PAST REVIEWS

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12/18/10
Pathological by Vincent Zandri
Published by StoneHouse Ink
ISBN-13: 2940011815508
ISBN: 0011815507
At the request of the author, an EBook edition was downloaded, purchased by me, for my honest opinion.
  Synopsis (borrowed from B&N): The serial killer takes on many guises. But what happens when you unknowingly take him as your most trusted and loyal husband? Pathological is proof that even though you think you know your spouse inside and out, you might not really know him at all.
  My Thoughts and Opinion: This was my 2nd introduction to a "digital short" read. However, not my first introduction to this author. I have read and reviewed his previous novels, Moonlight Falls and The Remains, both being phenomenal suspense/thriller reads. And, even though it was a short story, Pathological, didn't disappoint this reader. It was true Vincent Zandri writing!! A short story that grabs you from the first few words to the last. Another page turner!! I honestly am having trouble describing what it was like to read this. When I finished reading the last word, I just sat, wondering if I even took a breath, while reading this chilling story. What I do know, is that Mr. Zandri is a genius at writing thrillers,even with short stories!! It left me with wanting to read more of his work!! Brilliant!!!
  My Rating: 5
(Challenges:  EBook, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Off The Shelf)


12/17/10
Bryce Loring Must Die! by Bill Walker
Published by Bill Walker
ISBN 0011077166
ISBN13: 2940011077166
At the request of the author, an EBook edition was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
  Synopsis: (borrowed from B&N): When Riley Harper discovers his old neighborhood bully is now a successful executive within his own company, Riley decides Bryce must pay for all the cruel acts he committed against him and his friends. He decides that Bryce Loring Must Die! In this Digital Short, Bill Walker delivers a taste of suspense and black humor.
  My Thoughts and Opinion: I have to be honest and tell you that I didn't know what to expect with this type of read for 2 very different reasons. The first being, that this is considered a "digital short" and didn't know what to perceive it would be like in relation to a novel. The second being, that I had read and reviewed 2 previous works by this author of a very different genre, so I was very skeptical since this being a suspense. I reviewed A Note from an Old Acquaintance and was honored to have been asked to read his manuscript of Titanic 2012. I didn't know if I should use the same guidelines that I use for rating novels, but after completing Bryce Loring Must Die!, it was clear. Within the first few sentences I was hooked. The descriptive writing style and dialogue allowed me to have a very vivid visual of the story line right down to feeling the exact same emotions that the character was feeling. The suspense unnerving. However, since it was a "short", it left me with wanting more. He has shown that as an author, he has an abundance of talent to be able to write extraordinary books of totally different genres. I am hoping that Mr. Walker has plans for a suspense novel!!!!
  My Rating: 5
(Challenge:  EBook, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Off The Shelf)

12/16/10
The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal (ARC)
Published by Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 978-0-446-56367-3
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
  Synopsis (back of book): It's the day after Labor Day, 2008, and the elite universe of New York's Upper East Side is bout to unravel along with the economy. Socialite Grigsby Somerset is barely aware of her changing world and has no idea her investment banker husband, Blake, is about to enter into a devil's bargain with hedge fund owner John Cutter. As autumn unfolds, Grigsby's fairytale life starts to unwind. Street-smart Renee Parker has been hired as John's executive assistant and is convinced that something is amiss with her new boss. Renee enlists her friend that something is amiss with her new boss. Renee enlists her friends Sasha Silver, CEO of Silver Partners, to help her decipher what is happening. They soon discover that John is nearly ruined, except for the assets he is hiding in the Cayman Islands from his wife, Mimi, and has concocted with Blake a scheme to redeem himself, This tale of expulsion from a modern-day Garden of Eden captures what happens when economic decline spells ruin for Manhattan's pampered elite.
  My Thoughts and Opinion: When I accepted this book, I thought it would be a classic chick lit read. However, it falls under more categories including: socialites, rich people, recessions, etc., and more, including attempted murder. The cast of characters varied widely from socialites to CEOs on Wall Street. Some likeable, some that left me shaking my head. The plot flowed but there was a lot of reference to the recent financial problems with hedge funds, which at times, I felt slowed down the story line. It was neither a fast paced nor profound read, which leaves it right in the middle as far as rating.
  My Rating: 3
Challenges:  FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Off The Shelf)


12/12/10
First of State by Robert Greer (ARC)
Published by North Atlantic Books
ISBN 978-1556439155
At the request of Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, an ARC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
  Synopsis (back of book): Robert Greer's latest novel-a prequel to his CJ Floyd mystery series-takes readers back in time to a very different CJ Floyd. It's 1972, and the twenty-two-year-old decorated war vet has recently returned to Denver from Vietnam with post-traumatic stress disorder. Navigating depression, he finds a friend in World War II vet and amputee Wiley Ames, who shares his passion for rare and valuable western memorabilia.
  When Ames and a mysterious Chinese man are found murdered, CJ's already fragile world threatens to collapse. His attempts to find his friend's killer are thwarted at every turn, and finally joins his Uncle Ike's business as a bail bondsman and bounty hunter. Five years later one of Ames's treasured antique license plates turns up at a Denver flea market and CJ is once again off and running. The trail to Wiley Ames's murderer leads CJ down a dark path strewn with backstabbing antique dealers, conniving friends and relatives of Ames's, and a shadowy musician. Equally a white-knuckle-ride murder mystery and a tale of a traumatized young man coming to terms with his past.
  My Thoughts and Opinion: This was the first time reading this author, and it being the prequel, has piqued my curiosity as to the rest of the series. The characters became life like whereas I instantly liked the 2 main characters CJ and his uncle Ike, even with their flaws. Set in the 1970s, CJ just back from Viet Nam, the plot touched upon Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, which I feel that Dr. Greer gave credibility for the veterans that suffer from this disease. The writing was descriptive where I could picture in my mind the scenarios of crimes and suspects that CJ investigated. The story line did move forward but at times not as fast as I would have liked. I enjoyed the characters more than the basic plot, and because of that I am quite interested in reading more of CJ Floyd and how his character evolves and develops over the years.
  My Rating: 3
(Challenges:  FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Off The Shelf)

12/06/10
Euphemania: Our Love Affair With Euphemisms by Ralph Keyes
Published by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 978-0-316-05656-4
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from back of book): An entertaining look at euphemisms-where they come from, why we need them, and what they tell us about who we are.
How did "die" become kick the bucket, "underwear" become unmentionables, and "having an affair" become hiking the Appalachian Trail? Originally used to avoid blasphemy and taboos and to make nice, euphemisms have become embedded in the fabric of our language. Euphemania traces the evolution of euphemisms from tools of the church to expressions of gentility to today's instrument of commercial, political, and postmodern doublespeak. As much social commentary as a book for word lovers, Euphemania is a lively and thought-provoking look at the power of words and our power over them.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Just in time for the holidays. This book is informative, filled with trivia and a fun read. I found it to be quite interesting as to where and how certain terms came in to being such as "a loose cannon" (pg 193), "bookworm"(pg 228) "under the weather"(pg 124) and so many more. This book is perfect for those that enjoy trivia, history of the English language and the origin of certain phrases. I will never look at a chocolate chip cookie the same way again (page 111). Just in time for the holidays, this book should be on one's Christmas list, for yourself or someone you know.
My Rating: 4 
(Challenges: FOMX 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Off The Shelf)

11/28/10
Private by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Published by Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 978-0-316-09615-7
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book's jacket): THE POLICE CAN'T HELP YOU Former Marine helicopter pilot Jack Morgan runs Private, a renowned investigation company with branches around the globe. It is where you go when you need maximum force and maximum discretion. The secrets of the most influential men and women on the planet come to Jack daily-and his staff of investigators use the world's most advanced forensic tools to make and break their cases.
THE PRESS WILL DESTROY YOU Jack is already deep into the investigation of a multimillion-dollar NFL gambling scandal and the unsolved slayings of thirteen schoolgirls when he learns of a horrific murder close to home: his best friend's wife, Jack's former lover has been killed. It nearly pushes him over the edge. Instead, Jack pushes back and devotes all of Private's resources to tracking down her killer.
ONLY ONE PLACE TO TURN: PRIVATE But Jack doesn't have to play by the rules. As he closes in on the killer and chooses between revenge and justice, Jack has to navigate a workplace love affair that threatens to blow the roof off his plans.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Here I sit wondering what can I say about this book and only 3 words come to mind: Pure James Patterson!!! I have been a big fan of Mr. Patterson's books for years and have not yet read one that I didn't like. It contained all the elements that the author does best. Short chapters for that "read just one more chapter moment" and you find yourself 10 chapters forward. Pulls you in with the first page and doesn't let you go until the very last page. Nonstop action whereas it is a "page turner" and a "can't put down type of book". Twists and turns you don't see coming. The main character, Jack Morgan, was believable and likeable and am hoping that there will be future books related to this character.
My Rating: 5
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+. FIR 2010, Patterson, Off the Shelf)

11/22/10
Rules Of Betrayal by Christopher Reich
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 978-0-385-53154-2
At the request of Doubleday, a HC was sent, at no cost to me for my personal opinion
Synopsis (from book's jacket): In 1980 an American B-52 bomber transporting a top-secret weapon crashes high on the peaks of a remote mountain range on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Nearly thirty years later, deep in the unforgiving, Taliban-controlled Lashkar Province of Afghanistan, Dr. Jonathan Ransom is making amends for the violence in his past. The woman he married, Emma Ransom, a.k.a. Lara Antonova, is in fact a spy and an assassin who used his job with Doctors Without Borders as her cover story. Now she is missing-most likely in the hands of a charismatic and violent arms dealer who goes by the name Lord Balfour. Emma is also being hunted by two conflicting shadow agencies-Division in the U.S. and the FSB in Russia.
After Ransom is nearly killed in a stunning double cross in Tora Bora, he is summoned by Frank Connor, the power broker a the helm of Division, and presented with an impossible choice. Jonathan must undertake a harrowing one-man mission into Balfour's lair to save Emma or stand by while a weapon of mass destruction is acquired by the most dangerous terrorist in Afghanistan-an unforgettable true believer known as The Hawk.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I wasn't a big fan of government espionage storylines, but when I read the synopsis, I thought that I might enjoy this read. I was surprised that within the first few pages, I was not only enjoying it but was also pulled in. I didn't realize, when I accepted the request for review, that this was the 3rd book in a series. Not having read the first two, I feel that this book can stand on it's own. For a spy thriller, it did hold my attention at times but then, there were some parts where I lost interest. This is my opinion, and my opinion only, rating this book is difficult. For those that enjoy this type of novel, it would probably receive a 4/5. But since I am not a big fan of espionage, I would give it a 2/5 because I did struggle through some of the book. So to be fair to the author and those that enjoy the double agent storyline, I will average it out.
My Rating: 3
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, FIR 2010, Off the Shelf 2011)

11/13/10
And One Last Thing by Molly Harper
Published by Gallery Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-1-4391-6877-6
At the request of Gallery Books, a TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): "If Singletree's only florist didn't deliver her posies half-drunk, I might still be married to that floor-licking, scum-sucking, receptionist-nailing hack-accountant, Mike Terwilliger."
Lacey Terwilliger's shock and humiliation over her husband's philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike's company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him. The detailed mass e-mail to Mike's family, friends and clients blows up in her face, and before one can say "instant urban legend," Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town, a media punch line, and the defendant in Mike's defamation lawsuit.
Her seemingly perfect life up in flames, Lacey retreat to her family's lakeside cabin, only to encounter an aggravating neighbor named Monroe. A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe. A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe is not thrilled about a newly divorced woman moving in next door. But with time, beer, and a screen door to the nose, a cautious friendship develops into something infinitely more satisfying.
Lacey has to make a decision about her long-term living arrangements, though. Should she take a job writing caustic divorce newsletters for paying clients, or move on with her own life, pursuing more literary aspirations? Can she find happiness with a man who tells her what he thinks and not what she wants to hear? And will she ever be able to resist saying one...last...thing?
My Thoughts and Opinion: WTG Lacey!!!! This is one chick lit that has to be read especially if you have even a little spark of a revengeful B__ch in you, which I am sure the majority of us do. Lacey, the main character, is someone I would love to know and felt that I did. The author did a fantastic job at writing in a way that brought this character to life. She was feisty, impulsive, funny, melancholy, lonesome, hurt, disappointed, hopeful and so many other emotions, that this reader could not help but root for her and found myself thinking "You Go Girl." But sometimes it can backfire, in this case, it did for Lacey. This book was so enjoyable that I am afraid to even inadvertently include spoilers so I will ask some questions. OK..after writing one last thing and hits enter, her email goes viral. Now what? How can she, the victim, now become the outcast? What does she do when served with a legal document, not only for divorce but damages of slander? How will she manage financially when her husband wanted her to be a stay at home wife taking care of social commitments? Will she take a job writing newsletters for other scorned women like the newsletter that got her in legal hot water? And who is this gorgeous guy renting out the neighbor's cabin but appears to be a rude, cold, loner? What happens when her husband begs for forgiveness and wants to reconcile? What road does Lacey take? I highly suggest you put this one on your TBR list....it's a good one!!!
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50, FIR 2010, Off The Shelf)

11/08/10
Blindman's Bluff by Faye Kellerman
Published by Harper Collins
ISBN 978--06-170241-9
At the request of Bestsellersworld, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Review format at the request of Bestsellersworld.
Detective Lieutenant Peter Decker, LAPD Homicide, and his wife Rina Lazarus are awakened to a late night call. As Rina hands him the phone, knowing that this is going to bad for the force to call "The Loo" during the night. And she was right. Not only does he come upon a gruesome multiple homicide but it's of a very well known, high profile and extremely wealthy family. The CEO and real estate tycoon, Guy Kaffey, his wife, Gilliam, and one of his son's, Gil, are shot during what appears to be a robbery as they sat in the massive home's living room. Bodyguards and staff have also been killed. But Gil, one son, is critically injured but has survived and gives the police a few things that he remembers from those awful seconds. But how could this have happened with so many types of security in place? Could this be an inside job? Guy has very strong family bonds and believes in giving some a second chance. Was that his downfall? Mace, his brother, and other son Grant, travel immediately to LA from the East Coast, where they oversee the family's holdings there.
As Decker and members of his force are working around the clock to solve this murder, with a laundry list of suspects and growing, of what also resembles another type of family, his wife Rina is sitting on the jury of a local trial. Rina and some of the jurors notice a man, as they nickname him Mr. Tom (for Tom Cruise), in court everyday, smartly dressed, his dark tinted glasses and his bright smile. Who is he? Why is he in the courtroom? Why the glasses? A mystery in itself until he approaches Rina to ask her to describe two men that he has just overheard talking about a murder. Within days, he contacts Rina at her home because he feels he is being followed. And has he now put Rina in danger?
Can these two mysteries be connected? What constitutes family loyalty? Who is "the boss" of this operation? Who can be trusted within each family? And the biggest question, why? Can Detective Decker protect the innocent and locate the guilty in time before another attempt is made?
Another true to form, Decker and Lazarus Novel that will have you turning the pages.
My Rating: 3
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, FIR 2010, Off The Shelf)

11/03/10
HOLLYWOOD SAVAGE by Kristin McCloy
Published by Washington Square Press
A division of Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-0-7432-8647-3
At the request of Simon & Schuster, a TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from back of book): "Meet me at five," the voice said on the answering machine, Four ordinary words yet, when heard by the wrong person, enough to change the course of a marriage.
Marooned in Hollywood while writing a screenplay based on his latest bestselling novel, Miles King, records in his journals his escalating conviction that his glamorous wife, a New York-based journalist named Maggie, his having an affair.
Amidst the un-buffed egos and the longing for connection and fame he encounters at every cocktail party and no-name bar in Hollywood, Miles finds unexpected comfort in an affair if his own with Lucy, a young mother whose open, eager mind sparks an irresistible passion in him. Miles's constantly shifting emotional state-a potent brew of lust, guilt, anger and betrayal- is only one of the perils he must navigate as his fantasies become increasingly hard to distinguish from reality.
My Thoughts and Opinion: When I first accepted this book for review, I thought it was going to be the typical Hollywood life style that is the basis of many books, the gossip in magazines and on entertainment TV shows. The following opinion is mine and only mine. I read 50+ pages, and at that point, I still had not been pulled into the story. I found the narrative of first-person very wordy, that at times, I would have to reread sentences to process what was really being said. I felt that the storyline was slow paced in the pages read. Unfortunately, this book had to be put aside in the DNF pile.
My Rating: 1 DNF

11/01/10
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
Published by Atria Books (Division of Simon & Schuster)
ISBN 978-0-7432-9427-0
At the request of Simon & Schuster, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book's jacket): Sometimes all you can do is fly away home... When Sylvia Serfer met Richard Woodruff in law school, she had wild curls, wide hips and lots of opinions. Decades later, Sylvie has remade herself as the ideal politician's wife-her hair dyed and straightened, her hippie-chick wardrobe replaced by tailored knit suits. At fifty-seven, she ruefully acknowledges that her job is staying twenty pounds thinner than she was in her twenties and tending to her husband, the senator.
Lizzie, the Woodruffs' younger daughter is at twenty-four a recovering addict, whose mantra HALT (Hungry? Angry? Lonely? Tired?) helps her keep her life under control Still, trouble always seems to find her. Her older sister, Diana, an emergency room physician, has everything Lizzie failed to achieve-a husband, a young son, the perfect home-and yet she's trapped in a loveless marriage. With temptation waiting in one of the ER's exam rooms, she finds herself craving more.
After Richard's extramarital affair makes headlines, the three women are drawn into the painful glare of the national spotlight. Once the press conference is over, each is forced to reconsider her life, who she is and who she is meant to be.
My Thoughts and Opinion: This storyline was written with the old adage, "No one knows what goes on behind closed doors". But then taken a step further since the family behind those closed doors could not see what was happening. The Woodruffs were the ideal family to outsiders but each family member was living their own solitary life, each with their own secrets. The plot was relatable since it mirrored what we frequently see on the news with politicians and sports figures. I was also able to identify with the characters in this family because of a general age recognition within my family. The writing style was smooth and descriptive. Even with a serious and emotional theme, the author was able to add some humor into some of the scenes. Without including any spoilers, I found it to even include personal thought provoking questions, such as, "what would I do in this situation"?, "are we true to our self"?, are we really who we think we are"?, "who or what makes us happy"?, "are we true to our self"? This book could be put down, but not for long, because this reader wanted to know how it ends.
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, FIR 2010)

10/27/10
i know i am, but what are you? by Samantha Bee
Published by Gallery Books/A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
ISBN 978-1-4391-4273-8
At the request of Gallery Books, a HC was sent, at no charge to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (borrowed from book's jacket): Critics have called her "sweet, adorable, and vicious." But there is so much more to be said about Samantha Bee. For one, she's Canadian. Whatever that means. And now, she opens up for the very first time about her checkered Canadian past. With Charming candor, she admits to her Lennie from Of Mice and Men-style love of a baby animals, her teenage crime spree as one half of a car-thieving couple (Bonnie and Clyde in Bermuda shorts and braces:, and the fact that strangers seem compelled to show her their genitals. She also details her intriguing career history, which includes stints working in a fame store, at a penis clinic, and as a Japanese anime character in a touring children's show.
Samantha delves into all these topics and many more in this thoroughly hilarious, unabashedly frank collection of personal essays. Whether detailing the creepiness that ensues when strangers assume that your mom is your lesbian lover or recalling her girlhood crush on Jesus (who looked like Kris Kristofferson and sang like Kenny Loggins), Samantha turns the spotlight on her own imperfect yet highly entertaining life as relentlessly as she skewers hapless interview subjects on The Daily Show. She shares her unique point of view on a variety of subjects as wide-ranging as her deep affinity for old people and her hatred of hot ham. It's all here, in irresistible prose that will leave you in stitches and eager for more.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I have stated many times that I am not a TV watcher, so I need to confess, I have never watched the The Daily Show. But, after reading this book and knowing that the author, Samantha Bee is a senior correspondent of that show, there is a good chance I will be watching. The author writes about her dysfunctional family, her childhood antics and even some when she was a bit older. I found myself laughing out loud, chuckling and even at time saying "me too, me too!!!!" Each chapter was equally funny, whereas I couldn't even pick one as my favorite. However, there was one that really had me laughing and that I could really relate to, myself being of the same religion, was Man-Witch. She relates her story of being in a Catholic elementary school and having a "crush" on God. Reading this book now was the best remedy, to escape from "real life" and just laugh. Have this book on hand for when you just need to read something funny and totally entertaining.
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, FIR 2010)

10/21/10
Love Always, Hobby and Jessie by Sara Robinson
Published by PathBinder Publishing, LLC
ISBN 978-0-9842496-0-2
At the request of the Author, a TPB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (borrowed from back of book): Even the most difficult of marriages can survive a lifetime through commitment, acceptance, and work. In Love Always, Hobby and Jessie, the improbable bond that was the marriage of Hobby and Jessie Robinson showcases one example of a rocky marriage that eventually finds its footing.
Defined by their heritage and their experiences, Hobby and Jessie met, merged,-and split many times as they unknowingly defined their unique relationship. The conditions implemented to keep peace forged an eventual lifelong truce and acceptance. Those outside of their marriage would have been puzzled by the solutions that Hobby and Jessie found. As unconventional as they were to each other, their attempts at brokering their special treaties mirrored their individual styles. Couples who settle on the edges of their relationship often find themselves at the very center of it.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I usually don't post my review of a book that I am currently hosting a giveaway of said book, just in case it is not a positive review and/or giving away spoilers. I am breaking my own rules in the case of this book only because of the giveaway, but, I will not include any spoilers. No matter your age, please enter this giveaway. If you are a baby boomer, memories of your childhood will be triggered and if you are younger, then you have an idea of your grandparents' lives. Sara Robinson invites the reader into her life and her parent's marriage, both the good and bad, funny and sad, and traditions long forgotten. For a debut author, Ms. Robinson has the unique ability to transport the reader back in time whereas this reader had everything else tuned out, triggers from my own personal memories, even sharing similar experiences and events of my childhood. The writing style so descriptive that when she writes about how certain smells trigger her memories, I found myself able to create and conjure up those scents. I found that the flow of her words allowed me to produce a mini home movie in my mind. This memoir is a quick read and contains many pictures of years past, that will resemble your own photo albums from years ago of your parents and/or grandparents. Well written and, for me, I couldn't wait to pick it back up and continue reading. Kudos Ms. Robinson!!!! I hope you have more books in the future.
On a personal note, I am on the latter end of baby boomers and presently dealing with being the sole caretaker and responsible party for an aging parent, who was born around the same time as the author's parents, this book triggered so many memories and was a bittersweet read for me. The pictures resembled pictures I am now finding, some so similar it could have come from my families' photos. The way of life of that era that Ms. Robinson shared, could have been written about my relatives. Thank you for sharing Sara Robinon!
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Fall Into Reading 2010)

10/19/10
Red Hook Road Ayelet Waldman
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 978-0-385-51786-7
At the request of Doubleday, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (borrowed by book's jacket): Becca Copaken and John Tetherly are young and in love, and the future looks as bright as the day of their marriage. Becca's family is well-to-do and summers in Red Hook, Maine, where John's mother, Jane, runs a housecleaning service for clients like the Copakens. The only thing that binds the two families is the love the elated couple share but it's enough to bring them together for the occasion.
Until the unthinkable happens: Becca and John's limousine collides with another vehicle mere minutes after the wedding, killing them instantly. Joy gives way to grief, and the rifts between Becca's mother, Iris and Jane grow, from the funeral arrangements to Iris's strong.-willed interest in the musical career of Jane's niece to a new romance that buds between the surviving children, Ruthie and Matt. Time's healing powers prove elusive for Iris and Jane: Iris' thirty-year marriage disintegrates, while Jane's bitterness threatens to ruin her relationship with Matt. Only when a powerful, blinding storm hits Red Hook do the families begin to see what really matters most.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Days before reading this book, we had attended a wedding, that was a beautiful and fun celebration, so parts of the story were easy to relate to. Thankfully there was a different outcome in the real life wedding. I was able to feel the emotions and gaiety of Becca and John's wedding day through the author's written words. And then the shock, disbelief, and despair when the news is announced to the family and friends, that are waiting for the newlyweds at the reception. From that point on, my thoughts of the book fluctuated. There was a lot of genealogy of the families', which I felt was important to understand the dynamics of the characters involved. But at times, and this is my opinion only, there was too much information that it became boring and took away from the story. The novel was a serious,somber and depressing read but at the same time the families' dynamics were so profound that I needed to continue reading. Not only were there difference in classes, as described in the synopsis, but also religions and beliefs of the families' that also divided them. Ms. Waldman's writing style and descriptive wording allowed me to feel the emotions that each character was feeling and how they dealt with their very individual way of grieving and how that grief affected their lives. This is not the type of book if you are looking for a fast paced or uplifting read, but a book to be read if you want a thought provoking and the need to understand family dynamics and individual differences. Filled with many life's metaphors.
My Rating: 3
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Fall Into Reading 2010)

10/13/10
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomon
Published by Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 978-0-316-07758-3
At the request of Reagan Arthur/Hachette Books a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (borrowed from book's jacket): At the outset of World War II, Jack Rosenblum, his wife, Sadie, and their baby daughter escape Berlin, bound for London. They are greeted with a pamphlet instructing immigrants how to act like "the English." Jack acquires Savile Row suits and a Jaguar. He buys his marmalade from Fortnum & Mason and learns to list the entire British monarchy back to 978 AD. He never speaks German, apart for the occasional curse. But the one key item that would make him feel fully British-membership in a golf club-remains elusive. In postwar England, no golf club will admit a Rosenblum. Jack hatches a wild idea, he''ll build his own.
It's an obsession Sadie does not share, particularly when Jack relocates them to a thatch-roofed cottage in Dorset to embark on his project. She doesn't want to forget who they are or where they came from. She wants to bake the cakes she used to serve to friends in the old country and reminisce. Now she's stuck in an inhospitable landscape filled with unwelcoming people, watching their bank account shrink as Jack pursues his quixotic dream.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I have to be honest that I was quite skeptical in reading this book because I received it with no prior knowledge and add to that, that this was a debut novel. It is not the type of book that I would routinely read, but was pleasantly surprised once I picked it up. Ms. Solomons writing style was written, with such detailed descriptions and with the flow of the story line, as if it was by a seasoned author. The characters relatable. I found that there were a gamut of emotions felt for both Mr. Rosenblum and his wife, Sadie due to the descriptive and poignant words that the author was able to convey to this reader. I did enjoy this book but, and this is my opinion and my opinion only, it was not a fast paced, page turning read. I didn't find myself "needing" to pick it up. (Possible Spoiler Alert)......I was surprised to see that the premise of this story was taken from her "grandparent's experience" and wonder if I had known that it was based on reality that I would have had a different reading experience.
Rating: 3
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck-A-Book, 50+, Reagan Arthur, Fall Into Reading)

10/03/10
The Chill Of Night by James Hayman
Published by St. Martin's Press
ISBN 978-0-312-53271-0
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.
Synopsis (borrowed from book's jacket): Beautiful, Brilliant, and ambitious, Lainie Goff has overcome a nightmarish past to achieve remarkable success as a young attorney on the fast track to a partnership at one of the more respected law firms in New England. Then one cold night, the secrets of her past come hurtling back when she's found stabbed to death, her frozen body discovered in the trunk of her own car abandoned at the end of the Portland Fish Pier.
The only witness to the crime is a mentally ill young woman named Abby Quinn, who tries desperately to tell police what she has seen. Because of Abby's illness no one in the department believes what she says. Until she, too, disappears.
As Portland homicide detective Michael McCabe begins his investigation he learns there may be more to Goff than meets the eye. Not only had she been having an affair with a partner of her firm, she had also been creating enemies closer to home.
Struck by a remarkable resemblance between Goff and his own ex-wife, McCabe is forced to grapple with memories of his failed marriage as he races to fine Lainie's killer before Abby Quinn is slain.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I now have read both books written by this author where Michael McCabe is the main character, but both books can stand on its own. I read this book during a very bad reading slump but was able to pick it up and continue reading without having to reread past chapters. The author introduces characters, which could have the motives and/or a history to have killed Lainie Goff. And the story fluctuates between these characters. I was able to figure out "who did it" through omissions after the introductions made (anything more said would be a spoiler). The plot was fast paced at times then it would drag a bit and continued in this mode throughout the book. My opinion, and this is just my opinion, I felt that Abby Quinn, the witness, was in the background for most of the story and, after reading the synopsis, assumed a lot of the attention would have been about her. I felt that it was an easy mystery read.
My Rating: 3
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Fall Into Reading)

09/10/10
this one is MINE by Maria Semple
Published by Back Bay Books/Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 978-0-316-03133-2
At the request of the author's friend, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from back of book): Violet Parry has a picture-perfect life: a beautiful house, a successful husband, a darling daughter. Violet can speak French, quote Sondheim, and whip up dinner from the vegetables in her garden. She has everything under control-except her own happiness. All it takes is a chance encounter with Teddy Reyes, a roguish small -time bass player with a highly evolved sexuality to open Violet's eyes to what she's missing and upend her life completely
My Thoughts and Opinion: This week I asked advice for getting out of my reading slump because I felt that I just couldn't and didn't want to pick up this book and read. And then today, in my google reader, another book blogger/reviewer answered my question. Alayne from The Crowded Leaf, posted her review of this very book and made me realize why the slump. She could not finish it. I read 90 pages and did not like, nor could I relate to any of the characters. This is my opinion, and only my opinion but without giving away a spoiler to the plot, I had a hard time with the story line. I have read other books with a similar theme but this book was difficult to read in the way it was presented. Unfortunately, I had to set this one aside and place in the DNF pile.
My Rating: 1

09/04/10
The Remains by Vincent Zandri
Publisher StoneHouse Ink
ISBN 0982770502
ISBN 13: 9780982770504
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, an EBook edition was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (borrowed from PUYB): Thirty years ago, teenager Rebecca Underhill and her twin sister Molly were abducted by a man who lived in a house in the woods behind their upstate New York farm. They were held inside that house for three horrifying hours, until making their daring escape.
Vowing to keep their terrifying experience a secret in order to protect their mother and father, the girls tried to put the past behind them. And when their attacker was hunted down by police and sent to prison, they believed he was as good as dead.
Now, it’s 30 years later, and with Molly having passed away from cancer, Rebecca, a painter and art teacher, is left alone to bear the burden of a secret that has only gotten heavier and more painful with each passing year.
But when Rebecca begins receiving some strange anonymous text messages, she begins to realize that the monster who attacked her all those years ago is not dead after all. He’s back, and this time, he wants to do more than just haunt her. He wants her dead.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Zandri delivers again!!!! If you follow my blog, you know that I became a fan of Vincent Zandri after reading Moonlight Falls. He has been a frequent visitor here as "Guest Author" for his books and one Sunday was here "Live". I have to be honest, I was a bit skeptical reading The Remains, afraid that it would not be as good as, or better than Moonlight Falls. I was wrong!!! I will be very vague as to the story line so as not to include spoilers. This was the kind of book that I call a "one more chapter" read. Short chapters and so gripping that you have to read "just one more chapter" and then you realize it is 10 chapters later. The chapters alternate between Rebecca's present life and then to her past and back to the present. The characters were life like including the autistic savant artist. Mr. Zandri's writing style is brilliant and because of that, this reader became so engrossed in the plot that I was transported to Albany, where the story takes place, and not aware of what was going on around me. The story pulled me in from the first few pages and didn't let go until the last word. It was a bone chilling read!!! This talented author takes the reader on a heart pounding suspenseful ride as the story follows Rebecca in the present and just when you remember to breathe, he catapults you to her past. The unfolding progress of the plot is written at a crescendo pace, from the first word to the last. This book is a nail biting, white knuckle, spine chilling, page turning thriller. Do I suggest that you read this book? Not only do I say that YOU HAVE to read this book but also recommend this be the next book you read!!! Fantastic!!! Sensational!!! Excellent!!! Vincent Zandri hits this one out of the park!!!!!!
My Rating: 5+
(Challenges: EBook, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)
09/01/10
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 978-0-385-50112-5
At the request of Doubleday, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book's jacket): On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games, and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift, she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice.
She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother-her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother-tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. Anything can be revealed at any meal. She can't eat her brother Joseph's toast, a cookie tat the local bakery is laced with rage, grape jelly is packed with acidic resentment.
Rose's gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden-truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment, Joseph's clash with the world.
Yet as Rose grows up she realizes there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Before I started reading this book, I had read reviews from one end of the spectrum to the other. I went into it with an open mind and high hopes that I would enjoy it. Instead, I found myself not wanting to pick it up and continue reading. I thought it was me and I was experiencing a reading slump. But I forced myself to contine reading and it wasn't a slump, it was the book. The following is my opinion and my opinion only. Others may disagree. I had read 100+ pages and can honestly say, I did not like anything about the book, the premise of the story line, the author's writing style nor the characters. In all my years of reading, I have never seen this type of writing, there was not one quotation mark in the 100+ pages I read and it was elementary at best. I try to find at least some positive aspects of a novel, even those that I simply can't push through, but couldn't with this one. I had to put this book aside and move on.
My Rating: 1

08/28/10
With Friends Like These by Sally Koslow (ARC)
Published by Ballantine Books
ISBN 978-0-345-50622-1
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, a PB ARC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book): A novel following four New York City women's complicated friendships across a span of twenty years.
When Quincy, Jules, Talia and Chloe become fast friends despite their drastically different personalities. Now, nearly twenty years later, their lives have diverged as much as they possibly can within one city: Quincy is mourning a miscarriage and lusting for the perfect Manhattan apartment; Jules, a woman with an outsize personality, is facing forty alone; Talia, married and the mother of a four-year-old, is her family's reluctant breadwinner; and Chloe faces pressure from her hedge fund manager husband to be more ambitious. As these women grapple with the challenges of marriage, motherhood, careers, and real estate, they can't help but assess their positions in life in comparison to each other-leading them to envy and disillusionment.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I thoroughly enjoyed this contemporary chick lit novel, maybe even more so, because of recent personal issues, namely empty nesting. Lately I have been thinking about the past 20+ years, reassessing, recalling memories, taking inventory of life's ups and downs and what I have learned from them in my own personal life. The same premise as this book. I could relate to many experiences that these 4 very diverse women with different personality traits encountered in their lives. I could also compare them to my friendships that I have been lucky to have, for many years, and how each of us has changed but still maintained that special friendship bond. Ms Koslow has written a very emotional, touching and thought provoking novel that has an outcome that will have the reader, at least it did for me, taking stock of our own lives and friendships. What makes friendships endure for years? Even when there are times where intentions aren't truly genuine and/or have even a little bit of envy. The plot is profound and meaningful, whereas the author, creates 4 characters that experience so many real life emotions, trials and tribulations and through her written words, allows the reader to palpate each and every sentiment. A poignant must read !!!
My Rating: 4
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

08/24/10
Live To Tell by Lisa Gardner
Published by Bantam Books
ISBN 978-0-553-80724-0
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, a PB ARC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from back of book): The lives of three women collide on a suburban night: Veteran Boston police detective D.D. Warren is called to the scene of the murder of a family whose sole survivor lies clinging to life....Nurse Danielle Burton works in a locked-down pediatric psych ward, haunted by a tragedy she's desperate to conceal....Victoria Oliver will do anything to protect her troubled son-even when the threat comes from within her own home. This investigation will bring these remarkable women together-and sweep all three closer to the edge than they've ever been before.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I have been a fan of Lisa Gardner's books for many years and jumped at the chance to read, review and host a "Guest Author Spotlight" for her newest novel. And once again, she delivered a page turning suspenseful read. However, being a mother, the plot regarding the children suffering from severe psychiatric trauma and issues, was heart breaking at times. I enjoy books where the chapters alternate between characters with little cliff hangers that I call a "just one more chapter" read and that was how this book was written. The story takes place over several days, with fast paced suspense that includes 2 multiple domestic murders, kidnapping, an individual suicide or was it, and so much more. And an ending with a surprising twist. A great book that kept this reader guessing as to what was around the next corner. Who survives and lives to tell? A must read !!!
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

08/17/10
The Price of Revenge by Dennis Vaughn
Published by Synergy Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-9842358-1-0
ISBN-10: 0-9842358-1-7
At the request of Phenix & Phenix Publicity, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): Dennis Fox has a life anyone would envy-a flourishing career as a lawyer, a condo in Denver, and a beautiful girlfriend, Ellen-until he begins investigating a lawsuit against the Denver City Ballet. It seems like a commonplace allegation of misspent funds at first, but soon David finds himself caught in a web of blackmail, betrayal and dark secrets. To escape, he'll have to answer some uncomfortable questions: Who was responsible for the embezzlement , and how far will they go to cover it up? What precisely is Ellen discussing in those sessions with her psychiatrist? And is telling the truth worth losing everything? The Price of Revenge follows David across boundaries both professional and personal as he tries to find his way out of the maze of intrigue into which he has stumbled.
My Thoughts and Opinion: When I was first approached regarding this book to read and review, I read the synopsis and thought this one is for me. However, I was wrong. I found myself enjoying the sections that described the relationship between David and Ellen, however, that was only a small portion of the plot. The majority of what I did read, and this is my opinion only, was very difficult to follow due to the many characters that were introduced in the beginning of the book and all the legal and financial terminology. I found it hard to engage in the story line and not anxious to continue reading. Unfortunately, and again this is my opinion only, I had to put this one aside. I have read reviews around the blogosphere where this book did get good reviews, but the subject matter was just too dry and technical for my liking. If you are interested in legal and financial thrillers, check it out, maybe this one is for you. I sadly had to rate this novel as a "didn't finish".
My Rating: 1

08/16/10
There are caveats before I give my official review. Back in February I read, reviewed and hosted a "Guest Author" spotlight at the request of Pump Up Your Book, for A Note from an Old Acquaintance by Bill Walker. I thought the book was exceptional, giving it a rating of 5/5. You can read my review here. Bill had contacted me, after I posted my review, and asked if I would mind posting the review on some sites, which I agreed to do. Since that time, we have touched base every now and then as to how things were going with his book. He told me that he was working on a manuscript (revising, editing, making changes) of a book that he had written and with limited printing in 1998. I then received an email from him, which amazed me, surprised me and, quite honestly, felt honored to receive this request. Could he entrust me with this manuscript and give my honest opinion as a reader, consumer and reviewer?
I have not read the original Titanic 2012, that was printed years ago so I can not compare it to the revised manuscript that I recently finished reading. However, and ironically knowing that I had the manuscript in my EReader waiting for me to read, I saw that another blogger had found a copy of the original and had read the book. Sheila, from One Person's Journey Through A World Of Books, reviewed this book on her blog. I also need to say that the revised manuscript edition, is just that, a manuscript. Bill has informed me that it is now in his agent's hand, so the revised edition, that I will be reviewing, has not yet been published nor is it available as of this date. However. I did tell him that since this blog is about books and my honest thoughts and reviews of books I read, that I would treat his manuscript in the same manner I do for all books I read. I also told him that I pride myself on giving a credible and honest review of every book I read, and that the same criteria would be utilized for his manuscript. He agreed. He also promised me that when the book does become available, he would notify me to let my followers, readers and visitors know so that I can give an update. And now my thoughts and opinion of said manuscript:
Titanic 2012 by Bill Walker (revised manuscript)
Final Manuscript Draft
At the request of the author, who entrusted me with his manuscript, a PDF was sent via email to be downloaded to my EReader, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (blurb borrowed from GoodReads for original print): When James Cameron's vision of a movie, Titanic, made it to the screen, who would've known just how popular it would become? Now there's a new mystery thriller that puts the luxury liner of doom in the near future with suspenseful results. It's the year 2012, and best selling mystery novelist Trevor Hughes has just about completed his next big book when old friend Harlan Astor announces that he's spent hundreds of millions of dollars to stage one of the biggest publicity shows in history: he's built a new Titanic, an exact replica of the 1912 version. This tweaks Trevor's writerly instincts, and in short order, he breaks up with his girlfriend and heads out for Poland to board the maiden voyage of this colossal remake. Even Kate Winslet is on hand to christen the ship, and the media are eating it up. But why did Astor do this, and why did he handpick the people who are boarding this remarkable ship? First-time novelist Bill Walker rings all the bells and blows all the whistles as he sets sail with his maiden voyage déjà vu, TITANIC 2012.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I have to preface this by saying that I saw the movie, Titanic, on multiple occasions and enjoyed it each time. Also, there will be no spoilers in this review. The premise of the plot, at times parallels the movie to some degree, but the story line stands on its own. The parallels were Harlan Astor, who's great grandfather was lost in the tragedy of the original Titanic, designed the new ship to resemble the original. He also planned other details to resemble the maiden voyage of 1912, such as the dress of the passengers, the menu, the different classes, the valets. As the synopsis states, Titanic 2012 is a suspenseful romance. The author's words transported me back to 1912 and then back to the present. I found myself so engrossed in reading this manuscript whereas I became part of the story and unaware what was going on around me. The characters were brought to life through the writer's descriptions and each had their reasons for wanting to be a part of Titanic 2012. As far as the suspense, a page turner. I apologize for being vague, but there are many aspects to the suspense theme and will not include any spoilers in this review. The romance perspective profound, yet tender and emotional.
I am sorry for posting this review due to the fact that it is unavailable as of right now. But will honestly tell you, that when it is published, it is a must read. If you are a fan of Titanic, the movie, you will love Titanic 2012. Put this one on your TBR list now and hopefully it will be obtainable soon. And like the movie whereas I saw it more than once, when this is in print, I will be reading it again. Bravo Mr. Walker !!
My Rating: 5
(Challenges: EBook, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

08/13/10
Seven Year Switch by Claire Cook
Published by Hyperion
ISBN 978-1-4013-4116-9
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (book's jacket): Just when Jill Murray has finally figured out how to manage on her own, her ex-husband proves that he can't even run away reliably. After seven long years missing in action, he's back-crashing into the man-free existence Jill and her ten-year-old daughter have built so carefully. What's a good mother to do? To a child, even a deadbeat dad is better than no dad at all.
Jill's life just hasn't turned out quite the way she planned. By now, she'd hoped to be jetting around the world as a high-end cultural coach. Instead, she's answering phones for a local travel agency and teaching cooking classes at the community center.
Enter free-spirited entrepreneur Billy, who hires Jill as a consultant for an upcoming business trip. Is their relationship veering off in a new direction? And what about her ex? Jill couldn't possibly still have feelings for him....could she? Suddenly, her no-boys allowed life is anything but.
The say that every seven years you become a completely new person, but Jill isn't sure she is ready for the big change. It takes a Costa Rican getaway to help her make a choice-not so much between the two men in her life, but between the woman she is and the one she wants to be.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Hurry!! You still have time to read this delightful, female self liberating, fun, maybe even a little envy thrown in summer read. Jill, has been surviving and going through the motions of daily life to stay afloat to make a life for her daughter and herself after being abandoned seven years ago by her husband. But she hasn't moved on since that time. The characters in this book come alive through Ms. Cooks writing. I found myself laughing along with Jill, the main character, feeling sorry for her and, at the same time, rooting her on. It was very easy to form imagery of the settings by the words the author conveyed. I might add that one scene, involving a tarantula, had me looking around and I don't even live where tarantulas do, but was not taking any chances. I also enjoyed the little tidbits of knowledge that the author also added about different lands, the unique foods and customs of different cultures. And for the jealousy, I now believe that every woman needs to and should take a GGG, Great Girlfriends Getaway. This was the first book I read by Claire Cook and it won't be my last. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as have so many others, from reading the many great reviews regarding this book.
Claire Cook visited this blog and was a "Guest Author" in July. Check out that posting. http://cmashlovestoread.blogspot.com/2010/07/guest-author-claire-cook.html
My Rating: 4
Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

08/11/10
Buying Time by Pamela Samuels Young
Published by Goldman House Publishing
ISBN 9780981562711
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): Every life has a price. Waverly Sloan is a down-on-his-luck lawyer. But just when he's about to hit rock bottom, he stumbles upon a business with the potential too solve all his problems.
In Waverly's new line of work, he comes to the aid of people in desperate need of cash. But there's a catch, His clients must be terminally ill and willing to sign over rights to their life insurance policies before they can collect a dime. Waverly then finds investors eager to advance them thousands of dollars-including a hefty broker's fee for himself-in exchange for a significant return on their investment once the clients take their last breath.
The stakes get higher when Waverly brokers the policy of the cancer-stricken wife of Lawrence Erickson, a high-powered lawyer who's bucking to become the next U.S. Attorney General, When Waveerly's clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly's clients start dying sooner than they should, both Waverly and Erickson-who has some skeletons of his own to hide-are unwittingly drawn into a perilous web of greed, blackmail and murder.
My Thoughts and Opinion: There is so much to say about this book and all positive. When I read a book for a review, I have a little checklist in the back of my mind that I use to critique a book. First, the description, Buying Time is a legal thriller, however, it was not bogged down with a lot of legal terminology where the reader needs to have a prerequisite of being a 4th year law student to understand. The legal jargon was worked into the story line so that it was easily understandable. Now to my check list. Did I get pulled into the plot and when? Check, on page 1 of the Prologue. Were the characters brought to life and relatable? Check. Was it, as I call it, "a one more chapter" read? Check. The chapters were short with chapters alternating with the different characters and ending with a mini cliff hanger that this reader had to read on until I got to the next chapter of this character. Was it a page turner? Check, all 414 pages. Was I able to conjure up vivid imagery due to the author's writing style for characters and scenes? Check. Was I so engrossed into the story that I didn't realize what was going on around me? Check. Did I enjoy it? Can I honestly recommend this book? Check and Check. A nonstop fast paced legal thriller that must be read!!
My Rating: 5
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

08/06/10
The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 978-0-385-52769-9
At the request of Doubleday, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book's jacket): Octavia Frost is a former bestselling writer in the winter of her career. In the opening pages of this dynamic novel, she arrives in New York to deliver her latest manuscript-a revolutionary new book-to her editor. But as she walks through Times Square , she sees a news crawl announcing that Milo, Frost, her rock-star son, has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend.
Octavia and Milo haven't spoken in years, an estrangement stemming from a horrific tragedy the two of them endured when he was a child. Yet Octavia cannot help but drop everything and fly to San Francisco to try to make sense of the situation.
The book Octavia was supposed to deliver contains rewritten versions of the final chapters of all her previous novels, in which she has changed her character' outcomes and removed pieces of her personal life that had been hidden within, especially concerning that terrible days years ago, These "last' chapters" and their new revisions are interspersed throughout Carolyn Parkhurst's The Nobodies Album-the scattered puzzle pieces of the troubled past Milo and Octavia share.
Did she drive her son to murder? Did Milo murder anyone at all? And what exactly happened all those years ago? As the novel builds to a stunning reveal, Octavia must consider how her own story will come to a close.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I had a hard time with the beginning of this book. I felt that at times it was very "wordy" and "dry", and not sure where the plot was headed. There were eight (8) chapters that had been written by the character of the author and her ground breaking concept of her newest manuscript, whereas it had the original ending of one of her prior novels and then a new and different ending. Another thing that I felt was hard to relate to, which was stated in the synopsis, and that was the many years of estrangement between the characters of mother and son. It appeared to this reader, and this is my opinion only, that son's response, was unrealistic and too nonchalant when they were reunited after many years of bitterness and being apart. On the other hand, the suspense of trying to piece together the clues of finding the murderer in the cast of characters, what was the underlying reason for the estrangement and a few other issues that I won't mention due to it containing spoilers, is what kept my interest and had me turning the pages. Since I found this novel to be a 50/50 read I will rate it accordingly.
My Rating: 3
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

08/03/10
The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain
Published by MIRA Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2853-7
At the request of Meryl L Moss Media Relations (The Book Trib) a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.
Synopsis (back of book): Maya and Rebecca Ward are both accomplished physicians, but that's where the sisters' similarities end. As teenagers, they witnessed their parents' murder, but it was Rebecca who saved Maya from becoming another of the gunman's victims. The tragedy left Maya cautious and timid settling for a sedate medical practice with her husband, Adam, while Rebecca became the risk taker.
After a devastating hurricane hits the coast of North Carolina, Rebecca and Adam urge Maya to join them in the relief effort. To please her husband, Maya finally agrees. She loses herself in the care and transport of victims, but when her helicopter crashes into raging floodwaters, there appear to be no survivors.
Forced to accept Maya is gone, Rebecca and Adam turn to one another-first for comfort, then in passion-unaware that, miles from civilization, Maya is injured and trapped with strangers she's not certain she can trust. Away from the sister who has always been there to save her, now Maya must find the courage to save herself-unaware that the life she knew has changed forever.
My Thoughts and Opinion: What a book !! Even though there are 371 pages, I found it to be a quick read because I had to keep reading at a fast pace to keep up with the fast pace of the storyline. The characters came to life, to the point that I was disappointed the story ended because I wanted to continue following their lives, especially with the surprise ending. I could actually feel the emotions, especially of the 2 sisters, Maya and Rebecca. The portrayal of how they both handled the trauma of their parents' murders differently , which they both felt guilty for but never discussed, molded and affected them as adults was compelling. Reading the written detailed graphic account of the disaster following a hurricane was so vivid, that it felt like I was watching a movie. I really enjoyed the medical aspect of the plot being a retired RN. This was the first time I read a book written by Diane Chamberlain and I will definitely be reading her prior books. Would I recommend this book? Absolutely!!
My Rating: 5
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+ Buck A Book, 50+)

08/01/10
Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas
Published by St. Martin's Press
ISBN 978-0-312-60015-0
At the request of Authors On The Web, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book's jacket): On a spring afternoon in 1920, Swandyke-a small town near Colorado's Tenmile Range-is changed forever. Just moments after four o'clock, a large split of snow separates from Jubilee Mountain high above the tiny hamlet and hurtles down the rocky slope, enveloping everything in its path.
Meet the residents whose lives this tragedy touches: Lucy and Dolly Patch, two sisters long estranged by a shocking betrayal. Joe Cobb, Swandyke's only black resident, whose love for his daughter forces him to flee Alabama. Then there's Grace Foote who hides secrets and scandal that belie her genteel facade. And Minder Evans, a Civil War veteran who considers cowardice his greatest sin. Finally, there's Essie Snowball, born Esther Schnable to conservative Jewish parents but who now works as a prostitute and hides her child's parentage from the world.
Fate, chance, and perhaps divine providence all collide in the everyday lives to these people. And ultimately, no one is without sin, no ones's soul is whiter than snow, and no one is without the need for forgiveness.
My Thoughts and Opinion: This is the first novel by Sandra Dallas that I have read, and in my opinion, is a gifted storyteller. The first chapter grips you with a glimpse of what is to come. It begins on that fateful day, April 20th 1920 when the avalanche roars through Swandyke, Colorado. Subsequent chapters follow the lives of six (6) residents prior to that fateful day and then returns, once again to 1920 bringing the story full circle. The author's writing style, one word, exceptional. While reading this novel, for me, was like watching a movie in my imagination. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the history, the fashion or lack of, the housing, professions, morals, racism, inter caste system and beliefs of the 1920's and before, on a personal level, because my grandmother was born in 1900. And a profound underlying message that forgiveness comes within and is a gift to one's self and that no one's soul is whiter than snow. This moving and emotional tale was truly a treasure to read.
My Rating: 4/5
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/28/10
Sweet Dreams, Miss England by Iris Blobel
ISBN 978-0-646-51737-7
At the request from the author, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from back of book): She could still hear Daniel's grandmother saying, "Sometimes we meet people but not to share the rest of our lives with them, but merely for them to guide us onto a different path".
Set in London and Dublin we follow the life of Nicky, a young mother of two who is married to Shane, an actor whose work requires him to be in Los Angeles. When Nicky meets Daniel, a fun-loving, spontaneous man from Ireland, she realizes how much joy and passion are missing from her marriage, and consequently her life. Nicky is torn between her marriage to Shane and her love for this Irish charmer.
My Thoughts and Opinion: After finishing and digesting this book, I sit here very torn. I will try to write this review solely on the book and not the interjection of my beliefs. I will, however, say that I do not condone the main character, Nicky's, actions. I found it very hard to relate with the character Nicky because of the story line but once I took a step back and analyzed just "the book", I could see that she did have some good qualities. The author's writing style quite surprised me as a debut author. She wrote this story with a fluid, flowing and detailed account of the plot. The narrative, characters, emotions and descriptions of the settings were written in such a seasoned style that her words were conveyed with the ability to form vivid imagery. The relationships between characters profound and meaningful on many levels . I thought that this would be another typical love story and would know the ending, but, the author delivered an unexpected twist which left me with thought provoking questions. (I will not include spoilers in this review). Overall, a very well written novel from a very talented writer.
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/25/10
Revenge Served Cold by Jackie Fullerton
Published by Thomas House Publishing
ISBN 13: 978-0-9843815-0-0
ISBN 10: 0-9843815-0-3
At the request of The Cadence Group, an ARC PB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): Kathy Spence awakens in the middle of the night and finds herself in a living nightmare. Her husband has been run down and she is the primary suspect. With an eyewitness to the crime and proof that her car was the murder weapon, it appears to be an open-and-shut case.
Terrified for her future, Kathy turns to amateur sleuth, Anne Marshall, for help. Believing in Kathy's innocence, Anne launches her own investigation, uncovering proof of a conspiracy that reaches from Kathy's past and threatens her own life.
In a race against time, Anne must count on her close friends and even the ghost of her father to help her bring a killer to justice before it's too late.
My Thoughts and Opinion: In my opinion, and my opinion only, this was a light cozy mystery. The story line reminded me of a smaller version of the movie Ghost. At times the suspense grabbed and held me but then at other times it was quite predictable. I thought that the dialogue was simplistic. I also found that the characters were hard to relate to due to the lack of realism, which consisted of the main character, Anne, a court reporter and law student, and the ghost of her father who shows up to help solve a crime. On the same note of being unrealistic, Anne figures out, hunts down the murderer, finds witnesses, and assists the local law enforcement, whereas the police are depicted as incompetent at a basic level. Overall it was an easy read.
My Rating: 2
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/23/10
Grace Under Pressure by Julie Hyzy
Published by The Penguin Group
ISBN: 978-0-425-23521-8
At the request of Kaye Publicity, a PB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): Everyone wants a piece of millionaire Bennett Marshfield, owner of Marshfield Manor, and letters are coming in daily from those claiming to be poor relations. The elderly, reclusive heir trusts no one but his aged curator, Abe. But when Abe is killed in a case of mistaken identity, the tide changes...
Although shaken by the murder, Grace Wheaton, whose lifelong dream has been to work at the manor, steps up to the challenge of assuming Abe's job. But now some of the letters arriving for Bennett have taken a nasty turn, demanding millions-or else. When an uninvited stalker shows up at the manor and at Grace's home, she and handsome grounds-keeper Jack Embers must protect their dear old Marshfield. But to do this, they'll have to investigate a botched Ponzi scheme, some torrid Wheaton family secrets-and sour grapes out for revenge.
My Thoughts and Opinion: This is the first book of Ms. Hyzy's Manor House Mystery series and the first book that I read by this author. I thought that this would be a cozy mystery and that I would probably figure out the "who did it" person relatively early. But I was wrong on both accounts. From the first chapter, where assistant curator, Grace Wheaton, handles a disturbance that takes place in the Bird Cage Tea Room, while a murder takes place in the private living quarters. To the last chapters where the "who did it" person was revealed, flowed so smoothly but with a page turning suspenseful plot. Grace takes control, jumping into the head curator's position and also trying to assist the small town police department in the hunt for a murderer. Ms. Hyzy introduces a cast of characters with quirky behaviors, which any one of them could be the murderer, but was surprised as to who it was. Along the way she also discovers secret passageways, a Ponzi scheme, which the owner of Marshfield Manor is involved in, in some way and even some very personal family secrets. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading Grace Under Pressure and will look forward to the next book in this series. Ms Julie Hyzy was "Guest Author" on this blog on July 14th.
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/20/10
Sidney Sheldons's Mistress Of The Game by Tilly Bagshawe
Published by Harper Collins
ISBN 978-0-06-172839-6
At the request of Bestsellersworld, a PB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Review format at the request of Bestsellersworld.
Matriarch, Kate Blackwell owner of Kruger-Brent, LTD an international multibillion dollar company, has died. Family members gather and attend the funeral but most of them are not in mourning, they are happy that she is no longer alive. And those members of this family have only one thought and that is who will be taking over as CEO of the company. In her will she named Alexandra, her granddaughter, to be her successor but Eve, Alexandra's twin will fight to take over even though Kate was adamant that she have nothing to do with Kruger-Brent. Eve plans to change that.
Fortunately for Eve, her twin dies during childbirth, and thus starts the fight for control. She feels that "her" company was stolen from her, since Alexandra's children are next in line according to the will. Eve, once a beautiful woman, lives as a recluse because her plastic surgeon husband, Keith Webster, has taken her beauty away, during a procedure knowing this is the only way he can be sure she won't leave him. Eve, a very bitter and vengeful person, grooms her son for the takeover even if it means murder.
The Blackwell family are like royalty, one of the richest families that there is but along with those riches come unthinkable terror. Lexi Templeton, daughter of Alexandra who died during childbirth, is kidnapped at the age of eight (8). Lexi is rescued but the horror she endured molds her life.
This is a story of the Blackwell great grandchildren, the rich and famous, and fighting for control to become the next CEO. Along with the lavish lifestyle, this is a family of secrets, lies, betrayals, treachery, devious plotting and murder. Who will win? Who will take control? There is only one winner!!!
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/16/10
Damaged by Pamela Callow
Published by Mira Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2750-9
At the request of Meryl Moss Media, The Book Trib, a PB was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): How far are you wiling to go to forget your past? Haunted by the death of hersister and wounded by her ex-fiance's accusations, Kate Lange throws herself into her new career at a high-powered law firm.
When grandmother of a lonely private school student seeks her counsel, Kate thinks it's just another custody case. But then the teen is brutally murdered. And it isn't only Kate who wonders if her legal advice led to the girl's death.
How far are you willing to go to redeem yourself? Put on notice by Randall Barrett, the firm's charismatic managing partner, Kate must fight for her career for her reputation-and for redemption.
Unwilling to live with the damage she may have caused, Kate pursues the case on her own and unearths some chilling facts.
Facts that lead straight to the heart of a legal conspiracy.
Facts that lead Kate directly into the surgically skilled hands of the Body Butcher.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Once again I am amazed. This is the 4th book that I read this year, as an author's debut book, that blew me away. I was pulled in by the time I finished the first chapter to the very last page. This 453 page novel had all the elements and writing style of a seasoned author. Many twists and turns at a fast pace. It could be described as both a legal thriller and medical mystery page turning read. It is hard to explain some aspects of this book without giving away spoilers. However, what I will do, is highly recommend this book especially if you love legal/medical thrillers, because this book has it all.
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/11/10
Finding Marco by Kenneth C. Cancellara
Published by Synergy Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-9842358-6-5
ISBN-10: 0-9842358-6-
At the request of Phenix & Phenix Publishing, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book jacket): As a young boy running through the mountain valleys of Italy, Mark Gentile dreams of success-the kind of success that happens in a boardroom, far away from the country life. So after graduating from a prestigious Canadian law school, Mark quickly climbs the corporate and legal ladder eventually becoming CEO of a leading North American auto manufacturer.
But after butting heads with company leaders, Mark fears he has compromised his ethics and decides to resign to determine the next phrase in his life. With his wife's blessing, Mark returns to Acerenza, his birthplace in southern Italy. In the small village, he seeks out his childhood friends, spends time among the grapevines at his family's vineyard, and recalls his mischievous adventures as a young boy named "Marco". While enjoying the leisurely pace of the new life he's found in his old home, however, Mark must make a decision" Should he abandon his roots for a second time and satisfy his innate hunger for the struggles and rewards of corporate life? Or should he embrace his native land and create a more balanced life for himself and his family?
My Thoughts and Opinion: I accepted this book for review thinking that being of Italian heritage and having vacationed in Italy years ago that I would thoroughly enjoy this plot. From when I started accepting books for reviews, I set my threshold at a minimum of 100 pages to read to determine if a book pulled me in. Unfortunately, that was not the case and I quickly saw that this book was not a good match for me. This is my opinion, and only my opinion, but I found that the first 100 pages of the story line seemed to drag and had a very dry writing style. Therefore, I had to put this novel aside.
My Rating: 1

07/11/10
Living In The Hope Of My Imagination by William D. Simpson
Published by Thorncrown (Division of Yorkshire Publishing)
ISBN: 978-0-88144-488-9
At the request of Yorkshire Publishing, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from back of book): Exposing the Untruths of Moral Relativism in the Light Of Absolute Truth. Give to a person what they want and in time it will become an expectation. Left unchallenged that anticipation turns into habit and once trained, independence gives way to dependence. When People are reliant they become comfortable and at that moment, they are led astray. this defines American culture today.
Wake Up People! You are happily being let do the slaughter and you don't even know it. Self-indulgent political agendas and a systematic dismantling of moral ethics have created a way of life that has ruptured the foundation of who we are. Money, power and self gratification are now the heartbeat of a nation that once held human life in high esteem. We have become a people despised by our very own. For the people involved in everything from politics to education, science to medicine, entertainment, media and the arts, to false world religions and those who just don't know, your time of accountability has come. It is time for change, but not the change they want us to believe.
My Thoughts and Opinion: The author, William D. Simpson tells the story of his life, which includes physical and emotional abuse, years spent in prison, drug and alcohol abuse and how after many years,his faith helped him through. He states that he has had little education, he has never studied theology, nor is an ordained pastor. However, he does claim to be a Christian with years of studying the Bible. In this book he talks about The Revelations in the Bible and how it compares to our society today. I have read other books on this subject, so was familiar with the Scriptures taken from the Bible and the premise. It was, at times, a profound and difficult read, a very conservative take on the morality, political, medical, homosexuality and instant gratification of today's world. There were some issues that he wrote about that I agree with but then there were others that I didn't. I felt that even though I didn't agree with everything he said, it was a thought provoking read.
My Rating: 2
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/09/10
Muffins & Mayhem by Suzanne Beecher
Published by Touchstone A Division of Simon & Schuster
ISBN 978-1-4391-1287-8
At the request of Media Muscle The Book Trib a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (partially from book's jacket): Suzanne has had her own share of troubles to over-come. Left home alone at an early age, she struggled with difficult and distant parents, dealt with heartbreak, became a hard working single mom, and overcame two substance addictions and a physical impairment. But along the way, she found comfort in baking and sharing food with her friend and family. She learned to take the good with the bad, and here life is now inspiring proof that faith and persistence are the keys to her success.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Where do I begin because there are many aspects of this book. Ms. Beecher, an only child of working parents, she took on the role of cook, house cleaner and oversaw all household chores at the early age of eight (8). Her love of baking and her many recipes is how she remembers stages of her life. She shares those recipes in each chapter along with her sense of humor, insecurities and neuroses. I have not tried any recipes yet, but plan to after my recuperation period. Her writing style made me feel that she was talking to me over muffins and coffee. At times, I found myself laughing out loud, the next chapter, rooting for her and the next feeling her emotional pain and empathizing with her. A few tidbits of a look inside this book. Again, the recipes, which I will share one with you. How her mother taught her and had her put clothes into the freezer, straight from the wash before drying and then she could iron them (had never heard of that one). How she battled a physical disability, through her faith and a friendship with a 92 year old woman, Amy, who taught her some tips in the kitchen. And my favorite chapters, entitled In -a-Pickle where she describes incidents that are so funny, I actually was laughing out loud. I loved this book. It wasn't the usual type of book that I read but thoroughly enjoyed it. Another positive was all the recipes that she shares, this book is going on my shelf with my cook books. Ms. Beecher had me wishing I knew her and could share stories over coffee.
Never Fail Piecrust (from Amy)
This recipe makes 5 crusts. The name says it all; you just can't fail when you're making this piecrust. If you're a beginner, this is the recipe for you.
4 c. all purpose flour, lightly spooned into a cup
2 tsp salt
1/2 c. water
1 TB sugar
1 3/4 c. shortening (not lard or butter)
1 egg
1 TB apple cider vinegar
Mix all ingredients well and divide in 5 balls. Slightly flatten each like a giant hamburger, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold if using right away. Or you can freeze for later use (To freeze, wrap each one in wax paper and freeze in a freezer bag-you'll always have a piecrust on hand. This dough won't get tough if you re-roll it).
Rating: 5
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/06/10
Through Hazel Eyes by Heather Hummel
Published by PathBinder Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 0-9776232-8-9
At the request of the author, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis: (from back of book): Through Hazel Eyes is a journey of life as seen through the eyes of Madison Ragnar, a high school English teacher who is struggling to recover from an emotionally abusive relationship. Madison's speckled view of the world is seen through her troubled students, a fellow teacher, an intriguing man who enters her life, and a haunting past. Yet everything comes into focus when she learns to trust in herself for the first time in thirty years.
Madison discovers that the most commanding role played throughout out lives is fate. There are times when we embrace it, times when we curse it, and always times when we are blinded by it. As a result of blinding fate, Madison's past catches up to her, and with the help of her students, she learns what a mockingbird is worthier than a diamond ring.
My Thoughts and Opinion: One of my criteria as to if I think a book is good is when I can be transported into the story line and vividly imagine the characters, sense their emotions and can picture the setting through the descriptive words written by the author. And that happened when reading this book. I could sense Madison's fear as she escaped from her boyfriend to start a job many states away. Her anxiety when she was always thinking he would find her. Her trepidation of starting a new relationship. Picturing her in her classroom teaching her students who she so much cared about. And the lessons she learned from her students as their young minds interpreted the classic, To Kill A Mockingbird. However, and this is my opinion only, I was a little disappointed that some parts of the storyline were not more extensive and detailed than it was. Some that I will not state, due to spoilers, but one example is her relationship with Michael, someone, who at one time, she thought was a stalker. Overall it was a likeable read.
My Rating: 3
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

07/02/10
Returning Injury by Becky Due
Published by Due Publications
ISBN 0-9746212-3-4
13 ISBN: 978-0-9746212-3-4
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.
Synopsis: (back of book): Rebecca's life just keeps getting better. With Hack away on business, she's looking forward to four days alone to work on her new client's PR campaign to help women take back their lives. But her past intrudes. Roy, the man who stalked and assaulted her years before, has been released from prison. Home alone in their big, beautiful house out in the country, Rebecca has to learn to take back her own life while facing her fears and regaining her strength. But will she be strong enough when she faces the ultimate test?
My Thoughts and Opinion: There were two (2) profound issues that I took away from this book when I had turned the last page. One was what the term feminist meant and what a a simple explanation it really was, the equality of men and women, not in physical strength of the two but the equal rights and intellectual strength that should be afforded to both genders. The second being the traumatic incidents that women face in this day and age and how that type of scarring affects and shapes a person's heart, mind and soul. The title of this book surprised me when it was conveyed in a sentence that Returning Injury was the definition for revenge. However, the rest of the story line left much to be desired. It was almost 200 pages of repetition about Rebecca and her dog, Lily, and their routine while Rebecca's husband was out of town for a couple of days. I felt that the first and last chapters were the only ones that contained what little suspense that there was in the entire book and even then it was of a simplistic nature. There were settings, whereas the writer tried to convey the character's emotions of anxiety as when there was a thunderstorm but even then the descriptions did not contain much depth. I felt, and this is only my opinion, but that the writing style was simplistic, the characters one dimensional and the suspense lacking.
My Rating: 2
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading Schedule)

06/29/10
Never Let You Go by Erin Healy
Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
ISBN978-1-59554-750-7
At the request of Phenix & Phenix a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (back of book): Losing everything has Lexi clinging to her daughter. Hell is determined to loosen her grip.
It's been seven years since disaster struck her family. Lexi Solomon has held it all together since then-just barely.
But now Lexi is losing it. The husband who deserted her is back in town, wanting to see their daughter Molly. Her sister's shameless murderer is up for parole. An unsavory old friend is demanding payment for debts that Lexi knows nothing about and can't begin to meet.
And something else is going on-something Lexi feels but can't explain. A dangerous shift is taking place between this reality and the next. Forces beyond her imagination are vying for control.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this book. I pushed my way through 150 pages and there was little that grabbed me. The characters were un relatable and the storyline dragged. What little suspense there was, it was slow paced and not what I am usually used to. I could tell from the pages that I did read, what the plot entailed. This may be a book that others might like, but for me, and this is my opinion only, I found it hard to get through and had to set it aside.
My Rating: 1

06/27/10
Dare To Die by Carolyn Hart
Published by Avon Mystery
ISBN 978-0-06-145305-2
At the request of Bestsellersworld, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
On the quaint island of Broward's Rock, a native daughter has returned after a ten (10) year absence. Riding a bike in the pouring rain with nothing but a duffel bag and a change of clothes, Iris Tilford arrives. She has made this visit, not only to make amends of her past, but to also find the truth of what really happened all those years ago when a high school friend, Jocelyn Howard, died the night at The Pavilion for an sports awards night. Did Jocelyn commit suicide, as so many have believed, or was it murder.
Annie and Max Darling, a couple loved by all is having a pre summer party for their friends at the same Pavilion ten years later but many, who have been hiding secrets for 10 years are not looking forward to the invitation. Annie befriends Iris on her second day in Broward County and invites her to the get together. Iris hopes that the party will somehow trigger a memory of that tragedy because at the time, Iris had a drug dependency that clouded her thinking, that she now has conquered. Are the memories she has a true depiction of Jocelyn's last minutes or were the visions due to the drugs?
The night of the Darling's party, tragedy strikes again, Iris Tilford if found dead in the woods right off the path of the Pavilion. All in attendance are now suspects. Annie and Max can't believe that any of their friends could be a murderer, until they start trying to put together the puzzle pieces of who killed Iris and who has just tried to kill them too. Could it be Emma Clyde, the resident eccentric mystery writer who is having a writer's block and needs an idea for her next book? Or maybe even Liz and Russell Montgomery who are very defensive and was one of the last two that saw Jocelyn before she died that tragic night so many years ago? Or what about Fran and Buck Carlisle, Max knows he is lying but what about exactly? Could it be Cara Wilkes, who after her failed marriage and loss of her young daughter has also returned to become a successful realtor, but there is evidence that belongs to her that was left at the scene of the Darlings' attempted murder?
And then another student from the same graduating class but not a member of the clique also turns up dead.
The reader will be able to visualize and know a community just like Broward's County through the vivid descriptions the writer conveys. The exceptional writing by this author regarding this close knit circle of friends will pull the reader in to wanting and feeling like the characters are true life friends. The suspense, at times, so intense, that the reader has to continue turning the page. This was a truly enjoyable book of suspense and mystery.
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading Challenge)

06/24/10
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (ARC)
Published by St. Martin's Press
ISBN 978-0-312-59567-8
At the request of both St. Martin's Press and Librarything, an ARC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book): On the day she was abducted, Annie O'Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old realtor, had three goals-sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The Open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Through sessions with her psychiatrist, Annie retells the terrifying story of the year she spent captive in a remote mountain cabin. Interwoven is a second narrative recounting the aftermath of her escape and her struggle to piece her life back together.
The truth doesn't always set you free.
My Thoughts and Opinion: There is a buzz about this book around the blogosphere and now I know why. The following review is very generalized because I will not include any spoilers, which there were many throughout the novel. The author writes a phenomenal story, whereas she gets inside the head of Annie O'Sullivan and conveys those emotions to the reader. It was a true Stockholm Syndrome account, that at times, read as a non fiction. I must admit that I did think of Elizabeth Smart while reading this book and thinking that she might have lived through this same type of horrifying ordeal. The chapters are broken down to individual therapist's appointments where Annie relives and tells of a different incident that she dealt with. The plot was of a horrifying, "page turning", "can't put down" story that Annie lived through and her thought process to survive. At times, I found myself holding my breath, as the writer tells of different details that Annie had to deal with, both physical and emotional torture.. There were sub plots of Annie's life before, during, and after the abduction. And the relationships of those that she loved and trusted. The suspense was fast paced and palpable !!! The ending was an alarming, surprising and intense finale!!! This is one author to watch !!! I highly recommend this book be read.
My Rating: 5
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+, Summer Reading)

06/20/10
Sidney Sheldon's After The Darkness by Tilly Bagshawe
Published by HarperCollins
ISBN 978-0-06-172830-3
At the request of LibraryThing, an ARC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review
Synopsis (from back of book): Grace Brookstein is the very young, naive wife of financial superstar Lenny Brookstein. Lenny is a billionaire many times over, with estates around the world, a fleet of yachts, and a life that is the stuff of fantasy. He and Grace live in New York where Lenny is revered as King of the Wall Street social scene. A noted philanthropist, he is both liked and respected in the worlds of high finance and high society. When the stock market goes into a terrifying freefall, the Brookstein's glamorous lifestyle of Palm Beach polo tournaments and G5 jets is barely touched.
That is, until the day Lenny goes sailing from their Nantucket beach estate and never comes home. When his abandoned yacht is found far out at sea, the police investigation reveals Brookstein's death was no accident. The famous investor was involved in some sort of spectacular fraud and was about to be exposed by someone close to him.
But as Lenny's malfeasance comes to light, Grace learns there was more to his boating "accident" than she originally thought. And suddenly her life may be in danger too....
My Thoughts and Opinion: I started reading Sidney Sheldon's books in the 70s and remember them to be great reads, always waiting anxiously for his next novel to be released. I also remember hearing of his passing and thinking what a tremendous loss for fans and the literary world. But thankfully the family did not let that happen, entrusting an author to continue his legacy. And Tilly Bagshawe most definitely did. I have to say that I honestly was a little skeptical when I started reading this book, wondering if it would live up to the older Sidney Sheldon books? And the answer is a resounding YES!!
Ms. Bagshawe created a cast of characters that you either loved or hated, had compassion for or envied. cheered them on or were glad when they fell. The plot is a non stop "who done it" of multiple possibilities to the very end. And speaking of the end, it is one that I did not see coming until the very last pages !!! Throughout the entire book, the story line is a continuous, fast paced, speeding suspenseful ride with the elements of love, betrayal, hate, envy, trust, greed, strength, lies and revenge, and self preservation, just to name a few. Do I recommend this book? My answer, another resounding YES!! This is a definite can't put down, page turning novel !!!
My Rating: 5
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+

06/16/10
Beachcombers by Nancy Thayer
Published by Ballentine Books
ISBN 978-0-345-51828-6
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, an ARC was sent, at not cost to me, for my honest review.
Synopsis (taken partially from book): Sisters reunite on Nantucket over a tumultuous summer of love and chaos. As the eldest daughter, Abbie took on a lot after her mother's death. Afterward, she feels she's earned the right to jet around the world, experiencing life, if not love. Her sister, Emma, a Boston stockbroker, seems to have it all...until the stock market crash leaves her jobless and her fiance dumps her. Remaining in Nantucket with their widowed father, Lily, the baby of the family, is full of dreams though she's not terribly helpful in a crisis. So when Marina, an enigmatic newcomer to town, begins wooing their successful, attractive father, Lily summons home her sisters. Reunited for the summer, the sisters start Nantucket Mermaids-a company providing an eclectic range of services for the island's wealty residents. Over the course of a busy summer, they work, gossip, and, of course, squabble. In the twilight of summer, all four women have changed--transformations that surprise themselves and each other.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Nancy Thayer has created a story set in the picturesque and quaint island of Nantucket where four unique women have joined to heal from the pain of the past with the hope of the future. Eighteen years ago, shortly before the tragic death of Danielle Fox, mother to the very young Abbie, Emma and Lily, The Beachcombers Club was formed. Where the 4 Fox girls would walk the beach of Nantucket looking for treasures in the sand. Danielle taught them to always believe in something more and to look at what is right in front of them. Scars from that time are still present but is it time to heal? I was transported to this special place through the author's masterful descriptions to where the wealthy vacation and the native young try to leave. I became so engrossed in the lives of these four women that they became my friends throughout the entire read. I laughed when they laughed and cried when they cried. Beachcombers is the perfect summer read.
My Rating: 4
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)


06/12/10
The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose
Published by Mira Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-2675-5
At the request of Media Muscle The Book Trib, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from the book jacket): Haunted by a twenty-year-old murder of a beautiful young painter, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work as a special agent with the FBI's Art Crime Team. Currently investigating a crazed art collector who has begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation-dedicated to the science of past-life study-where, in order to maintain his cover, he agrees to submit to the treatment of a hypnotist.
Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to nineteenth-century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of the world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history-the theft of a 1,500-year-old sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
My Thoughts and Opinion: The first chapter of this book pulled me right in where a young artist arrives late to a meeting only to find Solange, a friend, clinging to life due to what appears to be a vicious attack. The next thing he feels is pain, his own pain as he gets attacked. How could I not be pulled in to this plot? On to Chapter Two, and it starts to take another turn. The characters and story line are now very confusing to me. I also find, and this is only my opinion, the detailed descriptions of art history became quite boring. I try to continue reading but the book is just not holding my interest. Unfortunately, I did not realize when I accepted to read this book, that it was the third of a series. Maybe if I had read the first two books, I wouldn't have had this outcome. Regrettably, I had to put this book aside, it just wasn't for me. I can not say if I would recommend this read or not, since I was unable to finish it.
Rating: 1

06/10/10
The Journey Home by Michael Baron
Published by The Aronica-Miller Publishing Project, LLC
ISBN-13: 978-0-9819568-6-2
At the request of The Story Plant, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Subject: (from back of book) Joseph, a man in his late thirties, awakens disoriented and uneasy in a place he doesn't recognize. He sets out on a journey to finf hiw home with no sense of where he's going and only the precious, indelible vision of the woman he loves to guide him.
Antoinette is an elderly woman in an assisted living facility who has retreated inside her head. There, her body and mind haven't betrayed her. There, she's a young newlywed with a husband who dotes on her and an entire life of dreams to live. There, she is truly home.
Warren, Antoinette's son, is a man in his early forties going through the toughest year of his life. With far too much time on his hands, he decides to try to recreate his memories of home by attempting to cook his mother's greatest dishes and eat them with her.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Michael Baron delivers again !! Another heart tugging, thought provoking, tender and emotional story written only the way Michael Baron can. Filled with mouth watering descriptions of meals that evoke memories of the past. He takes the reader on a journey, along with the characters, to find their way home. But where is truly the place called home and how do we get there? This story touched an emotional chord in my heart, on a personal level, due to the cross road I am also on. While reading how Warren tried to recreate his memories with the smell of meals being cooked, also brought to mind, meals and memories of my own past. Mr. Baron hit this one out of the park !! Like any good meal, The Journey Home, needs to be devoured in one seating. Bravo !!
My Rating: 5
(Challenge: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+

06/09/10
The University by Jeffrey Leever
Synopsis: (taken from back of book): Ah...college life. A place for learning. Partying and dating. And murder. When investigative journalist Kevin Gibson lets his cousin, a former cop, talk him into looking into a student's disappeearance at Tremont University, he gets more than he bargained for. A former student-injured in a brutal attack two years ago and in a coma-may hold a critical piece of information that can solve the mystery. Meanwhile, an attractive coed continues to hide a very dark secret.
Tremont junior Brett Duncan is drawn into a cunning world few know exist-a conspiracy involving faculty, students and some well connected people in high places. Beneath the campus' Hallmark-card exterior lie many secrets, and a pulse-racing mystery with plenty of chills along the way.
My Thoughts and Opinion: I will start with the positives of this book. I found it to be a quick read with page turning suspense the last 1/3 of this book. I felt that the author's writing style and the way he created the story line of suspense was quite good. However, there were quite a few things that I didn't enjoy, and this is my opinion and only my opinion, another reader might totally disagree with me. I felt that some of the sub plots appeared to be written in haste, which made the story line unbelieveable and took away from the suspense. I also felt, and again this is my opinion only, that the book as a whole was unsophisticated. The overall basis of a suspenseful plot was good, however, the subplots appeared to be written with not much plausible thought. Unfortunately, this is not a book I would recommend,
My Rating: 2
(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

06/07/10
Alexandra, Gone by Anna McPartli
Published by Downtown Press (Division of Simon & Schuster)
ISBN 978-1-4391-2333-1
At the request of Gallery & Pocket Books, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
Synopsis (from back of book): Once, Jane Moore and Alexandra Walsh were inseparable, sharing secrets and stolen candy, plotting their futures together. But when Jane became pregnant at seventeen, they drifted slowly apart. Jane has spent the years since raising her son, now seventeen himself, on her own, running a gallery, managing her sister's art career, and looking after their volatile mother-all the while trying not to resent the limited choices life has given her.
Then a quirk of fate and a faulty elevator bring Jane into contact with Tom, Alexandra's husband, who has some shocking news, Alexandra disappeared from a south Dublin suburb months ago and Tom has been searching fruitlessly for her. Jane offers to help, as do the elevator's other passengers-Janes's brilliant but self-absorbed sister, Elle and Leslie Sheehan, a reclusive web designer who's ready to step back into the world again. And as Jane quickly realizes Tom isn't the only one among them who's looking for something...or traveling toward unexpected revelations about love, life, and what it means to let go, in every sense.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Most books I read, I can't wait to finish it to find out the ending. I was totally ambivalent with this one. I hated to see it end, but then I also wanted to see how it did end. I don't know about you, but, I become part of the story in which I am reading. That is why I didn't want to turn the last page because I became friends with the characters of this book. In Alexandra, Gone, the author writes a story of the lives of many loveable, but at times, troubled characters. I found myself laughing out loud on one page, eyes filling with tears on another, and frustrated with them on yet another. Ms. McPartlin tells a tender, funny, poignant and moving story of friendship, loss, disappointment, pain, denial and love on so many levels. This book is the type of book that you get so engrossed while reading that you are unaware of what is going on around you, at least that is what happened to me. I highly recommend reading Alexandra, Gone and becoming friends with Jane, Elle, Leslie and all the other characters.
My Rating: 5
(Challenges: Romance, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

06/01/10
Damaged by Alex Kava (ARC)
Published by Doubleday
ISBN 978-0-385-53199-3
At the request of Doubleday, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
Synopsis: FBI Special Agent and profiler, Maggie O'Dell, has been asked by friend and colleague Charlie Wurth, from The Department of Homeland Security to work with him on a special assignment in Florida. The coast guard had recovered a drum usually used by fisherman to preserve their daily catch, except in this particular drum, are human body parts carefully wrapped and appearing to be from multiple victims. Once Maggie has accepted this mission, Charlie then tells her there may be a bit of a glitch, Florida is in the path of a Category 5 hurricane. And why are soldiers who have had routine orthopedic surgery, in Florida, dying, Dr. Benjamin Platt, another friend of Maggie's is having a race against the clock. The time frame of the story takes place over a 5 day period but each minute is filled with suspense.
My Thoughts and Opinion: This was not only the first, in what I understand to be one of seven (7) of Maggie O'Dell stories, that I read but also the first Alex Kava novel. This book was what I call "the just one more chapter" reads, whereas the chapters are only a few pages long and by the time you realize it, many chapters have been read. And add this twist into the mix...there were 3 different mini mysteries going on at the same time which were rotated every 3 chapters and then Ms. Kava weaves all 3 "stories" into one fast paced, heart racing and action packed ending. Without giving too much away and/or including any spoilers, all I can say is the way she describes certain scenes in this book, I found that I was holding my breath in sheer fear and anticipation. As I said, this was my first Alex Kava's Maggie O'Dell novels but it won't be my last. I have a lot of catching up to do.
My Rating: 4(Challenges: FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

05/29/10
The Language of Secrets by Dianne Dixon (ARC)
Published by Doubleday Synopsis: (from back of book) Justin Fisher has a successful career as the manager of a luxury hotel, a lovely wife, and a charming young son. While all signs point to a bright future, Justin can no longer ignore the hole in his life left by his estranged family. When he finally gathers the courage to reconnect with his troubled past, Justin is devastated to learn that his parents have passed away. And a visit to the cemetery brings the greatest shock of all-next to the graves of his father and mother sits a smaller tombstone for a three-year-old boy: a boy named Thomas Justin Fisher.
ISBN 978-0-385-530-63-7
At the request of Doubleday, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me. for my honest opinion
What follows in an extraordinary journey as Justin struggles with issues of his own identity and pieces together the complex and heartbreaking truth about this family.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Dianne Dixon, the author of this book, writes a brilliant and masterful story of one family's heartbreaks, betrayals, lies, control, and secrets that can hurt so many people. The book is divided between the past and present lives of Justin, his parents and two sisters. The author interweaves the characters, that were dramatically life like, that it could be either a family the reader knows or maybe even their own. There is suspense as Justin tries to reclaim a life and family, that he thought he knew, because of a song his mother taught him as a three year old toddler, only to find out there are pieces missing in the puzzle of his life. With an ending that was a total surprise. In the plot of this story line, the author conveys about life's lessons and the reality of that saying, that life is too short. A beautiful and emotional book to the very last page. I highly recommend that everyone reads this book, whatever age, because it will have the reader reflecting about their own life.
My Rating: 5
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

05/25/10
Moonlight Falls by Vincent Zandri
Published by R.J. Buckley Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9819654-0-6
At the request of Pump Up Your Book, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
Synopsis: (from back of book) In Moonlight Falls, novelist and photo journalist Vincent Zandri asks the question "If you knew your life could end at any moment, how far would you go to prove you murdered your lover?"
Albany, New York is the setting of Zandri's paranoid thriller (in the Hitchcock tradition) about Richard "Dick" Moonlight, former APD detective turned private investigator/massage therapist, who believes he killed Scarlet Montana, his illicit lover and wife of his ex-boss Chief of Detectives Jake Montana. The dilemma...Moonlight doesn't remember what happened!
My Thoughts and Opinion: Mr Zandri introduces the reader to Richard Moonlight in a masterful writing style of first person perspective, which is the most difficult to write in. In the first chapter, it describes how Moonlight attempted suicide by a self inflicted gun shot to his head but lives, however, a bullet fragment is lodged in his brain and affects his ability to know right from wrong. This book, from page one, was a nonstop, heart pounding, roller coaster ride until the very last page. The list of characters enthralling. The plot mesmerizing. The story line has so many twists and turns that had this reader trying to unravel, and with an ending that was never seen coming. Wild!! This book is Hitchcock meets James Patterson!! Alex Cross meet Richard Moonlight!!! Fantastic!! This is the type of book that I call a, "just one more chapter" read, whereas the chapters are a couple of pages long but you realize that its four (4) hours since saying "just one more chapter". Warning: from starting page one, be prepared of not being able to put this book down until finished. A definite page turning read!! This book...Incredible !!!! On a scale of 1 to 5, Moonlight Falls, is a ten (10)!! Mr. Zandri....Bravo!!!!!
Rating: 5+
(Challenges: Reading from my Selves, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

05/24/10
So Cold The River by Michael Koryta
ISBN 978-0-316-05363-1
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
Synopsis: (from the back of book) It starts with a beautiful woman and a challenge. Alyssa Bradford approaches filmmaker Eric Shaw to make a documentary about her father-in-law, Campbell Bradford, a ninety-five-year-old billionaire whose past is cloaked in mystery, the only clues being the name of his hometown and an antique water bottle he's kept his entire life.
Only a few hours after his arrival in Campbell Bradford's rural hometown, Eric experiences a frighteningly vivid vision. As the days pass, the frequency and intensity of his hallucinations increase. He's drawn deeper into the town's dark past which is centered on a glorious hotel where presidents and mobsters once mingled, drawn to the area by the curative powers of its mineral springs. Eric discovers that something besides the hotel has been restored-a long-forgotten evil that will stop at nothing to regain a lost glory. Brilliantly imagined and terrifying real, So Cold the River is a tale of irresistible suspense.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Some of the words that I would describe this book would be gripping, suspenseful, unreal and mostly strange. It is hard to review this read without giving a lot away but will try. The mystery and suspense held my attention to the very end. Parts of the plot were questionable and unbelievable but still held my interest. The characters real, but their situations doubtful. The words written of this rural town are beautiful and it's history interesting. The ending explosive with questions being both answered and not answered leaving the reader dangling. My rating is based on the nature of suspense that held me captive the entire book even knowing that some of the story line could never be true. Words to describe. Gripping yet Strange.
My Rating: 4 star
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, 100 +, FOMA 12x12, Buck A Book, 50+)

05/16/10
Death Of A Cure by Steven H. Jackson (Rating 3 1/2)
Published by Telemachus Press, LLC
ISBN: 978-0-9841083-0-5
At the request of Yorkshire Publishing, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis: (portion from book's back cover) Death Of A Cure is a novel of mystery, suspense, and action. The murder of one good many by a respected colleague is more than a crushing personal deception, it is an unequaled violation of the trust of thousands afflicted by a horrible disease.
In a first person account, the brother of the murdered man, a military surgeon born to wealth and accustomed to success, is thrust into the rose of homicide investigator. Quickly, discovering that his skills as a detective are frustratingly insufficient, he calls upon a woman from his past for help. Together they unravel layers of evil and organized deception revealing that the rue work of this healthcare charity has little to do with curing the terrible disease born by a trusting constituency.
My Thoughts and Opinion: Within the first four (4) pages of this book, the mystery begins and had this reader wondering "who is it". The author has the unique writing style of using the more difficult use of first person (1st) perspective throughout the entire story line. I was, however, a bit disappointed after those first four pages. The next 1/3 of this book was a mix of extreme detailed events that bordered on boredom for this reader. Once getting past that portion, the mystery began again. The author also had the ability to convey, with his words, certain graphic situations within the story line. I also found that even with the large cast of characters, it was easy to see who the "who is it" was. It was a good read but this reader, and this is my opinion only, found it lacked a consistent page turning mystery novel.
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, 100+, FOMA 12x12, Buck A Book, 50+)

05/07/10
Still Midnight by Denise Mina
Published by Reagan Arthur Books Little Brown and Company
ISBN: 978-0-316-01563-9
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion Synopsis: (a partial description taken from the book's jacket) Life ought to be simple for Detective Inspector Alex Morrow. She's an up-and-coming cop, just about to be assigned to the case that could make her career. Her half brother, Danny, is also on the rise. Unfortunately for Alex, he's making his name on the other side of the tracks, in the murky shadows of Glasgow's criminal underworld. Alex is determined not to let her colleagues know anything about Danny, or the other parts of her private life that might not be as rosy as her professional one-but the events of a quiet suburban night could change that.
My Thoughts/Opinion: After reading the full synopsis of the book's jacket and reading reviews stating "page turning" suspense, I felt that this would be a good match for me and looked forward to reading it. However, after reading ten chapters and 100+ pages, I found that the gripping suspense had not yet been revealed. I also found difficulty with the Scottish dialect. This reader also found each chapter to be repetitive in content. Unfortunately, I was not able to continue reading this book. Please note that this is the opinion, and solely the opinion, of this reader.
Rating: 0

05/03/10
Our Promised Land by Michael T. Darkow
Published by Synergy Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-9840760-1-7
ISBN-10: 0-9840760-1-8
At the request of Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
Synopsis: (from the book's jacket) In the bitter conflict over the Holy Land, two generations of families-one Israeli and one Palestinian-fight for their survival and their own piece of the Promised Land. Hardened by life in a Nazi concentration camp, cynical Ellie finds himself in a battle on behalf of the Jewish people, vowing to ensure their suffering will not be in vain. Overseas, Yasif, a Palestinian who left his home country at a young age to study in America, is mysteriously drawn into the struggle by an entity known only as the voice.
My Thoughts/Opinion: This is not the type of book that I would typically read but once I started reading it, was fully engrossed. The author obviously did a lot of research in regard to the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and wove it into a fictional tale. The characters believable whereas this reader could identify with the emotions felt by Ellie and Yasif. Is this conflict about land believed to be owned, religious beliefs, or just simply put, good versus evil? This book is only 162 pages but after reading Mr. Darkow's bio, I felt that I should share why he came to write this very informative and emotional story. Mr. Darkow states, "Watching the plight of these people almost nightly on the news moved me to consider what could be done to bring peace to this part of the world. In using Ellie and Yasif as an illustration of the turmoil in Israel, it is my hope that readers will be inspired to think about how they can improve Israeli-Palestinian relations in America and of course in the region." (from Phenix & Phenix press package).
Rating: 4
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck A Book, 50+)

05/02/10
The Memory Thief by Rachel Keener (Rating--5)
Published by Center Street division of the Hachette Book Group
ISBN: 978-1-59995-112-6
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion Synopsis: (portions from the book's back cover) When Angel sets fire to her childhood home, it isn't the end-it's the beginning. Left with nothing but a few memories in her pocket, she escapes into the safety of the tobacco fields. She sets her eyes on the mountains where she believes someone waits for her. Angel longs for the answers to what became of her, and whisper, "This is my story." Hannah struggles to tell her own story. The daughter of missionaries who follow the rules of a small and strict religious sect. Slowly, Hannah begins to escape the confines of her strict upbringing and soon makes a choice that will forever change the course of her life. Hannah's past will prove to mean everything to Angel's future.
My Thoughts/Opinion: A poignant and moving story of two (2) girls, who are at the age of adulthood, that make choices that will change their lives. Do choices made, sins, guilt, lies, upbringing of the past form the present and alter the future? The author has an unique writing style whereas she writes a somber plot but allows the reader to see the good and root for the characters as they progress on their journey. She also incorporates a southern dialect and adds a few surprises that this reader did not see coming. A very good read. Highly recommend.
Rating: 5 star
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, 100+, FOMA 12x12, Buck A Book, 50+)

04/29/10
Silent Scream by Karen Rose (Rating 5)
Published by Grand Central Publishing The Hachette Book Group
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
Synopsis: (from back of book) He knows your secrets. When a teenage girl dies in a suspicious fire, Detective Olivia Sutherland is assigned to track down the arsonist. Then she discovers something more sinister: a vicious blackmailer who preys on young people and murders without hesitation. Making her work even harder is sexy firefighter David Hunter. He's not only sharing the case, but sparking memories of their long-ago night of passion, when feelings were left unsaid and hearts were broken. He hears your pain. David has his own ghosts, and a million regrets. But while he and Olivia try to face the wall of pain between them, a diabolical puppet master is pulling strings to make a group of twenty-somethings do his bidding. Soon Olivia and David are scouring the city for a calculating criminal who seems tantalizingly close- and is moving in for the kill.
My Thoughts/Opinion: Lock the door, pull down the blinds and don't answer the phone. This book pulls you in from page one and doesn't let go. GRIPPING!! It contains so many story lines, murder, arson, blackmail, relationships, romance, all in one book. I have only one word for the author's writing style....AMAZING!!. From page 1 to page 570, this book is a non stop roller coaster ride of suspense with many twists and turns. And an ending that this reader didn't see coming. This is the second book that I have read of this author and I will be reading more of her books in the future. I am looking forward to reading her newest book I Can See You, which is out now.
Rating: 5
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, Thriller/Suspense, 100+, Foma 12x12, Buck A Book, 50+)

03/30/10
The Cutting by James Hayman (Rating 4.5)
Published by St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-53129-4
ISBN-10: 0-312-53129-X
At the request from Pump Up Your Book, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis: (from the book's jacket) Early on a September evening, the mutilated body of a pretty teenaged girl, a high school soccer star, is found dumped in a scrap-metal yard. She has been viciously assaulted, her heart cut from her chest with surgical precision. The very same day a young business woman. also a blonde and an athlete, was abducted as she jogged through the streets of the city's west end.
Thoughts: First I have some caveats to this review..due to personal issues it took me a lot longer than usual to finish this book. I wish I had been able to read this during a non-chaotic time. This review will be written as if I had read it as I have read books in the past. The length of time that it took me to finish it, by no means reflects on the author and/or his book. With that said, and having finished reading this novel, it is hard to believe that this was the debut novel by Mr. James Hayman. His writing style is amazing for a new author. He pulls you into the story and never lets go. Not only with the nail biting story line but the relationships among the characters. The author's ability to convey his written words to allow this reader to form my own visuals were amazing for a first novel. The suspense in this book took so many different twist and turns right to the very last page made it one roller coaster read!!
My Opinion and Rating: I gave this a 4.5 rating only due to the fact that I thought that Lucinda's character and the situation she was in should have been given more attention since she was a main character in the plot. But this is my opinion and my opinion only. But overall, if you like suspense, mystery, who done it, books then read this!! Put this author on your radar, a first novel this good, can only get better with future novels. I anxiously await knowing what and when his next novel will be published. The only thing left to say is......Mr. Hayman, KUDOS!!!!!!! WELL DONE!!!!!!
And if you would like to know more about Mr. James Hayman, check out his Guest Author Spotlight on this blog dated 03/23/10.
(Challenges: Reading from my shelves, Thriller/Suspense, 100+, FOMA 12x12, Buck A Book, 50+)

03/15/10
Live To Tell by Wendy Corsi Staub (Rating 4)
Published by Avon Books/Harper Collins
ISBN 978-0-06-189506-7
Review for Bestsellers World, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
How does one pink stuffed dog called Fred, and owned by four (4) year old Sadie Walsh, entwine three (3) families that are relatively unknown to each other? What is it about Sadie's favorite toy that leads to multiple murders, both young and older?
Byron Gregson, investigative reporter, is being chased through the streets of New York. Byron knows what they want and it is a USB. A USB with information, which he has uncovered and is so damaging, that his life may be at stake . He knows that what he has uncovered could ruin the life of a privileged political hopeful Garvey Quinn, who is on the campaign trail and considered to be the favorite, running for the highest office in New York, to become the next Governor.
On a very hot day in August, Lauren Walsh has taken Sadie into New York for the day, while her older two children are away at summer camp. Lauren wonders why she has made this trip. Sadie is not being cooperative and a bit cranky. Lauren would rather be home, hidden from everyone because she knows that she is the topic of those who gossip.
Sadie drops her stuffed animal, Fred just a few seconds before Byron is running by. He thinks he may have found a solution to his dilemma and picks up this toy. He hopes that his idea will give him a little more time to write this huge story that is stored on that USB and possibly even protect him from major injury. He runs into Grand Central Station, hides where no one can see him, rips a small seam in the stuffed animal and inserts the USB drive. He then turns the toy over to Lost and Found where he figures he can retrieve it at a later time.
What is on that USB that connect these three families?
Lauren Walsh, mother of 4 year old Sadie, and two older children, Lucy and Ryan. They were a typical suburban family until Nick Walsh announces that he is leaving. The children are dealing with the process of divorce in their own defense mechanism ways, as is Lauren. She is barely going through the motions of every day life, until the anger sets in. Nick has promised a fishing trip with Ryan as soon as he gets back from his vacation with his girlfriend. But he hasn't called. How could he disappoint the children like this, he used to be a good father? Why isn't he answering their calls? Where is he?
Congressman Garvey Quinn is running for Governor. He is the favorite nominee along with his perfect family. Wife Marin, daughters Caroline and Annie. Marin knows that Garvey favors daughter Caroline and she knows why. How can a father not love his daughter? This perfect public family have some very private skeletons, some so deep that one spouse doesn't even know about. So deep that if it ever be found out, it would ruin the bid for Governor.
And how are Elsa and Brett Cavalon, a couple who has just moved back to CT, tie into this story? Elsa was once a beautiful fashion model but what she really always wanted was a family. Elsa has never been the same since that day. The day that the little boy they adopted, Jeremy, was taken. What happened to him, who took him? Elsa needs those answers for closure.
The author's writing style and description of events grip and pull you in within the first few pages. The story takes place over an approximate time span of two weeks. Each chapter is written with information of each involved family according to the time line, which makes the reader wanting to read just one more chapter until the very end. In this gripping story are sub plot mini mysteries that come together in an explosive ending. This is the first book of a series. If your genre of favorite reads are suspense or you just happen to be in the mood for a good mystery, I suggest you should read this book before Scared To Death is published later this year. I give this book a rating of 4.
Review format is per Bestsellersworld Review Policy.
(Challenge: Reading from my Shelves, Thriller/Suspense, 100+, FOMA, Buck A Book, 50+)

03/07/10
Waking Up In The Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo (Rating 4)
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 978-0-446-50924-4
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion
Synopsis: How do three females, so vastly different, become to be best friends, and support to and for one another. Estrella, or also known as Star, works at her family's famous restaurant known for it's good food and art exhibits. She feels this is just temporary until she finds her passion as an artist, but the problem is she tends to quit any and all projects before even starting. Then there is Ofie, wife, stay at home mother to one daughter and self proclaimed exceptional craft extraordinaire but is she really that good? And what skeletons is Arizona's television host, Crafty Chloe Chavez trying to hide. And how does a young boy with a fantastic future in fashion design, but needs to keep it hidden, bring these women together? Can these three women overcome the truth that they never wanted to face or be found out for?
My Thoughts: Even with all the quirky personality traits that all the characters were portrayed to have, this reader found them to be frustrating one minute and rooting them on the next minute. The writer conveyed the emotions of the main characters with her writing style that made me laugh and cry with them as if they were my friends and communicated what true friendships should be. And even showed how some relationships can be sabotaged by our own egos, faults and insecurities. And how three women, with one hobby, see it in their own special way.
My Opinion and Rating: I gave this book a rating of 4. It was definitely a "feel good" book with a message that friendships and overcoming obstacles and truth are always best fought with a true friend. One of my favorite lines in this book was on page 190, which stated "Many so-called friends have walked in and out of my life but Star is the only one who has left footprints on my heart." In my opinion, we should all be so lucky to have one of those friends.
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, 100+, FOMA, Buck A Book, 50+)

02/26/10
Sonnets For Sinners Everything One Needs to Know About Illicit Love by John Wareham (Rating 2)
Welcome Rain Publishers LLC
ISBN 10: 1-5664-5-3
ISBN 12: 978-1-5664-95-0
At the request of The Book Trib, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis: (from the book's jacket) Illicit love brings, thrill and tumble, intrigues and elations, secrets and lies, broken promises and shattered hearts-then, with a little luck, reflection and epiphany. It's a subject dear to clear-eyed poets, and the impassioned journeys and piercing insights in this subversive compilation will startle even as they enchant. To succumb to the spell of this catechism-and the absorb the wry accompanying analyses-is to know why the New York Times observed, "John Wareham has the cool, clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth."
My Thoughts: Generations of couples have had to deal with this devastating betrayal. The author breaks down the stages of disloyalty into the categories of: Attractions, Fevers, Lamentations, Farewells, Endings and Epiphanies. He has taken 49 poems over time and explore what these sonnets are truly saying and mean in today's culture.
My Opinion and Rating: And I will preface this by saying that this is my opinion, and my opinion only. Those that are not of the same belief system or who enjoy poetry may have a totally different view. That being said, I did not enjoy and/or like this book due to the aforementioned belief system and the morality that I feel that this society lacks. I also thought that certain people named in this book was unnecessary and, I would think, would cause further humiliation. I felt that those named, should only need to deal with these issues privately, and not be exploited as an example to sell a book of poetry. (Rating 2)
(Challenges: 100+, Buck-A-Book)

02/25/10
A Note from an Old Aquaintance A Novel by Bill Walker (Rating 5)
At the request of The Book Trib, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis: Its 1991 in Boston, MA and Brian Weller and his business partner are invited to an associate's party, a party that he attends out of obligation. Once there he meets a young, beautiful artist, Joanna Richman. He knows that he wants and needs to see her again. Brian and Joanna's friendship grow and then there is no denying that they are falling in love. But how can that be when she is engaged to an older, influential, rich and controlling man, Erick Ruby. Ruby finds out about their relationship and he is not going to lose her to Brian, a nobody, with a struggling PR production business and a want to be author. Ruby demands that Brian never see or talk to Joanna again or he will ruin him and his parents. With a broken heart, Brian walks away, never telling Joanna why, and moves cross country. Then 15 years later, he receives an email from Joanna. His past becomes his present. Do people change? Does true love endure?
My Thoughts: I had trouble putting this book down. I don't usually read romance novels but was pulled in to the plot from the beginning. The way the author wrote about the thoughts and emotions of all the characters gave this reader the ability to feel those exact same emotions. Not only between Brian and Joanna but the love of parents and the ugly traits of someone ruthless.
My Opinion and Rating: This is a tender and emotion packed love story. At times this reader was laughing and the next grabbing for the tissue. A contemporary love story that even in certain scenes, the author chose to communicate the true definition of love between two people and allowing the reader to use their own imagination and visuals. Well written !! Fantastic !! Awesome !! This reader will be looking forward to Mr. Walker's next novel. Highly recommend (Rating 5)
(Challenges: Romance, 100+, FOMA 12x12, Buck-A-Book)

02/25/10
Starting Over by Andy Serwer (Rating 2)
At the request of The Book Trib, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis: (from the book jacket) Bookended by 9/11 at the beginning and an epic financial meltdown at the end, the first decade of this century will surely go down as one of the most difficult in American history. We were plagued by a series of catastrophes and major missteps, from the convoluted presidential election in 2000 to the invasion of Iraq to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, as well as all manner of financial upheavals such as the collapse of Enron, the tragedy of General Motors and the Bernie Madoff scandal. .....Andy Serwer explains how we fell into this national hole and, more important, how we can and will pull ourselves out of it........
My Thoughts: My forte is not finance but after reading the book's jacket, I thought it would be a somewhat interesting read in learning about the nation's economic status that has touched many Americans in some way. I was also interested in learning when financial experts thought the housing crisis would rebound and the nation's unemployment numbers would turn around. And if there were some factual information that I might not have understood, my son is a financial analyst and knew that he would explain it to me in a way that I would understand. However, there were no questions that I needed to ask and it took me approximately one hour to finish the book. The first ten chapters consisted of one page of a picture from that year and one page, consisting of approximately 80 words, highlighting the main stories of that year. The writer appeared to put a lot of thought into what the last decade should be called as compared to "the nineties". There was a line on page 71 stating one of the reasons for the downfall, which I found to be ironic. It stated "We will never eliminate greed, of course, and a certain amount of if may even be necessary...
My Opinion and Rating: And this is only my opinion, which could be very different from other readers of this book. I found that the extensive damage of the financial institutions in this country, that took ten (10) years to destroy and crumble, could be conveyed in a book consisting of 85 pages, 13 of those are pictures. And again, this is only my opinion, but I find it ironic that with a book about our economic crisis and a book of this size would be affordable to the average American who has been affected. (Rating 2)
(Challenges: Reading from my shelves, 100+, Buck-A-Book)

02/21/10
Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan (Rating 5)
Harper-Collins Publishers
ISBN: 78-0-06-154778-2
At the request of the author's friend, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis (from book's back cover): Anna O'Shea has failed at marriage, shed her job at a law firm and she's trying to re-created herself when she and her recalcitrant nephew are summoned to the past in a manner that nearly destroys them. Her twenty-first-century skills pale as she struggles to find her nephew in nineteenth-century Ireland. For one of them, the past is brutally difficult, filled with hunger and struggle. For the other, the past is filled with privilege.
My Thoughts: This was definitely not the type of book that I would have picked up for my reading pleasure. I also have to say up front that I misunderstood the synopsis of the plot in regard to time travel, given to me by Mr. Frank Daniels, the author's friend, until I received the book. With all that said and the fact that there was a genuine warmth from Mr. Daniels' initial email for his friend, I was going to try and give this book a fair and undivided attention that I would give books that are from my usual genre of books.
The main character, Anna O'Shea was likeable and could be identified with, which pulled me into the book from the start. The author initially conveyed the fast paced corporate world of today where personal relationships are ships passing in the night until it's too late to turn back or is it? What about other relationships where bitterness lies instead of forgiveness? Where childhood experiences mold us as adults or should we learn from them? Can love be found in the simple life, do we make our own happiness or do we depend on others? In a split second Anna and her troubled nephew, Joseph, are about to find out! The reader is taken back to Ireland in 1844 when the British ruled and owned Ireland. Do our ancestors mold our futures? Does the saying "history repeats itself" true?
My Opinion and Rating:(Rating 5) This book was hard to put down. Amazing!! Interesting!! A little bit romance, mystery and history all in one book. The author's writing style, nothing less than phenomenal, in the way she interweaves a gripping fictional plot with non fictional facts of history without boredom. The characters are bigger than life. I had a very hard time putting this book down. I thank Ms. Sheehan and Mr. Daniels for giving me the opportunity to read this exceptional story and I strongly recommend that everyone read this book.
(Challenges Romande,Reading from my Shelves, Thriller/Suspense, 100+, FOMA 12x12, Buck-A-Book)

02/13/10
False Convictions by Tim Green (Rating 4)
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 978-0-446-40152-4
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest opinion.
Synopsis: (from the book jacket) Tormented by death threats and assassination attempts, Casey investigates a prosecution apparently rife with lies. From the judge, the lawyers. the jury, to the police, she traces a web of corruption surrounding the destruction of one young man. But in all the chaos, Casey's hardest challenge may be just staying alive.
My Thoughts: Casey Jordan, Texas attorney, beautiful and famous since having had a movie made about her and a recent case that she won. Enter Robert Graham, handsome, philanthropist and founder of the Freedom Project. The offer is one million dollars for her firm and all she is to do is exonerate 2 felons, within a year, who have been convicted wrongly. Sounds easy enough! But as she obtains details for her first case of a man who has been locked up for twenty years, unsavory facts are surfacing, and not about her client. How do politicians, judges, police officers and even the "mob" tie in to this old case? How is it that she is arrested for falsifying evidence? And is Robert Graham really who he says he is?
My Opinion and Rating: This was the first book by this author that I read from a long list of previous novels. I personally enjoy when a book has chapters that are just a few pages. I find myself thinking "just one more chapter" and read the next 7 or 8, and this book was just that. The suspense was gripping, and at times, fast paced. The characters were intriguing and came to life with the author's writing style. The ending left this reader quite disappointed though. The book was thrilling until the seemingly unrealistic finale. However, I gave this book a rating of 4 stars for the overall riveting plot.
(Challenges: Reading from my shelves, Thriller/Suspense, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck-A-Book)

02/09/10
Death of a Valentine by M. C. Beaton (Rating-4)
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 978-0-44-54738-3
At the request of The Hachette Book Group, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me for my honest review
Synopsis: (from the book's jacket)
Amazing news has spread across the Scottish countryside. The most famous of highland bachelors, police sergeant Hamish Macbeth will be married at last. Everyone is the village of Lochdubh adores Josie McSween, Macbeth's newest constable and blushing bride-to-be. While locals think Josie is quite a catch, Hamish has a case of prenuptial jitters. After all, if it weren't for the recent murder of a beautiful woman in a neighbouring village, there wouldn't be a wedding at all.
My Thoughts: This was the first book that I read, of many that have been written, by this author. After getting past the Scottish dialect, I was pulled in and rooting for Sergeant Macbeth. A small town police sergeant who uses his common sense and gut instincts in solving crimes. A modern day Mayberry mystery.
My Opinion and Rating: I gave this book a rating of 4. An enjoyable and fast read. Macbeth was a character that one could not help but like. The two page prologue, which introduced the setting of Macbeth's wedding and his feelings on this memorable day, grabbed this reader in and wanting more. The plot of the Valentine murder had me turning the pages to find out who-done-it from the multiple list of characters. A recommended mystery read !!!
(Challenges: Reading from my shelves, Thriller/Suspense, FOMA 12x12 100+, Buck-A-Book)

02/07/10
Doors Open by Ian Rankin (Rating 0)
Published by Reagan Arthur Books/Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 978-0-316-02478-5
At the request of The Hachette Book Club, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.
Synopsis: (From the book's jacket) Three friends descend upon an art auction. Software mogul Mike Mackenzie wants something money can't buy. Banker Allan Cruickshank is burdened by a painful divorce. And Robert Gissing, an art professor, is frustrated by paintings hidden away in private hands. In a conversation over drinks, the three seize on an impossible, unthinkable, suddenly inevitable idea: steal the art. There has to be a way.
My opinion and rating: This is my opinion and my opinion only. I was unable to finish this book. I read close to 75 pages and nothing pulled me in to the storyline. I had to keep rereading paragraphs due to fact that I found it to be boring. I am used to reading mysteries and/or suspense where there is something gripping within the first few chapters and that wasn't the case with this book. Mr. Rankin is a best selling author and I am sure that other's will have a different opinion of Doors Open but for this reader, it was not something I enjoyed. (Rating 0)
(Challenge Reagan Arthur)

02/01/10
Among Thieves by David Hosp (Rating 5)
Published by Grand Central Publishing
ISBN 978-0-446-58015-1
At the request of The Book Group, a HC was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.
Synopsis: Portion from the front jacket...In the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, two men dressed as police officers entered Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, tied up the guards, and escaped with 500 million dollars' worth of paintings. The heist provoked a massive search for both the thieves and the lost masterpieces. But the paintings never surfaced and the mystery remained unsolved. Now, almost twenty years later, there case threatens to break wide open.
My thoughts: Scott Finn, who has known the streets of Boston and the foster care system as a child, but was able to turn his life around and become an attorney. He is asked to take on a theft case from a former acquaintance of his earlier years. And accepting to defend Devon Malley, it thrusts Finn into a situation that is far from easy. Enter Boston's "mob" associates, murders, having to become care taker to Malley's 14 year old daughter, and a kidnapping. And how does this all tie into an unsolved 20 year cold case art heist?
My opinion and rating: (Rating 5) Once again, I was given the opportunity to read an extraordinary book. It was Grisham meets Parker. From the first chapter to the last page, the fast paced action never stopped, at times the reader forgets to breathe. The ending is a total surprise, one that this reader never saw coming. I could not put this one down. Bravo!!!!!
(Challenges: Reading from my shelves, Thriller/Suspense, 100+, FOMA 12x12, Buck-A-Book)

01/28/10
Original Sin by Allison Brennan (Rating--4.5)
Published by The Random House
ISBN 978-0-345-51167-6
At the request of The Book Trib, a PB copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review.
Synopsis: Moira O'Donnell conceived, for the sole purpose to become a human sacrifice for the underworld, flees from her mother's grasp. She finds refuge in the hills of Ireland learning the ways to stop this demonic state that her mother controls. She also learns and now knows the danger that mankind will experience if her mother isn't stopped Moira spends seven years traveling the world to locate her mother. There is only way to stop Fiona ODonnell, and that is murder. Along her travels, she teams up with a demonologist and a trusting sheriff, in small town, USA.
My Thoughts: I was very apprehensive when I first accepted this request as I have never read a book in the genre of paranormal. The author's imagination and writing style is nothing less than believable and at times I was questioning if there was some truth to this work of fiction. Add to that a fast paced action, mystery, love story and the war between good and evil. This was the first book that I had read of this author's but will not be my last.
My Opinion and Rating: I gave this book a Level 4.5 rating. It took approximately 6 chapters for me to get involved with the characters and true basis of the story line. There was some disappointment with the ending. I am, however, aware that this is the first book in a series of seven deadly sins, and will hopefully have some of my questions answered in the next installment that I have already placed on my "to be read" list.
 (Challenges: Readng from my shelves, Thriller/Suspense, 100+, FOMA12x12, Buck-A-Book)

01/17/10
Invisible Boy by Cornelia Read
Published by Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group)
ISBN 978-0-44651134-6
At the request of Hachette Book Group, an ARC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review
Synopsis: The year 1990, Madeline Dare, returns to New York City. Boarding school educated, self proclaimed liberal, liberated and very much opinionated. She accepts an invitation to help in the clean up and restoration of a historical family cemetery that is generations old and has been vandalized for years and not been tended to professionally. She comes upon skeletal remains in the tall grass and weeds and determines that the bones are of a child and freshly placed. Who is this child, who put him here and why here in this family plot? She has some misfortunate accidents or are they intentional?
My Thoughts: From page one, I was pulled in with the writing style and, at times, funny New Yorkese narrative. During her quest to find justice for this child, Teddy, Madeline also learns that there has been abuse in her own family. She is also trying to be honest and loyal to a long time friend from boarding school. Madeline has to deal with the dynamics of her relationships with family members, old and new friends, and a little boy she never knew.
My Opinion and Rating: I found the style and narrative unique and enjoyable. I gave this book a rating of 4 for the following reasons. Without giving anything away, I felt that there were two major traumatic incidents that should have been written with more of an in depth and detailed explanation. I also thought the same regarding the dynamics of the relationships that were involved.
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, Thriller/Suspense, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck-A-Book)

01/12/10
Watchlist Based On An Idea by Jeffrey Deaver (Rating--5)
Published by Vanguard Press
ISBN 978--1-59315-559-9
At the request of The Book Trib, a HC copy was sent, at no cost to me, for my honest review
From the Book's Jacket:
Watchlist: Two powerful novellas featuring the same thrilling cast of characters in one major suspenseful package
Synopsis: Harold Middleton, former crimes of war investigator takes the reader on a non-stop journey around the world in both story lines. The first novella he is on the hunt and then hunted for a never before seen Chopin manuscript. But is there a secret in this never before seen composition? In the second novella, once again Harold Middleton brings us to faraway lands in search of the "Scorpion" and what is the secret of "The Copper Bracelet"?
My Thoughts: One word..Amazing. Written by Jeffrey Deaver and twenty-one (21) other best selling authors. Each chapter written by a different writer, weaving and interweaving their own style of writing and story telling with others, for a dynamic plot.
My Opinion and Rating: A thriller with brilliant writing that takes the reader on a journey to faraway places spanning the globe, taking the reader into the world of espionage and terrorism. Incredible concept. Rating 5
(Challenges: Reading from my Shelves, Thriller/Suspense, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck-A-Book)

01/09/10
Vanished by Joseph Finder (won from The Book Trib) (Rating--5)
Synopsis: Nick Heller, former Special Ops now working in PI Private Sector receives a call for help from Gabe, his nephew. Gabe's stepfather, Roger and Nick's estranged brother, has vanished and his mother has been attacked and is in the hospital. Nick not close to his brother or his father, who is in prison for securities fraud, takes a leave of absence to help investigate what has happened to his brother Roger. Even though their relationship has been strained for years, blood is thicker than water or is it?
Thoughts: This was a heart pounding suspense from the a personal level to private sector and all the way up to the government level. Every turn was a surprise right down to the last page. This was the first book I read by Joseph Finder and it won't be my last. Thoroughly enjoyed.
(Challenges: Reading From My Shelf, Thriller/Suspense, Books Won, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck-A-Book)

01/04/10
Most Likely To Die by Lisa Jackson, Wendy Corsi Staub, Beverly Barton (Rating 5)
EBook purchased by me
Twenty years ago at the Valentine's Dance hosted by an all female small high school, St. Elizabeth's there was a gruesome murder which was never solved. Since the school will be leveled, a small committee of alumnae are planning for their 20 yr reunion even though they have never resolved their feelings of that night so long ago but then one by one they are dying, is it an accident or is it personal.
My Opinion: Once again, Lisa Jackson delivers another fast paced, can't put down, keep you guessing read. I originally signed up for 5 books for the Lisa Jackson challenge hosted by J.Kaye Book Blog, and this was my 5th book, I will be reading more of her books because they are enjoyable and are the type of books that I like to read. If you haven't read her books and like suspense, this is an author you should read and maybe even sign up for the challenge.
(Challenges: LJackson, RYOB, EBook, Thriller/Suspense, FOMA 12x12, 100+, Buck-A-Book)