Monday, September 30, 2013

Margot: A Novel by Jillian Cantor

Book: Margot: A Novel
Author: Jillian Cantor
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Margie Franklin, a law secretary, living in the Philly area has a secret that she has been very good at keeping. Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, who escaped the Nazis instead of being sent to a concentration camp with her family, and relocated to the United States 15 years ago. UNTIL the story of her sister's diary is released and hits the movie theaters. Margot knows that she must come to terms with not only her past, but her present and future that she has been able to avoid in protecting her past. 
My rating: 5 Stars
My opinion: OMG...I loved this book! 

Normally, I am not a fan of fictional revisionist history. The majority of them I have read, there was NO WAY that the story EVER could have happened and I found myself constantly rolling my eyes, but this one worked. One could see this happening. There was nothing over the top about the story that the author portrays. I wholeheartedly disagree with a couple of Goodreads reviewers who call this book light and chicklit"ish". There was nothing about that in regards to this book.  In my opinion, it was really focused with a woman who was "comfortable" hiding in the shadows of who she really was and suddenly has to change this and come to terms when things she though true were found to be untrue.

I had some questions throughout the reading that the author wrapped up beautifully in the epilogue. So be sure to read the epilogue.

To boot, this book has some great writing. The book sucked me in immediately and I had to force myself to put it aside for the most part. I enjoyed this book so much that I approached the author to join Sisterhood of the Traveling Book as an author member and was thrilled when she accepted. I can see why this book is on so many lists. 
Source: Riverhead Trade
Would I recommend? : See above and I have already to numerous people outside STB.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley

Book: Running Like A Girl
Author: Alexandra Heminsley
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: A very insightful read for us slowpokes just starting our running lives. Told with hysterical honesty and insight, this book helps women, such as myself, when giving up is looking like a very realistic option!
My rating: 5 Stars!!

This book is  a must read for ANY non-professional runner and one that feels like a fool while building up stamina in running. I could relate to 90 percent of what this woman wrote and it gave me hope to persevere even when I feel like it is never going to work out.

One of the things that I liked most regarding this book are the great tips woven into just a really light story (i.e. invest in a great running bra...breasts go in figure 8's not up and down)

I purchased this book for my training library and reflect back to it on bad days. Yes, it is highlighted like crazy!

Source:   Scribner
Would I recommend? : Already have and even purchased as a gift and one for myself.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Asylum by Madeline Roux

Book: Asylum
Author: Madeline Roux
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: 16 year old outcast Dan Crawford has the opportunity of a lifetime when he is able to attend a summer program at a prestigious school. This isn't any school though. In its former life, it was an asylum for the criminally insane and has some secrets to hold. 

Dan quickly sheds his outcast stigma when he quickly makes two friends, Abby and Jordan. When weird happenings start to occur, they go on a hunt to find the truth. Will they make it through the summer or do others have plans to include them in the school's history?
My rating: 2 Stars
My opinion: I have to say that given the cover, which is gorgeous, I expected a creepier read. This book just seemed to be much more of a romance and the romance dance. I thought it also had WAY to much drama for my liking that was used more to prop up the story. This led to the book lacking any creepiness.  One other thing that stood out to me was that the pictures included in the book, which were photos from history, seemed to be simply thrown in there. There was no rhyme or reason for how they fit into the storyline.

 Appropriate for older younger adult genre to new adult genre. 
Source:  Harper Collins
Would I recommend? : Maybe someone younger will find the book creepier, but I couldn't just warm up to it. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Advent of Murder (A Faith Morgan Mystery) by Martha Ockley

Book: The Advent of Murder (A Faith Morgan Mystery)
Author: Martha Ockley
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Faith Morgan, village vicar and former police officer, is preparing for the Christmas pagent when she heads over to local farmer, Oliver Markham's farm to discuss it with him. Thing is that when she gets there, the farm is surrounded with police cars, police tape and her partner for the pageant the main suspect in the murder of a local teen found dead along the side of his river. Did he really do it? Does it have to do with the local drug trade who have their own list of suspects or does someone else in the village have a secret to hide? With Oliver tied up by the police, will the Christmas pageant go on?
My rating: 4 stars
My opinion: I thought this was a cute and well-written cozy, but please note that it is a cozy thus not a really deep storyline. On that note, I must admit that I did enjoy the storyline because, while it wasn't deep, it wasn't sticky sweet like the majority of the cozy mysteries that I have read. Another winner for me was that most of the cozies I have read have been set in US cities so I loved the "English Village" setting in this one. I was reminded of one of my favorite English mysteries "Midsomer Murders" with its quirky characters who all know one another, yet aren't who the "portray" to the public and have lots of little secrets to hide.

ETA: In posting this to Amazon, I noticed its price of $11 for the Kindle price. While I enjoyed this book, I will say that I would NEVER have paid that price for this book. Its price point is WAY too high! 

Source:  Netgalley for Lion Hudson PLC
Would I recommend? : Yes, and this is a series I will continue. It is cute without being nauseating!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series

Stranded (Maggie O'Dell #11) by Alex Kava

Book: Stranded (Maggie O'Dell #11)
Author: Alex Kava
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: FBI agent Maggie O'Dell is tracking a pretty grisly killer. One who stalks weary travelers across our nation's highways and rest stops. Thing is...he left one alive to tell his story. Is it all as it seems though? What happens when Maggie gets close to answers and becomes the target of the ruthless killer?
My rating: 3.5/5 Stars
My opinion: This is my first Alex Kava book. In my Goodreads groups, she is mentioned frequently, but I had never had the opportunity to read one of them until I noticed a chance to review her newest book, Stranded. I am happy I did. While I do consider the writing to be lighter than most mysteries I enjoy and I did figure out the ending very early in my reading, I enjoyed the ride of the book. I found the writing to be quick paced and the characters somewhat complex. 

One other aspect I wanted to see in this series is if this book could be read as a stand-alone book or were her characters so complex that this was a series which needed to be read in order. I am happy to report that this is a book that could be read as a stand alone without feeling as though I was missing out on critical character information.

At the beginning, I became extremely excited at the how twisted the author went in the description of the crime. That did not last and a somewhat predictable path began. I will say that I could have done without the romance, but it seems if I read a female mystery writer (with the exception of a very few), I just have to accept the romance aspect of it without the "twistedness". While this series is probably not one I would read from the beginning, as compulsively as I have some, this is definitely an author I would not turn away.
Source:  Netgalley for Doubleday Books
Would I recommend? : Yes
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of series, but please see my notes in my opinion.