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Welcome to Marjay's Book Reviews!
So many books, so little time ...
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The eternal question - What to Read Next? There's no black and white answer, of course, but we're here to help.

Return as often as you'd like to this page for reviews and ratings of our latest acquisitions by our friendly blogger, Marjay.

Click the links to see which titles are on the shelves in our library, to place holds, or to find out more about the titles. If you'd prefer the book in alternative format (audiobook, large print or ebook), just let us know & we'll track it down for you.

And if there are authors, titles, or genres you'd like to see reviewed, just let us know and we'll do our best to accommodate.


The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank
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I enjoy reading Dorothea Benton Frank sometimes and I am glad I picked up The Hurricane Sisters to read. I feel like her books move with the same rhythm as the sultry air - languidly as the story begins. Then once you start to enjoy the story the story begins roil with the tension. I do enjoy reading about the low country where most of her novels take place. 

Maisie, the mother, Liz, the daughter and Ashley, the grand daughter are the three women in their family that the story revolves around, all from different generations. The family dynamics are not smooth with each fussing about the others over a variety of issues, seemingly not a big a deal. Until some tensions start to build. Each seemingly need to make a choice about their life and its direction. The actions taken then continue to dictate the story. This book does contain abuse and adultery, which is highlighted with a deft hand. Both are intricately part of the story add to the tension. What ends up happening - the resolution is enlightening. (Yep, no hints.)

A great summer read.


The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand
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For me, Elin Hilderbrand has always meant a great summer read: fun characters, good angst, sun and surf, and the island of Nantucket. I have always enjoyed her books – even when one of the characters didn’t suit me, or the storyline wasn’t my favorite. The Matchmaker is either going to be loved or hated, I suspect. The story line does include adultery and a bit of new agey stuff, both of which will cause some anger. The main characters are not as down to earth as some of her others and I can see that being off putting for other people. (Never mind the stupid names! Dabney, Clendenin, and Box.) For me, despite all of that stuff, I was drawn to the story and spent the last third of the book crying. 

Dabney is a staple in Nantucket. She knows everyone and had helped the island greatly over the years. In high school she fell for Clendenin. They were madly in love, but he needed to go and she needed to stay. Dabney was pregnant and raised their daughter alone until she married Box. Years go by, Agnes her daughter goes off to college and then to New York and then becomes engaged to CJ. One day Dabney opens her email with a letter from Clendenin and this is how the story opens. One other thing you need to know. Dabney is a matchmaker. When she sees people who are meant to be together – they form a rosy hue. If they are not compatible or there is a problem – it becomes like a poisonous green gas.

I never expect to like all the books from an author and when I do I am always pleased and surprised. I have always liked Elin Hilderbrand’s books. They are warm like the sand and tell stories like the never-ending tides. This particular story had more depth and emotion of the characters for me, perhaps because the end was a known commodity. This was a great story, maybe the best one to date. Certainly, I don’t remember any other one that captured my emotions so thoroughly.


That Summer by Lauren Willig

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I finished That Summer by Lauren Willig today, after reading every spare moment last night and this morning. I had put off reading the book until it was the last book on the library book list. I should not have done that. This was a really good book! I loved the story within the story and the mystery within the mystery. I usually am a great ‘guesser’ of the end of a mystery, but not this time! 

The modern story line is about a young woman who is seemingly floundering in unemployment; Julia inherits a house in England by an aunt. The unknown aunt was a relative of Julia’s mother. Julia goes over to England in order to clean out the house and so that story line begins.

The other story line takes place in the mid 1800s. Imogen was a young bride in the same house. She was treated as if she was a possession and not an important member of the family. Until she has her portrait done by a Pre-Raphaelite artist, Gavin Thorne and so that story line begins.

You know from the first chapters that Julia does not remember very much about her mother or her mother’s family. The modern story explores her recovering memories as the older story line becomes more uncertain and dark.

I really enjoyed this book. I found both stories well written and interesting. I loved how they moved back and forth between the stories and between the love interests. I have read other books by Lauren Willig and have found she is particularly adept at managing two seemingly separate story lines until the end. This will be a fun summer read for many people.
Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

I had to wait in line for this book at the library. When I finally was able to pick it up - it was a little dog-earred, the spine beginning to curve and couple of pages with a small tears and obviously well-loved!

I agree - this book is well-loved by me too. Colleen and Lucas really got to me with their obviously love for each other. I think what made this book so poignant was that both Colleen and Lucas felt alone - like no one was in their corner. Despite feeling that way, they helped everyone else and it was only at… whoops - no spoilers.

Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins is the third book in the Blue Heron Series. Colleen is everyone’s favorite bartender and half owner of a tavern with her twin brother. Colleen is great at matching people up. She is a strong support for so many people in Manningsport, NY. Her first love Lucas was gone and she hadn’t found another love.

Lucas came back to town to help his Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe is dying and needs Lucas’s help to help make sure everything is set for him when he goes. But once he is gone Lucas is going back to his life in Chicago.

Lucas and Colleen - together - or not. They were in love and through a series of incidents including some poor decision making and hot headedness and too much pride broke up. 

I laughed out loud in public when Colleen tried to be all sultry and hot. I thought some of the scenes with Rufus were really funny. I loved the hotness of Lucas…. Sigh


Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf is an emotional story about the strength of a family and living a life helping others. It reminds us about the power of taking responsibility. So many things can happen in the blink of an eye and accidents can happen so quickly. And then a family is left distraught. In the midst of this comes the strength of moving forward and the little mercies that help make everyday more bearable.

This is the story of Adam and Ellen with their three children. This is the story of Maudene and Jenny with the unusual meeting and how they helped. This is the story of how an accident can rip a family apart. This is the story of how other people can help when you least expect it.

Having spoken about the emotional strength of the book and the characters that resonate. I did feel the story wrapped up and ended quickly. I also felt the side story, while it did add to the overall story did not need to be so significant toward the end when the story should have only focused on the story of Adam and Ellen. Having said that I really enjoyed the book and continue to be a devotee to Heather Gudenkauf's writing and stories.


Bone Dust White by Karin Salvalaggio

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Bone Dust White by Karin Salvalaggio is a debut book. The author has chosen to write about a crime that happened in Flathead Valley in Montana. The descriptions of the setting and most of the secondary character are dreary, uninteresting, secretive and cold.

From the beginning Grace discovers her mother, Leanne out in the snow dying from a stab wound after witnessing her attack. Only Grace has not seen her mother for many years, since she was left behind. One of other lead characters is a heavily pregnant detective from the state police who has been sent up to this area to investigate a murder. Macy Greeley arrives to investigate the death of that same woman Leanne that has been missing for years. So begins this novel of changing battle lines, secrets known and unknown, a lot of characters and the unrelenting cold and bitter wind.

The book seemed a little slow to me and I had a hard time connecting with the characters. However, I found as the book became more tangled, I became more invested in having the murder solved and justice served. The intertwining of a small town and the characters is a universal theme that could be set anywhere. I will try another book by this author when she writes another one.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a wallflower as a person who is shy or unpopular and who stands or sits apart from other people at a dance or party. An interesting word to describe a character in a wonderful story from an intelligent and quiet young man. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky suggests that there are good points about being a wallflower. A boy who notices a lot, but no one really notices him. We know him as Charlie and we only know him from his letters to a friend. His voice is that of a sensitive teenager who is looking for a friend and to belong. It is not certain whom he is writing to and even if the person really knows him. I think the story might take place in Pittsburg because of the scene about riding through the tunnel and over the bridge to see all the city lights, but even that is conjecture.

What we do know is that Charlie is a freshman. He is the youngest of three children. He is a wallflower, shy and sensitive, lost in a sea of people. He finds some kids who don’t seem to mind him and his story starts.

This book made my stomach hurt it was so good. I slowed down reading it toward the end because I didn’t want it to end. The high school years are so hard for so many kids. The pressures and groups, the need to belong, but the pressure to conform can be so overwhelming. The Perks of Being a Wallflowerspeaks to the cruelty and emotional baggage that can overwhelm you in high school. My heart was with Charlie through out the whole book. His humanity and sensitivity made him a wonderful main character.

This book is one to read. It is listed as a Young Adult book and I believe it is marketed correctly. But this is a book to read. This is Stephen Chbosky’s first novel and movie.


The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry

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Steve Berry has done it again. Drawn me in with one small fact in history and pulled me into his story. I know the story is not true. I know his books are fiction. BUT - he makes the books seem so real. The Lincoln Myth is based on the idea that the original composers of the Constitution also wrote another document that was hidden away. Steve Berry makes us believe that all the presidents knew about it and passed down knowledge from one to another. Steve Berry makes us believe that Lincoln was the key to finding the truth. Absolutely amazing story with twists and turns. Action packed, flying between Europe and the United States, chasing good guys and bad guys and no knowing who is on what side.

Enjoy the ride.


The Other Story by Tatiana De Rosnay

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The Other Story by Tatiana De Rosnay was not the story I was expecting. I was expecting a bold and sweeping statement like in Sarah's Key or deep family secrets like in A Secret Kept. I was wrong. This story while about family and secrets is a different type of story. The main character reflects on the writing process of his first novel as a slow reveal to the present. Yes, there are family secrets. Yes, the unknown secret does shape his perceptions. However in The Other Story - the real secret is more understated. Nicholas is searching. Since he sold his novel and became famous, his perceptions his identity changed. The book explores this journey going back to the past intermingled with the present day. I found my self, pushing in a couple of places to keep reading as the action was internal and not external. By the time I was within sight of the end - the pace picked up quickly as the situations changed. At that point, I needed an ending! I wanted to know what was next.


The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is an unexpected pleasure. The book is about a bookstore owner who is slowly falling apart. His wife has died and he is beyond morose. He even is rude to the customers demanding they read his idea of a book, not what they are looking for. His eccentricities are pushing people away until two expected things happen: his rare book of poems by Edgar Allen Poe is stolen and someone leaves a baby in his store. Both events were quite surprising but not more so than the results of the surprises.

The setting is an island off the coast of New England during recent times. The other characters that populate Alice Island are okay with the eccentricities of A. J. Fikry, but really want to pull him out back into life.

The language and the emotions are wonderful. The start of each section is a note from A.J. Fikry about a book. They introduce us to the cranky and unpredictable. As the book continues the tenor of the notes change, was a wonderful feature. I felt that each section could be read a short story in its self suggesting that Gabrielle Zevin set the book up to mirror this. I can liken this book to watching the slow opening of a flower, with fits and starts sometimes missing a petal or two.

To me, it highlighted why I read. To me, it highlighted the need to love and be loved. It showed how everyone could change and transform. It showed how each time you take a step forward you never know what will come next.
Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman

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Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman was a story that delved into the nature of humans and their property rights. The story’s main character in effect was a necklace that depicted a peacock with their feathers adorned in semi precious jewels. The entire story is written around this one article of jewelry. There are three parts to Love and Treasure as well as an introduction. The first part was about the gold train and Jack Wiseman, a US soldier. The second part was about Natalie, his granddaughter, Amitai, a broker of stolen goods, and returning the necklace to its rightful owner. The third story was about the providence of the necklace and the characters of Nina and Giselle before WWII. 


The unlucky necklace was at the forefront of each story. The sections were not presented in a chronological order, which bothered me more than I thought it would. I was surprised about the symbolism of a peacock being a bad omen, although I think you can say there were some negative elements involved. The necklace was the conduit to World War Two with the displacement and genocide of millions of people, the crushing battles for human rights and dignity, and the disinterest and involvement of people during crucial times.

Love and Treasure was a good solid story with impeccable writing and factual information woven within the story. To me the necklace did not resonant as strongly as I would expect. This does not take away from the sheer magnitude and difficulty of the timeline of the story and the content.
The Wife, the Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

The Wife, the Maid and The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon is based on a true-life story of a missing judge. What Ariel Lawhon does is to immerse us into the time and place and lay out the story! She has taken a cold case and with her writer's imagination and creativity, brought us into a story like no other.

During the prohibition and New York's legal system was basically up for grabs. Buying a judge, a judgment and a crime all had a price. Tammany Hall leaders ruled the city of New York with an iron hand and huge chunks of money changing hands. Into this time period is Judge Joseph Crater. He is all about getting as far as he can as fast as he can – no matter what! Judge Crater has a wife, Stella who is a perfect foil to him. Judge Crater has a mistress, Ritzi who wants to be on Broadway and will do anything. Judge Crater has a maid, Marie who is married to a police detective that he helps get a job. And then one night – he is gone. This happening, we are partially a witness to at the beginning of the story.

He has gone and the money and crime and the people are all either trying to hide his death or profit from his death. The wife, Stella the mistress, Ritzi and the maid, Maria are all implicated in some way as they try to survive the minefield that has been set up. The story twists between the present and the past. Each scene setting up the one before leading us through the timeline of the story and the lives of the three women Joseph Crater manages.

Judge Crater and his "associates” are egotistical, self centered and delightfully uncaring in this story. The hardness of the times with the seeming glitter and glitz is so well portrayed that you can almost smell the speakeasy. The corruption leads you on a merry-go-round trying to find the ultimate culprit. A cold crime no one has ever solved totally.

The book was a great read with great descriptions. It held my attention through out the entire story.

 


One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus One is Jojo Moyes newest book coming out in July 2014. The book highlights the difficult of Jess. Her son - really step son - is being beaten up by thugs in the neighborhood. Her daughter is gifted in mathematics. Their neighborhood is dangerous and their world is constantly struggling to to make ends meet. On top of that she has a husband who left when things got too hard and is now living far away without contributing anything to the children. Tanzie has been offered a place in a school that is meant for gifted students. She would really really like to go there, but even with the huge scholarship, the family can't afford it. A slim hope is left: Tanzie must win the Math Olympics hundreds of miles away. Jess is determined to find a way... Luckily a person by the name Of Ed comes to the rescue. He is the opposite of Jess in every way and determined to do a good deed. A road trip is started.

This is the first book I have read by Jojo Moyes. I enjoyed the book. The characters were well thought out and the story flowed nicely. On the back it suggested that I would laugh and cry. That was true, I did. What it doesn't say is that parts of the story are heart wrenching. The difficulty with making ends meet while raising children was well described with honesty and illuminated the pains most mothers take to make life better for their children.

I will need to find Jojo Moyes's other books and read them. I think this will be a nice book to read this summer. A book that you can read in short or long periods of time without dealing with a lot of characters and breakneck plots.


Remember Me Like This by Bret Anthony Johnston

Remember Me Like This is one of those books that tear at your heart while you hold your heart full of feelings. There are so many redemptive qualities in the book that the harshness of the subject matter is masked. A child returns after being kidnapped four years ago. The family kept looking and finally one day a stranger thought she recognized Justin and like that he was saved. He returns a teenager with locked chapters in his head. Justin returns to a family that has been slowly imploding with his absence. This alone would make a wonderful book, but Bret Anthony Johnston chose the time after his being found to write about. It is a time to rebuild the family while keeping everyone safe and healing. Except for one small detail – the alleged perpetrator.


The book will be with me for a while. While this book is not a traditional thriller, you are on the edge more than once. Worrying about the characters, willing them to heal, wanting to celebrate with them. Different family members write different chapters as the various points of views exposed. This gave the story a more rounded aspect and included more of the angst. This book is a giant WOW!

I absolutely will be sharing about this book with many people, encouraging them to read Remember Me Like This.Bret Anthony Johnston has written a must read book of the summer.

Perhaps the most poignant part for me, is there is a missing girl from Conway who has been missing for sometime and the family continues to look for her with the same urgency!


Killer by Jonathan Kellerman

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Killer by Jonathan Kellerman is a twisted thriller. Just when you think you may have discovered something...you are so wrong. Once again Dr. Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis are on the case. Only this case is seems so innocuous at the outset. Alex is asked to render an opinion with the court about a custody suit – the mother vs the aunt. From here the story morphs into a murder investigation with the chief suspect according to Milo Sturgis on the run, but Alex Delaware doesn’t believe she is a suspect at all. Another strange coincidence takes place and clues disappear. Killer has you guessing and second-guessing during the whole book!

A fast read with an interesting story line. I didn’t find myself as invested in the secondary characters as I have in other books by Jonathan Kellerman. However Dr. Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis still shine and keep me hooked after all these years.

Three of five stars


Evening Stars by Susan Mallery

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Evening Starsby Susan Mallery is the newest book in the Blackberry Island series. Susan Mallery can draw characters with all their hopes, fears and dreams. The best part of her books is that they end happily with everyone happy and in love.

This book is the story of Nina. Nina is a woman who was mother to her younger sister when she was a child herself. Her mother wouldn’t take her responsibility and lived at if she were Peter Pan. Nina took on more and more – paying for college for her sister, keeping a roof over everyone’s head and in general being the responsible person. All this took away Nina’s dreams to become a doctor and to move away from her island home. At some point her responsibilities became more of a controlling issue as she felt she had to control everything in her realm. Suddenly there was too much to hold on to. On top of this suddenly she had two men asking her out on date. Nina has some things to work through – including two hot men.

I love how the characters grew and changed. I loved how they were able to focus on how they needed to change in order to heal themselves. Susan Mallery wrote the lead character role so carefully that I was right behind Nina and when she began to see how she was controlling everything, I also shared her epiphany about control.

An interesting side note for this book, I did not like the character of Bonnie. I felt she was incredibly self-centered. I also felt she was manipulative in her self-centeredness pitting her children against the world and each other. However the resolution of the story even had her trying to make better decisions instead of impulsiveness.

A wonderful story with great characters and lots of love to read. Reader’s warning: It does draw you in and you lose track of time... Just saying.

* I was able to read an ARC of this novel, as this will be released in early March.

Five of five stars


The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton

In June of 1942 During WWII, the Japanese invaded the Aleutian Islands and through massive efforts of the United States Military were evicted the following May (1943). This arena of the war was mostly unknown as there were black outs of the media in Alaska. This is the setting of Brian Payton’s book The Wind is Not a River. John Easley, a reporter decides to honor his brother’s death in WWII by investigating the rumors of what is happening in the Aleutians. Meanwhile, his wife does not want him to leave. He leaves after harsh words quietly in the middle of the night.

The plane that John was able to sneak onto crashed over the islands. John and a young service man found themselves on an island without any resources. It is from here that the story truly starts to take your breath away, as they try to survive without being caught. Meanwhile Helen knows something is wrong and is determined to get to where her husband is. She finds herself cast in many roles as she looks for her husband.

The book was a journey of love and survival at the most basic level and opened my eyes. I continue to be astounded over how far some people can go for love and how much suffering is too much. The Aleutian Islands are some of the harshest places on earth for survival. The search for a missing man who was secreted in the area for news was both painful and powerful.

The Wind is Not a River will resonant with me for quite some time. Emotionally the book brings you on a journey of life allowing you to witness both characters as they struggle to survive. The sheer will of survival is highlighted again and again.

A Great Read.

Four of five stars


Nora Roberts Land by Ava Miles

I have found a new romantic thriller novel and author!!!! Her name is Ava Miles and she writes books about a town in Dare Valley in Colorado. Her books are romantic and mystery/thriller all rolled into one! Her first book is called Nora Roberts Land - you guessed it THE Nora Roberts. The romantic writer who writes the quintessential novels about love and people figuring out how to make it work with all their secrets and burdens!

Ava Miles’s characters actually speak about Nora Roberts’s books and the main characters. Meredith (lead female character) is looking for a Nora Roberts Land type of love. She and her sister Jill actually try to channel different female characters in hopes of going to the right place at the right time! The discuss men in comparison to Nora Robert’s male characters.

In the midst of the searching for the "right man”, Meredith is working for her Grandfather for the local paper. She is trying to find her way since her divorce. Into this mix comes Tanner, a man forced by her ex husband to prove Meredith wrong about having a love like in Nora Roberts’s books. Her ex is a jerk and is blackmailing Tanner and by doing that thinks he is forcing Meredith to keep his past antics past.

The book is hopeful, romantic, sad, and all about family and connections with people. The mystery is tense and scary (but not too). The mystery - we pretty much know who the culprits are but we don’t know how they are going to prove anything before it is too late!

I am adding Ava Miles to my list of always read like Susan Mallery, Jill Shalvis, Kristen Ashley and NORA ROBERTS.

Four of five stars


Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

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Lisa Gardner's new book might be titled Fear Nothing, but don't let that fool you. There are things in the dark to fear. In this case a serial killer on the loose. That fact is somehow all wrapped up in a serial killer who has died and his two daughters: one is in jail for murder and is an antisocial personality disorder, a narcissistic nightmare and the other a prominent psychiatrist who feels no pain, literally.

Into this maelstrom, DD Warren investigates a murder. She goes back to the scene to investigate late a night only to be found at the bottom of the stair unconscious later. She is badly hurt and is off the case, but that did not stop her, because another killer is on the loose, the serial Rose Killer. DD has drawn his/her attention and now she is being "stalked” by the killer.

Great Read! Fun Read! Creepy Read! Fear Nothinghas very nice structure to the story with several great characters and mounting tension. This is one to enjoy.

Four of five stars


Thankless in Death by J.D. Robb

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Thankless in Deathis the latest of J.D. Robb’s books – at least until next week when the newest one comes out! This book had an interesting twist. Eve and Peabody knew from the beginning that they were chasing. The name of the murderer might have been known, the finding and catching of him was a serious dilemma. Who was he targeting? How was he choosing his victims? As usual the crazy messed up logic of the murderer just added to the suspense.

I think this book has some interesting irony based on the title (Thankless in Death), the season (Thanksgiving) and some of the things that happen in the book. Eve is growing and changing. She is much less standoffish with people. (Although she still can be quite imposing to jerks – which so deserve it!) As much as Eve is much more verbal in try to understand the lyricism of language with its figurative speech, she still does not understand much of it – or rather the need for it. She is breaking down her barriers understanding relationships! WOW it is so cool to see all this! And that is what Nora Roberts does she brings us into Eve’s world, so completely. It is bad enough that she is married to Roarke - the hottest man in the galaxy, this new book shows how much he understands and adores Eve and how much she adores him!

Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb continues to rock my world with awesome books! As Peabody and Mavis would say MAG!

Five out of five stars


Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick

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Otherwise Engaged is the newest book by Amanda Quick*. The story is a mystery set in London England in the past. Amity Doncaster is a ‘modern’ woman who has traveled to many places. On her most recent adventure, she finds a man, Benedict Stanbridge bleeding in an alley near death. She manages to save him and falls for him. Benedict Stanbridge is on a mission for his uncle and once healed has to leave to complete his mission.

Amity wishes that Benedict would contact her, but it doesn’t happen. What does happen; an unknown assailant kidnaps her right off the street in London! Amity manages to escape by using her not-so-usual fan.And then Benedict returned. That is when things start to happen.

Amity was a strong, intelligent woman and a great character for the novel. Strong quirky woman who are main characters is one of the things this author does so well. I love how she allows them to be individuals in a world where many women are expected to act the same. I love how her lead males embrace the women for what they are. That is a very powerful message.

I was glad this book did not have a paranormal element this time. I enjoyed reading this book because it was fast and fun.

*Amanda Quick is Jayne Ann Krentz is Jayne Castle. Each pseudo name is used depending on the era of the books.Amanda Quick’s books are historical.Jayne Ann Krentz’s books are present day. Jayne Castle’s books are in the future.


Far Gone by Laura Griffin
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Laura Griffin’s new book Far Gone is a romantic mystery.Each of her mysteries keep you turning pages until late at night, trying to solve them before you fall asleep. The books are set in the Texas area and always have characters whom are in the law enforcement field. Laura Griffin’s characters are relentless in their pursuit of justice.

Jon North is a FBI agent who is trying to solve an old crime – six years old. He is positive that he has found the murderer.Meanwhile, Andrea Finch is a detective for the Austin PD, but is on leave. Her brother is in trouble, and Andrea feels she needs to help him, despite his insistence that he does not need help. The problem? Andrea and Jon are not working together. As a matter of fact, they don’t even trust each other. Withholding information is what they do best, however that does not stop the sparks from flying between them.

Meanwhile, someone is killing people. Jon is trying to pursue the old case and thinks it ties with the new case. His bosses don’t believe him. Andrea is only out to save her brother. Jon wants Andrea’s brother to help him solve the crimes.

Laura Griffin leads you right into the midst of a great mystery and the mind of a madman. A great read.


The Will by Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley has the ability to write a book that gets into my soul like no other. Case in point is her new book, The Will. I have avoided writing this review because I didn’t want to admit the book was done.

This is the first book in a new series about the town of Magdalene and all its characters and foibles of small town and living near the ocean. The book’s poignant description of how alone Josie is at the beginning tears your heart. Mourning the loss of the only person she truly loves, trusts and the only person who "gets” her, is what brought Josie back to town.

The premise of Josie being given to Jake by her grandmother in her will is brilliant. It absolutely sets up some amazing scenes of hurt, confusion, disbelief between Jake and Josie. I love how they spar. I love how Josie is enveloped into a community and how she brings herself into everything she does. Perhaps one of the best parts about her main characters is their age. They are not 20 something with all the angst and indecision that comes with that age, but older and more able to speak to and about life.

Josie has spent so much time taking care of her world famous photographer, meeting famous people and running in their world, she has not even tried to form a love interest beyond a one-night stand. Her speech pattern was very formal and her reserved nature could very well have come from her grandmother. I read some reviews that suggested it was off putting, but I felt it helped us flesh out Josie as her own island.

Jake is an ex boxer with three children. He owns a strip club and a gym. His life is his children. His loves are his children and boxing. He is an alpha male with a straightforward mentality that gets through to Josie. His language is colorful and he holds nothing back. All things that Josie needs to pull her forward.

Along with Kristen Ashley’s great story line and characters is the wonderful dialogue between the main characters. I love how Josie doesn’t get a clue. I love how she gives talks with Jake’s children. I love how accepting she is of their lives and personal quirks. Let’s face it – I LOVE KRISTEN ASHLEY’s books.


Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline

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Lisa Scottoline caught me from the beginning with this book. Don't Go is another current novel about soldiers returning from the Middle East. In this particular case the main character, Dr. Mike Scanlon is serving in Afghanistan as a surgeon. His skills are needed desperately needed and he dreams of going home with his wife Chloe and his baby daughter. However, shortly before his deployment is up, his wife dies in a simple household accident.This starts a series of painful events for Mike. He was able to come home and bury his wife, and leave his daughter to be cared for by Chloe's sister. While the baby will not come to him or even be near him without crying, he knows only the pain of his wife's death and the confusion of the situation. His wife's family offers to continue to watch his daughter and Mike returns to complete his enlistment. An attack and a severe loss of his unit start Mike on another path and the story stops feeling contrived because you are so drawn into the story and the horrors of loss.

I loved this book!That is not to say I was happy reading each section. I felt such pain and confusion for Mike. I understood his need to have answers and hold tight, while feeling betrayal. It is clear to the readers as well as the other characters that Mike is not okay when he returns. Chaos ensues.

The need for services for our returning veterans, including health and psychological care, jobs and counseling are yet again highlighted in my mind. I often think the soldiers are forced to live in an alien world that is brighter and clearer and more real while they are in the midst of it. They are so hyper alert in the war zone. When they return the home they have built up in their lives in their mind only to come home to change, disappointment, loss of work, loss of family, and alienation.

This book should be a primer for all of our citizens. The situation of his wife's death might not be true in the majority of the cases the pain and disappointments and the fact that life kept moving on while they were gone is a universal truth.


Private LA by James Patterson

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Private LA is one of the new James Patterson books based on a crime-fighting agency called Private. The difference from the police and the alphabet of agencies in the US is that Private does not have to follow police procedure or the laws. Which leads to a moral dilemma all on its own. Jack Morgan, the head of Private has many resources at his disposal and he uses them to solve both of the crimes in this novel. Sometimes I felt the two stories were too disparate and other times I was glad they were not the same. I like the format of crime fighting and the people who I can root for. 

I enjoy the reoccurring characters that show up in his novels from Private. I also like how each character interacts with each other hand the investigations they handle. Jack Morgan becomes such a real person to the reader, including understanding his situations with his brother and the mob. 

The novel read quickly and kept me totally entertained and entranced. The use of the short succinct chapters helps you feel like you are reading much more quickly and pulled you in deeper.


The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton
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My book club read The Wednesday Sisters this month. Meg Waite Clayton writes about five women who meet at a park in California during the 1960s. Together, they form a writing group with the intentions of helping each. They find they gather every year to watch the Miss America Pageant, despite the fact that each of them has ambivalent feelings toward the competition. As time passes the women begin to bond together becoming supportive friends. 

What made this book remarkable was that how much the attitudes of these women are so different than what they will be in another 10 or 15 years. The book recounted the major milestones from the country when they happened and the women’s reactions to those developments. Reading this book brought alive to some of us how difficult it was for our mothers. For others it really peaked the interest because they clearly remembered living through many of the changes our country went through. 

The notions of working, motherhood, respectable behavior, education and choices echoed throughout the book. Watching the women as they matured fought for each other was empowering. There were a couple of scenes that were very poignant and others that were funny. It was hard for some of us to realize how many milestones we witnessed are now considered history for many of the population. I found the example of prejudice hard to handle. 

The Wednesday Sistersis a stand-alone book but can be followed by the book Wednesday Daughters. About half of our group decided to read the next book as well. We all found the beginning and the ending especially memorable, but found the center of the book did lag some, but overall it was an enjoyable book and lead to memories and discussions about our expectations and notions that molded our growing years.


Four Friends by Robyn Carr
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Robyn Carr has the ability to see how people fit together and understand the intricacies of their relationships. Her new book Four Friends does just that. Four women that live in the same neighborhood form a bond. Each person carries their own insecurities and strengths into the relationships. For me, watching a woman crumble under the weight of life and then seeing her rise up above the weight and become stronger is self-affirming. 

Gerri a mother, a wife and a social worker feels that the whole basis of her marriage has been rocked to the core. She is searching for forgiveness. Andy is attracted to the wrong men. They take her for emotional rides that make her question her ability to trust herself. Sonja struggles for balance. Her struggles make her need to control every aspect of her life and her husbands. This causes such tension that they break. BJ is the newest person in the neighborhood. She is quite reserved about her past and holds herself apart. However it is her newness that allows her to see what is happening with the others.

Woman’s friendships are a common story plot in writing. Robyn Carr’s characters stand out. They are honest, caring, and struggling to find their paths. Her understanding of the psyche of woman makes her stories so believable. Each of us has our own inner struggles and it is like she can see into the souls of many women and highlight how they feel. Her characters grab you and hold you while you cheer for their steps toward understanding.

I really enjoyed reading Four Friends by Robyn Carr. The women in the book drew me into their lives and held my attention right up until the end. The book is scheduled to release on the first of April.

Four out of five stars


The Chance by Robyn Carr
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The wonderful town of Thunder Point is back in The Chance. Robyn Carr's fictional town in Oregon on the shores of the Pacific once again draws us in tight like an old friend. Finally Laine and Eric have a story. I guess I shouldn't say finally, but I feel like I was waiting for Laine to come to town since she helped free people from the cult. Eric is such a good addition to Thunder Point and is a character that needed love. The story of their love is powerful without being too sappy. I have to admit I was in agony a couple of times and was cheering them on.

As always there are side stories and I liked the side story of Al with all his complexities. Robyn Carr also set us up for the next story from Thunder Point allowing us to recognize that more stories are to come. The small town is almost a character in itself with its down home caring charm.

I enjoy Robyn Carr smooth writing and story telling. I find the reading of her books goes quickly, not just because they are well written, but also because you don't want to walk away from the story. The emotional ties between Laine and her dad really hit me hard in this story. The lack of understanding that they had for each other and the caring when they realized how short their time together might be was beautifully done. It is so painful for a grown child to take care of parent when their emotions are all over the place and their well being is left on your shoulders.

A great story!!!!

Five out of five stars


Concealed in Death by J. D. Robb
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Eve Dallas and Roarke are back! Concealed in Death was great. To me, it showed that J. D. Robb {aka Nora Roberts} is in fine form! The story sizzles and has a more complex mystery. That is not saying that you will not figure out the mystery, but there is a mystery within a mystery that makes it more! 

Once again we are in the future and the setting is New York City. {Just imagine all the traffic jams when traffic can be up in the air also.} Roarke is supervising a new project. The core of a building is going to be demolished and rebuilt with the old shell. As he begins the destruction, he finds two bodies behind a wall and he calls Eve. What Roarke has uncovered starts a new homicide for Eve and her team. This hits home to both Eve and Roarke, as the bodies are young teenage girls. Eve takes on the case with a vengeance.

Nora Robert's books always take me away! Despite the fact, I usually do not read futuristic books; I can hardly wait to snatch the newest JD Robb. One of the parts about this series of books that make it so special is the characters (and some of them are Characters) and their development. Eve was so emotionally deprived of love and a family when she was young, is growing and changing within her world. She is becoming more attached to people and actually becoming more social aware. To watch her change is fascinating. And Roarke - well he is just the hottest male!!!

Five out of five stars


The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
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The Daring Ladies of Lowell is Kate Alcott's new book. This book is based on a true event that occurred in Lowell during the 1800s. The characters and their back-stories are the author's imagination filling around the basic facts. The textile mill industry with the mill system allowed for large numbers of young girls to work in the mill and live in boarding houses nearby. The girls ran more than one loom at a time and were constantly on their feet in dangerous conditions. Through this story line, we are introduced to the characters and have a chance to bond with them and hear their reasons for their choice to work in the mill. It is in their stories that we are exposed to the dangers in the mill with open machines, exhausted workers, cotton fiber and fires. These stories brought out the resilience of each girl as they struggled.

The Daring Ladies of Lowell follows the girls at a very turbulent time. Alice Barrows left the farm and her home to work in the mills. It was her idea to help her father get out of debt, but it also got her off the farm and away from her father. Alice was assigned a boarding house and made friends with the girls she worked with. They taught her how to survive in room with all the looms: noise, extraneous cotton materials, heat and huge number of hours every day. She was exposed to the problems with the mills as part of the story. She befriended the girls and stood up for them when she could. It is into this atmosphere that Alice meets Samuel - one of the mill owner's sons. The rest of the plot line follows the dichotomy of their living situations as Alice and the girls become embroiled in a murder of a mill girl.

This was a good book to find out more about the mills in Lowell. The story line was clear and allowed for the readers to find out more about the girls and the mills. I did read the book quickly and found the story line easy to follow. What a difficult time in our history, while all the technological advances allowed our economic system to grow and expand, the workers were kept in dire poverty with horrible working conditions and no power to change anything if they wished to keep their job.

Kate Alcott's books never fail to tell a great story with memorable characters.

Four out of five stars


The Kings Deception by Steve Berry
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I love how Steve Berry takes one small fact from history and one of the rumors that surrounded that fact and makes an entire thriller from that information! In The King's Deception, he takes the rumors of Elizabeth I's physical features and a couple of facts about her closest companions and weaves a story that would cause all sorts of problems for the British Government if the rumors are true. 

The King's Deception starts with our favorite hero - Cotton Malone and his son Gary. They are spending time over Thanksgiving Vacation together. They agree to help transport a teenager back to England as a favor. They are immediately drawn into a confusing state of kidnappings, secret societies, modern terrorists, and huge amounts of wealth. On top of all that there is the coded diary and so many unknown people on so many sides that my head just started lumping them all into good or bad.... with many people jumping back and forth between. Adding to the mix there are characters that are supposedly good who act bad and bad characters that act good... Confusing.

The other element of the story is the actual story about Cotton Malone and his son Gary. Both have recently found out that they are not actually biologically father and son. The timing of the telling was poor and has caused so problems.

A good solid read that keeps you on your toes with just a few too many characters that manage to muddle up the story. The story keeps you guessing right up until the end.

Three out of five stars


When the Rogue Returns by Sabrina Jeffries

This book saved my sanity this week. I read it in pieces while my mom was in the hospital. Her dementia coupled with illness makes it difficult for any concentration. She was quite ill and I read while she slept in catnaps. The book was good.

When the Rogue Returns is a historical romance book by Sabrina Jeffries. Her books are always good. Sabrina Jeffries’s ability to take a romance and understand all the easy ways communication can break down really holds the reader. Add to the plot people trying to keep people apart and you can easily watch the breaking up of hope and honesty.

Victor and Isabella are torn apart by Isabella’s family over a theft of jewels. The knowledge of who took the jewels is also a sticky point. Isabella’s family further isolated Isabella by pulling her away from Victor leaving no way to find her. Meanwhile Victor is feeling abandoned and determined to make his wife pay for her deception.

Imagine the surprised that wait after ten years. The plot thickens with additions of a secret child, Isabella’s evil family and Victor’s suspicions and you have a wonderfully mixed up couple.

Three out of five stars


Inferno by Dan Brown
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Dan Brown's newest book is Inferno. Robert Langdon is back and again is pulled into a mystery of epic proportions. His ability to use and understand symbols and their meanings are put to the test again. Langdon has to follow a set of obscure cues laid out by a mad man who is fixated on Dante and The Divine Comedy

While I found the book well written and interesting, I did find that I had to suspend my understanding of time. To me it is difficult to believe all this happened in a very short time period. One thing I felt ambiguous about were some of the characters; they seemed bad. But later some of the bad characters became good. I found the explanations confusing and unsatisfactory. To me, this book is not the same level of suspense and intrigue as his other books. Having said all that - I wanted to read and finish the book! I wanted the ending to be a true resolution. I did not expect the ending. That was quite surprising. A good read.

Three out of Five stars


And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
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As I age, I have found that I like books that evoke a strong emotion within me. Books that show the ambiguity of life. Characters that are so well drawn that you feel their emotion. Khaled Hosseini's first book was good; his second book was very good. And the Mountains Echoed, his third book is great! 

Once again the novel resonated with me because I loved parts of it and hated other parts. I loved some of the characters and others I did not. Abdullah and Pari - both of them were just people struggling in the roles that were determined for them. Scarred by a man neither of them remembered. Neither knowing nor understanding the implications of his choice made long ago.

I found the interconnectedness of the story interesting and really liked how the story was rolled out...

I cannot let go how badly people treat people! I cannot let go how what lies in the past continue to haunt people generations into the future! I cannot let go of the injustices that continue to happen when a political and legal system are corrupted by money and power!

Five of five stars


Dark Witch by Nora Roberts
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Nora Roberts' new book Dark Witchis a wonderful journey between the past and the present. The story is woven around magik (that’s how it is spelled in the story), love and family. Her characters are likable with all their foibles and strengths. Her books are well-crafted stories designed to bring the reader to the end on a wonderful journey. 

Iona Sheehan's heritage is from Ireland. Her Nan always told her stories about the Dark Witch. The Dark Witch lived years and years ago and is tied up in a story with their family lines. Iona goes to County Mayo, Ireland after selling everything for an adventure and to find her cousins. Her cousins, Brenna and Connor take her in as she learns more and more about the past. She finds a job at a nearby stable with her love of horses and meets Boyle. And yes the Dark Witch becomes more real as the story progresses.

Nora Robert's books never fail to hold my attention. I love her books and quite frankly am always on the look out for her new ones. I can't wait for the rest of the series to come out; meanwhile I will have to satisfy myself with Eve and Roark (from her Death by series).

Four out of Five Stars


The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
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The Aviator’s Wife is an account of the wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, wife of Charles Lindbergh. The story while listed as a historical novel does contain a basic accurate outline of Anne and her life. Melanie Benjamin, the author wrote at the end of the book that the events are real, but the emotions are fictional. However, it is those emotions that complete the picture of Anne. 

From falling in love with Charles Lindbergh, learning to become a pilot, losing her oldest child, and living with a brilliant yet seemingly an emotionally bereft individual, Anne loved Charles. She was his most ardent supporter throughout his life because of that love. She independently raised her children and faced most days alone, while he was off promoting flying and working in aviation. She was a great writer in her own right, as well as helping Charles publish his writing about his flying adventures.

I enjoyed the perspective of seeing everything through Anne’s eyes. I found her reliance of following her husband’s beliefs saddening, but probably quite accurate for the times. I felt her redemption when at the end she began to forge her own path. I do wish the book had more photos of them, but understand the lack of them knowing that this is historical fiction.

The book was good. The writing was clear and read quickly. The emotions and feelings felt genuine. A nice read.

Three stars out of five stars


The House Girl by Tara Conklin
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The House Girl by Tara Conklin is a debut novel. It seemly is a story about a lawyer, Lisa Sparrow in a large corporation, with the drive toward becoming a partner. However, it is the story she uncovers that changes the book. Lisa is asked to help find a person who is a "good" fit for a lawsuit over slavery. Through this, we are introduced to a controversy in the art world about Lu Anne Bell and her slave Josephine. Which one is the artist, the slave or the master? This forms the second line of the story. The stories while over 100 years apart are twisted together. Together they are a powerful tale that leads toward an interesting conclusion.

I enjoyed reading The House Girl. In a style similar to Jodi Picoult or Chris Bohjalian, The stories continue to meander in an out of the past and present. The House Girl also allows us to view our reaction to slavery and the modern day interpretation of racial stereotypes. The book is well written and well paced, allowing us views of the story to come.

Four out of five stars.


The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
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Hattie battled the world as one alone for and with her children. The Twelve Tribes of Hattiewas organized into chapters that were named after the child/children that the chapter focused on. Each chapter then was its own short story about the child/children and some part of their relationship with their mother, Hattie. The chapters were in chronological order for year, but dealt her children at different ages and in different cruxes in their lives.

What I did understand is that Hattie ended up taking care of 12 children, eleven of her own and one grandchild. Hattie spent her whole life taking care of babies and children. She spent all of her care for the children worrying about how to feed and clothe them and nothing left over to show them kindness and shower them with kisses and hugs. In one section, the minister spoke about the trials of Job and how each of those trials was born by Job. Perhaps that is the parallel in the book. Hattie and Job bore all the trials they were given. I don't think Hattie found the spirit as Job did. While I did not find Hattie a sympathetic character, I did feel her angst. I do think that Hattie after eleven children was finally able to give her grandchild a more visible means of love, at least I hope so.

I am uncertain how to evaluate and review this book. I am uncertain even about how good the book was. I know I was interested in the entire book. I wanted to figure out the title. The writing drew me in like a moth to a flame. I wanted to understand the complexities of Hattie's life...

The book engrossed me even as I felt the emotional angst of the story line...


A Street Cat named Bob by James Bowen
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A Street Cat named Bob by James Bowen was given to me as a gift. I had heard about the story, but not paid a great deal of attention to it. It is a non-fiction book written by the owner of the cat named Bob. The book takes place in London and its surrounding environments.

The story line was about Bob the ginger cat and how he saved this young man, James by taking him out of himself and giving him a reason to live. It is a quick read, but really highlights how having a pet with their companionship and love helps many lonely people survive. While reading the story, you could clearly see how James had issues that he needed to deal with. You could see also how James changed when Bob needed his help and care.

The book was a nice reminder about the importance of pets for many people. Giving them someone to depend on and take care of which in turn gives them the will to live and the backbone to take care of themselves.

Three out of five stars


River Road by Jayne Anne Krentz
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Jayne Anne Krentz’s new book River Road is a mystery with suspense and romance. The mystery - Who killed Aunt Sara and Mary? The suspense - Who was trying to kill Mason while they figured out the mystery? The romance – While not scorching hot, was between Mason and Lucy. 

Lucy and Mason had a history. Mason hauled Lucy out of a party when she was 16 and she was not happy about it or him. However in the present day, Lucy has come back because her aunt’s has died in a car accident. This left Lucy in control of shares from a local company – shares that everyone wanted Lucy to sell to them. Shares that would give them controlling interests in while the company was getting ready to merge with a financial windfall. Meanwhile Lucy finds a body in her aunt’s house, a body of someone who has been missing for thirteen years. Lucy wants to find who killed her aunt. Mason wants to keep Lucy safe while she searches for the killer.

Lucy and Mason could have been a fun couple. Lucy was forthright and confident in her ability to take care of herself. Mason was an alpha male who kept trying to save her from asking too many questions of the wrong people. To me, Lucy and Mason’s romance did not sizzle. It seemed to be an accomplished fact that they moved toward. The dialog between them seemed off to me. Like they were poorly acting another person’s play. This was a disappointment as I found both characters likable and wanted them to save each other.

While the romance, for me, wasn’t smoking, the mystery had good twists and turns. It was good book to wile away some hours.

Three out of five stars