Thursday, May 31, 2012

Speed Dating with the Dead by Scott Nicholson

Book: Speed Dating with the Dead

Author: Scott Nicholson

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Ghost hunter Digger Watson goes for a paranormal conference at The White Horse Inn, a haunted hotel that he and his wife, before she died, agreed to meet if one should die before the other. Adding to the cast of characters is his daughter, Kendra, who is a very disgruntled daughter, as Scott puts them "The wannabe TAPS members, and the crew of the hotel.  Will his wife show up? Will Digger be happy she did?  Who will show up with her?  Will they be as happy to be a part of Digger's show or do they have more sinister plans for the conference?  

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: I believe this is my 5th or 6th Scott Nicholson book but definitely my favorite to date. This just read like a good old fashioned ghost story. It actually reminded me of some of my favorite "ghost story" movie called THE CHANGELING which starred George C. Scott and was released in the 1980's. Fans of shows like Ghosthunters (in fact there is even a reference in the book to TAPS) and other shows like it, will get a kick out of this book.

Although, I am kind of light and fun in my description of this book, don't take that as the book being light and airy. It definitely has a creepy factor to it which is pulled off spectacularly.

One of the things that I most appreciated about this book, as I have appreciated in a chunk of Nicholson's other books, is the simplicity of the story line and writing. In my humble opinion, with this genre of book, most that I have come across have a cheesiness and over the top  factor which makes me groan, roll my eyes and score my rating for my book down. It appears that Nicholson knows how to write where he draws out the "fear" factor without resorting to parlor tricks (no pun intended..ok maybe). I also love the fact, that like this one, the books I have read by him are set in rural locations. This again, imho, leads to a the perfect ghost setting.

I have noticed in the chunk of books I have read of Nicholson's that he really brings in folk lore into his books which I think helps with that "simplicity". There just something really Americana about it that I thing really boosts its' palatableness to the reader and makes his works stand out to that of his contemporaries.

Source: Owned

Would I recommend? : Yes, for lovers of ghost stories. Although it isn't considered folk lore, I think lovers of folklore would enjoy the book too

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Deeper Darkness by J.T. Ellison

Book: A Deeper Darkness (Samantha Owens #1)

Author: JT Ellison

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Sam Owens, coming off the biggest tragedy of anyones life, investigates the alledged carjack shooting death of her ex-boyfriend at his mother's request. Was it truly a carjacking or did it have to do with his years as a Army Ranger?

My rating: Why 5 Stars, of course!

My opinion: OK, ANYONE who knows me for even the shortest period of time, knows I am a HUGE fan of author Steve Hamilton and the duo sister writing team of PJ Parrish! Absolutely love 'em!! However, both these authors are INCREDIBLY SLOW in releasing new books, so I have to find new authors to entertain me with their style of writing. This is not an easy feat. When I make a statement that an author can go toe to toe with these two, the author should take it as my HIGHEST level of compliments cuz I don't say it frequently! JT Ellison is one of those few authors.

This book moves quickly, as do all of her books. However, one of the things that I love most about Ellison's writing is that most female mystery writers resort to the romance dance as part of their storyline (or in my humble prop up a weakly written book!). It drive me INSANE! Ellison's writing has such a quality to it that focus on strong characters and a carefully laid out plot, that she doesn't have to resort to such "silliness".

On a side note, this book was incredibly sad story to me...much sadder than any of her other books. I love the character of Sam Owens, so to see the difficulties she has had to endure, I really felt for her.

I do hope that Ms. Ellison continues this series. Unlike alot of "series spinoffs" that are pale comparisons, this one has shown she can go head to head with Taylor Jackson, her first series.

So, as usual...Bravo, Ms. Ellison, Bravo!

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : **snorts** Um, yeah..recommend her books all the time!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: First in Series

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty

Book: Whatever You Love

Author: Louise Doughty

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: When Laura's daughter, Betty, is killed by a hit and run driver, Laura reflects on her life with her ex-husband, children and his new wife. When the death is determined to be an accident, emotionally, Laura goes on a downward spiral and plots to seek her own revenge.

My rating:  3 Stars

My opinion: This book started off incredibly strong. I thought for sure this was going to be a minimum 4 star read for me. Towards the end of the book though, I am not sure if it was just to extend the storyline, the author took the book on a track that, in my humble opinion, I thought was unnecessary. Also, the book jacket didn't match what the book was truly about. The jacket only touched on the basis for the story. I would have liked to have seen more with Laura's downward spiral.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series:  Stand Alone

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Letters From the Wishing Rock (Wishing Rock Series, Book 1) by Pam Stucky

Book: Letters From the Wishing Rock (Wishing Rock Series, Book 1)

Author: Pam Stucky

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Ruby, dumped by her fiance Pete, ups and leaves her hometown and moves to Wishing Rock, an very small island town off the coast of Seattle, to heal her wounds. What she finds is that family and friends miss her immensely, but more, a town full of some really quirky characters and, possibly, a new love.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: OK...I have to be honest. It took me a bit to get into this book. I had a really difficult time with the format, written as a series of emails (that did have the tendency to be hilarious), so I had to keep track of who was "writing" what which was a distraction and it took a bit more to follow the storyline. Once I did, what an adorable and delightful read!  I loved the depiction of Wishing Rock and its' quirky citizens, as well as Ruby's goofy but lovable friends. The globe-trotting Gran was tons of fun, as well.

I was just looking at a review on Goodreads which called it a female version of Northern Exposure, a show I loved (yes, I know I am aging myself!) and, in my humble opinion, that description nailed it! For some reason, I was also reminded of the movie "Christmas in Connecticut", one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Oh, I can't forget to mention the recipes in the book. Seeing that I have picked up a large number of great recipes by authors including them in their books,  I know I will be trying a couple in this book!

Source: Author provided

Would I recommend? :  Yep!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series:  Part of a series. I will be reviewing book 2 within the week.

The Thirteen: A Novel by Susie Moloney

Book: The Thirteen: A Novel

Author: Susie Moloney

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Paula Wittmore returns to her hometown of Haven's Woods with her daughter, Rowan, to care for what she thinks is her ailing mother. The problem, the town is now run by a coven of witches.

My rating: 1 Star

My opinion: Good Lord, this book was painful. Very rarely do I have a book that I would love to shelve and have me not being able to find SOME redeeming quality. This book had me wishing I didn't write a book blog that I read this for. Can you just say "simplistic"?? There was no character to this book...whatsoever and it fell extremely flat. Part of it came off as whiny, particularly in the teenage daughter.

Furthermore, I felt that readers had too many characters thrown at them so it really came off as "schizophrenic".  It was incredibly difficult to keep all of them straight.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? :  Absolutely not!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Defending Jacob by William Landay

Book: Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Asst. DA Andy Barber's son, Jacob, has been charged with the viscious murder of a classmate. Did he do it? What do his classmates know? Is Jacob, the apple of his parents' eyes, quite the little darling they see him as?

My rating: 4.5 Stars

My opinion: While I was reading this book, my response was I couldn't believe that this book was getting so many 5 star reviews. Although, I thought the book was excellently written, it had moments where it kind of dragged on. Then, the last approximately 75 pages hit and it moved to "Oh, Good Lord!!" status. Everything tied together and what I thought I knew wasn't so.

I am so happy that this book was recommended it to me, so now, I recommend it to my followers!

Source: Library

Would I recommend? :  Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series:  Stand Alone

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness

Book: The Last Hundred Days: A Novel

Author: Patrick McGuinness

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: An English teacher moves to Ceausescu's Romania sight unseen and gets wrapped up in the politics and occurrences of Nicolai Ceausescu's last 100 days.

My rating:  3 Stars

My opinion: This book was right up my alley. I thought it was intelligently written, unusual and loved the combination of historical facts wrapped up in a fictional storyline. I can see the validity in other book reviewers who have called this book dry.  It does have a tendency to be dry and depressing in the description of Romania during the period of time that it is set in. I have heard this book called "dark" but one must remember when the book was set. I did have a difficult time with that, but found that is actually what kept my fascination with the book.   I have not come across a large number of fictional books written during the time of Nicolai Ceausescu and Romanian history.

Source: Netgalley for Bloomsbury

Would I recommend? : Yes, for more advanced readers or for readers who have a love of history or political theater. I think readers who lean towards the standard big house writers will find this book boring.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Drowned by Theresa Bowman

Book: Drowned

Author: Theresa Bowman

Release date (if applicable): May 22, 2012

Synopsis: Marina visits her sister, Stella and while there falls under the spell of Stella's violent, sadistic and manipulative husband, Gabriel. Tragedy strikes and Stella dies. What are in Stella's diaries and will Marina fall victim to Gabriel's manipulative ways the same way her sister did?

My rating: 2 stars and that was really stretching it!

My opinion: I really could not wrap my head around this book. I found it has taken me a few days to even write the review. I found it simplistic in its' writing and was scratching my head at the end of it. Furthermore, I found the characters to be underdeveloped and for it to almost feel "thrown together".  I am a fan of Nordic Noir and Scandinavian writing. In fact, I have a group on Goodreads dedicated to it. But this one was lacking in alot of the characteristics that I love about that region's writers.

Source: Reviewed through Netgalley for the publisher

Would I recommend? :  No

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Missing Child by Patricia MacDonald

Book: Missing Child

Author: Patricia MacDonald

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Caitlyn's stepson, Geordie, goes missing from school one day. Who would want to kidnap a six year old child and how does his kidnapping fit into secrets Caitlyn has been hiding from her husband, Noah? Can such secrets ever be forgiven and how do they fit into Gordie's disappearance?

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: This book, while good, in my opinion, just didn't stand out. I thought it was comparable to tons of other books out there with similar plots that I have read. What saved a two star review was a nice twist at the end that I didn't see coming. However, it wasn't enough to bump it up to a 4 star, and I found other parts of the storyline were propped up with "drama central" versus superior writing and storyline. Not to be a book snob, but this book was a perfect reason on why I love Indie writers. I almost felt that this was a "cookie cutter" book! A dime a dozen book, which will have been forgotten by me by next week.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Yes. I know a large number of people who would love this type of book, but in order to go above 3 stars with me, the writing better "POP".

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pandora's Bottle: A Novel by Joanne Sydney Lessner

Book: Pandora's Bottle: A Novel

Author: Joanne Sydney Lessner

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Sy, an incredibly rich, middle aged, wine enthusiast, has purchased a $510, 000, plus tax, bottle of wine. It is the last one Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution. His plans are to share it with beautiful and young, Valentina, his secretary and current infatuation. Valentina's idea of wine is to open the bottle, drink it and throw the bottle away! Will she learn enough about wine to not look like a fool to Sy? Will Sy win her heart or is someone else also vying for it? Who else has plans for Sy's wine? 

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: I can thank Twitter for connecting me with this author. The author asked me to review this book for her and I am thrilled she did. This book was a real treat.

The author's style of writing had me feel as though I was right there with the characters. This allowed me to be sucked into the book very quickly. The book also had a warmth to it, while having moments of sarcastic wit shown through supporting characters. I found myself laughing out loud during periods of this book, particularly those of Valentina's friend.

When the book first opened and Sy was described and then it went into his infatuation with his much younger secretary, Valentina, Ms. Lessner had me feeling like I was in Sy's head. My first thought was of how many older professional men I knew that fit Sy's bill!

The "relationship" between Sy and Valentina was only seconded by a wonderful, quirky cast of supporting characters competing for Sy's attention to share his bottle of wine for their own reasons. They made me laugh.

Coming from a background of loving wine and going to many a tasting, I couldn't believe how dead on she was in the descriptions of those in the wine world. It was such a pleasure to read/review, and now, recommend this book.

Source: Author provided

Would I recommend? : Yes, especially for wine lovers!!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Book:  The Lifeboat: A Novel

Author: Charlotte Rogan

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: The question. How do you survive at sea, in an overfilled lifeboat, after the ship you are on to start a new life in America, with your new husband, blows up? The answers aren't pretty and could minimally land, the newly widowed, Grace in jail for the rest of her life, if she is lucky.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Ms. Rogan's debut novel is a reason why I love debut authors so much. This book had a fresh approach to a very tough story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, although I must admit that parts of it, were just downright disturbing. It did take a bit longer for me to really get into the book than I would have liked, but once I did, the book took off. Her character development and why some were "chosen" was quite strong. I loved the look at the human psyche and, while under duress, what it will do to survive and how decisions are made.

I did think it wrapped up a bit too nicely with a nice red bow for how the "meat" of the story was written. To me, it came across that the author didn't want to go too dark or that life is one big happy ending. With how dark she had gone in the book, I think the ending could have gone a bit darker and it would have been more real. The ending as written, came across as "cheesy". I am not sure if this was because she is a debut author or the book is a big house published book. That is why it wasn't a 5 star read for me.

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : people who can handle a bit "darker" writing. Squeamish people might have a hard time with some of the scenes and dialogue

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rape Girl by Alina Klein

Book: Rape Girl

Author: Alina Klein

Release date (if applicable): August 15, 2012

Synopsis: Valerie likes Adam ALOT!! When Valerie's mother goes out of town for a weekend, Valerie has a party and gets really, really drunk which leads to sexual playing with Adam before she passes out.  The next day, Adam comes back over to finish what they started the night before despite Valerie's cries of "No". Valerie says it was rape. Adam and all of Valerie's "friends" say it wasn't. Who is right and how will Valerie survive her world being turned upside down?

My rating: Can I give it more than 5 stars because this book is MINIMALLY 5 stars?

My opinion: This little 125 page book was a powerful little read. This talented author started off strong and kept it going to the last word of the last page.

In my humble opinion, this book should be required reading for high school age boys and girls. A number of Goodreads reviewers have said it all regarding this book touching on multiple topics including drinking, friendship, family dynamics,  and for the most part, they are dead on. This book was poignant and couldn't be more dead on if it tried. There are so many topics that this book touches upon with the least of it being date rape. I firmly believe that this is one of those books that could open a discussion and keep it going and be a learning lesson that our teens could sink their teeth into. This book has me speechless it was that good and that though provoking. Anyone who knows my reviews knows that is not an easy feat.

This book is the Ms. Klein's first attempt at a YA book and she did a SMASHING job!

Bravo, Ms. Klein, Bravo!!

Source: Netgalley ARC for the publisher, Namelos

Would I recommend? : Most definitely and I already have.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Blue Straggler by Kathy Lynn Harris

Book: Blue Straggler

Author: Kathy Lynn Harris

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Bailey or B. is dissatisfied with her life, so she quits her job and goes on a road trip to "study" the life of her great grandmother and finds herself instead.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: What an adorable debut this was! I reviewed this for the publisher after the book was recommended to me by a friend and I am happy it was.

I loved Bailey, who slightly reminded me of Izzy Spellman from Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files. She had a sarcastic wit to her that I love in writing, particularly female characters. Furthermore, I loved the "unwrapping" of B's growth to see her look for strength in her versus looking for it in her great grandmother. Could have done without the romance aspect, but, hey, can't have it all. Although...I must admit there were aspects to it the love triangle that were just downright hilarious!

Finally, I loved the small town. I live in a small town, so I always connect with stories set in small towns and the quirkiness and comfortable closeness of the characters versus books written in cities.        

Source: Publisher Given

Would I recommend? : Yes, it is a cute story

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Friday, May 11, 2012

Jane Was Here by Sarah Kernochan

Book: Jane Was Here

Author: Sarah Kernochan

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Jane turns up in a small New England town claiming memories of the town, yet she has never been there. With her arrival, strange things begin happening to some of the town's people, as well. As Jane's memories reawaken piece by piece, they carry her back to a long-buried secret, while the townspeople hurtle forward to a horrific event when past and present fatally collide. A centuries-old mystery will resolve, and karma will claim its due. (Copied in part from Goodreads. In my attempts, I couldn't give it the justice it deserved!)

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion: To be honest with the reader of this review, it took a bit for this book to take off for me. Once I got into it, *BAM*, it took off and ended with several twists that I didn't see coming and left me scratching my head (a good thing). This was probably one of the most unusual books I have read this year. I have owned it for a bit, but as things happen and books pop up, I found myself distracted by other books given to me or ones that were on my TBR list and shoving it to the side. It took a book challenge to shove it to the front of my TBR list. Now I wish I would have gone with my gut instict and read it earlier!!

This book is a prime example of why I prefer indie authors and publishers (Grey Swan Publishing) over big house publishers any day of the year! This book and the author came in with a fresh concept (one I didn't see coming). Ms. Kernochan could get off the porch and compete with any of those big publishing house author dogs any day of the week.

I am so happy that I stalked this author for Sisterhood of the Traveling Book when she was first published. My initial gut instinct was that Ms. Kernochan was a talent unfolding before our eyes and that instinct was right on target!

Source: Purchased

Would I recommend? :  Why yes I would!!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Dark Rose by Erin Kelly

Book: The Dark Rose

Author: Erin Kelly

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Louisa has deep, dark secrets from her past very wild life. When she meets up with Paul, he has his own set of deep secrets that could land him and his best friend in prison. Can they continue to out run their secrets or will the past come up to nab them in the butt?!?!

My rating: 2 Stars

My opinion: I was so excited to see this new release from Erin Kelly. Her first book, The Poisoned Tree, was SO twisted that it was a "knock your socks off" type of read! I think I read it in 3 hours flat!One that left me even saying "WTH??" In my humble opinion this one fell flat to me though.

I felt her characters fell flat, which seemed to be a strength for this author, and I didn't connect with them. I thought, for the book being a psychological thriller, they main characters were kind of "meh". I know it is bad sign for me when I come to the end of the book and just really don't care what happens to the characters.  
On another point, I didn't feel that the was a "psychological" build up for the "genre" that this book was placed in was as strong as either her last book or what I would expect from the genre. Also, her timing fell flat to me. Not only did characters jump around, but the timeline did as well. It just really seemed to "stumble" around. This type of formatting can work, and I have read numerous books where the author has done this type of format masterfully, but this one did not work, again, in my humble opinion.

On a positive note, I still stand firm in my belief that this author is a brilliant star that we will still see excellent books out of. There is NO way that someone can write such a strong debut as THE POISONED TREE and then drop off the face of the  talent list in the literary world!

Source: Library

Would I recommend? : Sad to say... no, not really.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fighting the Devil by Jeannie Walker

Book: Fighting the Devil

Author: Jeannie Walker

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Ms. Walker's book Fighting the Devil proves that sometimes life is stranger than fiction. Her book depicts the story of her ex-husband, Jerry Sternadel's arsenic poisoning by his wife and bookkeeper for financial gain.

Readers may be familiar with this case through its depiction of occurances on Oxygen network's show, Snapped. Ms. Walker gives readers a picture of who Mr. Sternadel was from his young life to the time of his death, as well as a detailed account of the investigation and trial.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: I read this book in one day and have to be honest with the readers of this review, sad to say, the only thing that kept going through my mind was "you live by the sword, you die by it." In most true crime novels that I have read, I have always had sympathy for the victim of the crime. I couldn't garner one inch of sympathy for this man. In the graphic depiction Ms. Walker wrote about, all I kept thinking was that this man could have had a line of people waiting to kill him. I don't know if that was her intentions to write that way or not, but that is def. the way it came across.  I thought it was odd because Ms. Walker saved a softer, almost more empathetic, description of her ex-husband for the epilogue.

One very mild criticism I would give to the author relates to her use of "religious" incidents which she described in the book. I felt that they did not "add" to the story and were unnecessary to the storyline. I thought that they came across as being very out of place.

Another light criticism that I felt came across in the book is that I would have liked to have seen it tightened up. Readers must understand that this isn't a professional author and I feel that her book demanding justice for her exhusband and that justice really was denied, again, imo, I think going back to his "choices and actions". As I was reading this, I kept thinking of the Russ Stager case, in which, his exwife, Jo Lynn Snow was instrumental in bringing Barbara Stager to justice.

Would I recommend? :  Yes, to true crime was bizarre!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Out of Focus by Nancy Naigle

Book: Out of Focus

Author: Nancy Naigle

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Kasey Phillip's doting husband, Nick, dies in a car accident. Their son was with him and has disappeared from the wreckage. Who among their friends knows more than what he/she is saying??

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: To be totally honest in my review of this book, I liked this book, but it didn't rock my boat to where I loved it. I actually found the main character, Kasey, really untouchable and found her actions surrrounding the disappearance of her son unbelievable. I def. like the author's first work, Sweet Tea and Secrets, more than this one.

The book is well written though, so my problem with the book wasn't a lack of quality writing. I would have liked to have seen more, at a minimum, concern over the missing 3 year old. I know if it was me, I would be scouring the woods where the accident occurred. It went from the missing child to one week later and one month later, etc. It was just really odd to me.

On a final note, it wrapped up with a nice red ribbon..again, finding this totally unrealistic for incidents which, if I divulged, would take us down the path of Spoilerland!

Would I recommend? : To someone who likes light mysteries. Not in general though

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series

Monday, May 7, 2012

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Book: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

Release date (if applicable): June 5, 2012

Synopsis: Nick Dunne's wife disappears. Police think he is involved. What is he doing or not doing which would lead them to that conclusion? What is in Amy's diary which can either free him or nail him to the cross?!?!

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Another winner from Gillian Flynn. I have not read of a book of hers which hasn't garnered anything less than 4 stars. Her books consistently suck me in immediately and always keeps me guessing. Not an easy feat! Normally, flashback or "multiple viewpoint" writing, which she has utilized for this story, drives me nuts, but Ms. Flynn has really made this work. It really helps with deepening the suspense and "exposing" the idiosyncracies of the characters which could have led up to the disappearance of Amy.

Would I recommend? : Very much so!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

Book: Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death

Author: James Runcie

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: While as the stories were all separate, they maintained an interconnectedness focused on the two main characters. The handsome, bachelor, Vicar Sidney Chambers and his friend Inspector Geordie Keating who join forces to solve 6 mysteries. The two join together to solve crimes including a barrister's "suicide"; the theft of jewelery during an dinner party and a jazz promoter who loses his daughter in a bizarre death.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: Written as a series of 6 novelettes, it was reminiscent to me of the original release the Sherlock Holmes Mysteries in the end of the 19th century. I really enjoyed this book. It was reminiscent to me of Midsomer Murders, with its' quirky townspeople and Julia Spencer Fleming's Rev. Clare Ferguson Series. Just a note, it can be a tad bit dry as some British mysteries can be. If you like that type of mystery, you will love this book. I also liked the break-up of the mysteries. It allowed the book to maintain a freshness.

Would I recommend? : Yes, for readers who like British mysteries.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain

Book: The Good Father

Author:  Diane Chamberlain

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Travis Brown became a single father young, really young. With little education behind him, he struggles every day to raise his daughter, Bella, on his own. Once he loses his construction job and his home, the struggles become even worse. Will these struggles lead him to make some decisions that sometimes can't be taken back? Will he lose Bella forever?

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: I am a recent fan to Diane Chamberlain's writing. I have read a couple of her books and enjoy the character development and storylines that Ms. Chamberlain weaves. Her characters are normally inviting and "approachable". I felt that this was missing in this book, I could not connect with any of the characters which really shocked me. I almost felt that there was a disconnect and that I was almost "looking in" which I haven't experienced with this author's works before. Because of the storyline, I am not sure if that is what the author was attempting to attain, but it really didn't work for me.

The other thing that really drove me crazy about this book is that the author used multiple viewpoints to tell the story, so I always had to make sure that I was connecting with the right character. I am coming across alot of those types of books lately and it drives me crazy every time it happens.

Would I recommend? : Maybe...I must admit that the majority of my Goodreads friends who have read the book have loved it and given it 5 stars. They continue to rave about this book, so I might not be the best judge about this book.  Because its' "structure" drove me crazy..that is a me problem...not an author problem!

Here is what I would recommend: If you haven't read a Diane Chamberlain book, you are really missing out!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone.

Friday, May 4, 2012

You Know Your Way Home by Suzanne Jauchius

Book:  You Know Your Way Home

Author: Suzanne Jauchius

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: A memoir written as the author delves into her destructive lifestyle, including 5 marriages and the poor relationship choices which come with them.  She must also overcome parental coldness and nonacceptance. All this while dealing with the gift of psychic ability which surround murdered and missing individuals.

My rating: 4 stars

My opinion: This was a very interesting book to me. I think with the way it was described in the Youtube video, I was expecting more of a light thriller/memoir. That is not what it was. I think the subtitle does the book a bit more justice than the video. On that note, the book pertains to the author's journey from short of self loathing and the non-acceptance from those around her (note: 5 marriages) to one of self acceptance.

As a former counselor, I love reviewing/utilizing/recommending books which can be used in bibliotherapy or as a tool for starting discussions with clients/patients. This book would qualify under that. Although this author had issues related to her psychic ability, she also displayed behaviors which resulted from poor decision making and a lack of self worth/acceptance. There are MANY situations/behaviors which can be led back to a client with destructive behaviors in numerous other areas and how they can associate with certain behaviors the author has done or been placed in.  What I would have loved about using this one, is unlike common "assignments" in therapy, the use of self help books, the client might actually read and pay attention to this one!

Finally, there was alot to "keeping it real" in regards to the psychic world. I loved how Ms. Jauchius said, in regards to the Polly Klaas case, something about wanna be psychics (she used a much funnier term though). All along, I have said if someone liked the show "The Ghost Whisperer" and the character of Melinda Gordon, they would enjoy this book. Once she came to the acceptance of who she was, the author displays some of that same awkwardness towards her gift that Melinda displayed, yet was a deep, thoughtful person.

Would I recommend? :  Yes, I would under certain circumstances. If you aren't a person who believes in psychics, you are going to have a hard time with this book. I would probably not recommend it. I noticed that the authors only 2 star ratings on Goodreads pertained to someone who said she doesn't believe in psychics. The book clearly states that it focuses on the author's psychic ability, so why would she read it?!?! One of the great mysteries of Goodreads reviewers!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Depraved Heart: A Novel by Kathleen Valentine

Book: Depraved Heart: A Novel

Author: Kathleen Valentine

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Tempest Hobbs, recently released from a psychiatric institute, is called to Hathor, the estate of the Ravencroft family, which is located on the island of Hepzibah Regrets, just off the coast in Massachusetts. Her job is to catalog the art collection of the manor, which was just inherited by the Anjelica, the granddaughter of Wyatt Ravencroft the patriarch of the Ravencroft family, who has recently passed on.  Also at the estate is Syd Jupiter, former NFL player, handsome as all get out, father of Anjelica and husband to Wyatt's daughter, Rachel. Oh, and by the way, recently paroled from prison after being convicted for the shooting of Rachel's twin brother, Raven.  But did he do it and if he didn't, who did??

Told through flashbacks between the present and the past, the story unfolds as to what secrets led up to that fateful night and what did the only witness to the crime see.

My rating: 5 stars

My opinion: If you haven't read a Kathleen Valentine book, you are really missing out. Kathleen is one of my favorite authors due to her ability to write deep, intricate novels and short stories that elicit emotions that run the gamut of feelings. I have read books of hers that I was crying tears of heartache that suddenly went to tears of joy!

I must say that Kathleen Valentine is one of those authors who are classic examples on why I love and very frequently seek out Indie authors over the big house publisher authors. I truly feel that Kathleen's writing is above the cookie cutter writers that you see in big house publishing houses.

This book was no exception. Kathleen's character and setting development is so strong that frequently I have to map them out and how they interact with one another. This is a real talent to be able to do this. Not many authors can accomplish that level of character development. Also, in the majority of Kathleen's books, as well as this one, she has the ability to write with a darkness that is below the surface, yet can keep the storyline light, so it isn't necessarily depressing and characters are "approachable". I loved this book, also, because of the mystery component that was visible, but not quite visible. I was kind of surprised with this one because of the level of romance that was in this book compared to her other books.

I do this lightly (because I abhor when people do it flippantly), but this book almost had the feel of Du Maurier's Rebecca with a bit more sexual spiciness to it.

Would I recommend? : Really, I need to answer this?? Um yeah I would recommend this!

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Silent Witness (A Dylan Scott Mystery #3) by Shirley Wells

Book: Silent Witness (A Dylan Scott Mystery #3)

Author:  Shirley Wells

Release date (if applicable): Released

Synopsis: Dylan comes  to Dawson's Clough to investigate the murder of a physician's wife. A murder that the ex-husband, who is convicted of it swears he didn't do. But did he murder his childhood sweetheart or was it one of the other quirky residents of Dawson's Clough?

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: OK, I have to be really honest with the reader of this review. I read the author's second book in this series, Dead Silent, which I had reviewed for the publisher through Netgalley. I simply wasn't impressed. When I requested this one and was approved, it dawned on me that this was the same author of that book and I almost sent an email back to the publisher apologizing for taking their time, reminding them of my review on the first book and that I didn't put two and two together and that I would decline to review this book.

I am so happy I didn't and that I gave this author another shot. This book was wonderful in regards to its' character development, the mystery with a nice twist that I didn't see coming and the quirkiness of the storyline! I was almost reminded of the British tv series Midsomer Murders. This book ended up flowing so well that I ended up reading it in a couple of hours and even staying up close to midnight to get it finished. I must say that I agree with some of the other reviews that I have read about this being Ms. Wells best work to date.

Now, this is def. a series I will continue with and probably even go back and read Dead Silent again.

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of a series

Presumed Dead~Book 1

Dead Silent~Book 2