4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, E-Book, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown

Wish You Were Here
by Rita Mae Brown

Wish You Were Here.jpg

 

Copyright: 1990

Pages: 320

Read: April 3 – April 8, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library (e-book)

 

Blurb: Curiosity just might be the death of Mrs. Murphy–and her human companion, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen.  Small towns are like families:  Everyone lives very close together. . .and everyone keeps secrets.  Crozet, Virginia, is a typical small town-until its secrets explode into murder.  Crozet’s thirty-something post-mistress, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen, has a tiger cat (Mrs. Murphy) and a Welsh Corgi (Tucker), a pending divorce, and a bad habit of reading postcards not addressed to her.  When Crozet’s citizens start turning up murdered, Harry remembers that each received a card with a tombstone on the front and the message “Wish you were here” on the back.  Intent on protecting their human friend, Mrs. Murphy and Tucker begin to scent out clues.  Meanwhile, Harry is conducting her own investigation, unaware her pets are one step ahead of her.  If only Mrs. Murphy could alert her somehow, Harry could uncover the culprit before the murder occurs–and before Harry finds herself on the killer’s mailing list.


Review: I did something that I never ever do – I checked out a library e-book solely for the purpose of fulfilling a Goodreads challenge. I needed a book with a cat on the cover. I have over 500 physical books on my shelves at my house and if you can believe it, not a single one of those books has a cat on the cover. Who knew?! So off I went in search of something easily obtainable that sounded somewhat interesting that would fulfill this challenge requirement. I knew that I would likely be looking for a cozy mystery, but I was ready for something a little lighter than my usual reading. This book is the one I found. It sounded interesting enough and I could immediately download it to my iPad for reading. Win-win in my book.

What I was not prepared for was to love the book! Like, seriously! I thoroughly enjoyed it! I found myself sneaking in pages when I shouldn’t have been, ha! And considering how much I dislike reading e-books, I know this book was good.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but I really loved them all. They all had a quirk (or two) and I loved the small-town vibe that the book has. The overall mystery itself was interesting – and I didn’t have the murderer even on my radar as the killer. It wasn’t necessarily a shock, but I was convinced it was someone else. Wrong! I loved the little conversations between Mrs. Murphy, Tucker and the rest of the animals in this little town. It’s not something that I ever would have thought I would enjoy, but it really worked for this book. I will say that while this book is technically a cozy mystery, there is some pretty strong language throughout it.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I picked it up on a complete whim and I’m really glad that I did! I hope I can continue on with this series sooner rather than later (I know, I know … I always say that). A good book that I’d definitely recommend.

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4/5, A, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019

Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Purple Hibiscus

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 307

Read: March 29 – April 3, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world is circumscribed by the high walls and frangipani trees of her family compound – and by her wealthy Catholic father who, while generous and politically active in the community, is repressive and fanatically religious at home.

When Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, Kambili’s father sends her and her brother away to stay with their aunt, a university professor, whose house is noisy and full of laughter. There, Kambili and her brother discover a life and love beyond the confines of their father’s authority. The visit will, in time, give rise to devotion and defiance that reveal themselves in profound and unexpected ways. This is a book about the promise of freedom, about the blurred lines between childhood and adulthood, between love and hatred, between the old gods and the new.


Review: This is the April selection in the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. I picked this one up quite hesitatingly. First, it’s billed as young adult, which is not my normal reading. But add on top of that the setting of Nigeria and then religious aspect and it’s really outside of my comfort zone. Let’s just put it this way – I would have never picked up this book on my own. But I wanted to at least give it a shot.

Long story short … it was good, but difficult reading. I struggled with the abuse described. I couldn’t believe the kind of household Kambili and Jaja were living in – they never even smiled/laughed, that just flabbergasted me. And I really struggled with the religion angle to the story. I’m not much on organized religion to begin with, but I just cannot accept a man who treated his family that way hiding under the guise of religion. Just. No. I also have trouble classifying this is young adult literature. To me it’s an adult book with teenage characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed the middle section of this book, it was definitely the strongest point. The beginning was slightly slow and the ending felt rushed. I would have liked to have seen the ending be fleshed out just a little bit more, but at the same time I can appreciate the fact that the book didn’t have unnecessary padding. I struggled with some of the Nigerian words scattered within this book. In some spots I couldn’t even decipher what the word even was. I understand why they were included in the text, but I didn’t feel like they helped me as a reader at all. I also had an issue with the relationship between the priest and Kambili. She was a fifteen-year-old girl, he was a grown man (and a priest!) … I can understand her “crush” on him, but I didn’t like how it was quite obviously reciprocated by him.

I’m not sure what else to really say about this one. I can definitely see where it makes a great book club selection – I am definitely looking forward to the forum discussions. I can’t say that I loved it, but I can really appreciate the story for what it was. I’m glad I read it, it got me out of my comfort zone and I’m learning that my reading interests go a lot farther than I had would have ever expected.

4/5, AUTHOR, B, Book Review, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Sean King & Michelle Maxwell, SERIES

Review: Simple Genius by David Baldacci

Simple Genius
by David Baldacci

Simple Genius

 

Copyright: 2007

Pages: 530

Read: March 18 – 25, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Grandmother

 

Blurb: Near Washington, D.C., there are two clandestine institutions: the world’s most unusual laboratory and a secret CIA training camp. Drawn to these sites by a murder, ex-Secret Service agent Sean King encounters a dark world of mathematicians, codes, and spies. His search for answers soon leads him to more shocking violence – and an autistic girl with an extraordinary genius. Now, only by working with his embattled partner, Michelle Maxwell, can he catch a killer … and solve a stunning mystery that threatens the entire nation.


Review: This is the third book in the Sean King and Michelle Maxwell series. It had been many, many years since I had read the first two books and I had been nervous to pick back up with this series simply because of that issue. But I decided it was now or never for me to pick it up.

And I’m really glad that I did pick this one up. It may have been a 530 page book, but I found myself reading 40 or 50 pages each and every time I picked it up. It sucked me in immediately and I really enjoyed it. I had very little trouble picking right back up with Sean and Michelle. The only thing I can criticize is that as a person not at all strong in math and/or science, I struggled to understand some of the quantum physic information involved in this book. I know that Mr. Baldacci did what he could with that content, but it was still a little over my head at times. Luckily not enough to really have an impact on my overall feelings on this book, though.

This book has definitely made me look forward into reading the others in the series … and hopefully sooner rather than later! A very good, strong installment. Recommended.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Non-Fiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2019, S

Review: John Adams Vol. 1 (1735-1784) by Page Smith

John Adams Vol. 1 (1735-1784)
by Page Smith

John Adams (Smith)

 

Copyright: 1962

Pages: 599

Read: Feb. 21 – March 20, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: abebooks.com

 

Review: This book is the first in a two-book series by Page Smith. I personally enjoyed it quite a bit. Volume 1 covers Adams’ life from his birth to the point when Abigail joins him in Europe during his overseas diplomatic years.

While this book was originally published in the 1960s, I had no issue whatsoever with the writing style. I found it to be quite easy to read and very informative. In fact, it was almost mesmerizing in some points – Mr. Smith certainly had a way with words.

One thing that I did greatly appreciate as a reader is that I felt like the author kept things relatively balanced. Sure, you can definitely tell that he is definitely a John Adams fan, but I didn’t feel like he bent over backwards to place him on an unnecessary pedestal.

After having read the David McCullough book I greatly appreciated this book in that it could expand on things that Mr. McCullough only merely touched upon. For a more casual reader this book would likely give you more information than you could ever want, but as a follow-up, I found it to be quite enjoyable.

As stated, this is only a review of the first volume of the two-volume set. I am getting ready to start on Volume 2 and I look forward to learning more about the second half of John Adams’ life – that of his Vice Presidency, Presidency and retirement years.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, F, Fiction, RATING, Read in 2019, Review Book, TLC Book Tours

Review: The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley


The Hunting PartyAbout The Hunting Party

• Hardcover: 336 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow (February 12, 2019)

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?


Review:

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

I eagerly snatched up the opportunity to read and review this book when I was originally pitched it. It sounded creepy, thrilling … and that cover! So I was really excited to finally get to dive into this one.

I will say … it is not very likely that you will like any of the characters in this book. They’ve all got secrets. Some of them are just plain mean. It’s pretty obvious early on (at least it was to me) which “friend” would be the one found dead, but it was a lot more difficult to figure out which one was the murderer. Almost every character has a “voice” in this one – chapters where you see their point of view. The secrets are slowly revealed and each one is even more shocking than the last it seems. Again – these are not likable characters! At all! But this book really captivated me. I was so wrapped up in this one and I couldn’t wait to figure out what had really happened! And then that ending … I definitely didn’t see it coming! It really added for an interesting twist at the very end.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It was a really good thriller that kept me guessing until the end. Highly recommended!!


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Lucy Foley AP

About Lucy Foley

LUCY FOLEY is a former editor at Hodder Fiction and has been both a literary agent and a bookseller. An avid painter, she now writes full time and lives in London, England.

Follow Lucy on Twitter and Facebook.

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4/5, AUTHOR, Author Debut, Book Review, Fiction, MMD Book Club, RATING, Read in 2019, X-Y-Z

Review: Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

Meet Me at the Museum
by Anne Youngson

Meet Me at the Museum

 

Copyright: 2018

Pages: 272

Read: Jan 28 – Feb. 3, 2019

Rating: 4/5

Source: Library

 

Blurb: In Denmark, Professor Anders Larsen, an urbane man of facts, has lost his wife and his hopes for the future. On an isolated English farm, Tina Hopgood is trapped in a life she doesn’t remember choosing. Both believe their love stories are over.

Brought together by a shared fascination with the Tollund Man, the subject of Seamus Heaney’s famous poem, they begin writing letters to each other. And from their vastly different worlds, they find they have more in common than they could have imagined. As they open up to each other about their lives, an unexpected friendship blooms. But then Tina’s letters stop coming, and Anders is thrown into despair. How far are they willing to go to write a new story for themselves?


Review: This book is the February selection for the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club. It is an epistolary novel, a little romance, and WAY outside of my comfort zone. But I was definitely looking forward to giving it a shot!

First, it took me a little bit to get into the book. The first few letters are a little cumbersome feeling with the two main characters, Tina and Anders, not knowing what to expect out of the correspondence. But I found that once they got deeper into knowing each other their letters became a lot easier to read. On the other hand, I struggled with how things progressed for both characters. Anders was still grieving his dead wife; I felt like he was taking the correspondence as something tangible that he could hold onto and I could definitely see him falling for Tina. Then there was Tina, who was in a lukewarm marriage and obviously unsure of her life in general. I felt like she became so engrossed in these letters with Anders that she may have ignored her real life in some ways. It’s really difficult for me to properly say my opinion on how both characters handled themselves in their letters (ok – mainly just Tina…) because it hits a very personal nerve on something that I’m not comfortable sharing on my blog. Plus it also enters into spoiler territory to fully explain it.

Well, I’m sure that was clear as mud!

Overall I enjoyed the book quite a bit more than I had anticipated. I’m not a huge fan of the epistolary format in general, however I truly feel like this particular one was done “right.” I know that “right” is subjective and quite personal, but I don’t think that this story could have been as effectively told without the use of letters. I suppose it’s easier to just say that this format worked for me in this particular book. I also felt that the way the correspondence began felt totally believable to me, in addition to how the correspondence naturally continued. It just felt “right.”

I can definitely see how this little gem of a book has garnered attention. I unfortunately had never heard of this one prior to it being announced as a book club selection and I most likely would never have picked it up on my own, but I thoroughly enjoyed stepping outside of my comfort zone for this one.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Eve Dallas, Fiction, R, RATING, Read in 2018, SERIES

Review: Holiday in Death by J.D. Robb

Holiday in Death
by J.D. Robb

Holiday in Death

Copyright: 1998

Pages: 308

Read: Nov. 19-24, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: No one likes to be alone during the holidays. And for New York’s most posh dating service, Personally Yours, it is the season to bring lonely hearts together. But Lieutenant Eve Dallas, on the trail of a ritualistic serial killer, has made a disturbing discovery: All of the killer’s victims have been traced to Personally Yours. As the murders continue, Eve enters an elite world of people searching for their one true love – and a killer searching for his next victim. A world where the power of love leads men and women into the ultimate act of betrayal…


Review: This is the 7th book in the Eve Dallas series and I’m pretty sure it had been over a year since I had read the 6th book. If I don’t read more than one a year, I will never catch up on this series (!). Anyway … this one was pretty decent.

Be forewarned, if rape is difficult for you to read about you need to avoid this books as it is a large part of the plot line and can be graphic at times.

All that aside though, I did enjoy this particular installment. I enjoyed seeing a little more of Peabody. And of course I always enjoy Eve and Roarke.

Overall a good read … and I need to read more of these books!

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, Lucas Davenport, RATING, Read in 2018, S, SERIES

Review: Night Prey by John Sandford

Night Prey
by John Sandford

Copyright: 1994

Pages: 384

Read: Nov. 11-14, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

Blurb: John Sandford’s acclaimed Prey novels have taken readers into the minds of murderers and manhunters. Now his brilliant detective, Lucas Davenport, faces an equally brilliant – and elusive – opponent. A madman who becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman – and carves her initials into the flesh of his victims. 


Review: It had been over a year since the last time I picked up a Lucas Davenport novel, so I was excited to jump back in with Lucas … especially since I had so enjoyed the previous installment. I was most definitely looking forward to the 6th book. And this one did not disappoint! 

This is one twisted and crazy read. It was gruesome and violent. But I still thoroughly enjoyed it! Mr. Sandford definitely comes up with some creepy and clever killers for Lucas to have to hunt down. I really enjoyed the addition of Meagan’s character, even though I knew she wouldn’t be a long-lasting one (she was dying of cancer). It was interesting to see Lucas work with a female “partner” on this case. 

I am generally a huge supporter of reading series books in order (I’m actually kind of fanatical about it…) but I really think this book would read well as a standalone if needed. Either way, I definitely would recommend picking up this backlist book if you are looking for a fast paced thriller. 

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Fiction, G, RATING

Review: The Yard by Alex Grecian

The Yard
by Alex Grecian

The Yard

 

Copyright: 2012

Pages: 422

Read: Oct. 21-26, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

 

 

Blurb: Victorian London: a violent cesspool of squalid depravity. Only twelve detectives – the Murder Squad – are expected to solve the thousands of crimes committed here each month. Formed after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure in capturing Jack the Ripper, the Murder Squad suffers the brunt of public contempt. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own…

A Scotland Yard inspector has been found stuffed in a black steamer trunk at Euston Square Station, his eyes and mouth sewn shut. When Walter Day, the squad’s new hire, is assigned to the case, he finds a strange ally in Dr. Bernard Kingsley, the Yard’s first forensic pathologist. Their grim conclusion: This was not just a random, bizarre murder. It appears that the police – possibly the squad itself – are being targeted, and the devious killer shows no sign of stopping before completing his grim duty. But Inspector Day has one more surprise, something even more shocking than the crimes: the killer’s motive.


Review: I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I usually enjoy historical fiction when it is wrapped up with a mystery. I’m so glad that I did finally get around to this book because I really did enjoy it.

My one main criticism would be that we really knew who the killer was entirely too early. It was still interesting to watch the case unfold, but I’m just not a fan of knowing who the killer is so early in the book.

I can’t tell you how atmospheric this book felt to me. I really felt like I was walking the streets in London in the 1800s, I felt like Mr. Grecian really captured the feel of the city during that time period.

So overall I’m thrilled that I read this book and it gives me a new series to follow (like I needed that!!) But yes, I would definitely recommend this book to both historical fiction lovers and mystery lovers. I felt like it was a perfect blend of the two genres and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

4/5, AUTHOR, Book Review, Nonfiction, Presidential Reading Challenge, RATING, Read in 2018, U-V-W

Review: An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America by Henry Wiencek

An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America
by Henry Wiencek

An Imperfect God

 

Copyright: 2003

Pages: 362

Read: Oct. 13-22, 2018

Rating: 4/5

Source: Paperbackswap

 

Blurb: In this groundbreaking work, Henry Wiencek explores the first president’s life, his work, and his engagement with slavery. Born and raised among blacks and mixed-race people, Washington and his wife had blood ties to the slave community. Yet as a young man, he bought and sold slaves without scruple, even raffled off children to collect debts. Then, on the Revolutionary battlefields where he commanded both black and white troops, Washington’s attitudes began to change. This revelatory narrative documents for the first time the moral transformation that led to his decision – unique among the Founding Fathers – to emancipate his own slaves. Washington’s heroic stature as Father of Our Country is upheld in this superb portrait: now we see him in full as a man of his time and ahead of his time.


Review: Wow, can I just say that this was a really enjoyable read! It may be non-fiction and dealing with a pretty heavy subject matter, but it read so fast and was so good that I hardly even noticed… I was so drawn into it!

Now with that being said, I have to say that I’m not entirely sure that Mr. Wiencek completely hit the mark on what he was trying to accomplish in this book. Reading the blurb I went into this book thinking that he was really going to unravel George Washington and show a little bit more than what I had read in previous books. To some extent he certainly did accomplish that. However, there were multiple places that I felt like I could have been reading about slavery in general, not necessarily slavery as it related to George Washington.

I have never made any type of serious study into slavery and so a lot of things that I read in this book were just gut wrenching to me. I mean, I’m aware of the overall aspect of slavery as a whole, but there were a lot of things that I really didn’t know. It proved to be quite a difficult read at times. To think that people could actually treat other human beings in the manner that they did was just unfathomable to me. I still shudder at some of the stories and descriptions in this book.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s eye-opening and quite informative. If you’re looking for a basic overview of slavery during George Washington’s time, I feel like this is as good a place as any to start. I think that it’s a good place for people interested in learning more than just the basics of George Washington to learn some new information as well. It has definitely piqued my interest in studying more about slavery as a whole in the future.

Definitely recommended.