A Book and A Review #2

Reviews dedicated to a "just the facts, ma'am!" mentality...with my opinion thrown in!

Good, but not Hurwitz's finest...

Don't Look Back - Gregg Hurwitz

Definitely not my favorite from this strong author. I have read a fair share of his books.


This one had a forced feeling to it and I didn't think flowed as well as some of his other books did.


There were aspects to this book that I had to go back and reread because he had rushed through the incident. In other, what I would have considered less critical, he dragged on.

Now, I tend to like this author's works, so I went ahead and bumped up to 3 stars because this is the first of his books that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed.

Winter at the Door, Sarah Graves

Winter at the Door: A Novel (Lizzie Snow) - Sarah Graves

I must say that I was pretty disappointed with this first in series starring Lizzie Snow. When I saw it, I thought to myself that it was a new series that perfectly fit the type of series that I liked, as I am caught up with all the others.


I found this book to be pretty one dimensional though and slow moving. It almost had a bogged down feeling to it and definite periods of being slow moving.


On that note, I did like the main character. As I researched Ms. Graves for this review, I determined that her first series is a cozy line. As those tend to be a bit more light-hearted and superficial, this might be the reason for the inconsistent feeling to her writing that I have. This was not a cozy mystery. I would recommend her book, but I wouldn't do so eagerly (thus the 3 stars).


Review copy provided by publisher.

Irish Cooking Partnered with Gorgeous Photos

Deliciously Irish: Recipes Inspired by the Rich History of Ireland - Nuala Cullen

Fantastic recipes partnered with GORGEOUS photos of the Emerald Isle that make me want to get there even sooner than I planned.


As with most cookbooks from that region expect a cookbook with high fish and high lamb recipes. The better chunk of main courses I wouldn't make due to the base meat of venison, lamb, rabbit, tongue, etc. Also, some of the fish/ingredients listed as the main course might be difficult to get in the US, so adjustments would need to be made.


Look for recipes to be featured on The Pub and Grub Forum.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

The Children Act - Ian McEwan

Synopsis: High Court judge, Fiona Maye, presides over family court in London. All is going well until two events collide her life's roles into chaos.


The first involves a seventeen year old Jehovah Witness, Matthew,  who upon hearing he has cancer wants to refuse the treatment the government is forcing upon him.


The second is a husband who demands an open marriage and walks out on Fiona when she won't oblige.


What does the Matthew teach Fiona about life and the the willingness to accept the treatment by those around her?


My rating: 4 Stars


My opinion: Probably my favorite of Ian McEwan's books that I have read. This author is a really hit or miss author to me. Although On Chesil Beach is excellent, there was something quietly powerful to this book. On that note, I would like to have seen a deeper relationship built between the two main characters.

I found this book to be poignant with a deep sadness to it. It was one of those things aren't always as they seem.


Source: Doubleday for review


Would I recommend? : Yes


Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-children-act-by-ian-mcewan.html

Doll Face by Tim Curran

Doll Face - Tim Curran

Release date (if applicable): May 5, 2015


Synopsis: Six friends driving home one night get diverted to the town of Stokes. Problem is that doesn't exist in the real world. It burned down to the ground over fifty years ago, but that is only where the nightmare begins.


My rating: 3 Stars


My opinion:This book was a trip. There were times I was rolling my eyes at it considering it to be more of a B movie than a quality horror novel. Then there were times that I found myself going "WTH just happened?!?!"  I love how another reviewer characterized it as a wildly imaginative book. I think that nailed it. The book was a wild ride.


I would tell readers that this is more of a sci-fi'ish, paranormal, horror read. Not my favorite type, but this author did a good job in pulling it off. 


Source: DarkFuse for review


Would I recommend? : Yeah, I definitely have friends I would be telling about this book. Just pay attention to my genre comments to see if it is for you.


Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2015/04/doll-face-by-tim-curran.html

This happened in the early 1800's??? Oh, the scandal!

The Murder of Dr. Chapman: The Legendary Trials of Lucretia Chapman and Her Lover - Linda Wolfe

Synopsis: In 1831, Lucretia Chapman, wife, mother to five, and founder of Philadelphia's first boarding school for girls took in a Cuban lodger and her life was never the same. Participating in a torrid love affair that concluded with the murder of her husband.


My rating: 3 stars

My opinion: This was an amazing story. It blows me away that when I look at crimes in our society and then read books like this and realize that they happened in past as well.
Ms. Wolfe has presented a well researched book that depicts the lead up and aftermath of the murder. On that note, it did have significant periods of dryness that I didn't expect in this book.

Source: Publisher for review

Would I recommend? : Yes, with the caveat to push through the slower sections.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Sound of Music: How a Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Sea Captain and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time

The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain, and Ten Singing Von Trapp Children Inspired the Beloved Film of All Time - Tom Santopietro

Book: The Sound of Music: How a Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Sea Captain and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time

Author: Tom Santopietro

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: In 1965, The Sound of Music hit the big screens. What is the back story to this long held, classic family favorite that remains popular to this day?

My rating: 5 Stars

My opinion:  OK, first a disclosure: I am a HUGE Sound of Music fan. When I say huge, I mean behemoth huge. I have seen this movie well over 200 times in my 47 years on this earth. I own three copies of the DVD. I have scenes from this movie memorized. I have read almost every book put out on this movie and, I believe, all of the von Trapp family books and it is on my bucket list to visit the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont. I found Mr. Santopietro's book to be incredibly well researched and beyond detailed oriented. I find it easy to say that of all the books on this subject I have read, Santopietro's is easily the best. The book did have periods of dryness or that seemed to drag in over describing occurances, but those were few and far between and I found that I was able to overlook them with some new things that I had learned. This book would have been 10/5 stars if photos were included. Especially with this book, couldn't figure out why photos weren't included. I will say that a member of Goodreads did comment on my preliminary review that she had purchased a copy and that there were pictures included in her version.

Source: Publisher for review

Would I recommend? : Not only would I recommend it, I have a copy in my Amazon cart waiting for purchase. Even though I have already read it, I found it worthy to add to my personal library.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2015/04/the-sound-of-music-how-beguiling-young.html

Fallen by Leslie Tentler

Fallen - Leslie Tentler

Synopsis: Someone is assassinating the police officers of Atlanta and Detective Ryan Winter is desperate to solve these crimes when one of his friends is one of the victims while trying to recover from the loss of his son in a tragic accident.


When the shooting of his friend brings him into the ER of his wife, Dr. Lydia Costa, they are both forced to address the grief that wracks them both and try to solve the mysteries of the cop killings before they both become victims of an assassin taking names.


My rating: 4.5 Stars


My opinion: BAM! Leslie Tentler knocks it out of the ballpark again!


Ms. Tentler, in her first indie published book, is the master in balancing romance with mystery in a book that I could recommend across multiple genres.


Her characters continue to be approachable, realistic and down to earth wrapped up in a well developed and complex storyline. I love that she always puts nice twists into her who dunnits that leaves me thinking that I didn't see that ending coming. Fallen is no different.


Source: Author for review


Would I recommend? : Ms. Tentler is a Sisterhood of the Traveling Book favorite author. Her books are recommended to our members on a regular basis to the point we have had to ask her replace worn copies.


Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Season of Fear (Cab Bolton #2) by Brian Freeman

Season of Fear - Brian Freeman

Synopsis: Ten years ago, a prominent gubernatorial candidate is publicly assassinated during a fundraising event. Present day, the same action is threatened when the widow is herself running for the same office. Who is behind these vicious crimes and why? Cab Bolton, at the request of his starlet mother, comes in to get the answers before history repeats itself.

My rating: Most of Mr. Freeman's books get 5 stars and me chomping at the bit to get my hands on the next one. Season of Fear was no exception.

My opinion: Having been a Jonathon Stride and Brian Freeman stand alone fan for years, I jumped at the chance to review this book and, as expected, was not disappointed. I read the first in the series, The Bone House, years ago, so it took me a bit to remember who Cab was. One thing that stood out to me knowing both characters well is that Cab Bolton comes across as Jonathan Stride's alter ego. Jonathan is a bit laid back from Minnesota, while Cab is a handsome, well put together detective from Florida. This carries over to their personalities and upbringing, as well. Aside from that,  Freeman's standard high quality writing wrapped up in another gripping story that had me page one coupled with nice twists throughout. I will still admit that between Cab and Jonathan, Jonathan still has my heart. Cab isn't a bad guy though. Just a bit too flashy for me.  

Source: Quercus for review

Would I recommend? : Mr. Freeman is on my list of top five recommended living American mystery writers that I give to readers when asked for recommendations.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Second in Series. Read the series. Freeman's books are incredibly character driven, which is why they are so high quality. Characters are very easy to get attached to as past events are referred to frequently throughout his series.

Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2015/03/season-of-fear-cab-bolton-2-by-brian.html

The Blackhouse by Peter May

The Blackhouse - Peter  May


Synopsis: Isle of Lewis becomes the scene of a brutal murder. It shows similarities to one that occurs in Edinburgh. Could there be a serial killer on the loose? Police detective and Lewis native, Fin Macleod, is sent back to Lewis to investigate the murder. The victim just happens to be someone who bullied Fin when he was a child. While there, he must address his childhood demons to solve this grisly murder.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: I absolutely loved this book that is a first in a trilogy. Mr. May wrote a book that is solidly written with extensive character development and a rich story line partnered with scenery that is masterfully depicted. Furthermore, Mr. May has set up the first book beautifully for the next two in series. I was reminded of an Scottish version of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which is one of my favorite books.

Source: Review for Quercus

Would I recommend? : Yes, I already have.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Part of Trilogy

Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-black-house-by-peter-may.html

More Murder Mystery Than Paranormal

Bliss House - Laura Benedict


Synopsis: When Rainey Bliss Adams becomes a widow after an accident that killed her husband and permanently disfigured her fourteen year old daughter, she decides to move back to her family homestead, Bliss House, in Old Gate, Virginia. Bliss House isn't an ordinary farm. It has decades of mysterious disappearances and death. The most recent occurring the night of her homecoming party. Who is behind the murder? Will Bliss House give up its secrets?

My rating: 3 Stars

My opinion: Gotta say that I had more hopes for this book than delivered. I had more hopes for this book to be scarier than what it was. The premise of the book was creepy but what was given was far more mundane. I must say that I expected a book similar to Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, but the plot to the book was much too light to support the book's description. The book was more of a murder mystery than a paranormal thriller than I had expected. This was the source of the majority of my disappointment with it.

Source: Pegasus for review

Would I recommend? : Maybe, but there are numerous ones that I would recommend ahead of it.

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2015/03/bliss-house-novel-by-laura-benedict.html

One of Us, Tawni O'Dell

One of Us - Tawni O'Dell


Synopsis: Dr. Sheridan Doyle is the "go to", TV friendly forensic psychologist in Philadelphia. He makes sure his  personal image matches his professional one. Back in his hometown of Lost Creek, he is still known as Danny Doyle, the shy, bullied young boy from a blue collar family of coal miners. An image that Sheridan would be happy to never see again. He can't get that lucky when he is called back to Lost Creek to care for his grandfather. Unfortunately for him, the first thing he comes across is a body found at the now tourist place where four miners were hung over a hundred years ago. Danny partners with a detective from his youth to find the reason behind the murder. When the truth comes out, Danny finds that sometimes the past comes out to haunt in more ways than one.

My rating: 4 Stars

My opinion: Another new author has come across my radar. This book was a treat. It flowed well and was concise in its storyline. The author knew how to utilize the right amount of dramatic scenes without going overboard. I love when an author can do that. These are the types of books that I can read in one day and this book was no exception. This is definitely a series I will be continuing with.

Source: Simon and Schuster for review.

Would I recommend? : Yes

Stand Alone or Part of a Series: First in series

The Innocent Killer: A True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and Its Astonishing Aftermath



Book: The Innocent Killer: A True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and Its Astonishing Aftermath


Author: Michael Griesbach


Release date (if applicable): Published


Synopsis: Steven Avery was convicted of a horrible rape even though he had an alibi. An innocent man who spent 18 years in jail. for a crime he didn't commit. Two years after he was released and ready to claim millions of dollars for his false conviction, he is arrested for the brutal murder of a missing journalist. Did he do it or was he a victim of a justice system gone wrong?


My rating: 4 Stars


My opinion: Creepy and horrific in its own way. Sometimes the old saying that truth is stranger than fiction is true. This story is living proof. Living in the area, never heard of this case.


With the good comes the criticism. This book did have drawbacks. Periods of it were very dryly written, particularly the court room scenes. It is critical since these tend to flow well as just the nature of the beast is that court room scenes are dry. I tend to see this in books written by attorneys and Mr. Griesbach is a former prosecutor.


A second criticism is that the book had periods of being too wordy and "overwritten". It felt as though he was going too deep into the weeds. This made it a much longer read to me.


Had the author developed these areas in a more concise manner, yet engaging manner, this book easily would have been a five star read for me.


Source: Publisher for Review


Would I recommend? : Yes, I have. It is a very important story.


Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone


Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-innocent-killer-true-story-of.html

Not Fossum's Finest

I Can See in the Dark - Karin Fossum

As someone who has read every book by this author, this was my least favorite Karin Fossum book.

I didn't find this book as approachable or engaging as I have found others in her series. On that note, I will say as a true Fossum fan and the catalyst who led me into my love of Nordic Noir, her irony of writing on a criminal who was charged with a crime he didn't commit was hilarious.

On that note, if one is new to Nordic Noir, I would start with her Inspector Sejer series.

A fun, creepy read for you early young adult reader

The Girl from the Well - Rin Chupeco

My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: From an adult perspective who lives for these types of books, I didn't find the book as scary as I thought I would, but I did find it highly interesting and creepy. On that note, as a younger reader, this book would creep the heck out of me.
Numerous scenes in the book were reminiscent of the movie THE RING and another I have seen. I can see why numerous reviews are referring to that.
I'd def. recommend this book to a younger reader. Be careful about a sensitive reader though. There are a couple of scenes that can def. scare a younger reader. 

Relatively clean from swearing/sex/etc. Nothing really smacked me across the face in my reading.

Source:  Publisher     


Would I recommend? : Already have, especially this Halloween season

Source: http://abookandareview.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-girl-from-well-by-rin-chupeco.html

Too Detail Oriented

Neverhome: A Novel - Laird Hunt

2.5 stars

I wish the title of this book for me would have been Neverread because it kills me to give it this rating. Although I had been looking forward to this book, I found that I couldn't get into it. The last 75 pages were pure torture and I felt like I was running in quick sand to get through them. The book was too focused on day to day, which made it extremely difficult for me. I wanted to know more about the psyche of Ash (Constance). Why did she (and almost 500 women) chose to fight? What I found was a book on the daily excursions of war that when the important questions had been answered, it had already lost my interest. I

Really bummed about this one but there was no way I could go as low as one star.

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