Thursday, April 28, 2016

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You

On my TBR List for summer - what do you think?

Don't Believe a Word; Patricia MacDonald
Severn House - June-2016

A daughter sets out to discover the truth about her mother’s death in this absorbing novel of psychological suspense.

Eden Radley had a strained relationship with her mother ever since Tara deserted the family nine years before to run off with her much younger lover. But when she’s told that her mother has killed herself and her severely disabled young son, Eden’s half-brother, Eden is ridden with guilt. For her mother had tried to get in touch with her on the night she died, and Eden had ignored her text. Was Tara calling for help?

Heading to Cleveland, Ohio, for the funeral, Eden discovers there was so much she didn’t know about her mother, nor about her enigmatic, troubled stepfather Flynn Darby. And the more she learns, the more convinced she becomes that Tara’s death was no suicide. Could Flynn really be guilty of murder …?

Gallery - June 2016


You will be scared. But you won’t know why…

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”

And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.

In this smart, suspenseful, and intense literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about KevinI’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go.

The Captive Condition - Kevin Keating
July - Pantheon


From a thrilling new voice in fiction comes a chilling and deliciously dark novel about an idyllic Midwestern college town that turns out to be a panorama of depravity and a nexus of horror.

For years Normandy Falls has been haunted by its strange history and the aggrieved spirits said to roam its graveyards. Despite warnings, Edmund Campion is determined to go there and pursue an advanced degree in literature. At first things proceed wonderfully, but Edmund soon learns he isn't immune to the impersonal trappings of fate: his girlfriend Morgan Fey smashes his heart, his advisor Professor Martin Kingsley crushes him with frivolous assignments, and his dead end job begins to take a toll on his physical and mental health.

One night he stumbles upon the body of Emily Ryan, a proud and unapologetic "townie," drowned in her family pool. Was it suicide, Edmund wonders, or murder? In the days following the tragedy, Emily's husband Charlie, crippled by self-loathing and ultimately frozen with fear, attempts to flee his disastrous life and sends their twin daughters to stay with the Kingsleys. Possessed with an unnamed, preternatural power, the twins know the professor seduced their mother and may have had a hand in her death. With their piercing stares, the girls fill Martin with the remorse and dread he so desperately tries to hide from his wife.

Elsewhere, a low-level criminal named The Gonk takes over a remote cottage, complete with a burial ground and moonshine still, and devises plans for both; Xavier D'Avignon, the eccentric chef of a failing French restaurant, supplies customers with a hallucinogenic cocktail he makes in his kitchen; and Colette Collins, an elderly local artist of the surreal and psychedelic, attends a New Year's Eve retrospective that is destined to set the whole town on fire.

Delving into the deepest recesses of the human capacity for evil, Kevin P. Keating's masterful novel will hold readers captive from first to last.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Orphan #8; Kim van Alkemade

Orphan #8; Kim van Alkemade
William Morrow - 2015

The story centers around Rachel Rabinowitz who was placed in an orphanage, the Hebrew Infant for Jewish children, at the age of four in 1919 in NewYork City.  Rachel was one of several children used in medical experiments by Dr. Mildred Soloman. Rachel is used as Dr. Soloman’s test case for new X-ray equipment. She’s continuously overexposed to radiation which left her bald, browless and disfigured. When she get’s a bit older she is sent to another home, the Orphaned Hebrews Home, where she is taunted by other children.

As an adult Rachel works in the nursing profession back in New York. As a nurse at the Hebrew home for the elderly she crosses paths with Dr. Soloman who now happens to reside there.  Forced to relive the past Rachel must decide whether to make peace with the past or seek revenge.

I’m not a huge fan of historical novels but, coming of age and orphan stories do have some appeal with me.  Overall, Orphan #8 a tough read. In retrospect, I should have picked a more upbeat story. This one just made me angry at times especially after learning that it was in part based on true happenings.

3/5 stars
(print version sent by publisher)

Bull Mountain; Brian Panowich

Bull Mountain; Brian Panowich
Recorded Books - 2015
(read by Brian Troxell)

Bull Mountain is a debut novel that I had passed on at first glance but, after reading several rave reviews I decided to give the audio a try.  It's very gritty yet so well written.

Set in Georgia, the story focuses on the lawless Burroughs family who for generations have been the kings of Bull Mountain, pretty much doing whatever they pleased. They sold moonshine, weapons, pot and now meth. Halford (Hal) is the elder brother who continues in the illegal operations following in his family's footsteps.

Clayton Burroughs, Hal's younger brother, took a different path after getting married, he is a county sheriff.  Clayton is torn between doing what's right and betraying his family.  Somehow the brothers have managed to stay out of each others business up until now but, when an agent from the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco and Firearms asks Clayton for his help things heat up.  The ATF want's Hal's help to shutdown a large scale gun and drug running operation out of Florida.

This story was very different from the kind of stories I'm usually drawn to. It's gritty with a lot of violence.  There are quite a few characters but, even on audio it was fairly easy to differentiate between them.  There were some unexpected twists in this story which surprised me as well.  I must say that the heavy accents were a bit rough at times so I listened to this one in shorter segments than I normally would.  I think if I had it to do over, I would have chosen the print version. Panowich is a talented new author to try. 

4/5 stars
(library audio)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Passenger; Lisa Lutz

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. 

The Passenger; Lisa Lutz
Simon & Schuster - 2016

Tanya Dubois
Chapter 1

"When I found my husband at the bottom of the stairs, I tried to resuscitate him before I ever considered disposing of the body.  I pumped his barrel chest and blew into his purple lips.  It was the first time in years that our lips had touched and I didn't recoil.

I gave up after ten minutes. Frank Dubois was gone.  Lying there all peaceful and quiet, he almost looked in a slumber, but Frank was noisier asleep than he was awake.  Honestly, if I had know what kind of a snorer he was going to turn into, I never would have married him.  If I could do it all over, I would have never married him even if he slept like an angel.  If I could do it all over again, there are so many things I would do differently.  But looking at Frank then, so still and not talking, I didn't mind him so much.  It seemed like a good time to say good-bye.  I poured a shot of Frank's special bourbon, sat down on Frank's faux-suede La-Z-Boy, and had a drink to honor the dead."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass? 
(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fool Me Once; Harlan Coben

Fool Me Once; Harlan Coben
Brilliant Audio - 2016

In this stand alone Coben thriller Maya Stern is a former Special Ops pilot suffering from PTSD.  She is also a grieving widow, her husband Joe was brutally murdered a few weeks earlier.  To ease her stress where her two-year old daughter is concerned, she discreetly installs a nanny cam to monitor the happenings of her daughter and the caregiver while she is away.  Soon after Maya sees what appears to be her dead husband sitting on the sofa with their daughter.  Are her eyes playing tricks on her or, is Joe still alive? After all, she never saw his body after he was supposedly murdered.

Fool Me Once was a very good thriller that held my interest all the way to the end, and it even managed to surprise me.  Maya is a spunky character who was fearless and determined to find out what was really going on.  The audio version was read by January LaVoy who did a very good job. I also had the eGalley so I was able to read as well as listen. Readers who enjoy a good thriller should give this one a try.

4/5 stars
(library audio & eGalley)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Family Man; Elinor Lipman

Family Man; Elinor Lipman
Sound Library - 2009

Henry Archer is likable, old-school type guy. He retired early from his Manhattan law practice so he can enjoy life, as he expects to die young like his father before him.  Henry's also gay, but was married briefly to Denise, who had a daughter, Thalia, that Henry had adopted.  Henry reluctantly gave up custody rights when the couple divorced and Denise remarried.

Now when Henry learns that Denise's most recent husband (#3) has died, he is anxious to reconnect with Thalia who is now 29 and an aspiring actress.  The two begin having lunch together and as their relationship grows there are unexpected perks,  joy and love to be experienced by both. 

This is another dialogue driven novel (not my favorite style) but, it's rather enjoyable for several reasons.  It's a comedy of manners -- lots of wit with quirky characters who are easy to root for. Henry is so real and unassuming.  If you are looking for an upbeat story that will leave you smiling, try this one. The audio was read by Jonathan Davis who did a great job.  Although this wasn't my favorite book by Elinor Lipman, I'm still happy I gave this one a try.

3.5/5 stars
(library audio)

The Children; Ann Leary

The Children; Ann Leary
St. Martin's Press - 2016

The Children is a story about blended families and family secrets told from the POV of 29 year-old Charlotte (Lottie) Maynard, a reclusive mommy blogger who has never been a mommy but makes a decent living pretending to be one.

"Lake Side" is a somewhat rundown, sprawling lake side home in Connecticut that had been in Lottie's stepfather's family for generations.  When her stepfather, Whit Whitman, passed away three years earlier, the trust allowed for Lottie and her mother Joan to remain in the house even though Whit's sons Spin and Perry now own the property. The brothers never lived there when their father was alive and had only visited on weekends. Lottie's sister Sally also grew up at Lake Side but left years earlier for a job in NYC. Sally's stability is questionable and after losing her job in the city, she returns to live at Lake Side.

Things heat up when Spin returns to Lake Side with his fiancee Laurel Atwood. The sisters, especially Lottie, are intrigued by Laurel and try to find out as much as possible about her on various social media sites. The sisters feel there is something about Laurel that isn't quite right but, who in this family is really harboring the most secrets?

This story took me a while to get into this story. I did love the very different personalities of this blended, quirky family.  There is a lot of conversational dialogue going on throughout which doesn't always work well with me, but overall I felt the story was a nice mix of funny, heartbreaking and drama with but of psych thriller thrown in the mix.  Although the ending seemed rushed, I do think readers who tend to enjoy family drama and dysfunction will want to try this one.  After absolutely loving this author's debut novel, The Good House, I have to say, Leary's latest book, The Children, left me somewhat disappointed.

3.5/5 stars