Sunday, April 17, 2016

HAMILTON (2016)



Do you have your copy yet? If not, read more HERE.

FALLING IN LOVE (2015)


Falling in Love (Commissario Brunetti, #24)Falling in Love by Donna Leon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Coming full circle, Falling in Love features opera singer Flavia Petrelli who appeared in book one of this twenty-four book series. What readers appreciate in Donna Leon's series is the character of Commissario Guido Brunetti and his relationship with his family, colleagues, and Venice.

Flavia is back in Venice to sing the lead role in Tosca but someone is sending her flowers. Too many flowers. That have shown up in too many places.

I don't know much about opera but I do understand performing and a bit about singing so I found the story engaging.

An earlier review of another title in the series, A Sea of Troubles (2001) was also lukewarm.

ENTRY ISLAND (2015)


Entry IslandEntry Island by Peter May
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Peter May paints pictures with words to bring the reader into the world he has created. I started reading Entry Island expecting a modern day police procedural and was surprised to find the historical fiction aspect.

THE STORY: A murder has taken place on a small island off the coast of Quebec. Sime McKenzie finds himself assigned to the investigation team because the hundred or so people who live on Entry Island speak English not French.

What first appears as an open and shut case, takes an unexpected turn when Sime interviews the suspect and feels that he knows her.

Plagued by insomnia since his divorce, Sime's few hours of sleep contain vivid dreams composed of stories he heard as a child about his ancestor's life in Scotland.

WHAT I THOUGHT: My first Peter May book was The Blackhouse, part one of The Lewis Trilogy (The Lewis Man, The Chessmen). I always intended to read the other two books so when Entry Island appeared, I assumed it would be similar and, of course, in some ways it is.

Entry Island begins as a police procedural and morphs into historical fiction creating an engaging pastiche through the use of Sime's dreams and ancestral journals.

This may not appeal to all readers; but for those of us with roots in Scotland, who love journals, islands, and literate mysteries, it's a wonderful adventure.

The human characters are interesting and well-drawn but the most care is taken with the locations. Vivid word illustrations cause the reader to remember times they saw such a sunset or storm on the horizon. I found myself searching for pictures of the island on the internet. As much as I enjoyed the descriptive language, I sometimes had to force myself not to skip over it in pursuit of the story.

Obviously much research goes into May's works so there is the added pleasure of learning something new. The terror of the Highland Clearances in the 19th century resonates. My Mackay's left from Wick to come to Canada and eventually the United States around this time.

Although told in the third person, Sime's memories, dreams, and journal entries are told in the first person. Some reviewers pointed out the language was modern throughout. To that and some of the other criticisms, I would say forget your expectations (suspension of disbelief) and follow where the author leads you. You will have much more fun!

And I should admit that I was moved to tears many times. Peter May is gifted storyteller. You need to add his name to your list of authors to follow.

FIRST SENTENCE: "It is evident from the way the stones are set into the slope of the hill that industrious hands once toiled to make this pathway."

BOTTOM LINE: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love language, police procedurals, and historical fiction.

DISCLAIMER: Invited by NetGalley to request and receive this title for an honest review.

Title: Entry Island
Author: Peter May
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Publisher:  Quercus
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 544 pages
Copyright: September 15, 2015
ISBN-10: 162365663X
ISBN-13:  978-1623656638

Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:

  • the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
  • the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
  • the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France;
  • and several standalone books, including the multi award-winning Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK) and his latest Runaway (Quercus 2015).

He has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer. Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France. (from the author's web site)


Thursday, April 14, 2016

I LET YOU GO (2016)


I Let You GoI Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After writing reviews here for over eight years, you'd think I would have figured this out. Write about the book you just finished reading before starting the next one and entering a new world. Many a worthy title has never been reviewed because I moved on. I think the fact that I enjoyed discovering I Let You Go so much was what propelled me to start Peter May's Entry Island.

THE STORY: A terrible accident changes everything in an instant. With nothing to live for, Jenna Gray flees her life finding solace in the isolation of a remote village in Wales. Slowly she begins to heal, but her past isn't through with her yet. To say more might spoil the experience.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I have always read a lot of 'first' books especially thrillers and mysteries. Readers find the popular titles on their own. I have always wanted to be able to discover new possibilities.

I Let You Go is an outstanding debut. Clare Mackintosh has cleverly plotted a griping and unexpected story - one that has the power to keep you up way past your bedtime. 

Well-drawn, interesting characters populate a world in which the reader gets caught up. The author's description of the beauty and bleakness of the ocean cliffs in Wales is seductive. A sense of dread lies below the surface. Like Jenna, the reader must be alert. This is storytelling at its best.

Although I am getting tired of multiple voices, they work perfectly in this psychological tale. Alternating points of view between first person (Jenna and Ian) and third person (the police investigation), draw the reader into the stories of all the characters. As a matter of fact, the story threads developed for Detective Inspector Ray Stevens and his team, could lead one to suspect this may be the beginning of a series. We can only hope.

FIRST SENTENCE: "The wind flicks wet hair across her face, and she screws up her eyes against the rain."

BOTTOM LINE: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED especially for those who love psychological thrillers like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

DISCLAIMER: Invited by NetGalley to request and receive this title for an honest review.

Title: I Let You Go
Author: Claire Macintosh
Genre: Psychological thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 480 pages
Copyright: May 3, 2016
ISBN-10: 1101987499
ISBN-13: 978-1101987490

Claire Macintosh spent twelve years in the UK police force, including time on CID, and as a public order commander. She left the police in 2011 to work as a freelance journalist and social media consultant, and now writes full time.

Clare is the founder of Chipping Norton Literary Festival, and lives in the Cotswolds, UK, with her husband and their three children. (from AMAZON)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

BUZZ BOOKS 2016 SPRING/SUMMER


Buzz Books 2016/Spring/Summer: Exclusive Excerpts from 40 Top New TitlesBuzz Books 2016/Spring/Summer: Exclusive Excerpts from 40 Top New Titles by Publishers Lunch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A seductive preview of the best of the new books for the season and it's FREE!

First introduced for the 2012 Book Expo America, the FREE digital Publishers Lunch Buzz Books has become the place for both industry professionals and book lovers in general to discover and read about the books expected to spark high demand BEFORE they are published!

There are 40 spring and summer books for adults in this edition of Buzz Books. A second volume handling the burgeoning young adult titles is available.

The Introduction gives a nice overview of the upcoming publishing season broken down by literary fiction, debut fiction, commercial fiction, and followed by non-fiction conversation starters, memoir & biography.

What's really great is that after many selections, you have the option to follow a link and request the complete galley copy from Net Galley if you qualify as a 'professional' reader.

The fiction titles that caught my eye included Stewart O'Nan's City of Secrets (Viking, April), Emma Straub's Modern Lovers (Riverhead Books, August), and I have already received a copy of Anna Quinlin's Miller's Valley (Random House, April). Commercial Fiction included Laura Lippman's Wilde Lake (William Morrow, May ) and I've already received, read, and reviewed Linwood Barclay's Far From True (NAL, March), the second entry in the Promise Falls Trilogy.

I also have received a copy of Sara Baume's Spill Simmer Falter Wither (HMH, March) to read.

In non-fiction, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter's Hamilton (Grand Central, April) is all about the musical and its making!

Check out Buzz Books on Amazon. Did I mention it's FREE!

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR AVID BOOK READERS EVERYWHERE!

FAR FROM TRUE (2016)


Far From True (Promise Falls #2)Far From True by Linwood Barclay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unexpected twists and interesting characters populate Linwood Barclay thrillers. This is the second entry in a trilogy set in Promise Falls.

THE STORY: Once again Linwood Barclay delivers an unexpected and ultimately shocking opening. A group of teens are planning to attend a final showing at the local drive-in theater, smuggling in beer and one of their friends in the car trunk. They are in line when there is an explosion, the screen collapses, and people are killed. The reader is hooked! From there the author begins feeding out various story lines. The daughter of one of the victims asks Cal Weaver, a private investigator, to help solve a break-in at her father's house where he finds a hidden room. Meanwhile Detective Barry Duckworth is trying to solve two murders, one three years old, that he suspects are linked. And lurking in the background is the ominous Mr. 23.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Although Barclay is a master at plotting and making threads weave together, this entry in the series introduces so many characters that it takes some serious work to keep everything straight. Some reviewers thought the story could stand alone, but I disagree. Not only are there cliff hangers from Broken Promise, the first title in the series, there are reoccurring characters from many of Barclay's earlier books. For me, part of the fun was running into them and recalling their back stories.

FIRST SENTENCE: "They ain't seen nothin' yet."

BOTTOM LINE: Don't read this one as a stand alone. At the very least, read Broken Promise first so you're ready for the conclusion due out in November of 2016. Personally I would suggest reading one of his stand alone thrillers. Two I enjoyed were Trust Your Eyes and Never Look Away. Linwood Barclay is a good writer with compelling stories. Highly recommended.

DISCLAIMER: Invited by NetGalley to request and receive this title for an honest review.

Title: Far From True
Author: Linwood Barclay
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: NAL
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 480 pages
Copyright: March 22, 2016
ISBN-10: 0451472705
ISBN-13: 978-0451472700

Linwood Barclay is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of fourteen critically acclaimed novels, including Broken Promise, No Safe HouseA Tap on the Window, Trust Your Eyes, which has been optioned for film, Never Look Away, which has been optioned for television, and No Time for Goodbye.  (from Amazon)


Thursday, January 14, 2016

ANGELS BURNING (2016)


Angels BurningAngels Burning by Tawni O'Dell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 2014 I read my first Tawni O'Dell. After just a few pages of One of Us, I wondered why I had never heard of her before. Then I learned that her first published book Back Roads had been an Oprah Book Club selection.

THE STORY: A fifty year old mine fire forced residents to abandon Campbell's Run years earlier. Now someone has tried to hide the body of a teenage girl in one of the fiery surface holes.

Fifty year old Chief of Police Dove (named after the soap) Carnahan narrates how the gruesome death of Cami Truly affects the nearby small town of Buchanan, Pennsylvania and its residents. The investigation brings unwelcome memories of the murder and trial of Dove's mother when she was a teenager. Complicating her life are a relationship with Police Detective Nolan Greely and unexpected family problems.

WHAT I THOUGHT: First of all, any author who can work Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets into a story using it as a paint color has my undying allegiance. And I've always been fascinated by the ghost town of  Centralia, Pennsylvania on which Campbell's Run is based. Beyond that, I marked a number of quotes - some touching and some funny like this one, "My ability to arouse passion in men who arouse nothing is me is the stuff of legends."

Family secrets, lies, and people trying to escape their roots in rural Pennsylvania are recurring themes in O'Dell's stories. In Angels Burning she has created another compelling psychological thriller, with memorable characters. You don't doubt she knows these people. It's the details that make the story resonate. Unsettling issues are handled well which makes the reader feel safe.

There were several compelling story lines that weren't actually wrapped up which led me to suspect (and later verify) that there will be more adventures for Dove!

FIRST SENTENCE: "The last time I was this close to Rudy Mayfield he was leaning across the seat of his dad's truck trying to grope my recently ripened breasts."

BOTTOM LINE: A highly recommended literate mystery.

DISCLAIMER: Invited by NetGalley to request and receive this title for an honest review. Also have to admit I grew up and lived many years in Pennsylvania and that it will always be my home.

Title: Angels Burning
Author: Tawni O'Dell
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Gallery Books
Rating:4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 288 pages
Copyright: January 5, 2016
ISBN-10: 1501132547
ISBN-13: 978-1501132544

Tawni O’Dell is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including Back Roads, which was an Oprah’s Book Club pick and a Book-of-the-Month Club Main Selection. She is also a contributor to several anthologies, including Becoming Myself: Reflections on Growing Up Female. Her works have been published in more than forty countries. (from Amazon)