5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, S

Review: Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire
by Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire

Copyright: 2017

Pages: 274

Read: March 31 – April 6, 2018

Rating: 5/5

Source: Library

 

 

Blurb: Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When Parvaiz surfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then handsome, charismatic Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined.

Internationally acclaimed for her riveting and ambitiously imagined novels, here Kamila Shamsie explores how secrets and family loyalty can both bind lives together and threaten to spin them out of control. Searing and suspenseful, Home Fire asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?


Review: This is not the type of book I normally read. Not even close. But when I saw on Modern Mrs. Darcy’s site that it was her book club’s April selection I dug deeper into the book. I previewed the first page on Goodreads and knew immediately that I had to join the book club for this discussion and immediately get a copy of that book. (You can find that intro here if you’re curious to know what was so compelling to make me fork over money to join a virtual book club and head straight to the library.)

I had seen on the MMD website that this is actually a modern retelling of Antigone. I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what Antigone was even about. It was all I could do to not Google it before I finished the book! I’m ultimately glad that I avoided doing so since I think it would have definitely affected the way I viewed this book.

This book has so many different themes that are explored, but family and country relationships are definitely at the core. It brings forth a lot of feelings and made me really wonder what I would do in those situations. Let’s be frank: I’m an upper-middle class white woman who has no idea what the real world is really like to more underprivileged people. This book made me think more about what it would be like to be a woman trying to do everything in her power to avoid bringing attention to herself lest people think she was a terrorist. It made me think about what it would be like to be so driven in life that I would essentially deny my entire familial background. It made me think about what it would be like to be so driven in my grief that I would willingly manipulate seemingly innocent people in order to get what I ultimately wanted. It made me think about what it would be like to want to know who your father was so badly that you would (inadvertently?) join a terrorist group in order to get the answers you so desperately wanted.

Yeah, it’s that kind of book.

This book really made me think. And I’m not used to books like that. I’m used to murder mysteries where I just have to figure out who the killer is. This book opened my mind to a lot more things than I ever imagined. And it’s stuck with me. I finished this book nearly 2 weeks ago and am just now sitting down to write this review because I’ve been in a book hangover trying to wrap my mind around it.

I still do not think I can adequately put into words my feelings on this book. All I can say is that I was enamored by it. I was enthralled by it. I was engrossed in it. It’ll be in my mind for quite some time.

And I would recommend everyone to read it.

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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.

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, Book Review, Fiction, H, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Sookie Stackhouse

Review: All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead
by Charlaine Harris

All Together Dead

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 323

Read: March 9-14, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Purchased at the Used Book Store
Blurb: Betrayed by her longtime vampire love, Louisiana cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse must now not only deal with a possible new man in her life – the oh-so-handsome shape-shifter Quinn – but also contend with a long-planned vampire summit. With her power base weakened by hurricane damage to New Orleans, the local vampire queen is vulnerable to those hungry for a take-over. Soon, Sookie must decide what side she’ll stand with. And her choice may mean the difference between survival and all-out catastrophe…


Review: This is the 7th book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I read the 6th installment back in early 2016. Oops? No wonder I was a little out of sorts trying to remember what had happened in a few places….

Most of this particular book is dealing with the actions that happened in the 6th book, so I definitely recommend reading that one before this one to save some serious confusion.

I enjoyed this one though. It was interesting and kept me entertained throughout the entire book. It definitely renewed my interest in this series and I hope I get to the 8th book sooner rather than later.

 

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!

 

3.5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours, U-V-W

Review: The Longest Silence by Debra Webb

 

About The Longest Silence

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: MIRA (March 6, 2018)
“The twists and turns in this dark, taut drama make it both creepy and compelling.” —New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry
A killer stole her voice. Now she’s ready to take it back. Don’t miss the chilling Shades of Death series from USA TODAY bestselling author Debra Webb.

Joanna Guthrie was free. She had been for eighteen years–or so she needed everyone to believe. What really happened during the longest fourteen days of her life, when she and two other women were held captive by the worst kind of serial killer, wasn’t something she could talk about. Not after what they had to do to survive.
But when more women go missing in an eerily similar manner, Jo knows her prolonged silence will only seal their fates. She’s finally ready to talk; she just needs someone to listen. FBI special agent Tony LeDoux can’t deny he finds Jo compelling–he’s just not sure he believes her story. But with the clock ticking, Jo will do anything to convince him, even if it means unearthing long-buried secrets that will land them squarely in the crosshairs of the killer…
“This psychological thriller is rife with tension that begins on page one and doesn’t let up. It’s a race against the clock that had me whispering to the pair of flawed, desperate protagonists, ‘Hurry,hurry.’ A gripping read.”  New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown

Review:

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

When I was pitched this book I was excited. That blurb just totally sucked me in and it sounded really great! This book is actually the fourth in a series, but don’t be afraid – it read perfectly well as a standalone. I’m still stunned that I had never heard of Debra Webb before this, I’m not sure how I’ve missed her!

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book. My chief “complaint” was that the formatting of the e-book on my phone was kind of wonky, so I sometimes had some trouble keeping track of who was talking. But that likely had nothing to do with the book and was due to me trying to use an iPhone instead of my Kindle.

I enjoyed the characters in this one. Knowing now that this is the fourth in the series, I’m curious to know more about Tony in the previous books. In the beginning of this one it’s painfully obvious that he’s hit rock bottom. As strange as it sounds, I would like to know how he got to that point. Enough was included so that I had a basic understanding of the situation, but there’s still something about taking that trip with the characters. I never fully trusted Jo’s character. There was no secret that she wasn’t telling the entire story, and honestly when the truth was finally revealed I was kind of surprised that she hadn’t just told Tony from the get-go. It wasn’t that terrible considering her situation … and to be honest, it wasn’t all that surprising either.

The plot itself was interesting and relevant. It didn’t feel like something I had read a million times over. That was refreshing. And it was interesting to follow the case with Jo and Tony until the ending. I did have some trouble keeping some of the bad guys straight, but in the end it all came together and made sense.

Overall I’m glad that I got the chance to read this book and find a new author. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from Ms. Webb! Definitely recommended!


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About Debra Webb

DEBRA WEBB is the award winning, USA Today bestselling author of more than 130 novels, including reader favorites the Faces of Evil, the Colby Agency, and the Shades of Death series. With more than four million books sold in numerous languages and countries, Debra’s love of storytelling goes back to her childhood on a farm in Alabama.

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3/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES, Stone Barrington, U-V-W

Review: Two Dollar Bill by Stuart Woods

Two Dollar Bill
by Stuart Woods

Two Dollar Bill

Copyright: 2004

Pages: 349

Read: Feb.19-26, 2018

Rating: 3/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: Not long after Stone and his ex-partner Dino make the acquaintance of Billy Bob – a smooth-talkie’ Texan packing a wad of rare two-dollar bills – someone takes a shot at them. Against his better judgment, Stone offers Billy Bob a safe haven for the night but almost immediately regrets it. The slippery out-of-towner goes missing and someone is found dead – in Stone’s town house no less. Stone is now caught by a beautiful federal prosecutor and a love from his past, a con man with more arises than hairs on his head, and a murder investigation that could ruin them all.


Review: This is the 11th book in the Stone Barrington series. I’m not going to lie, these books are not anywhere near literary feats. But they can usually be depended upon for some good fun!

This particular installment saw Stone in some precarious situations. And at some point I was shaking my head wondering how on earth Stone would get himself out of the jam he was in. He made some bonehead moves. And yet he managed to come out on top. It was all a little unbelievable at one point. But hey, it was still a fun read.

An entertaining book that leaves me eagerly anticipating the 12th book!

5/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, R, RATING, Read in 2018, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

The Lucky OnesAbout The Lucky Ones

Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: MIRA (February 13, 2018)
They called themselves “the lucky ones”
They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Review

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

When I was first pitched this book, the cover and blurb immediately caught my eye. It sounded super creepy! When I first received the book and read the first page I was a little unsure about my decision to take it on. I decided to set it aside until closer to my tour date. I picked it up with about a week to go before my scheduled date. And then I couldn’t put it down!

I was intrigued by every little turn of events the entire book! First I wondered how a young woman like Allison could get involved in a relationship like she was in. Then I wondered how she could have so few memories of her time in her foster home. And then as she went out to Oregon and her memories came back to her little by little I couldn’t wait to figure out what exactly had happened all those years ago!

I fell in love with each character in their own ways. They all each had a great voice and it was interesting to see them from not only Allison’s perspective but also their own perspectives. They were all so well-developed that at one point I felt like I was right there with them all in the attic, just hanging out and catching up.

This is such an intricate novel with all the secrets of the past revealed little by little. I found it to be extremely easy to read and enjoyable. I couldn’t put it down at times. I wanted to know what happened to the “lucky ones” so many years before. This was a really good novel that I highly, highly, highly recommend! It will definitely be on my favorites list for the year!

Don’t walk …. but run …. to get your copy of this! It does not disappoint!


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About Tiffany Reisz

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband, author Andrew Shaffer.

Connect with Tiffany

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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!!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, M, RATING, Read in 2018

Review: Tippy Toe Murder by Leslie Meier

Tippy Toe Murder
by Leslie Meier

Tippy Toe Murder.jpg

Copyright: 1994

Pages: 240

Read: Feb. 4-6, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

Blurb: With three kids underfoot, a fourth on the way, and an oppressive heat wave bearing down, homemaker Lucy Stone is hardly enjoying an idyllic summer. But her preoccupation with swelling ankles, Bavarian creme doughnut cravings, and sewing endless sequins on ballet recital tutus gives way to dread when Lucy learns that her waistline isn’t the only thing that’s recently vanished from Tinker’s Cove…

The strange disappearance of a retired dance instructor has the tiny coastal town in a tizzy that turns to terror when a notoriously cantankerous shopkeeper is slain right on Main Street. Now Lucy’s up to her bulging belly in local suspects and red herrings. Eluded by a cold-blooded killer, with her due-date looming and the thermometer soaring, Lucy figures something has to break soon. With any luck, it won’t be her water…


Review: This is the second book in the Lucy Stone series. I read the first book, Mistletoe Murder, last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I was eager to pick this one up! And it definitely did not disappoint!

I flew through this book, reading it in about a day and a half. That was a really good feeling since I was afraid I was on the verge of a slump after I DNF’d a book 😐

I will say that this book (and the previous one) did not read like a traditional cozy mystery. This one in particular dealt with some pretty heavy stuff for a cozy mystery. Perhaps that’s why I have been enjoying these books so much. I can also totally relate to Lucy – I’m just as frazzled as she is by motherhood lol!

Overall a fun and quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. Definitely recommended.