September & October 2017 Reads

Well….. it’s obviously been awhile 😦 September saw a HUGE reading slump…. I went from reading anywhere from 6-9 books to a whopping 3 in September…. October wasn’t that much better….. Here’s to hoping November is better 🙂

So I’ll do a quick mini-review round up of my September and October reads. It’s so impressive, I tell ya …. ::eyeroll::

Sate of the Onion
Title: State of the Onion
Author: Julie Hyzy
Read: Sept. 3-6, 2017
Pages: 325
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the first in the White House Chef Mystery series …. it was a fun read that I enjoyed! It was cute, but not cutesie …. if that makes sense? I definitely am looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Where They Found Her
Title: Where They Found Her
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Read: Sept. 10-19, 2017
Pages: 326
Source: Purchased New
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: So this one I found in the bargain bin at Barnes & Noble. I had my eye on it when it first came out because I had read and LOVED her previous book, Reconstructing Amelia, so I think I had high hopes for this one. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t grab me right off the bat and I struggled to really get into it. And when it was all revealed in the end, it wasn’t as surprising as I had hoped for. So good, but not great.
Obstruction of Justice
Title: Obstruction of Justice
Author: Perri O’Shaughnessy
Read: Sept. 20-29, 2017
Pages: 512
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the 3rd book in the Nina Reilly series. I have read and enjoyed the previous two so I was looking forward to this one! I enjoyed it and it definitely left me wanting to read the fourth book … if only they weren’t so long, I often find myself too intimidated by longer books these days….
Her Last Breath
Title: Her Last Breath
Author: Linda Castillo
Read: Oct. 2-5, 2017
Pages: 320
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: This is the 5th book in the Kate Burkholder series. I read and LOVED the first 4 in 2016 and had tried to pick this one up shortly after I read the 5th, but realized that I was a little burned out on the series. In fact, I can recall feeling like the books were all too similar to each other. So I set it aside and decided I’d come back to it later. Apparently a year later I decided it was time …. I’m glad I waited because I thoroughly enjoyed it! I had no trouble jumping right back into Kate’s life and I can’t wait to see where her and Tomasetti go in the future. I definitely recommend this series!
Pop Goes the Weasel
Title: Pop Goes the Weasel 
Author: M.J. Arlidge
Read: Oct. 8-13, 2017
Pages: 390
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 3/5

Thoughts: I read the first book in this series, Eeny Meeny,  back in January of this year and I absolutely adored it! So I had high hopes for this one, but I wanted to let it sit for awhile (series burnout is real!) … and while I did enjoy this one, it definitely didn’t grab me as fast as the first book did. It was gruesome and a roller coaster ride, but I felt like it was a letdown from the first book. Yet I still want to continue on with this series, so it wasn’t terrible either. A solid thriller.
Beautiful Storm
Title: Beautiful Storm 
Author: Barbara Freethy
Read: Oct. 6-25, 2017
Pages: 321
Source: B&N Serial Reads
Rating: 3/5

Thoughts: This book was October’s selection for Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads…. I don’t read a lot of romantic suspense, mainly because I don’t read a lot of romance. So I was a little unsure going into this one, but I was immediately intrigued by the storyline – the missing person’s case. If only it had been a little more on the intrigue and less on the romance (which really, wasn’t overbearing honestly…) it would have been a lot more interesting to me. So not something I would ever pick up on my own, but definitely a decent freebie read.
Winter Prey
Title: Winter Prey
Author: John Sandford
Read: Oct. 21-27, 2017
Pages: 400
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: I remember very clearly thoroughly loving the previous book in this series, Silent Prey, so I was looking forward to getting to this 5th book in the Lucas Davenport series. Why did I wait so long between books?!? I really enjoyed this book. It was so creepy and suspenseful. I know I’m only on the 5th book in the series, but other than #2 they’ve all been home runs for me! Definitely makes me look forward to continuing on sooner rather than later!

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Review: The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl
by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 464

Read: Aug. 1 –26, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads

 


Blurb
: Zoe Maisey is a seventeen-year-old musical prodigy with a genius IQ. Three years ago, she was involved in a tragic incident that left three classmates dead. She served her time, and now her mother, Maria, is resolved to keep that devastating fact tucked far away from their new beginning, hiding the past even from her new husband and demanding Zoe do the same.

Tonight Zoe is giving a recital that Maria has been planning for months. It needs to be the performance of her life. But instead, by the end of the evening, Maria is dead. In the aftermath, everyone—police, family, Zoe’s former solicitor, and Zoe herself—tries to piece together what happened. But as Zoe knows all too well, the truth is rarely straightforward, and the closer we are to someone, the less we may see.

Unfolding over a span of twenty-four hours through three compelling narratives, The Perfect Girl is gripping, surprising, and emotionally complex—a richly layered look at loyalty, second chances, and the way secrets unravel us all.


Review: I was excited to see this as August’s selection on Barnes & Noble’s Serial Reads (especially after not being at all interested in July’s selection…). I had never read anything by Ms. Macmillan, but I do have What She Knew on my shelf. So I was eager to jump right into this one!!

Overall, I enjoyed the book. But I did have some issues with it. First, there was all this build-up to the climax and then I was ultimately let down. I mean, you have all these people telling the story how they saw it and then you just end it with a brief mention of an arrest and sentence … and that’s it? It was a little disappointing to me and I felt like there could have been just a little more to the story.

There was also the entire side story with Sam’s character – what was the point of him being mentioned at all? Ok, I take that back…. as Zoe’s attorney for her “incident” he definitely did deserve a mention. But beyond that it felt totally unnecessary.

I keep going back and forth wondering if the fact that I read this book in spurts every day with it being part of Serial Reads hampered my opinion of this one. Maybe then the flow of it would have felt a little more natural? I’m not sure. I’m still pretty sure that when you spend 95% of the book with the entire lead-up to the who-dun-it then you’re going to have a little bit of a let down no matter what because 5% is not enough time to wrap it all up without feeling rushed.

I never really felt entirely vested in any of the characters. Zoe was very off-putting to me. Chris was a slime-ball from the beginning. Tessa was irresponsible. Lucas was just kind of there. Richard was ridiculous. Sam was pointless. It was all one big cluster…. ha! I don’t know. I’m still scratching my head as to how I did enjoy this one so much. I did find it to be very readable. And I was very interested in knowing what happened to Zoe’s mom, Maria.

Either way, I did ultimately like this book and am definitely looking forward to reading more from Ms. Macmillan.

Review: Presidents’ Day by Seth Margolis

Presidents’ Day
by Seth Margolis

Presidents Day

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 356

Read: July 13 – 16, 2017

Rating: 4/5

Source: TLC Book Tours
Blurb: Julian Mellow has spent his life amassing a fortune out of low-risk / high-reward investments. Now, Mellow has an even greater ambition – and to make that man do his bidding, in business and beyond.

His motivations are mysterious to everyone – from the puppet candidate he’s running to his own wife – everyone except for one man who lost everything when he took the fall for Julian Mellow’s dirty financial dealings, and has been looking for a way to strike back ever since. He’s the only person standing between the American people and a rigged election, between democracy and a new American tyrant.

Marigolds spans the globe to weave together a brilliant story of politics at its most venal, where blackmail and murder are part of the political process, where anyone’s life is up for sale, and where one man could bring the whole kingdom toppling.


Review: I enjoy a good political thriller every now and then, so I was excited to see this one come through my email. I was immediately intrigued by the concept – a rich man wanting to essentially “buy” the presidency …. hmmm… 😉 Moving on….

I found this book to be extremely fast paced from the beginning, that’s a must with any political thriller in my opinion. I felt like the storyline was incredibly relevant. Let’s be honest, American politics have been the butt of all jokes since Trump announced his candidacy. So the whole idea that a very rich man could buy the presidency doesn’t seem so impossible after all….

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a really good, solid political thriller. It’s timely and enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and will be anxiously looking forward to future books by Mr. Margolis.

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

Review: Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway

Bad Blood
by Brian McGilloway

Bad Blood

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: June 13th 2017
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 0062684558 (ISBN13: 9780062684554)
Series: DS Lucy Black #4
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Blurb: A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. One clue is left behind to uncover his identity—an admission stamp for the local gay club.

DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man’s death draws the attention of the local Gay Rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.

Things become further complicated with the emergence of a far-right group targeting immigrants in a local working-class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.

Hatred and complicity abound in McGilloway’s new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner, delivering the punch that readers of Little Lost Girl have grown to expect.


Review: This is the fourth book in the Lucy Black series and I have read the previous three (Little Girl Lost, Someone You Know, The Forgotten Ones ) and thoroughly enjoyed all of them! So when I was pitched this book I eagerly accepted it to review. I was looking forward to falling back in with Lucy and Tom.

Gay rights, immigration, and the legal issues of drugs were all integral parts of this book. The way they were portrayed definitely leaves the reader with some tough questions to ask themselves – how would you react in certain situations that these characters were placed in? I will say that going this route with the storyline gave this book an extremely current feel. While this book is set in Ireland right before the Brexit, these are some of the same issues that plague the United States as well right now.

I still really enjoy Lucy’s character. Theres’s just something about her that I enjoy. She’s a smart cop, but she’s also got a lot of heart. It’s a nice combination to see. There seemed to be a lot more interaction with other police officers in this book than I remember in the previous books. It was nice to see some other secondary characters get quite a bit of attention in this installment.

So while the political issues brought up in this book definitely have a current vibe, I hope it won’t be too off-putting to certain readers. Luckily, I am still looking forward to seeing more of Lucy Black in the future and will be eagerly awaiting the next installment from this series!


Author Bio:

Brian McGilloway

Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he was Head of English. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Lucy Black series, all to be published by Witness. Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife and their four children.

Catch Up With Our Author On:Website 🔗Goodreads 🔗Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!


GIVEAWAY

There is a Rafflecopter giveaway! There will be 3 winners of one (1) non-Kindle eBook coupon for a copy of THE FORGOTTEN ONES by Brian McGilloway. The giveaway begins on June 24 and runs through August 1, 2017. You can find the Rafflecopter link HERE.


Excerpt

The hall was already packed by the time Detective Inspector Tom Fleming arrived. The air was sweet with perfume and talc and, beneath that, from the farmers still wearing their work clothes, the scent of sweat and the smell of the earth.
The congregation were on their feet, being led in the opening hymn by Pastor James Nixon. Fleming smiled apologetically at those he squeezed past to get to a free seat in the third row from the back. The hymn finished, the assembly took their seats just as Fleming reached his, and settled to listen to the words of Pastor Nixon.
‘My brothers and sisters, it is a great honour to be here with you this evening and to see so many of you have taken the time to come and pray with me.’ His voice was strong despite his age, a rich baritone still carrying the inflections of his native Ballymena accent.
‘But it is a time of great challenge for us all. Daily, all good people face an assault on their morality with the rampant homosexual agenda that assails us and belittles everything we hold to be true and dear. Men of conscience are tried for refusing to make a cake celebrating homosexuality or print leaflets and posters furthering that agenda. And on the other side of the border, the Irish Republic has voted to allow homosexuals to marry, as if two women playing house is no different to the consummated union of a man and a woman. As if it is not a perversion which shames us all.
A few voices appended his comment with ‘Amen’.
Nixon raised his hands, acknowledging their support. ‘There are those who would silence me, silence us. They tell us we must accept homosexuals in our town, our shops, allow homosexual bars and public houses to operate on our streets. We must allow sodomites to teach our children and to corrupt our young. We must stay silent while a new Gomorrah is built next to our homes and farms, our shops and schools. They say I am dangerous. They say I preach hatred. They say I should be silent. But I say this: I say that there is no danger in truth. I say that there is no hatred in goodness. And I say that I will not be silent.’
Another chorus of ‘Amens’ greeted his proclamation, accompanied by a smattering of applause which began at the front and rippled its way through the hall.
‘I will not stand idly by as our families are exposed to sin and depravity. I will not countenance the laws of the land being used to protect profane persons, allowing them to indulge their lustful practices, forcing those of us with consciences to humour this lifestyle. It is an abomination. The people who practise it are abominations and, like those before them, they will end in fire and brimstone.’
Fleming glanced around at the others in the congregation. While one or two shifted uncomfortably in their seats, for the most part the listeners sat intently waiting for Nixon to continue.
‘Friends, only last week, I read of an African nation – a heathen nation, a Godless nation – who arrested two men for homosexual acts. One of these men was sixteen. Sixteen! And do you know what they did to the pair of them? They stoned them. They took them out of the town and they threw rocks at them until the pair of them were dead. And do you know what I thought? Shall I tell you?’
An elderly lady in the front row called out ‘Yes’, to the amusement of those around her. Nixon smiled mildly at her, as if indulging her.
‘Stoning was too good for those men. Every rock that struck them was a just reward for their sinfulness, their immorality, their ungodly behaviour. Every drop of their blood that stained the ground was a reminder that they deserved to die. It was the wages of their sin!’
***
Excerpt from Bad Blood by Brian McGilloway. Copyright © 2017 by Brian McGilloway. Reproduced with permission from Witness Impulse. All rights reserved.

Review: Sutton by J.R. Moehringer

Sutton
by J.R. Moehringer

Sutton

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 334

Read: June 13 – 24, 2017

Rating: 3/5

Source: Purchased New

 

Blurb: Willie Sutton was born in the squalid Irish slums of Brooklyn, in the first year of the twentieth century, and came of age at a time when banks were out of control. If they weren’t failing outright, causing countless Americans to lose their jobs and homes, they were being propped up with emergency bailouts. Trapped in a cycle of panics, depressions and soaring unemployment, Sutton saw only one way out, only one way to win the girl of his dreams.

So began the career of America’s most successful bank robber. Over three decades Sutton became so good at breaking into banks, and such a master at breaking out of prisons, police called him one of the most dangerous men in New York, and the FBI put him on its first-ever Most Wanted List.

But the public rooted for Sutton. He never fired a shot, after all, and his victims were merely those bloodsucking banks. When he was finally caught for good in 1952, crowds surrounded the jail and chanted his name.

Blending vast research with vivid imagination, Pulitzer Prize winner J.R. Moehringer brings Willie Sutton blazing back to life. In Moehringer’s retelling, it was more than poverty or rage at society that drove Sutton. It was one unforgettable woman. In all Sutton’s crimes and confinements, his first love (and first accomplice) was never far from his thoughts. And when Sutton finally walked free – a surprise pardon on Christmas Eve, 1969 – he immediately set out to find her.

Poignant, comic, fast-paced and fact-studded, Sutton tells a story of economic pain that feels eerily modern, while unfolding a story of doomed love that is forever timeless.


Review: This book has been sitting on my shelf for a few years now and I decided it was finally time to get to it. Maybe I had too high of expectations for this one. I have been reading more historical fiction this year than normal, and they’ve all been winners. So I went into this one thinking I’d really enjoy it. But it ultimately fell a little flat for me.

I found it hard to get into. I’m not sure if it was the writing style with the constant flashbacks or the actually story itself. But something just didn’t click very well with me. Obviously it wasn’t a terrible book, because I did finish it. But it’s not something that appealed to me a great deal. I found Willie’s character to be completely unreliable at the end and I struggled with a big revelation near the very end of the book. I wasn’t prepared really for how things turned out and so I was a little frustrated by that. So this one was just an “ok” book for me.

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!!

Review: The Girl From Home by Adam Mitzner

The Girl From Home
by Adam Mitzner

The Girl From Home

Copyright: 2016

Pages: 321

Read: April 1 – 11, 2016

Rating: 4/5

Source: Publicist for review

Blurb: Jonathan Caine is a true master of the universe – a currency wizard with a trophy wife, a penthouse condo with a view of the Statue of Liberty, and the desire for more -when his world comes crashing down. In the midst of this spiral, Jonathan returns to his hometown to care for his ailing father and attend his twenty-fifth high-school reunion, where he becomes reacquainted with former prom queen Jacqueline Williams. Back in the day, Jackie didn’t even know Jonathan existed, but now she is intrigued by the man he has become. Yet their budding relationship has problems, not the least of which is that Jackie doesn’t know the full truth about Jonathan, and she’s married to a jealous and abusive man. Jonathan is determined to learn from his mistakes, but is he capable of complete transformation? Or will a shocking temptation test his desire for redemption beyond anything he could have imagined?


Review: It was the pitch of this book that really brought me back to my blog. Having been given the opportunity to read Mr. Mitzner’s previous two books (A Case of Redemption and Losing Faith) I knew that I would not want to miss this one, so I accepted it for review and decided to come back to my blog 🙂

So what did I think about this book? Honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, having absolutely no background in the financial world, I did have a little bit of trouble keeping up with what Jonathan was doing in the beginning. I’m sure Mr. Mitzner did  a lot of research to get it all right, but I was just a tad bit confused at times with the different aspects of that whole storyline.

 At first I didn’t like Jonathan’s character. In the beginning he’s just too superficial and completely obsessed with money. It definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. And his wife, Natasha – she was even worse! Yuck! But as the book goes on and Jonathan comes home to take care of his father we definitely see a change in Jonathan’s character. Thankfully it’s a change for the better.

As the story progresses, we see Jonathan and Jackie reacquaint and you have to wonder how this is all going to turn out. The reader is given the sense that it’s definitely not going to work out as well as one would hope. And sure enough, that prediction is true. But it’s what happens in the last 20 or so pages that was really surprising to me. A twist came that I wasn’t expecting and that honestly, kind of upset me until the very last two pages when I realized exactly what was going on.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s just one more reason why I love Mr. Mitzner’s books so much. They are such fun, enjoyable reads! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone.