Monday, September 18, 2017

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall


Summary:

What if someone you trusted was accused of the unthinkable?

     George Woodbury, an affable teacher and beloved husband and father, is arrested for sexual impropriety at a prestigious prep school. His wife, Joan, vaults between denial and rage as the community she loved turns on her. Their daughter, Sadie, a popular over-achieving high school senior, becomes a social pariah. Their son, Andrew, assists in his father’s defense, while wrestling with his own unhappy memories of his teen years. A local author tries to exploit their story, while an unlikely men’s rights activist attempts to get Sadie onside their cause. With George locked up, how do the members of his family pick up the pieces and keep living their lives? How do they defend someone they love while wrestling with the possibility of his guilt?



My Thoughts:

     First off, let me start by saying that I thought this was going to be a suspense-type book and it is not.  I think this through me off a little but that is my bad for not reading the full description but I don't think that it affected my overall feelings for this story.
     How would you feel if one of the people you knew, trusted and looked up to the most was accused of something horrible? How would you react?  It is easy to answer that from this side of things but how would that answer differ if you were actually in that moment? Out of love and your knowledge you would stand by that person and fight for them but how would you feel?
      This story delves into the Woodbury family and how they deal with the accusations and arrest of their beloved husband and father.  It also deals with how they are treated as the family of the accused and how our society reacts to such crimes and those they deem as the ones who "should have known".  It is a rather dark and deep look into how families of accused criminals are mistreated and shunned by those around them.
     I think that Ms. Whittall does a great job of looking at things from the families perspective but I feel that we never really got a chance to get to know any of them very well as there was a lot of jumping around in perspective.  I also never really liked any of the characters so I had a hard time "rooting" for any of them.  Don't get me wrong, I had plenty of sympathy for them but they all came off very self-involved and were never truly there for each or seemed to have a great relationship to begin with.  I wanted to enjoy this and see them all grow and learn from these experiences but none of them really seemed to change at all-disappointing.  2/5 stars

Author's site: http://zoewhittall.com/
    


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ugh, September...


Life lately:

     See that picture up there? That should have been me over the last two weekends as both were three day weekends for me. But alas, there was no time. 
      I was doing good staying ahead on my reading but then September hit.  Oy, this month is one of the busiest months of the year for our family! Added on top of the usual craziness we also had our last MLB game of the year (Go Royals!) and a college visit with the daughter that we decided to turn into an overnight trip.  This was to squeeze in some touristy stuff and avoid six hours of drive time in one day and well...I'm behind...again.  
     So short story long, no reviews this week.  I am writing this to help alleviate some of my guilt but I doubt it works.  I am going to try to be back in the swing of things next week but I can't guarantee anything as this weekend is another busy one.  I promise to try and that's something, right?

     Hope everyone is having a good month so far full of great reads? If you have anything that you've read lately that is amazing, please comment below!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

White Bars by David Dagley


Summary:

     White Bars is the comical tale of two myna birds trapped in neighboring cages in a pet shop, and their plot to escape. Soren, a young myna plucked from his nest as an egg, has never known what it means to be free. But Fife, an older, worldly bird does, and he longs to fly home to the tropical forests across the Pacific Ocean. Every evening after the pet shop closes, the store becomes a stock market where the caged animals trade what they have for what they want: seed, sand, plants and bugs. Will Soren and Fife be able to barter for their freedom? Or will their wings stay clipped?


My Thoughts:

     This is a rather short story (barely over 100 pages) about friendship and freedoms.  White Bars is a very heavily metaphorical story told through lives of two myna birds trapped in cages in a pet store.  One has been there his entire life and the other was newly caged in order to help the other escape and taste freedom for the first time.     
     This was meant to be a heartwarming and funny tale to make you think about life and independence.  My issue is that from the start you are just thrown right into the action and never really given the chance to make a connection to the main characters.  The only character I had any feeling toward was Juliet, a recently widowed love bird, and even that aspect of the story was minor and short.  
     I am not much for deeply metaphorical stories but I feel that if a few more pages would have made a big difference in this tale.  White Bars is an interesting take on social issues but fell flat for me because there was no chance to get to know any of the characters. 
Interesting idea and concept but just wasn't for me: 2/5 stars


 About the author: 

David Dagley has been working in the Bering Sea for the last 10 years and traveling through South East Asia in his off time. He resides in Seward, Alaska. He is currently working on his next book, Cale Dixon and the Women of Cho, a sequel project to Cale Dixon and the Moguk Murders, which was recently released in paperback by Strategic Book Publishing. 

Author's site: http://www.davidcdagley.com/

Monday, September 4, 2017

Brewing Up Murder by Neila Young

Summary:


As the owner of Mystery Cup CafĂ© in Wilton, Missouri, a town made famous by a string of long-ago murders, Blake Harper is used to the mysterious. When her barista is found strangled in a mound of coffee beans, Blake vows to find the killer, even though her sister, the town’s lead police detective, tells her to stay out of it.

Blake finds plenty of suspects, like the owners of a rival coffee shop and the handsome new bookstore owner. But when new threats are made, she soon realizes the danger is centered around Mystery Cup and someone is targeting her personally.

Will Blake be able to solve the murder, find a new barista, and perfect her recipe for espresso brownies before she becomes the next victim?



My Thoughts:

     I use to be an avid Cozy Mystery reader several years ago but got burnt out when it seemed like every other book was identical.  I was intrigued when Brewing Up Murder was offered to me for an honest review because...coffee! When the book showed up in my mailbox and I saw that the author was local to me? YAY! I have always wanted to find local authors to read and support.  It was also fun to read about places that I have actually been!
     Blake and family were fun and a joy to read about and get to know.  I love the setting of the little town of Wilton, Missouri, that is only famous because it was the backdrop to a serial killer's rampage over fifty years ago.  The coffee shop, Mystery Cup, sounds like a great place to go to and the locals were funny, nosy and realistically written as anyone who lives in a small town can attest to!
     I did not figure out "who dunnit" ahead of time (always a bonus) and Ms. Young did a good job of throwing suspicion out everywhere so you were never sure who to trust. 
      I have a small list of complaints and really two are a bit nit-picky:
1) Even in a small town, I don't think that Blake's sister would be allowed to question her in a murder investigation.
2) It seemed like every character had dead parents!? A bit depressing and worrisome!
3) I am looking forward to more in this series as long as the plotline involving the love life of Blake is not drawn out painfully in several books.  This is a HUGE pet peeve of mine stemming from an old cozy series I used to read.

     If you are looking for a new cozy mystery series to read I think this new series show great promise: 4/5 stars


Author's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NeilaYoungAuthor/

Thursday, August 31, 2017

My August Reads



http://www.sarahforgrave.com/category/author-interviews/source

     August, where did you go???? Holy Moses, I cannot believe September is right around the corner! I love Fall and I am excited about it but it just seems unreal that it is here already! Wow, that was a lot of exclamation points! :)
     Looks like I read eight books in August and that I really great for me.  What made it even better was that I finally slowed down on ARCs and was able to read a few books from my massive To Be Read Pile. Woo Hoo!  There is a massive book sale coming up in September and I am trying to decide if I should even go as I definitely don't need more books. What do you think?

 

Here's what I read in August:


The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson: Another hit from the MMD Book Club that I probably never would have picked up on my own. See my full review here.





Twisted Twosome by Meghan Quinn: A great, sexy and hilarious story of opposites attract. All the info is here.






The Other Girl by Erica Spindler: Rather predicable and at times, unbelievable police procedural/thriller. All my thoughts are here.





The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Angel Linconh: This was my book about books pick for my July (oops!) reading challenge and I had heard a lot of great things about it but...it was just okay for me. 3/5 stars




The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn: A historical fiction novel involving Jane Austen AND time travel? I'm in!  All the info over here.






All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco: A little overly detailed but all-in-all a pretty good cozy. See my full review here.







Dark Matter by Blake Crouch: A very fast paced thriller with a science fiction twist. Full thoughts on this one are here.





September Sneak Peek:

 
 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch


Summary: 


“Are you happy with your life?” 

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. 

Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. 

Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.



My Thoughts:


     I keep hearing things about Dark Matter and how amazing it is so I decided to dive in!  Even if you read the above description and decide that it might not be for you, think again.  Yes, it is filled with science/physics stuff that only Sheldon Cooper can fully understand but you'll get the jist of it and you will love the way it makes you think about life.  
     Jason has always wondered how his life might have been different if he hadn't given up his promising physics career to raise a family.  He never thought he would truly get the answer to that question!  It is amazing and slightly scary to think of what might have been but this story will make you stop and truly appreciate what you have and where you are in life.  This may be seen or perceived as a love story but it is a love story about life.  
  This is a very fast paced thriller and a completely new (at least to me) concept and while the science sometimes got to be a little much it was well worth it for the amazing story of growth and learning what is important in life.  One complaint would be that you are left hanging with no resolution on one aspect of the story and I HATE that! 4/5 stars




Favorite quotes:


"That everything which has a probability of happening is happening. Everything that might have occurred in our past did occur, only in another universe."

"There's something horribly lonely about a place that's almost home."



Author's site: https://www.blakecrouch.com/

Thursday, August 24, 2017

All Signs Point to Murder by Connie di Marco


Summary:


Julia Bonatti is alarmed by the astrological signs looming over Geneva Leary’s wedding day, but nobody asked Julia’s opinion and being a bridesmaid means supporting the bride no matter what. Even with the foreboding Moon-Mars-Pluto lineup in the heavens, no one’s prepared for the catastrophes that strike: a no-show sister, a passed-out wedding planner, and a lethal shooting in the dead of night.

With anger and grief threatening to tear the Leary family part, Julia is determined to understand how such a terrible tragedy could occur. As she digs deeper into the family’s secrets, her astrological insights will lead her to the truth about a criminal enterprise that stretches far beyond the California coast.  



My Thoughts:


     This is the second book in Connie di Marco's Zodiac Mystery series.  I did not read the first installment in the series but it was not necessary to in order to get into book two.
     Julia, as a bridesmaid in her long-time friend's wedding, ends up staying overnight in a family home and becoming involved in a murder investigation in which the whole family is suspect.  Geneva, the bride, only trusts Julia to find out what is really going on and this leads Julia into some dangerous situations.
     I liked the character of Julia and found her job as an astrologer to be intriguing and fun to read about.  There were a few times the information was confusing but it did not deter from the story.  There are A LOT of side characters in this story and the first few chapters had me struggling to keep them all straight but once I relaxed and just read, everything was fine.  I really enjoyed Julia's friends, Gale and Cheryl and the side story involving them was also fun.  
   It has been awhile since I have read a nice cozy mystery so this was a nice break and a good story.  Although there were times that there was just too much detail given (step-by-step of driving or other mundane things) I found this to be an interesting mystery and would definitely read more of this series.  3.5/5 stars 

Author's site: http://www.conniedimarco.com/