Monday, July 17, 2017

The Girl Who Knew Too Much/Amanda Quick/355 pgs.

I almost didn't read this book because I'm not a big fan of fiction based in the 1930's--especially in Hollywood, California. I am, however, a big Amanda Quick fan, so I thought I would give it a try, and I'm glad I did. Anna Harris stumbles onto a murder scene--and it happens to be her boss, Helen Spencer, who is dead. Helen has left her a message, in blood, to run, and not to trust anyone. Helen left Anna a substantial amount of money, and a notebook that could get Anna killed. Anna heads west to California, takes on a new name (Irene Glasson), and becomes a reporter for a Hollywood gossip newspaper. Other murders occur, and Irene comes to partner with ex-magician Oliver Ward to get to the bottom of the murders, and the mystery of the notebook. It's a fast read, well developed characters, and one that I can recommend!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Welcome to the World Baby Girl / Fannie Flagg / 496 pgs

I read Standing in the Rainbow last year, and although it's obvious Fannie Flagg never bothered to research Missouri, I really enjoyed the whole story. I have to say my thoughts are the same here as well. Though I think Standing in the Rainbow is the better book, I did love the story of Dena and her mom. Fannie is a great writer besides her glaring mistakes concerning Missouri.

Welcome to the World Baby Girl is the first Elmwood Springs book. It goes back and forth between the 1940s and the 1970s. Dena Nordstrom is a hot, up-and-coming reporter in New York City, and yet the stress from overworking coupled with unresolved issues from when she was a kid are driving her to developing ulcers and panic attacks. When she is ordered to go see a therapist, the circumstances of her past, including her missing mother, come rushing back. Meanwhile, her extended family in Elmwood Springs are anxious to see and take care of their grown-up Baby Girl.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Dry/ Jane Harper / 328 pgs

The Dry (which I think is an unfortunate name for a novel) is a suspense story
set in an isolated rural town in Australia The town is suffering from a severe drought and in turn, economic hardship. I thought the setting and its different facets were well done by the author. A father, mother, and six-year-old boy are found shot to death on their farm (warning for disturbing content). The only survivor is a year-old baby. Initially, this looks like a down-on-his luck farmer who ended the lives of his family members and then took his own. Aaron Falk, a forensic accountant for the federal government, returns to the town he left behind abruptly 20 years ago to attend the funeral of his friend, the supposed killer of his family. Aaron is NOT warmly welcomed back, as he and his father were driven out of town by accusations that Aaron killed a teen-aged friend, Ellie, all those years ago. Though reluctant, Aaron finds himself drawn into the current investigation of the murder-suicide, even while his presence in town stirs up memories and emotions from the past. This book kept me interested from start to finish, although I do think the flashbacks got to be a bit much. There were two mysteries here and I did not guess the solution to one of them, which is good, while I felt the other one was not really resolved in a satisfactory way, i.e. there was no closure and no justice for the victim.

The Unlikelies/Carrie Firestone/323 pgs.

Sadie Sullivan isn't looking forward to the summer before senior year. Her best friend graduated, and will be spending the summer in California, and Sadie has distanced herself from the kids in her own class. She's anticipating a boring summer, until she performs and unconscious act of heroism. This act leads her to be recognized at a banquet with other teenage heroes--and her life takes a new direction. It's an inspiring YA novel that shows a different group of teens ,"the Unlikelies," banding together to try to make the world a better place. Recommended.

Monday, July 10, 2017

We Never Asked for Wings/ Vanessa Diffenbaugh/ 310 pgs.

Letty Espinosa is a single mother of two children: 15 year-old Alex, and 6 year-old Luna. Letty has worked three jobs for years to help support her parents, of Mexican descent, and relatives still living in Mexico. Alex and Luna have been basically raised by their grandparents. After Letty's father goes back to Mexico, followed shortly by her mother, Letty is forced to take responsibility for Alex and Luna. It's a story of a family trying to become a family, with issues arising, decisions to be made, and the angst of teenage years. There is also the issue of illegal aliens, and mothers only wanting something better for their children. This is a wonderful read. I highly recommend this book!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sycamore/ Bryn Chancellor /323 pgs

If you read the back cover of Sycamore, it sounds like a mystery/suspense novel. It's really not. If anything, I would describe this as a character study. A teenage girl goes missing in 1991 and is never found. Fast forward 18 years and bones are found by a person who just moved to town. I'm not really sure why this person was introduced to the story since she really plays no other part except to find the body. And yet we are given a detailed description of her life. And that of every other character in town. I almost gave up on this book a couple of different times because, while the writing is absolutely gorgeous in some places, there is too much of the minutiae of the townspeople's lives. The most glaring example of this is a woman who jokes to herself that she's had twelve lovers in her life and compares them to the twelve apostles. Ok, fair enough. But then she goes on to describe each one in a couple of paragraphs each. This was too much for me and each character who was introduced was like this. I will say that after about halfway through, the book's pace picks up and I was more interested to find out what happened to the missing girl, and yes the mystery is revealed (to the reader at least) at the end. If you like a more literary and in depth style of writing, this book might be perfect for you.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Love Me Sweet/Tracy Brogan/294 pgs.

This is part of the Bell Harbor series, and focuses on Grant Connelly, brother of Tyler Connelly, featured in The Best Medicine. Grant has quit his job as cameraman for a reality television show, and has returned (after a long absence) to Bell Harbor to reconnect with his family. Delaney Masterson is running away from the reality show in which she and her are featured due to the release of a sex tape released by her ex-boyfriend. She ends up in Bell Harbor, assumes an alias connects with Grant under unusual circumstances, and the romance adventure begins. It's a light, fast, read--great for the beach! Recommended.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Where the Dead Lie/ C.S. Harris/ 338 pgs

This is book number 12 in the Sebastian St. Cyr series, a historical mystery series set in England around the year 1813. Though the author does a decent job of keeping the reader current on the major arcs of the series, I would recommend starting at the beginning if you are interested. Sebastian St. Cyr is a young aristocrat, now with a wife and child, who finds himself investigating murders and disappearances on a regular basis. In every book, Sebastian bounces around London interviewing suspects, there is always a chase scene, and someone always seems to be trying to kill him (sometimes it's even his father-in-law!). This particular book is concerned with orphaned
street children who are going missing and one of them turns up dead, having been tortured and sexually assaulted, so definitely not a cozy mystery. This is another series where I've kept reading to see what happens with the overarching mystery and the main characters, but it is getting somewhat predictable. I wish more time would be spent on the major plot points affecting the characters' lives but instead it seems like they take baby steps in each book.

The Kept Woman/Karin Slaughter/461 pgs.

In order to fully appreciate this latest in the Will Trent series, one needs to read the previous titles. However, reading it as a stand-alone still provides an excellent read. Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and his lover, Dr. Sara Linton, medical examiner for the GBI, have been called in when a murder takes place in a prospective night club. The body is that of an ex-cop, but it becomes apparent that another crime had been committed at the time of the victim's death. It appears that Will's "wife" Angie-- who is in and out of his life--is somehow involved. There is so much going on in this novel, that I stayed up half of the night in order to finish it. I can't recommend this title and series highly enough!