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain's Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald's The Drowner, and Donna Tartt's A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookstore in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects . . . and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.-Goodreads

Review: I loved The Kind Worth Killing and every time I read another Peter Swanson book I’m hoping to capture the magic of that book. I enjoyed this book but overall, not his best work.  Well written but I was bored at times. If you haven't read the 8 books that tie into this book (i.e. ABC Murders, A Secret History) and want to, read them first as there are spoilers within this book. 

Grade: 3/5 

Demon Magic and a Martini

Book: Demon Magic and a Martini

Series: Guild Codex #4

Author: Annette Marie

When I first landed a bartending job at the local guild, I didn't know a thing about magic. These days, I'm practically an expert on the different magical classes, but there's one nobody ever talks about: Demonica.

Turns out they have a good reason for that. My guild is strictly hellion-free, because who wants to risk life and limb to control the biggest bullies on the mythic playground?

Well, some people do, and now a demon has been loosed in the city. My three best friends are determined to slay it, but even badass combat mages are critically out-magicked. And that's not all. The monster they're tracking—it's not hiding. It's not fleeing. It's not leaving a trail of corpses everywhere it goes.

The demon is hunting too. And in a city full of mythics, it's searching for deadlier prey.

If we can’t unravel the demon’s sinister motivations, more innocent people will die, but finding the answers means digging into dark secrets … and learning truths I never wanted to know.-Goodreads

Review: A demon is loose in the city. Tori and the guys are on the hunt. I liked this book but really wish the author would leave romance out of it-friendship with the guys is all that is needed. If you are looking for a very light, fluffy urban fantasy series, give this one a try.

Grade: 3/5 

Two Witches and a Whiskey

Book: Two Witches and a Whiskey

Series: Guild Codex #3

Author: Annette Marie

Three months ago, I landed a job as a bartender. But not at a bar—at a guild. Yeah, the magic kind.

I'm not a badass mage like my three smokin' hot best friends. I'm not a sorcerer or an alchemist, or even a wussy witch. I'm just a human, slinging drinks like a pro and keeping my non-magical nose out of mythic business. Seriously, I know my limits.

So why am I currently standing in a black-magic ritual circle across from a fae lord?

Somewhere behind me, my three mage friends are battling for their lives. Somewhere near my feet is the rogue witch I just knocked out with a stolen spell. And I have about five seconds to convince this very angry sea god not to shmoosh me like a bug.

I'm pretty sure this wasn't part of the job description.-Goodreads

Review: So far this is the best installment in the series. Fun and action packed!

Grade: 4/5 

Dark Arts and a Daiquairi

Book: Dark Arts and a Daiquairi

Series: Guild Codex #2

Author: Annette Marie

When I found myself facing down the scariest black-magic felon in the city, practically daring him to abduct me, I had to wonder exactly how I ended up here.

It all started when I accidentally landed a job as a bartender--but not at a bar. At a guild, populated by mages, sorcerers, alchemists, witches, and psychics. Good thing this lame-o human is adaptable, right?

Then my favorite guild members--three sexy, powerful, and intermittently charming mages--asked for my help. Did they want access to my encyclopedic knowledge of cocktails? Oh no. They wanted to wrap me up in a pretty ribbon and plunk me in the crosshairs of a murderous rogue to lure him out of hiding.

So that's what we did. And that's why I'm here. About to be kidnapped. Oh, and our grand plan for safely capturing said murderous rogue? Yeah, that completely fell apart about two minutes ago.

Why did I agree to this again?-Goodreads

Review: In book 2 of the Spellbound series, Tori is still working as a bartender at the guild and now has 3 close guy friends. Things are looking up for her. They ask for her help and she’s more than happy to jump in. Of course, things don’t go according to plan. A fun, follow up to the first book.

Grade: 3/5 

Three Mages and Margarita

Book: Three Mages and a Margarita

Series: Guild Codex #1

Author: Annette Marie

Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.

It went downhill the moment they asked me to do a trial shift instead of an interview - to see if I'd mesh with their "special" clientele. I think that part went great. Their customers were complete dickheads, and I was an asshole right back. That's the definition of fitting in, right?

I expected to get thrown out on my ass. Instead, they...offered me the job?

It turns out this place isn't a bar. It's a guild. And the three cocky guys I drenched with a margarita during my trial? Yeah, they were mages. Either I'm exactly the kind of takes-no-sh*t bartender this guild needs, or there's a good reason no one else wants to work here.

So what's a broke girl to do? Take the job, of course - with a pay raise. -Goodreads

Review: Tori cannot hold down a job. She has horrible customer service skills, is almost broke and sleeping on her brother’s couch. But she ends up landing a bartending job at a club that turns out to be a magic guild with supernatural clientele. Tori is sassy with a strong personality and this series definitely has potential.

Grade: 3/5 

Malibu Rising

Book: Malibu Rising

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.-Goodreads

Review: 1983: supermodel Nina Riva is hosting her annual end-of-summer party. It’s “the” party of the season and everyone wants to be around Nina and her siblings. Taylor Jenkins Reid once again proves she is a talented writer with this book. I was really drawn into the story of the Rivas and the events leading up to this epic party that resulted in a major fire. I also love how she tied in characters from ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, very well done.

Grade: 4/5 

Golden Girl

Book: Golden Girl

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she's assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.
-Goodreads

Review: Vivian Howe is jogging near her home in Nantucket when she is killed in a hit and run. Before ascending to heaven, she has a handler of sorts and is granted a specific number of viewing windows and 3 “nudges” to influence outcomes in earth. We as readers following the police chief trying to solve the crime of who killed Viv, her ex-husband, his current girlfriend and Viv’s 3 children as they try to navigate life after her death. I didn’t particularly like Viv but this was very well written, especially seeing her children in the aftermath. They were very well developed characters.

Grade: 4/5 

Emerald Blaze

Book: Emerald Blaze

Series: Hidden Lagacy #5

Author: Ilona Andrews

As Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won't rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that's tearing their world apart.-Goodreads

Review:  Cataline and Alessandro! Love the chemistry between these two and of course, the entire Baylor family. The mystery was good in this installment and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Can’t wait for the next in the series.

Grade: 4/5

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Perfect Family

Book: The Perfect Family

Author: Robyn Harding

Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….-Goodreads

Review: Thomas and Viv seem perfect. They both have successful careers, a beautiful house and 2 perfect children. But nothing is ever as it seems. Everyone has secrets and when the house starts being vandalized, things start bubbling to the surface. Well paced and kept me engaged.

Grade: 4/5 

It Happened One Summer

Book It Happened One Summer

Series: Bellinger Sisters #1

Author: Tessa Bailey

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar... in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart.-Goodreads

Review: Piper, a rich party girl, is shipped off to a small fishing town in Washington after her latest antics embarrass her step-father. There, she meets Brendan, a widowed fisherman and romance blooms. This is essentially Alexis from Schitt’s Creek but it was pretty cute and enjoyable.

Grade: 3.5/5 

In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

Book: In My Dreams I Hold a Knife

Author: Ashley Winstead

Six friends.
One college reunion.
One unsolved murder.

A college reunion turns dark and deadly in this chilling and propulsive suspense novel about six friends, one unsolved murder, and the dark secrets they’ve been hiding from each other—and themselves—for a decade.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent—not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year. Ten years ago, everything fell apart, including the dreams she worked for her whole life—and her relationship with the one person she wasn’t supposed to love.

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.-Goodreads


Review: Jessica is heading back to college for her 10 year reunion. But
 10 years ago, one of her best friend’s was brutally murdered. One of their friend’s was suspected of the crime but what really happened? I saw a lot of myself in Jessica (the “poor” student surrounded by wealthy friends at an expensive school, perfectionist tendencies). The plot was fast paced and I didn’t guess the ending. Loved it!

Grade: 5/5 

The Damage

Book: The Damage

Author: Caitlin Wahrer

Tony has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when he's called to a hospital bed where Nick is lying battered and bruised after a violent sexual assault, his protective instincts flare, and a white-hot rage begins to build.

As a small-town New England lawyer, Tony's wife, Julia, has cases involving kids all the time. When Detective Rice gets assigned to this one, Julia feels they're in good hands. Especially because she senses that Rice, too, understands how things can quickly get complicated. Very complicated.

After all, one moment Nick was having a drink with a handsome stranger; the next, he was at the center of an investigation threatening to tear not only him, but his entire family, apart. And now his attacker, out on bail, is disputing Nick's version of what happened.

As Julia tries to help her brother-in-law, she sees Tony's desire for revenge, to fix things for Nick, getting out of control. Tony is starting to scare her. And before long, she finds herself asking: does she really know what her husband is capable of? Or of what she herself is?-Goodreads

Review: How far will you go for revenge? After his younger brother is brutally assaulted, a man and his attorney wife must face this head on. This was a well written family drama that I was certain I had figured out, but all was not what it seemed.

Grade: 4/5 

Love After Love

Book: Love After Love

Author: Ingrid Persaud

After Betty Ramdin's husband dies, she invites a colleague, Mr. Chetan, to move in with her and her son, Solo. Over time, the three become a family, loving each other deeply and depending upon one another. Then, one fateful night, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan and learns a secret that plunges him into torment.

Solo flees Trinidad for New York to carve out a lonely existence as an undocumented immigrant, and Mr. Chetan remains the singular thread holding mother and son together. But soon, Mr. Chetan's own burdensome secret is revealed, with heartbreaking consequences. Love After Love interrogates love and family in all its myriad meanings and forms, asking how we might exchange an illusory love for one that is truly fulfilling.-Goodreads

Review: This was a surprisingly emotional book about Betty, a single mom in Trinidad, her best friend and roommate Mr. Chetan and Betty’s son, Solo. This was well written, engaging and I really connected with the characters. 

Grade: 4/5 

A Fistful of Charms

Book: A Fistful of Charms

Series: The Hallows #4

Author: Kim Harrison

The evil night things that prowl Cincinnati despise witch and bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. Her new reputation for the dark arts is turning human and undead heads alike with the intent to possess, bed, and kill her -- not necessarily in that order.

Now a mortal lover who abandoned Rachel has returned, haunted by his secret past. And there are those who covet what Nick possesses -- savage beasts willing to destroy the Hollows and everyone in it if necessary.

Forced to keep a low profile or eternally suffer the wrath of a vengeful demon, Rachel must nevertheless act quickly. For the pack is gathering for the first time in millennia to ravage and to rule. And suddenly more than Rachel's soul is at stake. -Goodreads

Review: The good? Rachel, Jenks and Ivy. The bad? More Nick in this installment, ugh. No Trent in this one, either (I want more Trent!). ARG! Still a fun read.

Grade: 3/5 

Every Which Way But Dead

Book: Every Which Way but Dead

Series: The Hallows #3

Author: Kim Harrison

There's no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who's already put her love life and soul in dire jeopardy through her determined efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice.

Between "runs," she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a hot new vamp suitor.

Rachel must also take a stand in the war that's raging in the city's underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin - and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation.

And now her dark "master" is coming to collect his due.-Goodreads

Review: Rachel’s heart is almost always in the right place but she makes dubious decisions along the way. I’m interested to see how the relationship between Ivy and Rachel will turn out based on how the vampires are within this world. Definitely a different take from other urban fantasy series.

Grade: 3/5