Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mistaken by Karen Barnett

Book: Mistaken
Author: Karen Barnett
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: It is the 1920's and in the height of Prohibition. Laurie Burke comes from a family of drunks and rum runners. One of her brothers partners is the handsome Daniel Shepherd and a turn off for Laurie. When a federal agent, Samuel Brown, comes into the picture investigating her brother and his group, is everything as it seems or is Laurie's judgement way off in who has her best interest in his heart and who people truly are? 
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: This was a wonderful Christian, CLEAN romance. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the unraveling of who, in general, all the characters were and the development of their relationship.  Even though the storyline was focused on illegal and sometimes violent activity, there was something innocent about the romance between Laurie and her special man. I simply loved it. The author wrote the romance masterfully and methodically.  I was reminded of one of my favorite romance authors, LaVyrle Spencer.

The story was not overly religious which I enjoyed and biblical reference was appropriate to the storyline. Even for those who don't read Christian literature, but love heartwarming romances, this would be a perfect choice.
Source: Abingdon Press
Would I recommend? : Yes
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lie Still by Julie Heaberlin

Book: Lie Still
Author: Julie Heaberlin
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Very pregnant Emily Page is upended and moves from Manhattan to Clairmont, Texas when her husband accepts a new position. She is welcomed into a Southern belle click. Things get ugly when Carolina, one of the top belles, disappears and secrets start to come out...including a big one that Emily has been hiding.
My rating: 3 Stars
My opinion: I have some serious ambivalence regarding this book. I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Heaberlin's first novel, Playing Dead. I found it to be a rich, fast-paced mystery with deep characters surrounded by quality writing. 

Although Ms. Heaberlin's quality writing was present in Lie Still, I could never warm up to the storyline that came off much more as a "chick light" mystery with pretentious characters and the "cliche" southern belle personalities. 
Source: Edelweiss for Bantam
Would I recommend? : This book continues to receive relative high ratings. As I stated I enjoyed the writing, but the storyline and character depiction left me a tad cold. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian

Book: The Light in the Ruins
Author: Chris Bohjalian
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: The year is 1955 and Florence police detective Serafina Bettini is called in to investigate the gruesome slaughter of Francesca Rosati by a serial killer who seems to have the entire Rosati family in his cross hairs. Just who is the Rosati family? They are one of the most wealthy and powerful families in Italy. To solve this mystery, Serafina needs to go back to 1944 WWII Italy and a young Rosati's forbidden love with a Nazi lieutenant. 
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this series and consider it one of the most intelligent reads of the year. The story was incredibly intricate and played well within the two periods of time. I must admit that there were periods of reading when the back and forth in periods of time became slightly confusing. I am usually not a fan of this type of book that does this. Reading it on an ereader versus a print book increased this issue.

The writing in this book was incredibly rich and engrossing. In my humble opinion, if the incredibly intelligent and creative Chris Bohjalian was to create a character, one like Serafina Bettini would be it.
Source: Edelweiss for Doubleday
Would I recommend? : Yes, it is a different type of book for Chris Bohjalian. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Reality Ends Here by Alison Gaylin

Book: Reality Ends Here
Author: Alison Gaylin
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Estella Blanchard is already having a hard time growing up. Her father died under mysterious circumstances ten years ago and she is the half sister to a set of sextuplets. Can't forget that she is a star in her family's reality television show. Christmas morning, she receives a package from her dead father. Her mother's response was to blame her and place her in a treatment program for young starlets. Can this group get to the bottom of the Christmas package? Did Estella's father fake his death?
My rating: 3.5 Stars
My opinion: I thought this was a really cute and mostly clean read. The main character was an approachable character and supported by a cast of quirky, "drama-queenish" characters that kept the storyline light and airy, yet the mystery flowed well. The book was free from heavy profanity, sex and or drug scenes. I think this could go to even earlier than what the publisher is stating (15+) because of this.

 Now, I do have to admit that I enjoy Ms. Gaylin's Brenna Spector series, but found this one to be much lighter. However, this book is targeted towards the young adult readers. If I wasn't reading this for review, it would not be one that I would enjoy as an adult. I finished this book about 10 days ago, but have forgotten the better chunk of the storyline already.
Source:  Edelweiss for Pocket Star
Would I recommend? : Yes, it was a cute clean mystery.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cut to the Bone (A Body Farm Novel) by Jefferson Bass

Book: Cut to the Bone (A Body Farm Novel)
Author: Jefferson Bass (Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass)
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): September 24, 2013

Synopsis: In a prequel to the Body Farm series, it is 1992 and the Body Farm is just getting started when Dr. Brockton is called in to investigate a serial killer with a very unusual blood thirst. As the killer remains elusive and the body count rises, is Dr. Brockton on this killer's radar?
My rating: 5 stars easily without even coming up for a breath!
My opinion: OK...gotta preface this review with saying I am a HUGE fan of the writing duo of Jefferson Bass. Not quite an Annie Wilkes level of fan, but pretty dang close. I was hooked with the first book in the series and have just gotten more sucked in with each new release.

Cut to the Bone is no different. Incredibly strong writing skills partnered with dynamic, personable characters and a rockin', twisted storyline make this a not-to-be missed read. 'Nuf said on that front. I can't say it any stronger! This one was told in multiple points of view which did make it maybe a bit difficult to follow, at times,  but not enough to detract from the storyline or the rating.

I will say that there was a bit more graphic violence to this book than was in earlier releases. When I say this, I say scenes that made me cringe and I tend to have a tough stomach on this stuff. I also found myself reflecting much more on occurrences in this book than I have in other books in the series.

Miranda was missing in this novel. I must admit that I missed the banter between her and Dr. Brockton. As a result, this one was much more of a "serious thriller" to me. 

What made this book a particular treat for me is that I just finished listening to the duo's book, Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensics Lab.... It was amazing to see how many very specific "incidents" from there was brought into the Body Farm series. 

On a final note, unlike the rest in the series, this is considered a prequel. In my humble opinion, it would be a great place to either start the series or to read as a stand alone. 
Source:  WilliamMorrow for review
Would I recommend? : Heck yes and have steered many a new fan to this dynamic duo.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Series: Prequel in series