Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Happy Family Ripped Apart

Ava found what she always wanted in the love of her two sons and her husband, Mitchel. She fell in love with Mitchel, a widower, but his son Jack stole her heart. When she gave birth to their son, Sam, she thought her life was complete.

Nothing stays perfect. With the pressures of his job, Mitchel becomes more of a perfectionist and very controlling. He draws away from Ava and becomes more demanding of Jack. He seems to ignore Sam. Ava is concerned, but thinks things can be worked out until one terrible night when their marriage begins to come apart.

The story is told from the viewpoint of each of the main characters in different chapters. While this is an interesting ploy, I found the voices of the characters to be very similar. Ava and Jack were the most easily distinguished. Mitchel's chapters didn't seem to relate well to his personality. I found Ava an annoying character in the opening chapters. She seemed too nervous and too much under Mitchel's thumb. However, as the story progressed she began to stand up for herself and became more interesting.

The story is fast paced and easy to read. It draws you in and keeps you wondering how this family will resolve the crisis. If you like a family story that includes a bit of mystery, you'll enjoy this book.

I reviewed this book for BookLook Bloggers.

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Quirky Family Drawn Together by Food

When Lars wife, Cindy, runs away with a sommelier, he is left with a baby girl, Eve. She rapidly becomes the center of his existence. Being a chef, he makes sure that Eve is given only the finest food. His gift is sensing the flavors of food, which makes him a great chef and gives Eve an unusual genetic heritage. When Lars dies, Eve becomes the ward of his brother and his wife. From there her journey into the food culture begins.

The book is divided into a series of chapters. Each chapter centers around a dish, but don't expect recipes. The food is there as an adjunct to the character of the central person in each chapter. Although the thread of the book runs through Eve's journey from adolescent to adult, she is not the focus of each chapter. The other quirky members of her large family take the role of protagonist.

Although the blurb for the book suggests that it is humerus, I didn't find it at all amusing. It's poignant at some points, but not funny. I did enjoy the character development. This isn't really a coming of age story since Eve is not always the major character, but her development as seen by herself and others is
well done.

The book is darker than I expected from the title and some of the characters use quite colorful language. Although the book is not what I expected from reading the blurb, it's a unique way of looking at a character growing up in an unusual family.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Not a Deficiency -- a Difference

Whether you're concerned about your child, yourself, or your partner being diagnosed with ADHD, this is a book to read. I believe that too many people are being given a catchall diagnosis and being medicated to change behavior that can actually give great advantages if understood and used properly. I find it very upsetting that so many school children are being medicated. Certainly, very active children can be disruptive in a strictly run classroom, but there are ways to structure a classroom to allow them to use some of their excess energy, keep them interested, and make them productive members of the class.

This book covers a broad spectrum of advice and information about ADHD. In the first section, the author explores the myth of what ADHD is including the diagnosis, medication, and learning methods. In the second section, the author discusses the unique abilities of the ADHD individual. The third section covers careers that are suited to the ADHD individual. Too many people diagnosed as ADHD feel that they don't fit into society, but with a little understanding they can find a valuable place. The examples the author gives should help everyone see how successful an individual with this behavior can be.

I highly recommend this book. It contains technical information, but is presented in a way that's easy to read. I wish all teachers and parents would read this book before taking the easy route of medication. This book will give you confidence that it is a behavior pattern that can be dealt with without pills and can bring out the best in an individual.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Serial Killer, Paranormal Investigations, and Romance

Meg, a new FBI agent, is drawn into a case that looks like the work of a serial killer. Her childhood friend, Lara, sends her a note saying she is tired of her job working for a congressman in DC and is going home to Richmond. She doesn't arrive, and when her body ifs found it looks much like the other bodies that have been turning up.

Meg is assigned to work with Matt, a seasoned FBI agent who is part of the Krewe Hunters. This is Meg's first experience with the paranormal investigators, but Matt has been at it for awhile and is dissatisfied with his job. Together they visit places where the ghosts talk to people with the ability to hear them, like Gettysburg.

This book is part of series, the fifteenth. Although I hadn't read the previous books, I found the story easy to follow. It can be read as a standalone book. However, if you enjoy paranormal adventures you may want to read more.

I enjoyed the mystery. It's filled with twists and the paranormal aspect is a nice touch. It's not easy to figure out who is responsible when a serial killer and a political conspiracy are intertwined.

If you like mysteries, and enjoy a bit of paranormal, you'll like this book.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.

A Southern Gothic Mystery

Charlie Cates is mourning the sudden death of her five-year-old son. She's alone because she and the boy's father are divorced. On top of the death, Charlie is faced with the loss of her job when the New York magazine she works for is purchased by another company.

Luckily, Charlie's old editor form Cold Crimes Magazine offers her an assignment. Thirty years ago, a three-year-old boy disappeared from his bead on historic Evangeline plantation in Louisiana. The boy has never been found, but is presumed dead. Charlie grabs the assignment. Louisiana is far from New York and her problems, but then she starts having visions of trying to save children who are in danger.

The book is a fun read with romance, mystery, and paranormal events. The author has created a very atmospheric book: lush Louisiana, a brooding mansion, and unusual visions. I enjoyed the descriptions. Although it's a modern setting, it feels timeless.

The characters are well developed. Charlie is a particularly well done character. If you like fiction with a woman sleuth, you'll like Charlie. There is also romance and serious questions about who Charlie can trust.

If you want a pleasant, escapist read, you'll enjoy this book.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.

Dark Family Secrets and Love

Roberta works in a bookstore. She's half in love with the owner, but feels there's no chance for her since he is interested in someone else. When she finds a letter in her grandmother's suitcase, it opens the door to questioning who she really is, and more important what happened in her grandmother's life.

The stories of Roberta and her grandmother, Dorothy are told in sequential chapters. Roberta's chapters are written in the first person: Dorothy's in the third person. I suppose this was meant to give a sense of immediacy to Roberta's chapters. However, since more can be done to set the scene in third person, I found those chapters more interesting.

The theme of the book revolves around motherhood – who wants to be a mother, who doesn't, and what will they do to either embrace the role or flee it. It's a theme that will appeal to women and will raise questions about their own choices.

I enjoyed the book, but I found the back and forth between the eras more frustrating than enlightening. It may make a good selection to discuss with a reading group, but as a standalone novel, it left me cold.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Out of Africa from the Other Woman's Perspective

Growing up on a farm in Kenya, Beryl Markham ran wild with the native boys. Her mother abandoned her when she was a young child returning to London with her older brother. Beryl's father encouraged her to gallop the Thoroughbreds he trained, and Beryl showed a remarkable talent for working with the horses.

All this changed when Beryl's father brought home a housekeeper. Mrs. O tried to turn Beryl into a young lady with remarkably little success. Through a first marriage, Beryle continued to do as she pleased. Eventually, she met Denys Fitch Hatton and Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. Attracted to Denys, Beryl became the third person in the triangle. Much of the book focuses on this love affair.

For me, the best part of this book is the description of Africa. The author writes beautifully of the strange, magnetic country. Most of these descriptions are in the Part One which focuses on Beryl's childhood. In Parts Two and Three, the focus is on relationships although we do get a good description of Beryl's talent as a horse trainer and aviatrix.

Beryl is a complex character. It's hard to like or dislike her. She has many engaging qualities as well as faults. Karen Blixen and Denys Fitch Hatton are also well fleshed out characters. It's interesting to see the triangle from Beryl's perspective as the other woman.

I highly recommend this book if you enjoyed Out of Africa. Even if you're unfamiliar with that book and movie, the book is worth reading for the picture of colonial society and the descriptions of the bush in Kenya.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.