Sunday, October 4, 2015


Academy GirlsAcademy Girls by Nora Carroll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A perfect book to read on a crisp autumn day! Filled with poetry, mystery, and the angst of young women, this book will appeal to those who want a lighter version in the vein of Donna Tart's The Secret History or have enjoyed Carol Goodman's Lake of Dead Languages.

THE STORY:  Thirty-five years after leaving, Jane Milton has come back to Grove Academy with her teen-aged son Charlie. Their world has collapsed and she has one last chance to put it back together. Given the opportunity to teach English, for which she is totally unprepared, Jane fights to overcome her memories of dark secrets in the past. When her least favorite student starts submitting stories that seem all too familiar, Jane knows she has to discover the truth before it is too late.

WHAT I THOUGHT: Told in the present and the past, the layers of deception and deceit are slowly pealed away. The reader becomes invested in the characters. And the poetry of Emily Dickinson woven through the story is a wonderful bonus to this truly compelling mystery.

FIRST SENTENCE: "At the Grove Academy, we learned three immutable lessons" literature is a kind of religion, only failures get married, and though we would eventually leave the academy, the spirit of the Grove would always stay with us."

BOTTOM LINE: I have read that you should write the book that you would want to read. Nora Carroll has written that book for me. Gothic, mysterious, and in a beautiful private school setting, this was a book I didn't want to put down until there were no more pages left.

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

Title: Academy Girls
Author: Nora Carroll
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher:  Lake Union Publishing
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
No. of Pages:512 pages
Copyright: September 15, 2015
ISBN-10: 1503947440
ISBN-13: 978-1503947443

"Nora Carroll is a pseudonym for #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Letts. As Nora Carroll, she writes multi-layered novels filled with the things she loves most-- rambling houses, old letters and manuscripts, and most importantly, the mysteries of love, women, and family." (from Amazon)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September Update 2015

Well, here we are weeks later, and I still have not delivered on my promises from last month. And, I have a new group of books out of the library besides what's on my Kindle waiting for me. Right now I am reading John Henry Hepp, IV's The Middle Class City: Transforming Space and Time in Philadelphia 1876 - 1926, which is helping me place my ancestors in historical context. Then there's waiting for me Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, Julia Pierpont's Among the Ten Thousand Things, and Patti Smith's Just Kids, which I read a few years ago but want to re-read.

I've been reading Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer and Damien Lewis for October's book gathering on my Kindle as well as a new Nora Carroll called Academy Girls.

Now if I could just get those pesky reviews written, I might make some progress!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

August was a Lovely Month

No, not the title of a book. Just an excuse for not having posted for a while.

In the meantime, I have been reading but very slowly. I'm working on a review of Among Others (Jo Walton), currently reading The Color of Water in July (Nora Carroll), and just added Eileen (Ottessa Moshfegh) to my Good Reads list.

Saturday, August 1, 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 (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


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."