Tuesday, October 17, 2017

What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan

My rating: 4.8

Rachel and her eight year old son Ben are walking through the woods in a park in Bristol. Ben asks to run ahead and Rachel agrees. When she gets to the spot by the swing where he should be, he is not there. As the hours and days pass and the police search unfolds.

This suspenseful novel make you know how it would feel to be Rachel - everything from her panic over her missing son to being crucified in the press. Absolutely horrifically gripping.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

My rating: 4.6

Nastya and Josh are two complicated individuals who are haunted by their pasts.  Nastya moves to a new town in order to keep her dark past a secret and she wants to hold everyone at a distance. Everyone knowing Josh's dark past of everyone he has ever loved dying by the time he is 17 years old means that most of the kids leave him alone. Their two worlds intersect and they soon find a comfort in just being with the other person.

I enjoyed the character development...I did not expect to end up loving Drew whereas Josh took a while to grow on me. There is some stereotypical bits but also lots of surprising things including the humor. If you like Young Adult books, I think you will love this. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When The Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith

My rating: 5.0

Twin boys, Sean and Garrick, grow up in 1800's Natal, Africa. It covers their childhood and then follows Sean's life during the gold rush times in Johannesburg. Amazing writing that flows. This is the first in the 13 part Courtney series.

Absolutely amazing. Definitely makes my "Best of 2017" list. The writing was flawless and beautiful but not like some flowery writing where you have to reread phrases...this just flowed effortlessly. This captures 'men' as well as Africa.  I couldn't wait for the story to unfold but was also so disappointed when it ended. So glad that Smith is such a prolific author as I will be reading more by him. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

My rating: 4.9

Lenka and Josef last saw each other in Prague and then decades later, they meet again. Despite knowing the ending in the first chapter and knowing about the atrocities of WWII, I still learned a lot from this book.

Meticulous character development and research had me enthralled and I couldn't wait to have time to read more. My heart felt for both of them as the author brought them to life in my hands. This was described as a love story but, it is not a 'romance fluff' type of love story. It is about two people in a horrific time and what happens to them. I will definitely read more by Richman. Stellar!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

My rating: 3.4

Elsewhere is where people go after they die and this is where 15 year old Liz Hall goes after she is hit on her bicycle by a car. As similar as Elsewhere is to Earth, Liz can't understand why she can't 'wake up' to return to her real life. You age backwards and when you become a baby, you go back to Earth but Liz wants to turn 16, not get younger.

This was very creative and entertaining but I felt that the characters were not well developed and felt flat. This made it hard to feel involved as, despite the potential of the storyline, my heart just didn't connect with any of the characters. Too bad as the concept had a lot of potential.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

My rating: 3.0

This is told through a series of letters from Charlie that are meant to be like reading a journal. Charlie is quirky and unique. This is a coming of age story where Charlie shares all the angst of his experiences.

Although this has been popular for ages, I knew nothing about it and was surprised that the main character was a male. I really wanted to like this more than I did but it seemed to drone on about so much minutia. I felt for Charlie and his fragile state of mind but I think it would have been helpful to have this told from alternative viewpoints in order to care about the characters. I know I am in the minority on this but, this wasn't a favorite.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I See You by Clare MacIntosh

My rating: 4.6

Like all of us, Zoe Walker has her daily routines.  She goes to work in London every day via the Tube, standing at the same train platform, getting in the same car, etc. One evening commute home, she is glancing throught the newspaper and sees her own face looking back at her from the classifieds with a phone number and a website for FindtheOne.com. There is a different woman in the ad every day. When one turns up murdered Zoe starts to realize that there may be a connection to the ads.

I enjoyed everything about this book except the ending. I don't like when a character that used to be normal suddenly goes over the cliff cuckoo. Other than that, I did enjoy it and it made me think about how predictable my routine is! I do like that she left something unexplained at the end so there will possibly be a sequel.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Human Remains by Elizabeth Haynes

My rating: 4.8


Annabel discovers her next door neighbour’s decomposing body and is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed that anything was wrong. At her job as a police analyst, she feels compelled to investigate and discovers that this isn't an isolated case. As she’s drawn deeper into the mystery and becomes convinced she’s on the trail of a killer, she also must face her own demons. Told in alternating chapters between Annabel and Colin, a socially awkward individual who is trying a tad too hard to meet the ladies, but is he a dangerous psychopath?

Oh my. This was the most deeply disturbing, disgusting, gross thing I have ever read....and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I admit that I did skim over some of the more revolting parts but I still couldn't stop devouring it to find out what was going to happen.  So incredibly dark and creepy! I think Into The Darkest Corner was amazing (was UK's best book of 2011) and will definitely be reading more by Haynes

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Playing Dead by Julia Heaberlin

My rating; 2.7

Days after her father's death, Tommie McCloud gets a letter from a woman claiming that Tommie is her daughter who was kidnapped as a baby.

I felt that this couldn't decide what the story wanted to be - a romance, a mystery, a thriller, a psychological thriller, a Western, a Mafia Witness Protection Program or a cowgirl gone heroine.

I absolutely loved Heaberlin's most recent novel Black Eyed Susans - in fact, it made my 'Best of' list for 2015. You can tell that Playing Dead was written earlier as her skill isn't as honed but it does show the promise of what is to come.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka

My rating: 4.3

Sarah Cook disappears on the same night her parents are brutally murdered.  Her boyfriend, Brad Stockton is convicted and on death row. With Brad's execution date set, his sister Danielle hires Private Investigator Roxane Weary in a last ditch effort to help her brother,

This has a more 'detective/mystery' feel to it than a Thriller. I enjoyed Roxane and her imperfect ways including drinking and trying to go with here gut in figuring things out. This was a very strong first novel and a definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys Sue Grafton types of mysteries (although not as comical).

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

My rating: 4.4

Agatha and Meghan are both pregnant. Meghan is chic, married with 2 kids and seems to have it all. Agatha is single and works at a grocery store and when she catches glimpses of Meg thinks she has the perfect life.

It felt like every character was competing for the gold in the Dysfunctional Olympics. If I could change two things it would be that at least one or two of the characters were 'normal'/likable and that he didn't write the last chapter. Other than that, a fun beach read / thriller.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

My rating: 4.6

Louise is a tired single mom who finally gets a rare night out. She meets a man in a bar and flirts, has fun and even shares a kiss. When she shows up for work on Monday, the man from the bar turns out to be David, her new boss. Then she runs in to David's wife Adele and they end up striking up a friendship. As Louise gets pulled in more, she starts to learn things about David and Adele and you are soon drawn into their crazy world.

This kept me turning the pages and guessing who was the one who was crazy (was it me?!) and who I could trust. I definitely didn't have it figured out. Very enjoyable and I loved the ending.

Monday, September 4, 2017

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 4.6

Jess is raising Nick, her teenage stepson who is being bullied, and Tanzie, her math-whiz daughter, while she struggles to make ends meet by cleaning peoples homes. Tanzie has the opportunity to go to an elite school that she can't afford.  Enter "Geeky Ed", a millionaire sleeze that she happens to clean his home.

I loved every character in this book (ok, I hated Ed at first but he grew on me!) and laughed so much along the way. Jess' struggles were real and so were her quirky dysfunctional family. I cheered for them all the way. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

After You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 4.2

Louisa Clark is trying to move on after the loss of Will Traynor, the love of her life. This is the sequel to "Me Before You" although it can be read as a stand alone I wish I would have read the two books closer together to remember more of the details and characters from the first book.

IMO, this wasn't on par with "Me Before You" but it had the same wit and was very entertaining. This is a good beach read and I loved the audio version.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

My rating: 4.7

In a remote Yunnan village, Li-yan and her family live their lives around the seasons and the farming of tea. They also carry on the old traditions and customs of the Akha. One day a stranger arrives in the village wanting to buy tea. Li-yan's life unfolds and you come to understand her, her family, the stranger as well as the way of tea.

This book took a while to get in to for me....not sure if it was due to the audio or ??  Once I got in to it, I enjoyed it. There were also a few parts in the middle that dragged and I felt that the overall book could have been shorted a bit.  Still, this was an enjoyable read and I loved understanding the Akha ways. There were MANY layers to this story beyond Li-yan's interesting journey including Chinese adoption by American parents. Very well done. I defy you to not crave a cup of tea while reading this book!