Monday, April 30, 2018

Review: The Music of the Deep

The Music of the Deep by Elizabeth Hall

Publication Date: 04/17/2018
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Imprint: Lake Union
Genre: Women's Fiction
Pages: 288
ISBN-13978-1503954687

(Received for an honest review from Lake Union via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Elizabeth Hall on the WEB: Website, Goodreads

Excerpt from The Music of the Deep, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis

Fleeing an abusive marriage and tormented by her past, Alexandra Turner finds solace in a small coastal town on Puget Sound and a job with a local marine biologist studying orcas.
After befriending a group of locals, Alex learns that she has moved to a place that has a reputation of being the “most haunted town in Washington.” Such superstitions would be easy to dismiss…if Alex wasn’t already on edge.
Haunted by shreds of memories of her days with her husband, Alex can’t keep from looking over her shoulder. As unexplained sounds and scents accumulate and unnerving forces seem to take hold, Alex is beginning to believe that she’s not escaping her ghosts, after all. In fact, she might finally be inviting them in.

Thoughts:

Elizabeth Hall brings readers the haunting tale of a woman escaping an abusive marriage. Alex Turner moves to the Puget Sound in search of peace and finds true friendship and community as well. Hall's voice is lyrical, descriptive and stirring. This novel not only delves into surviving abuse but also the plight of a J-Pod of Orca whales off the coast of Alex's new Pacific NorthWest home. Hall intertwines the subjects in such a way that the reader will be truly affected.

What I liked:

Abusive relationships are not something I have had to endure myself in my own life and I can't say that I have truly felt I understood why some women choose to stay with their abusers. In Elizabeth Hall's book, The Music of the Deep the reader sees how Alex's relationship with her husband Daniel deteriorates slowly and becomes so volatile that she feels both love for him and fear of him. I honestly felt like I came away from reading this novel with some clarity in my own mind about how this sort of thing happens and what motivations are behind the victim's actions. I thought Hall just had a way with allowing the reader to share in Alex's pain and to understand her as a character. 

I loved the friendships that Alex creates in her new home. From Maggie, the marine biologist she is working with to the local knitting club. Hall develops her characters slowly and with great depth. Little by little we learn more about these women and the lessons they learn from each other. The bonds between women are always something that intrigues me. The deep lasting friendships that women can create with each other are simply unexplainable and Hall really captured the essence of that idea in this book. 

I don't know about you guys but I have always been a big fan of whales. They are so large and majestic and beautiful. Hall is able to not only educate her readers about handling abusive situations in this novel but also to educate them about the plot of the killer whale population and what is happening to their ecosystem as we continue to ravage the oceans of her vital resources. I found myself very invested in the plight of this Pod and the whales who were fighting for their habitat. Hall affected me with her writing and I'm sure I won't be the only one. Such a well written side theme to a very good novel.

What I didn't like:

The book blurb is slightly misleading. Some readers will pick this book up with the thought that it will center on the "haunting" paranormal aspects of the town that Alex has moved to. Though this is discussed in the book it is a minor theme and the blurb should have projected more of the true synopsis of the book.

I didn't really feel as though this book was necessarily women's fiction. When I think of that genre this is not a book that I feel falls in that niche. Yes, the protagonist is a woman and she does make friendships and grows immensely within the book, but somehow it didn't quite seem to fit. It was not a beach read or a cutesy novel. This one had some substance to it and some mystery, some informative aspects. There was just a lot more to it.

Bottom Line:

This is a good read. It doesn't fit the description given but it was very well written, engaging and informative. It was about a whole lot more than a possibly haunted town. If you picked it for that reason you are still gonna get a really good book, so no harm, no foal. I can't say that I totally related to the main character, Alex but I really liked her. And I understood her battles within herself. I loved the friendship aspect of this book and the Orca theme was exceptional. Give this one a try. It's a perfect book club pick, but maybe a little different from most women's fiction titles you might pick up. 

The Music of the Deep is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag



About the Author:

Elizabeth Hall spent most of her life in the mountains of Colorado. She has worked as a teacher and communications consultant, including hosting, writing, and producing the radio show Heart of the West (KRZA, Alamosa) and producing an oral history compilation for the Great Sand Dunes National Park. She now lives in the Pacific NW.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Review: Inquistion

Inquisition (Jack Howard - Book 10) by David Gibbins

Publication Date: 04/10/2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Imprint: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 288
ISBN-13: 978-1250080646

(Received for an honest review from St. Martin's via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

David Gibbins on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Jack Howard

  1. Atlantis
  2. Crusader Gold
  3. The Last Gospel (aka. The Lost Tomb)
  4. The Tiger Warrior
  5. The Mask of Troy
  6. The Gods of Atlantis (aka. Atlantis God)
  7. Pharaoh
  8. Pyramid
  9. Testament
10. Inquisition 

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.



Excerpt from Inquisition, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

The latest Jack Howard thriller from internationally bestselling mastermind David Gibbins.
258
As the blood of martyred Christians runs through Rome's catacombs, Pope Sixtus entrusts their most sacred object to a devoted follower. Soon after, the Holy Grail disappears into the darkness of time.
1684 
While overseeing the evacuation of the English colony of Tangier, Samuel Pepys attempts to retrieve a treasure which has resurfaced after more than a thousand years. Meanwhile, a Jewish merchant is tortured by the Altamanus, a secret group determined to locate the Grail.

Present Day
A wreck off the Cornish coast reveals clues to a mystery that marine archaeologist Jack Howard had thought beyond solving. He embarks on an epic quest that takes him to the sunken ruins of the pirate city of Port Royal in Jamaica. But the specter of the deadly Inquisition dogs his every step, and Jack must face a descent into hell itself if he is to uncover the greatest reward in Christendom.
Gibbins, who has led numerous underwater archeology expeditions around the world, writes with an authority that makes “the astounding seem more than plausible” (Parmenion Books). This latest Jack Howard novel brings together historical details and a thrilling plot for an action-packed adventure.

Thoughts:

If you've never had the pleasure of reading about David Gibbins character, Jack Howard you're missing out. Inquisition is the latest book in the Jack Howard series and Gibbins once again brings readers a book that is a mixture of history, science, mystery and thrills. This author's writing is equal parts exciting and thought provoking. The brutality of the Inquisition is the backdrop to this book which has everything from pirate ships to secret societies. A must reader for thriller fans. 

What I liked:

This book gave me all kinds of interesting comparison's. Main character Jack Howard had me thinking about bull whips and leather jackets. He reminded me of my other favorite archaeologist... Indiana Jones with maybe a hint of Laura Croft mixed in for those readers who prefer a female badass. But this time we have a marine archaeologist. Which was a pleasant and interesting surprise. I thought Gibbins did a great job with this aspect of the main characters career and motivations. It's certainly easy to tell that Gibbins has dabbled in this kind of work himself. It gave the character an authenticity you don't often find in thrillers. Jack Howard is one of those very interesting people you might meet that come across as academic and nerdy, but they aren't afraid to seek adventure. Great lead character.

I'm always a fan of a book that brings history to the forefront and this one really does. From the title readers will know the time period. The Inquisition was a brutal time in the history of the church and many innocent lives were lost. I liked the fact that Gibbin's dives into the history surrounding the Inquisition and does not sugar coat what was happening in the world at that time. The book shifts back and forth through history as the past is tied to the present while Jack is on the trail of the "holy grail". It was such an interesting historical mystery and Gibbins is able to make it completely plausible that the "grail" existed both then and now. Just a very good mix of historical background and theory.

Secret societies are always so fun to read about. In this book the Altamanus is the bad guy group that is after the "grail" along with Howard. But these guys are not beyond doing some pretty dastardly things to get what they want. As far as villians go, I think Gibbins finds a group that none of us would like to mess with. Serious Illuminati feels here. When belief in something overrides good sense. It added the required conflict and thrills needed to make the chase for the "grail" realistic and scary in a fight for your life kind of way.

What I didn't like:

There were moments where I felt a little out of my element with this book. There were some technical terms I seriously thought about looking up and bringing a dictionary along isn't fun. But also felt a learned a few new things as well. It's all in how you look at it, I suppose. 

There was a lot of excitement and thrills but where were also times when the book dragged a little. There was a ton of history to be imparted as well as mystery and I think that led to a percentage of the book that might not hold the interest of some readers. I liked it, but not it won't be everyone's cup of tea. But it's worth the slow parts to get to the thrilling parts. Hang in there with it and you'll love the outcome.

Bottom Line:

Great lead character, tons of historical background and leanings toward Tombraider, Indiana Jones and even the Da Vinci Code. If that kind of book is your jam... this one will do it for you. I loved Jack, so nerdy but still so adventurous. Gibbins' gives the historical mystery fans exactly what they want with this one. Very informative and interesting. 

Inquisition is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag



About the Author:

DAVID GIBBINS is the internationally bestselling author of ten Jack Howard novels, which have sold over three million copies worldwide and is published in thirty languages, and the Total War historical novels. He has a PhD from Cambridge University and taught archaeology. He is a world authority on ancient shipwrecks and sunken cities. He has led numerous expeditions to investigate underwater sites around the world. He currently divides his time between fieldwork, England and Canada.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Review: The Family Gathering

The Family Gathering (Sullivan's Crossing - Book 3) by Robyn Carr

Publication Date: 04/17/2018
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: Mira
Genre: Women's Fiction
Pages: 352
ISBN-13978-0778330769

(Received for an honest review from Mira via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Robyn Carr on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Sullivan's Crossing

1. What We Find
2. Any Day Now
3. The Family Gathering

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.



Excerpt from The Family Gathering, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

An exceptional storyteller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr beautifully captures the emotionally charged, complex dynamics that come with being part of any family. Readers will laugh and shed a few tears as they discover what it means to be loved, supported and accepted by the people who mean the most.

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.


Thoughts:

Robyn Carr brings readers a novel about families and the bonds that hold them together. The Family Gathering is the third book in the Sullivan's Crossing series and shares the heartfelt emotion and love that every Robyn Carr book has. Carr has a way of storytelling that you won't soon forget. With amazing characters and real life situations, Carr draws the reader in and holds them to the very end. Readers looking for a read that will make them smile, cry a little and feel genuinely satisfied after, will love this one.

What I liked:

I don't know about you guys, but I have serious soft spot for military men. Their heart for service and love for family and country is something that speaks to me. In Robyn Carr's latest book, The Family Gathering she gives reader a main character that may not be perfect but he has a good heart and a code of honor. Dakota Jones is one of my favorite leading men ever, from Carr's writings. The character embodies the idea of a man who wants to come to terms with his past and build a future that matters. After his unexpected exit from the Army, Dakota comes to Colorado where some of his sibling's have settled. It's an eye opening experience as he begins to really get to know his family. I loved the way Carr was able to show how important family is and what each person adds to the mix. Such a good character.

The family dynamic in this book is just wonderful. These kids went through an intense childhood together but never really got to know each other as adults. I know that feeling from my own experience. My family is close knit but I don't often feel that I know my siblings as people. I loved that Carr explores the ins and outs of the family bond in this novel. Though it is a romance as most of Carr's books are, the idea of family and what that means is weaved heavily throughout the book and it's such a nice aspect of it. I loved seeing Dakota interact with his brothers and sisters and how that changed him as a man.

Mental illness is not something you often see tackled in a romance novel. But in The Family Gathering, sister Sedona is dealing with the possibility that she is dealing with schizophrenia passed down from her father. The family gathers close around her and how they work through this situation is heartrending. I felt like I had actually learned quite a bit about a disease that most people don't really want to talk about. Carr not only entertains with this book but also educates and that's a pretty big challenge.

The romance was really kind of secondary for me. It was really good. I liked Sid. She was spunky and sassy and just the right compliment to Dakota. She had some issues of her own and she had to deal with the other single women being after Dakota, but she really held her own. I was so happy that Dakota was able to see himself with someone and settle down. That was very satisfying. But the family relationships in this novel were everything. It was nice to see how Sid fit in with this dynamic family group.

What I didn't like:

Why is it that a new single guy in a small town is fresh meat? And what's more, Dakota becomes stalker bait. I'm not faulting Robyn Carr's writing at all. It's the truth of what often happens. Are we that desperate people? lol... I'm not. Hope you aren't either.

Bottom Line:

Such a good book. I love Carr's writing. She is one of my favorites and this book really showed her ability as a writer. The family bonds were amazing. I loved watching these siblings get to know each other in real and meaningful ways. I loved how they pulled together for Sedona and I hope that Carr returns to Sullivan's Crossing again soon. I haven't had quite enough of this family yet. You'll be hooked for sure once you read the first page. 

The Family Gathering is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag



About the Author:

Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, eleven-time #1 New York Times bestselling author of almost sixty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. The third novel (THE FAMILY GATHERING) in her fan-favorite new series, Sullivan's Crossing, will be released in April 2018. Robyn is a recipient of the Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 and in 2017, VIRGIN RIVER was named one of the HarperCollins 200 Iconic Books of the past 200 years. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr's website at www.RobynCarr.com.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: Somebody's Daughter

Somebody's Daughter by Rochelle B. Weinstein

Publication Date: 04/17/2018
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Imprint: Lake Union
Genre: Women's Fiction
Pages: 320
ISBN-13978-1503949256

(Received for an honest review from Lake Union via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Rochelle B. Weinstein on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Somebody's Daughter, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:


From USA Today bestselling author Rochelle B. Weinstein comes an emotional novel for mothers, daughters, and anyone who has ever felt imperfect.
Emma and Bobby Ross enjoy a charmed life on the shores of Miami Beach. They are a model family with a successful business, an uncomplicated marriage, and two blessedly typical twin daughters, Zoe and Lily. They are established members of a tight-knit community.
Then, on the night of the girls’ fifteenth birthday party, they learn of Zoe’s heartbreaking mistake—a private and humiliating indiscretion that goes viral and thrusts her and her family into the center of a shocking public scandal.
As the family’s core is shattered by disgrace, judgment, and retribution, the fallout takes its toll. But for Emma, the shame runs deeper. Her daughter’s reckless behavior has stirred memories of her own secrets that could break a marriage and family forever.

Thoughts:

Rochelle B. Weinstein brings readers a poignant tale of one daughter's indiscretion and it's impact on her entire family. Somebody's Daughter delves into internet harassment and scandal. We all makes mistakes but nowadays if you do, you better hope nobody has their cell phone out. This is a very relevant and heartbreakingly common subject and Weinstein, does not shy away from the pain it causes. Not only readers with children, but anyone who is involved in social media in any way should read this book!

What I liked:

Having teenage daughters of my own, I was particularly interested in how this situation would be portrayed by the author. Weinstein was a new author for me and I was somewhat skeptical at how she might treat it. I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of understanding and compassion the author showed to this young character. Zoe is thrust into a situation she never expected to be in. She meets a boy at a party where alcohol is being served and the situation deteriorates from there. She's a fifteen year old girl who does a stupid thing. And I'm glad the author didn't disregard her feelings in all this. If something like this happened to one of my daughters I would hope that people be compassionate. 

What happens to Zoe at the party is not really what the book is centered on. It's the aftermath. In today's society with social media and the internet being used by just about everyone, this is a common problem. If you screw up it's likely caught on video by someone. Weinstein delves into the issues created within a family when one person is disgraced and it's all over social media. The laws regarding this kind of thing are lax and there is often no recourse. The author is about to really get to the heart of how something like this not affects the people involved but their families as well. 

I really felt tied to Emma and her pain in this situation. Not only is she dealing with what is happening to Zoe but it is also bringing up some old secrets within her own life that she must deal with. Weinstein gives the reader a mom who loves her child and is willing to do anything to protect her, but she also gives us a woman in a crisis of her own. I liked this very layered approach to the character and I thought it was wonderfully done. The reputation of not only her daughter was at stake but her entire family.

Weinstein has such good voice. Her writing style is smooth and seamless. I liked the way she was able to take a current and relevant subject and present it in a way that was engaging as a novel, but also compelling in human way. It made me rethink how I approach viewing 'scandalous' stories on the internet and how my own action of buying into the sensationalism of the story is in a way fueling the storm that this person or individual is dealing with. This one will make you think...

What I didn't like:

This is a tough subject and readers might find it a little heavy. It's not light reading because it could happen to anyone. I like books like this but if escape from the headlines and your daily grind is what you are after, this one might not be the ticket. 

Bottom Line:

Great plot. The story was engaging and really kept my interest throughout. I liked that it was current and relevant. Having daughters of my own made it strike a cord with me that doesn't often happen in fiction. The author is able to make the story come alive and allow the reader to share in it. I will definitely be reading more from Rochelle B. Weinstein in the future. Give it a try. I think you will really like her style.

Somebody's Daughter is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag



About the Author:


Rochelle B. Weinstein is the USA Today bestselling author of Where We FallThe Mourning After, and What We Leave Behind. Weinstein lives in South Florida with her husband and twin sons. She is currently writing her fifth novel, a love story based in the Florida Keys. Please visit her at www.rochelleweinstein.com.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: Shot in the Dark

Shot in the Dark (Coffeehouse Mystery - Book 17) by Cleo Coyle

Publication Date: 04/17/2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Berkley Prime Crime
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 352
ISBN-13978-0451488848

(Received for an honest review from Berkley Prime Crime)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Cleo Coyle on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series: (The highlighted links are to my reviews of these books)

Coffeehouse Mysteries

1. On What Grounds
2. Through the Grinder
3. Latte Trouble
4. Murder Most Frothy
5. Decaffeinated Corpse
6. French Pressed
7. Espresso Shot
8. Holiday Grind
9. Roast Mortem
10. Murder by Mocha
11. A Brew to a Kill
12. Holiday Buzz
13. Billionaire Blend
14. Once Upon a Grind
15. Dead to the Last Drop
16. Dead Cold Brew
17. Shot in the Dark

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from Shot in the Dark, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

From Cleo Coyle, the New York Times bestselling author of Dead Cold Brew, comes a delicious new entry in the "fun and gripping" (The Huffington Post) Coffeehouse Mysteries.
A new smartphone dating game turns the Village Blend into a hookup hot spot, until one dark night, when a gunshot leaves a dead body behind and the landmark coffeehouse becomes the center of a whole new scene--a crime scene. 

As Village Blend manager Clare Cosi attempts to finalize a date for her wedding, her ex-husband becomes addicted to making dates through smartphone swipes. Clare has mixed feelings about these quickie matchups happening in her coffeehouse. Even her octogenarian employer is selecting suitors by screenshot! But business is booming, and Clare works hard to keep the espresso shots flowing. Then one dark night, another kind of shot leaves a dead body for her to find.

The corpse is a successful entrepreneur who became notorious for his "hit it and quit it" behavior: prowling for women on dating apps, then devastating his conquests with morning-after insults. Though the NYPD quickly arrests one of his recent victims, Clare finds reason to believe she's been framed.

Now, with the help of her ex and crew of quirky baristas, Clare starts "swiping" through suspects in her own shop, determined to find the real killer before another shot rings out.

Includes a bang-up menu of tempting recipes.

Thoughts:

Are you a fan of a good cup of coffee? What about cozy coffee shops with lots of eclectic patrons? Do you have a taste for the big apple? Ever tried online dating? Are you an amateur sleuth in training? If any of these apply to you, then I've got a book for you! Cleo Coyle returns with the seventeenth book in the Coffeehouse Mystery series, Shot in the Dark. The Village Blend is ablaze with the latest craze... a dating app which names it the most romantic coffeeshop in the city for finding love. But not everybody finds a soulmate. Shots are fired and the mystery is on...

What I liked:

If you're a foodie like me, you like to find great little out of the way places that serve more than just coffee. They serve 'atmosphere'. The Village Blend is one of those places. Every time I read one of Cleo Coyle's Coffeehouse mysteries, I wish there was a coffeeshop like this one in my area. This little shop in Greenwich Village is captivating in every aspect. From the amazing coffee to the pastries, to the eclectic characters that populate it. I always feel like I learn even more about New York, when I return to the Village Blend and the latest book is no exception. Shot in the Dark not only provides a good mystery, but as usual, it imparts more than just a whodunit. Coyle must do a ton of research for every book. They are so authentic and so New York. Setting is everything.

One of the best parts of a new Coffeehouse Mystery is the plethora of new characters that Coyle introduces in each one. Shot in the Dark is all about bringing people together. In this case a new smartphone dating app is the latest craze. I love how Coyle is able to take new characters and intersperse them with the recurring characters and make it all seem so seamless. I started reading this one wondering which one of these characters was gonna go off the rails first. I constantly try to outwit this author and figure it out before the end, but I never have any luck with these. There are so many twists and turns and interesting details that it's nearly impossible to figure it out until the end. That's a hallmark of a good cozy mystery. 

Clare is the ultimate amateur sleuth. If I found myself on the wrong end of an investigation I think I'd trust her judgement more than the detectives. This is a character that Coyle has really perfected throughout the series. I've always liked her feisty New York attitude and the way her mind works is so fun to read about. I love all of the relationships she has built along with way and the interactions she has with each person. Clare may be new to some readers but I guarantee once you read about her in this one, you'll going back to read the others. 

The mystery as usual was amazingly written. Coyle never ceases to amaze when it comes to new plots and ideas. You'd think seventeen books in a series might get a little stale. Not so, with this one. I think they get better with each new addition to the series. Coyle is always able to keep the stories relevant as well as entertaining. I liked the dating app angle. I mean that's something that is really popular right now and I love that Coyle always stays on top of things. Her books are always current and full of surprises.

What I didn't Like:

I know that online dating is all the craze. People have more opportunities to meet people than ever before. Maybe it's a good thing, maybe it's not. Some people will like exploring this avenue for a mystery and some readers may kind it a little too cliche or cutesy. I thought the author did a great job of showing the benefits and the dangers. 

Bottom Line:

This is one of the best cozy mystery series out there. If you haven't tried the Coffehouse Mysteries, it's high time you did. Coyle's books are always relevant, current and interesting. They mystery aspects are so well written the descriptive language alone is to die for lol... You can't go wrong with a Shot in the Dark, such a great addition to the series. Don't let the number 17 be daunting to you, you don't have to read the others first. But I bet you'll go back and pick them up later. Too good to pass up!

Shot in the Dark is available NOW from your favorite bookseller

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag




About the Author:


 Cleo Coyle is a pseudonym for Alice Alfonsi, writing in collaboration with her husband, Marc Cerasini. Both are New York Times bestselling authors of the Coffeehouse Mysteries—now celebrating more than ten years in print. As Alice Kimberly, they also write the nationally bestselling Haunted Bookshop Mysteries. Alice has worked as a journalist in Washington, D.C., and New York, and has written popular fiction for adults and children. A former magazine editor, Marc has authored espionage thrillers and nonfiction for adults and children. Alice and Marc are also bestselling media tie-in writers who have penned properties for Lucasfilm, NBC, Fox, Disney, Imagine, and MGM. They live and work in New York City, where they write independently and together.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Swimming Between Worlds

Swimming Between Worlds by Elaine Neil Orr

Publication Date: 04/03/2018
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Imprint: Berkley
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 416
ISBN-13978-0425282731

(Received for an honest review from Berkley via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound

Elaine Neil Orr on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from Swimming Between Worlds, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

From the critically acclaimed writer of A Different Sun, a Southern coming-of-age novel that sets three very different young people against the tumultuous years of the American civil rights movement...

Tacker Hart left his home in North Carolina as a local high school football hero, but returns in disgrace after being fired from a prestigious architectural assignment in West Africa. Yet the culture and people he grew to admire have left their mark on him. Adrift, he manages his father's grocery store and becomes reacquainted with a girl he barely knew growing up.

Kate Monroe's parents have died, leaving her the family home and the right connections in her Southern town. But a trove of disturbing letters sends her searching for the truth behind the comfortable life she's been bequeathed.

On the same morning but at different moments, Tacker and Kate encounter a young African-American, Gaines Townson, and their stories converge with his. As Winston-Salem is pulled into the tumultuous 1960s, these three Americans find themselves at the center of the civil rights struggle, coming to terms with the legacies of their pasts as they search for an ennobling future.


Thoughts:

Author Elaine Neil Orr brings readers a novel set during the turbulent civil rights movement of the 1960's. Swimming Between Worlds is part romance, part political drama. Racial tensions and segregation were at an all time high when three young people from different walks of life, come together in a way that will change their lives forever. Swimming Between Worlds is a compelling novel that will draw readers back in time and make them consider the question of race and how it relates to us today, in a whole new way. A necessary novel!

What I liked:

Ok, i'll be the first to admit that most of the books I review do not generally have such an emotional and deep subject. Racial tension in America is still high and people view it through very different lenses. I grew up in the South and most likely see it  differently than someone who is from say, New York, or even overseas. A book like this one by Elaine Neil Orr shines a light not only on what the country was going through during the height of the civil rights movement, but what we are still going through today. Things have certainly changed, but in someways remain the same. And that in my opinion is a sad fact. Swimming Between Worlds is a more complicated book than the usual fare here, but it is definitely one I won't soon forget.

Tacker was a high school star, prepared for greatness. He was poised to become a great architect until things go awry during an assignment in Nigeria. He comes home in a bit of disgrace and ends up managing his families local grocery store, but while he was abroad he became enmeshed with the Nigerian people and their culture. His return to the South makes him start to question the laws and the lack of rights of African American's in his own community. Tacker's character is basically starting to see his world in a way he is unused to and it has a profound affect on him. Orr basically creates a coming of age story but it's not about becoming a man it's more about becoming a human, if that makes sense. It's about finding your own truth in the midst of a world that is telling you something entirely different. Tacker's character to me, was like the person who has been blind to something, seeing it for the first time. Extremely, well drawn characters are one of Elaine Neil Orr's strengths in this novel.

The other two young people in the novel Kate and Gaines are also very well drawn and will strike cords within the reader as well. Kate is recovering from the loss of her parents and seeing her find out things she never knew about them through old letters is both emotional and stirring to the core. Kate is essentially adrift in her life and when she is left the family home and it's contents she begins to turn a corner of her own. One where she finds out what is most important in life. Her relationship with Tacker creates the love story in the book, but it certainly takes a back seat to the political arena and the tumultuous setting of the book.

Gaines a young black man, who pushes the boundaries of the Jim Crow laws. He knows that change will never come if no one takes a stand. He is the type of character we all wish we could be in some ways. We see something wrong and we fix it. But obviously, life is often not like that. It takes a special person to carry out the difficult things. To put their life in jeopardy to make life better for the next generation. I had great respect for this character and people like him. Orr does such an amazing job of bringing her characters to life. By the end of the book readers will feel like they know them. That their stories are somehow intertwined with their own. Such amazing writing!

What I didn't Like:

There isn't much I didn't like here. There were parts of it that certainly bothered me. There were parts that were eye opening and challenging. The deep stuff often makes us uncomfortable. I laughed in parts, cried in others and felt generally overwhelmed at times reading it. There was love between Tacker and Kate and great friendship and understanding with Gaines. I don't think there is much to dislike about this novel except our own stupid behavior. 

Bottom Line:

I thought Elaine Neil Orr did such an amazing job of comparing and contrasting what Tacker was seeing both in Nigeria and in North Carolina. Her storytelling is vivid and captivating and it honestly made me want to visit Nigeria for myself. Her descriptions of the culture and rituals were exceptional. But she also made me really think about how we as a country were treating other human beings and how we are still treating them. There were parts of this book that made me cringe, that made me ashamed and made me wish things were different. I wanted to be like Gaines, but sitting here reading a book or writing a blog post isn't important is it? But what if it were. What if using my own small platform could make a difference in some small way... Maybe that's what this book is really about. 

Don't miss this one, guys. It's one of those books that matter.

Swimming Between Worlds is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.  

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:

Elaine Neil Orr is professor of English at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she teaches world literature and creative writing. She also serves on the faculty of the low-residency MFA in Writing program at Spalding University in Louisville. Author of A Different Sun, two scholarly books, and the memoir Gods of Noonday: A White Girl's African Life, she has been a featured speaker and writer-in-residence at numerous universities and conferences and is a frequent fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She grew up in Nigeria.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Review: A Nantucket Wedding

A Nantucket Wedding by Nancy Thayer

Publication Date: 04/03/2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Ballantine Books
Genre: Women's Fiction, Romance
Pages: 320
ISBN-13978-1101967102

(Received for an honest review from Ballantine via Netgalley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Nancy Thayer on the WEB: Website, Blog, Twitter (Not updated), Facebook, Goodreads

Excerpt from A Nantucket Wedding, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

Wedding bells are ringing, a family is reunited, and new love is blooming—for better or worse—in this captivating novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Island House and Secrets in Summer.

A few years after losing her beloved husband, Alison is doing something she never thought she would do again: getting married. While placing the finishing touches on her summer nuptials, Alison is anxious to introduce her fiancĂ©, David, to her grown daughters: Felicity, a worried married mother of two, and Jane, also married but focused on her career. The sisters have a somewhat distant relationship and Alison hopes that the wedding and the weeks leading up to the ceremony will give the siblings a chance to reconnect, as well as meet and get to know David’s grown children.

As the summer progresses, it is anything but smooth sailing. Felicity stumbles upon a terrible secret that could shatter her carefully cultivated world. Jane finds herself under the spell of her soon-to-be stepbrother, Ethan, who is as charming as he is mysterious. And even Alison is surprised (and slightly alarmed) by her new blended family. Revelations, intrigue, resentments—as the Big Day approaches, will the promise of bliss be a bust?
     
Against the gorgeous backdrop of the sunswept island of Nantucket, Nancy Thayer sets the stage for a walk down the aisle no one will ever forget.


Thoughts:

Nancy Thayer doesn't disappoint with her latest book, A Nantucket Wedding. This is the story of a blended family and all of the challenges that go with it. There's nothing like a wedding to bring a family together, for better or for worse. Thayer's smooth style and wonderful descriptions of Nantucket Island make this one a perfect beach read. Readers looking for a book that delves into family relationships and bonds will truly enjoy this one!

What I liked:

Nancy Thayer's books always make me want to visit the area she is writing about. Nantucket seems like a such a picturesque place. Sometimes the setting of the book can take on the semblance of an actual character in the story and I think that happens in this one. Could the same tale have taken place somewhere else? Sure. But Thayer's attention to detail and her vivid descriptions are so captivating and engaging. It just makes the story that much more poignant.

Alison is my kind of lady. She has suffered loss in her life but she doesn't let that keep her down. When she opens her heart to love again, she finds it with David. I thought their relationship was just wonderful. There are certainly challenges when it comes to blended families and after reading this one i'm not sure it's better if the children are already grown or not lol... Alison always seems to keep a level head and try to be the peace maker of the group. I liked that she believed her wedding would bring everyone together in more ways than one and in the end it really did.

The relationship that begins to develop between sisters, Jane and Felicity was honestly my favorite part of the book. When the story starts they are quite distant from each other, but as it goes on they start to see each other in a different light. They begin to appreciate the struggles that each one of them is having and they relate to each other in unexpected ways. Sisters should be close. But that's often a very difficult road. I loved the fact that Thayer is able to show the situations and challenges of life with this one and how family can help.

The interactions between the adult children of Alison and the adult children of David, get a little complicated. Poppy, David's daughter is poised to take over his company and she and Alison don't exactly see eye to eye. Ethan, David's son is quite a flirt and his interactions with Jane were interesting and filled with uncertainty. Jane is struggling with her desire to have a child and her husband is not budging. Felicity's worries involve her workaholic husband. There are just so many things going on. I loved the whole dynamic of this blended bunch.

What I didn't like:

There is generally one character that doesn't make a reader warm and fuzzy. In this case, the husbands of both Jane and Felicity, might get under the readers skin. It will have nothing to do with Thayer's writing, it's just the circumstances of the story. But conflict must come from somewhere if you want a good read. P.S. one of these guys I still didn't like by the end. *wink*

Bottom Line:

This a great beach read. Or even on a day when you just don't want to venture out into the wide world. Snuggle up with a blanket, a good cup of Joe and devour this one. I loved the relationships that developed throughout the book and as usual Thayer stuns with her captivating characters and wonderful descriptive writing. A must read for Thayer fans and everybody else.

A Nantucket Wedding is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:

Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of A Nantucket Wedding, Secrets in Summer, The Island House, The Guest Cottage, An Island Christmas, Nantucket Sisters, A Nantucket Christmas, Island Girls, Summer Breeze, Heat Wave, Beachcombers, Summer House, Moon Shell Beach, and The Hot Flash Club. She lives on Nantucket.