2.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Art in the Blood by Bonnie MacBird

Art in the Blood
by Bonnie MacBird

Art in the Blood

Copyright: 2015

Pages: 336

Read: March 24-29, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Barnes & Noble Serial Reads

 

 

Blurb: London. A snowy December, 1888. Sherlock Holmes, 34, is languishing and back on cocaine after a disastrous Ripper investigation. Watson can neither comfort nor rouse his friend – until a strangely encoded letter arrives from Paris.

Mlle La Victoire, a beautiful French cabaret star writes that her young son has vanished, and she has been attacked in the streets of Montmartre.

Racing to Paris with Watson at his side, Holmes discovers the missing child is only the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem. The most valuable statue since the Winged Victory has been violently stolen in Marseilles, and several children from a silk mill in Lancashire have been found murdered. The clues in all three cases point to a single, untouchable man, an art collector seemingly beyond reach of the law.

Will Holmes recover in time to find the missing boy and stop a rising tide of murders? To do so he must stay one step ahead of a dangerous French rival and the threatening interference of his own brother, Mycroft.

This latest adventure, in the style of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, sends the iconic duo from London to Paris and the icy wilds of Lancashire in a case which tests Watson’s friendship and the fragility and gifts of Sherlock Holmes’ own artistic nature to the limits.

 


Review: This was Barnes & Noble’s March selection on their Serial Reads program. I was really unsure about reading this one. While I do enjoy mysteries, Sherlock Holmes has never really been a huge draw for me. I posted the introduction to this book here, and based on the comments it was split whether or not my visitors would continue reading the book based on the intro. To be honest, the first few pages didn’t really immediately draw me in either, but I eventually got interested enough in the book to continue on.

Overall, this wasn’t necessarily a bad book. It just wasn’t really a home run for me either. It fell somewhere in the “eh” category. It felt a little convoluted and I didn’t like how the storyline kept switching from the missing boy to the art theft and back to the missing boy, constantly… I think it was a little too much. I wanted Holmes to concentrate on one or the other cases.

I’m not entirely sold that this book was really written in the Sherlock Holmes “way.”  It didn’t feel entirely authentic. Not that I’m an expert in Sherlock Holmes, but I just felt like something was missing from his character. It didn’t feel like an authentic Sherlock Holmes character in this book.

To be honest, this book didn’t do much for me in the end. It was a decent enough read for   a freebie. However, I don’t really feel the need to read the second book in this series. I’m not even entirely sure I would recommend this book. I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to hard-core Sherlock Holmes fans … but I suppose the casual mystery lover may find something in this that I simply didn’t.

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2.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, O, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Mallory’s Oracle by Carol O’Connell

Mallory’s Oracle
by Carol O’Connell

Mallory's Oracle

Copyright: 1994

Pages: 310

Read: March 14-18, 2018

Rating: 2.5/5

Source: Purchased at Used Book Store

 
Blurb: Jonathan Kellerman says Mallory’s Oracle is “a joy.” Nelson DeMille and other advance readers have called it “truly amazing, ” “a classic” with “immense appeal.” It is all of that, and more: a stunning debut novel about a web of unsolved murders in New York’s Gramercy Park and the singular woman who makes them her obsession.

At its center is Kathleen Mallory, an extraordinary wild child turned New York City policewoman. Adopted off the streets as a little girl by a police inspector and his wife, she is still not altogether civilized now that she is a sergeant in the Special Crimes section. With her ferocious intelligence and green gunslinger eyes, Mallory (never Kathleen, never Kathy) operates by her own inner compass of right and wrong, a sense of justice that drives her in unpredictable ways. She is a thing apart.

And today, she is a thing possessed. Although more at home in the company of computers than in the company of men, Mallory is propelled onto the street when the body of her adoptive father, Louis Markowitz, is found stabbed in a tenement next to the body of a wealthy Gramercy Park woman. The murders are clearly linked to two other Gramercy Park homicides Markowitz had been investigating, and now his cases become Mallory’s, his death her cause. Prowling the streets, sifting through his clues, drawing on his circle of friends and colleagues, she plunges into a netherworld of light and shadow, where people are not what they seem and truth shifts without warning. And a murderer waits who is every bit as wild and unpredictable as she….

Filled with deep, seductive atmosphere and razor-sharp prose, Mallory’s Oracle is gripping, resonant suspense of tantalizing complexity—a genuinely unforgettable novel.


Review: Okay so this is the first book in the Kathleen Mallory series. I had actually acquired this book a long time ago and at some point took it off my Goodreads TBR (I’m assuming it was going to be part of a purge) but for whatever reason, I put it back on my shelf to keep. I should have let it go in that purge…

This book was really strange. I had a very hard time connecting to any of the characters. I actually re-read the first few pages in the beginning because I felt like I had missed something. I hadn’t. It just didn’t draw me in. Because of that lack of early disinterest, I know for a fact I missed a lot going forward. At the very end when it was all revealed, I had no idea how on earth the killer ended up being the killer. It just didn’t make sense to me at all. There was a lot of unnecessary things along the way in my opinion. An entire storyline regarding mediums and seances? Had absolutely nothing to do with the serial killings being investigated. What was the point?!

I didn’t care for it. I won’t be reading further in this series. I didn’t like the characters. Mallory is cold, way too cold for my taste. I never could figure out why Charles “inherited” her…. yeah, this book just didn’t work for me very well.

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, NetGalley, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, S

Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth
by Zoje Stage

Baby Teeth

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 320

Read: March 2-8, 2018

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: ARC from NetGalley

 
Blurb: Sweetness can be deceptive.

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

From blazing new talent Zoje Stage, Baby Teeth is a story about a perfect-looking family, and a darling little girl who wants nothing more than to kill her mother.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions are my own.

I first found this book in a NetGalley email advertising it as Read Now. I immediately logged in and downloaded it. It caught my eye nearly instantly! It looked like such a good book, I knew I had to read it.

And oh my goodness was it so creepy good. I devoured it. I was absolutely enthralled by Hanna and Suzette’s story.

The only reason this one didn’t get a 5 star rating is because I had a little bit of a hard time accepting that a 7 year old could actually be as evil as Hanna. At one point it flashes back to when Hanna was like 2 or 3 and she realized that Mommy was going to fail her “test”? I mean, come on – I have two children, almost 6 and almost 3 years old …. there’s no way at 2/3 a child could think in that manner. And to imagine that at 7 she could be actively plotting to kill her mother? I’m not sure that I buy that either…. And we won’t even talk about the unhealthy obsession Hanna has with her father. Yikes.

The ending (or really lack thereof) was a little disappointing. But I can totally understand why Ms. Stage chose to end it as she did. I can appreciate that, but I would have liked a little more closure than I got. Maybe a teenage Hanna will re-emerge in a few years?! 😉

I’m nearly positive this is going to be one of the most talked about books this summer. It’s definitely buzz worthy. It’s controversial. It’s enthralling. I’m glad that I read it and I’m looking forward to Ms. Stage’s future ventures in writing!

While I can fully appreciate that this book would not be for everyone, it’s definitely a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and will be recommending it to everyone I know!

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, C, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie

A Share in Death
by Deborah Crombie

A Share in Death

Copyright: 1993

Pages: 259

Read: Feb. 7-14, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: A week’s holiday in a luxurious Yorkshire time-share is just what Scotland Yard’s Superintendent Duncan Kincaid needs. But the discovery of a body floating in the whirlpool bath ends Kincaid’s vacation before it’s begun. One of his new acquaintances at Followdale House is dead; another is a killer. Despite a distinct lack of cooperation from the local constabulary, Kincaid’s keen sense of duty won’t allow him to ignore the heinous crime, impelling him to send for his enthusiastic young assistant, Sergeant Gemma James. But the stakes are raised dramatically when a second murder occurs, and Kincaid and James find themselves in a determined hunt for a fiendish felon who enjoys homicide a bit too much.


Review: This is the first book in the Duncan Kincaid & Gemma James series. After reading the 15th and 17th books in this series, I decided it was time to read the first book.

Overall I was not disappointed. This book really reminded me of an Agatha Christie novel. It didn’t read like the other two later books that I have read. It was a completely different feel. It was a chore to keep all the different characters straight throughout the entire book. I had trouble remembering who was married to who. But that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

I didn’t know the killer until it was revealed at the end and I can’t help but wonder if I missed something earlier in the book, because it was someone who wasn’t even on my radar as the bad guy!

Overall I’m very glad that I finally got to this book and I look forward to reading more of these earlier books. Definitely recommended!!

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, L, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book

Review: Academic Affairs by Peter Likins

Academic Affairs
by Peter Likins

Academic Affairs

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 150

Read: Jan. 5-9, 2018

Rating: 3.5/5

Source: Publicist for review

Blurb: “Jerry, you can’t do this, you can’t!” – Beaufort Prendergast, president of Chickamin Christian College, had gasped these words just before dropping dead of an apparent heart attack outside the office door of Executive Dean for Academic Affairs Jeremy Pilkington just a day before Pilkington himself was murdered in that office.  The murder weapon?  A poisoned apple brought to him by the pretty young college girl he had been tutoring, Mary Belle.  There¹d been whispers of an affair.  But wasn’t she too obvious a suspect?

 So it seemed to the small town’s sheriff, Jake Muffet.  Along with his son and daughter, Muffet comprised the entire law enforcement authority of the sleepy Alabama town of Sparta in the 1930s and now, for the first time in his tenure, there was a murder to solve.  Or maybe two murders if President Prendergast’s death was connected to Pilkington’s.

 At first the investigation looks simple:  Just follow the apple.  Whoever touched it before it reached Pilkington could have laced it with the strychnine.  But as Sheriff Muffet and aspiring young journalist Katy O¹Halleran interview the short list of suspects, a more complicated and far darker picture emerges – a tale of sex, power and blackmail lying just underneath the veneer of Southern respectability.


Review: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions stated are my own.

I was excited to read this one. The blurb immediately caught my eye. A fun little cozy mystery set in the south in the 1930s. I figured it would be a quick and enjoyable read.

My one and only complaint is that I’m not sure I liked how the same story was told by three differing viewpoints. I mean, it worked … but it felt a bit unnecessary. I’m okay with two viewpoints, but it was that third one that really threw me for a loop. I had a little trouble keeping everyone straight at the beginning.

Overall, a pretty good book. A quick read that held my interest well enough. The characters were all portrayed appropriately for the setting. The writing itself was good. The plot was original. This probably isn’t a book I ever would have picked up on my own, but it was still a good read. Definitely recommended!

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, M, Maggie Hope, RATING, Read in 2017, SERIES, What Should I Read Next

Review: Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary
by Susan Elia MacNeal

Mr Churchill's Secretary

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 349

Read: Dec. 9 –15, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased new

 

 

Blurb: London, 1940. Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined—and opportunities she will not let pass. In troubled, deadly times, with air-raid sirens sending multitudes underground, access to the War Rooms also exposes Maggie to the machinations of a menacing faction determined to do whatever it takes to change the course of history.

Ensnared in a web of spies, murder, and intrigue, Maggie must work quickly to balance her duty to King and Country with her chances for survival. And when she unravels a mystery that points toward her own family’s hidden secrets, she’ll discover that her quick wits are all that stand between an assassin’s murderous plan and Churchill himself.

In this daring debut, Susan Elia MacNeal blends meticulous research on the era, psychological insight into Winston Churchill, and the creation of a riveting main character,  Maggie Hope, into a spectacularly crafted novel.


Review: So this was my December pick chosen by you dear readers! I was really looking forward to digging into it! So what did I think? ……

Well. The beginning was excruciatingly slow. EXCRUCIATINGLY. No joke. To be completely honest, had I not been also reading this one in conjunction with a Goodreads challenge that required the book to be finished by Dec. 15th, I have a pretty good feeling I would have walked away from this one.

But. But. But! …. I am very glad that I stuck it out because it got really good around the halfway mark and was a lot better from that point on. The first 100 pages or so was really setting the scene. I understand that. But it just didn’t grab me like I wanted it to. So once I got past that 100 page mark it got a lot easier, and by the halfway mark I was fully invested in the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed Maggie’s character. She felt very real to me. And the supporting characters were all well-developed with their own backgrounds. This book is very character driven and I personally enjoy that. I like series where I can get invested in the characters. So just that alone makes me look forward to continuing on in this series!

Like I said, once you get past the first 100 or so pages the pace really picks up and the book gets a lot more interesting from that point on. I would definitely recommend this book to historical fiction lovers as well as mystery lovers and even espionage lovers too! It’s a good book that will appeal to a variety of readers. And I’m really looking forward to reading more from this series in the future.

So, dear readers …. you did pretty good for me this first go around! I’ve got another three selections coming up for you to vote on for my January version of this! Hopefully it’ll be another good read! See you next week!

MyTBRList-1024x661

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: Compelling Evidence by Steve Martini

Compelling Evidence
by Steve Martini

Compelling Evidence

Copyright: 1992

Pages: 432

Read: March 20-31, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased used

Blurb: Paul Madriani, a brilliant criminal defense lawyer, had a once-promising career with a prestigious law-firm, until an ill-judged affair with the senior partner Ben Potter’s wife led to his resignation. Now he scrambles for work amid the ghosts of his doomed affair and the remains of a failing marriage.

Then Potter is found dead, an apparent suicide. But as details come to light, the case turns from suicide to murder and the needle of suspicion points towards the victim’s seductive wife, Talia Potter. Indicted and arrested, Talia turns to Paul, her former lover, to defend her against the mounting evidence in a case that for her could result in the gas chamber.


Review: I have wanted to start this series for many, many years. I have collected quite a few books in this series. So I figured now was as good a time as ever. I’m a sucker for a good legal thriller and was excited to finally get to this one.

Let me just be very clear – the beginning is almost excruciatingly slow. It was nearly to the point that I was going to walk away from it. But I persisted and I can honestly say that I am thrilled I stuck with it. From about the midway point to the end it was extremely exciting and I couldn’t wait to figure out what happened. I had no idea what had really happened to Ben Potter until it was finally revealed. I always enjoy being surprised completely. I read so many mystery/thriller/suspense novels I can usually peg the who-dun-it part relatively early on. I was honestly completely surprised by the reveal in this book.

I hope that I get to the second in the series quicker than my track record with series books are (!). Hopefully the next one will be as good, if not better, than this one! Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good legal thriller!!

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2017

Review: Absolute Power by David Baldacci

Absolute Power
by David Baldacci

760769

Copyright: 1996

Pages: 505

Read: March 6-15, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased used

 

Blurb: ABSOLUTE CORRUPTION…In a heavily guarded mansion in a posh Virginia suburb, a man and a woman start to make love, trapping a burglar behind a secret wall. Then the passion turns deadly, and the witness is running into the night. Because what he has just seen is a brutal slaying involving the President of the United States.

ABSOLUTE DANGER…Luther Whitney is the career break-in artist who’s in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alan Richmond is the charming U.S. President with the power to commit any crime. And Jack Graham is the young attorney, caught in a vortex between the absolute truth – and …

ABSOLUTE POWER…A tale of greed, sex, ambition, and murder, this is the novel everyone has been talking about … the shattering, relentlessly suspenseful thriller that will change the way you think about Washington – and power – forever.


Review: I’ve had this one on my shelf for a few years now. I always like David Baldacci’s books, and this one sounded really interesting. The premise sounds so exciting! And it was his debut novel, so I figured it was something I should probably eventually read. And this is a heck of a good book.

My one and only complaint is the length of this book. It was about 100-150 pages too long. However, I understand why Mr. Baldacci set things up so meticulously in the beginning. There were quite a few places where the story seemed to drag on, but the last 200 or so pages were fast paced and action packed!

This book is a prime example of how good people end up doing bad things. Whether it’s to save their job, their life, their family. People will go to extraordinary measures to protect themselves and those that they love. This book shows just how far people will go for those reasons.

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2016, Review Book, U-V-W

Review: A Front Page Affair by Radha Vatsal

A Front Page Affair
by Radha Vatsal

 

A Front Page AffairCopyright: 2016

Pages: 312

Read: July 8-11, 2016

Rating: 4/5

Source: Publicist for review

 

 

Blurb: Intelligent, well-traveled, and well-bred, Capability “Kitty” Weeks never expected to find herself reporting on fashion trends and society gossip, but every aspiring journalist has to start somewhere, and Kitty finds her “in” to the world of newspapers on the New York Sentinel Ladies’ Page. Meanwhile, news headlines buzz about a shooting at J.P. Morgan’s mansion and the sinking of the Lusitania. It seems that Kitty will never have a chance to get the scoop on a big story – until a man is murdered at a high society picnic on her beat.

Determined to prove herself as a journalist and break away from the Ladies’ Page once and for all, Kitty digs deeper into the circumstances behind the murder. She soon finds herself plunged into the midst of a wartime conspiracy that threatens to derail the United States’s attempt to remain neutral – and to disrupt the privileged life she has always known.


Review: I was immediately intrigued by the description of this book when it was first pitched to me. I’m not taking on a whole lot of review books, so a book has to really stick out for me to accept it for review consideration. But there was something about this book that really sucked me in and made me want to read it. I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I figured reading about a character in New York City in 1915 wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I took it on my train ride to Chicago, knowing that I would have 5+ hours each way to enjoy some good quality reading time. I’m definitely glad that I took this book because I read the first half of it on the way up and the second half on the way back home. This book was such a fun, enjoyable, easy read that it was just perfect for what I needed at the moment.

I liked Kitty’s character. She was interesting and fresh. I am excited to see that this is the first in a planned series (you know I love series books!) because I cannot wait to see what Kitty finds herself in going forward with women’s suffrage right around the corner for her. Kitty’s character definitely breaks the mold of the average woman in the early 1900s and I think that’s what really drew me to her. The author has really set up a great background for some really interesting books going forward with a character like Kitty.

The writing of this book was extremely good. It was very upfront and not bogged down with a lot of what I call flowery descriptions. It made it a lot more easier for me to read than a typical historical fiction.  It was packed with just enough historical background that the scene was easily imagined. I also enjoyed the fact that this was a very believable book. Kitty ran into numerous roadblocks but she persevered in each and every one of those. I especially enjoyed one moment when one of the newspaper’s higher-ups questioned Kitty as to how she gained entrance to somewhere she had no business being and she simply responded that she got in because she asked. It was such an easy, simple response, and yet it really made me realize how much women were ignored for the most part during those times.

Overall, I really think this is a great book. It’s definitely a great start to a new series that has left me eagerly anticipating the next book in this series. I can’t say enough good things about this book … just read it for yourself!

*I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are my own.

 

4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, C, Fiction, Rachel Knight, RATING, Read in 2016, SERIES

Review: Guilt by Association by Marcia Clark

Guilt by Association
by Marcia Clark

Guilt by Association

Copyright: 2011

Pages: 397

Read: May 4 – 14, 2016

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased new

 

 

Blurb: Los Angeles DA Rachel Knight is a tenacious, wisecracking, and fiercely intelligent prosecutor in the city’s most elite division. When her colleague Jake is found dead at a grisly crime scene, Rachel is shaken to the core. She must take over his toughest case: the assault on a young woman from a prominent family.

But Rachel can’t stop herself from also digging deeper into Jake’s death, a decision that will have her risking her reputation – and her life – to find the truth.

Thoughts: I first read Marcia Clark when I read The Competition a couple of years ago. That was in 2014 – why on earth did I wait two years before picking up the first Rachel Knight book?! I wish I had a decent answer for that question. But I don’t.

This book really hits the ground running. It sucked me in almost immediately and I found myself reading 50 pages in the blink of an eye. It was a really fun, interesting book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I really like Rachel’s character. She’s so down-to-earth and relatable. Rachel and Bailey are like two peas in a pod – they just mesh together so well as partners.

Being a backlist book, there’s not much I can say about this one that you haven’t read before. So – if you haven’t read anything by Marcia Clark yet, definitely give her a try! I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I highly recommend this one!