Thursday, April 17, 2014

Two People Dealing with Past Mistakes and Loss

Carolyn Marcum has come back to Wellfleet Harbor to care for her dying mother. Not only is it difficult to see her mother die, but being in Wellfleet revives the memories of the auto accident that changed her life. Ridley Neal has made mistakes of his own that landed him in jail for a time. Now he's also back in Wellfleet working his father grant where he harvests oysters and clams.

Ridley and Carolyn meet during a hurricane that threatens to destroy his oyster and clam beds. Their brief interlude leaves Carolyn with a tie to Rid she can't break. While Carolyn's life is complicated by the death of her mother. Rid is facing a different loss. One of the rich landowners, whose property is situated above the flats where Rid and his partners farm oysters, initiates a lawsuit to drive them off the beach thereby destroying their livelihood.

For me, the best part of this book was the detailed picture of how oysters and clams are farmed off the Massachusetts coast. The author has done a lot of research to make the background authentic. In addition, the story is based on an actual lawsuit.

The characters are interesting. Carolyn is devastated by her mother's approaching death. Rid is fighting his demons and trying to steer clear of entanglements when he meets Carolyn. I found the characters
believable: Rid more so than Carolyn. Her upset at her mother's death seemed over the top.

If you enjoy a romantic novel with an interesting setting and believable characters, you'll enjoy this book.

I reviewed the book for Net Galley.

A Good Book for Young Children Taking Their First Airplane Ride

Luca Lashes is preparing for his first airplane ride. He's helping his mother pack his clothes, but he's not sure he wants to take the trip if it means being on an airplane. With his parents patient explanations and his magical eyelashes, if you blink twice your courage grows, he's able to enjoy the flight and wants to do it again.

The Luca Lashes series presents a number of scary situations for young children: first swimming lesson; first visit to the doctor's office, hospital or dentist's office. I think the concept is excellent, but if the child has
no fear of the experience, I'm not sure I would read them the book. The text is simple enough for beginning readers to enjoy the book by themselves, or with some help from Mom and Dad. The illustrations are vivid. Some pictures of the mother look rather strange, but on the whole, they're enjoyable.

Apparently there are apps for the book if you have the itunes version. That should make the experience even better for the young child. I enjoyed book and recommend it for young children experiencing trying first adventures.

I reviewed this book for PR by the Book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Did She Fall, Was She Pushed, or Did She Kill Herself?

Because of a falling out between Jess' mom, Molly, and her twin sister, Tilly, Jess has never visited the village of Port Sentinel where her mother grew up. She and Molly arrive at a difficult time. Freya, Jess' cousin is dead. She was a fey girl who went to the cliffs above Port Sentinel late one night. No one knows whether she fell, accidentally getting too close to the edge of the cliff, was unhappy enough to kill herself, or if someone pushed her.

Jess discovers, when the towns people stare at her, that she looks almost identical to her cousin. She feels a connection with the dead girl and wants to find out what happened. Her search is complicated by two boys who are interested in her, a coterie of bitchy, boy-crazy, girls, and her cousin's best friend, Darcy. Jess finally concocts a plan to learn the truth, but at great personal risk.

I enjoyed the plot. The town has accepted that Freya fell to her death accidentally. Jess is a newcomer and when things don't add up, she decides to take action. Although Jess comes across as bright and brash, it doesn't ring true. She's supposed to be brilliant, but the plan she concocts to learn the truth about Freya is little short of lunatic. I can't give high marks to her character. Will, one of the boys interested in her, is more believable. He's dealing with a difficult home situation,
a dying mother and a harsh father. He comes across as real.

As a mystery, the book lacks serious investigating. Jess tries to do all the sleuthing herself, makes horribly bad decisions, and is simply lucky in the end. If you enjoy teen mysteries, this one is fair. It's a pleasant read in an interesting setting, but I can't recommend it as a serious mystery or thriller.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fast Paced Suspense

Juliet Cole and her husband Bob are returning the rental truck they used to help Juliet's sister Holly move when a white car drives up, and the driver shoots Bob. He dies and Juliet is heart broken. As she copes with his death she finds things that suggest Bob was leading a double life. Juliet is crushed as one relevation piles on another. She tries to hang on to her faith and help her sons through the difficult time, but it isn't easy.

Her siblings are there to help. Bob's death appears to be connected to another death that affected her family. Cathy, Juliet's younger sister, was engaged to Joe Hogan, a policeman killed in a drug bust that went wrong. Now it looks as if the person responsible for Joe's death was also involved with Bob in drug trafficking.

This is a fast paced thriller. As one revelation piles on another, you can't help reading on to find out what will happen. Although this is not the first book in the Moonlighters Series, it's a standalone novel. The author brings the reader up to date on the previous murders without getting heavy handed and slowing the story.

Juliet, Cathy, and Michael are all likeable characters. The teenage son, Zach, is portrayed as a typical teenager trying to understand his father's death and the subsequent revelations about his life. The characterization works well.

I recommend this book if you like thrillers. Although this one has a Christian background it is not heavy handed and the religious aspects work well to defined the characters.

I reviewed this book for BookLook Bloggers.

Two Nice Kids Find Life Doesn't Always Work the Way You Expect

Nell Golden is starting high school at City Day following in the footsteps of her adored older sister Layla. She has high hopes for the year: making the soccer team, being in the school play, finding a boyfriend. All these things happen, but not in the way she expected. She also hopes to be closer to her sister, but Layla is changing. She has a secret and Nell is left out wondering what to do.

Nell's best friend is a boy, Felix. She and Felix are comfortable with each other and look to each other for support when things to go wrong. It's a special friendship without the strain of romance, but full of caring. Felix has his own troubles during the year, and Nell is there for him as he is for her.

“We are the Goldens” is written in the form of a monologue from Nell to Layla. At the beginning you know something is wrong. Nell is trying to remember and recreate the relationship she had with Layla before the secret took her away.

I enjoyed this book. Nell's voice is realistic, and her relationship with Felix is portrayed sensitively. It's a book that middle school and early high school students can feel part of. One of the best themes is showing that even when things seem to be working the way you want, there are pitfalls. I recommend this book. The writing is well done and the plot is realistic.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Romance, Mystery, Reincarnation and Perfume

Mythologist Jac L'Etoile returns to Paris after wrapping up her television shows for the coming season to find her beloved brother, Robbie, dying. Robbie is slipping away, and no one can find the cause. Poison is suggested, but the toxicologists have been unable to identify it.

After Robbie's death, Jac is distraught. When she is approached by Melinoe, a very wealthy woman, and her brother Serge to complete Robbie's final project, she at first refuses, but feeling close to Robbie at their chateau, she agrees to complete the project. Melinoe and her brother Serge commissioned Robbie to find the elixir that would unlock the vials of dying breaths left in the chateau by Rene le Floretin. Rene, perfumer to Catherine de Medici, lived and worked in the chateau where he was trying to unlock the secret of the dying breaths.

The story shifts from the court of Catherine de Medici to the present day. Although telling a story in two time periods can be tricky, M.J. Rose carries it out perfectly. The two plot lines fit together aided by Jac's ability to remember past lives, both her own and those of others.

The book is filled with fascinating glimpses of the world of the perfumer both in 16th century Italy and the present day. The topic of reincarnation is presented in a realistic fashion as are the historical details of the Medici court. Although this book is a paranormal romance with a core mystery, the book is much more. It is intelligently written. The characters are well rounded, and the settings are enticing.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you haven't read the previous books in the series, this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand alone novel. It may entice you to read the two earlier books.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Medical Murder Mystery

Shannon Fraiser, a medical student, and her boyfriend Todd are on a date when a gunman shoots Todd. He dies in Shannon's arms leaving her with a terrible sadness that she could do nothing to save him. Ten years later another man is shot and killed on her front lawn. Again, although she, now a surgeon, and her guests are doctors, she can't save the man. However, the death opens the door to a terrifying few weeks. Whoever the man was, someone thinks that Shannon and perhaps her sister, Megan, have information about a crime he was involved in. Late at night the phone rings. A husky voice wants to know what the murdered man said to Shannon before he died.

The book is an enjoyable read if you like murder mysteries with a medical flavor. The medical background is authentic and adds color to the characters and the story. However, the characters are stereotypes: the good daughter and the bad daughter, the religious doctor, the good cop and the bad cop. Since in a mystery the plot should be paramount, this isn't terribly bothersome, but if you're looking for realistic characters, this book doesn't make it.

The police work also lacks realism. The detectives
are surprisingly cavalier about the threat to a physician and her sister. One of them even tries to strike up a relationship with Shannon. It's hard to imagine a detective trying to get involved with a subject while there is an on-going investigation. I hope the Dallas Police would behave more ethically. There are other problems with the police work, but that would necessitate spoilers so I'll leave it at that.

On the positive side, the book has no cursing. The main characters do not jump into bed with each other, and there is a reliance on God. It can be an enjoyable read.

I reviewed this book for the Thomas Nelson BookLook Bloggers Program.