Saturday, August 1, 2015

THE TRUTH ACCORDING TO US (2015)


The Truth According to UsThe Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading too many thrillers this summer, The Truth According to Us was a wonderful respite. I found it charming and readable although I have to agree with other reviewers that it's a bit longer than necessary.

THE STORY:  When she refuses to marry her father's choice for a husband,  wealthy Layla Beck is banished to the fictional town of Macedonia, W.Va. where she must write a history for the W.P.A. (Federal Writers' Project). Renting a room from the Romeyns, she finds a different way of life and discovers a talent for writing. But there are secrets that threaten to destroy the family she has come to love.

WHAT I THOUGHT: What a perfect book to read during the summer! The author creates the Southern small town of our imaginations, filled with people we could sit on a front porch with drinking lemonade and fanning away the heat.

The Romeyn family has secrets going back many years. The reader is introduced to clues and suspicions through the curiosity of twelve-year-old Willa, her Aunt Jottie's reminiscences, and letters written to and from Layla Beck, the outsider. All the characters are well-drawn. The writing is evocative and the message about the harm secrets can inflict is incisive.

FIRST SENTENCE: "In 1938, the year I was twelve, my hometown of Macedonia, West Virginia, celebrated its sesquicentennial, a word I thought had to do with fruit fro the longest time."

BOTTOM LINE: If you like to escape into books and visit another time, I highly recommended spending some time in Macedonia, W.Va. with the Romeyns

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

Title: The Truth According to Us
Author: Annie Barrows
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: The Dial Press
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages:512 pages
Copyright: June 9, 2015
ISBN-10: 0385342942
ISBN-13: 978-0385342940

Annie Barrows, an American editor and author, is best known for the Ivy and Bean series of children's books and for being the co-author (with her late Aunt, Mary Ann Shaffer) of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

DEVIL'S BRIDGE (2015)


Devil's Bridge (Alexandra Cooper, #17)Devil's Bridge by Linda Fairstein
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's been a little more than a year since I read Linda Fairstein's Terminal City (2014). Before that I had read Dark Angel (2013).  My reaction each time is the same. The best part of her books is New York City and the historical details she works into the story.

In Devil's Bridge, Fairstein continues her winning formula with this 17th entry in the Alexandra Cooper series. This time her focus is the Manhattan waterfront, the Statue of Liberty, the George Washington Bridge, and Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse.

Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cooper specialized in crimes against women and children. The plot is a disappearance and how it is solved. What's interesting for this outing is the story is told from Detective Mike Chapman's point of view as he scrambles to find Coop. Friends for many years, they have recently settled into a more intimate relationship.

It takes a long time before the historical information starts showing up, which is my favorite part. Unfortunately I don't care for the characters very much and that includes Alexandra Cooper. I have noted before that she is treated like a child and this story perpetuates that notion. Perhaps it's time for me to move on, but rest assured that those who love this series will be anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Bottom Line: If you are not already a fan of this series, you might try one of the earlier books in the series first.

Title: Devil's Bridge
Author: Linda Fairstein
Genre: Police Procedural/Thriller
Publisher: Dutton
ISBN - 10: 0525953892
ISBN - 13: 978-0525953890
No. of Pages: 384 pages
Copyright: August 11, 2015
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: NetGalley

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

Linda Fairstein Linda Fairstein was chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney's office in Manhattan for more than two decades and is America's foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. Her Alexandra Cooper novels are international bestsellers and have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She lives in Manhattan and on Martha's Vineyard. (Amazon)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

BROKEN PROMISE (2015)


It took me long enough to get around to reading one of my favorite thriller writers! I won a copy from the Good Reads First Reads Contest back in May. Where did May and June go? It's a long story. I am now working to get back to the business of reading and writing reviews.

Once I actually was able to start reading Linwood Barclay's Broken Promise, I devoured the book in my usual way. Two days tops.

We're back in Promise Falls, New York, where  previous stories have taken place. Those of us who have read Barclay's books will recognize David Harwood and his son from Never Look Away (2010).

THE STORY: With a demanding job at the Boston Globe, single parent David Harwood cannot find enough time to spend with his son. The solution he chooses is to go back home and work for the local paper in Promise Falls. Things start going wrong immediately.

By the end of the story it was obvious that not all the mysteries raised in this book were going to be addressed. When I did a little research, I discovered that this is the first book in what will be a three books series the second and final installments being released at nine month intervals.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Reading one of Barclay's thrillers, there is always the relief that one's own life is safe from the cascade of bad things that are happening to these good people. That seems to be his formula. The author creates impossible scenarios for the protagonist so the reader will wonder how in the world the story threads can possibly be untangled.

With a nod to modern culture and characters enduring the same life problems, it's easy to relate and wonder 'what would I do' in this circumstance.

FIRST SENTENCE: "A couple of hours before all hell broke loose, I was in bed, awake since five, pondering the circumstances that had returned me, at the age of forty-one, to my childhood home."

BOTTOM LINE: If you don't intend to read the other two books, you will find the ending unsatisfactory. Otherwise it's a quick and engrossing read. RECOMMENDED.

DISCLAIMER: I won an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of this book from the Good Reads First Reads project.

Title: Broken Promise
Author: Linwood Barclay
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: NAL
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 512
Copyright: July 28, 2015
ISBN-10:  0451472675
ISBN-13: 978-0451472670

"Linwood Barclay is an American-born Canadian author, noted as a novelist, humourist, and columnist. His popular detective novels are bestsellers in Canada and internationally, beginning with No Time for Goodbye in 2007." Wikipedia
 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I'm a Winner!



Look at the happy message I got from Goodreads today: "You are one of our First Reads lucky winners! You will soon receive a free copy of Broken Promise: A Thriller [Linwood Barclay​] in the mail."


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

THE SOUND OF GLASS (2015)


The Sound of GlassThe Sound of Glass by Karen White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sound of Glass was my introduction to author Karen White, who writes what has been called 'grit-lit' (as opposed to 'chic-lit') because of her southern settings. The location of the story is Beaufort, South Carolina. I have a very close friend who lives there with her daughter part of the year and that caught my attention.

THE STORY: Merritt Heyward learns that she has inherited a big old Victorian house from her late husband's reclusive grandmother. Feeling guilty about his death and at loose ends, she leaves Maine determined to take up residence in Beaufort.

Before she can catch her breath, her too-young widowed step mother appears with Merritt's ten year old half-brother wanting to move in with her. Loralee claims to be cash strapped with nowhere else to turn. Reluctantly Merritt agrees they can stay for a short time even though she longs for time alone to heal.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Luckily I approached the end of the book just around bedtime. Unfortunately I didn't fall asleep because I kept thinking about what I had read. Even though there were secrets and conflicts, the characters were people you came to care about. Although the story basically revolves around Merritt, it is impossible not to love Loralee, who at first glance appears a stereotypical Southern lady, but is actually a wise and wonderful woman.

I did find it took a while to get the family genealogy straight in my mind as I was reading. I also found Merritt annoying sometimes in her ability to be standoffish. But Karen White writes well and tells a compelling story. I will certainly look for some of her other titles. And if you are like me, the descriptions of Beaufort will make you want to visit and drink sweet tea on a big old veranda overlooking the river.

FIRST SENTENCE: "An unholy tremor rippling through the sticky night air alerted Edith Heyward that something wasn't right." (Prologue, Beaufort, South Carolina July 1955)

BOTTOM LINE: Three women with unhappy secrets weave a tangled web as they tell their stories holding the reader spellbound. Highly recommended.

DISCLAIMER: An advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book was provided to me by NetGalley for an honest review.

Title: The Sound of Glass
Author: Karen White
Genre: Grit-Lit (Southern Women's Fiction)
Publisher: NAL
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 426
Copyright: May 12, 2015
ISBN-10:  0451470893
ISBN-13: 978-0451470898

Karen White, a New York Times bestselling author of 19 novels, writes 'grit-lit' or southern women's fiction, as well as "a contemporary paranormal mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina." She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children.

Monday, May 11, 2015

AT THE WATER'S EDGE (2015)


At the Water's EdgeAt the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading and loving Water for Elephants a few years back, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to request Sara Gruen's new title and I guess I wasn't alone. "At the Water’s Edge debut[ed] at #6 on the New York Times bestseller list, #5 on the Indie bestseller list, and #12 on the USA Today bestseller list!"

THE STORY: Madeline Hyde and her husband Ellis never go anywhere without his best friend Hank. Drinking, dancing, spending money, and amusing themselves consumes their days; but they throw away their privileged lives when they disgrace themselves at a fashionable Philadelphia New Year's Eve party. To escape, Ellis and Hank decide to make good on the many times they have talked about hunting down the Loch Ness monster. Maddie has always thought of their discussions as a game. After all, it is 1944 and World War II is raging; but Hank finds a ship that will take them across the Atlantic and thus begins a journey that will change them all.

The remote Scottish Highland and its inhabitants aren't particularly welcoming to this frivolous trio who expect to be waited on in the middle of difficult times. While the men go off to search for monsters, Maddie, left behind, learns more about the people and how they survive. She makes friends and begins to understand what life can really be.

WHAT I THOUGHT: A mixture of historical fiction (the Scottish during WWII), romance, coming of age, mysticism (Loch Ness monster hunting), and more, the book seems over the top sometimes but is always compelling. It is impossible not to think of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (without the time travel) when you read this story.

FIRST SENTENCE: "The headstone was modest and hewn of black granite, granite being one of the few things never in short supply in Glenurquhart, even during the present difficulties."

BOTTOM LINE: Women everywhere will be reading this book - a great beach read!

Disclaimer: An advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book was provided to me by NetGalley for an honest review.

Title: At the Water's Edge
Author: Sara Gruen
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (an imprint of Random House)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages: 368
Copyright: 1st edition (March 31, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0385523238
ISBN-13: 978-0385523233

Sara Gruen is the #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Water for Elephants, Ape House, Riding Lessons, and Flying Changes. Her works have been translated into forty-three languages and have sold more than ten million copies worldwide. She lives in western North Carolina with her husband and three sons, along with their dogs, cats, horses, birds, and the world’s fussiest goat. (From Amazon)



Monday, April 20, 2015

Fascinating Locations in Louise Penny's Mysteries


#11 in the series will be on sale August 25, 2015
Minotaur Books is doing a series leading up to the publication of Louise Penny's new book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series revealing the places that have inspired the fictional places in her mysteries! You can check them out HERE.