Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Little Deaths by Emma Flint


t's 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone—a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress—wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy's body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.'s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth's life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth's little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman—and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children's lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete's interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there's something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance—or is there something more sinister at play? 




This book tells the story about Ruth Malone, a separated mom with two children who one day go missing. Soon after, both children are found dead and the police believe that Ruth is the culprit. The only evidence against her being her job (as a cocktail waitress), manner of dress, that she likes to drink and sleeps with more than one man. 

Then there is Pete Wonicke, a newly minted tabloid reporter with the Herald who is assigned to cover the story but ends up obsessed with Ruth. You know that the aloof persona that Ruth presents to the world is supposed to be covering up a terrified young mother but the writing does not sufficiently reflect that. In the end, although Ruth has suffered tremendously from the loss of her children and freedom, there is no empathy for her character. 

This book was more of a series of ‘blink and you missed it moments’. For example, the beginning starts out with Ruth telling her story from jail so if you caught that then you know that someone she is convicted. I didn’t and had to re-read the beginning. Another part was when Pete professes his love for her, my first reaction was “What?!” Yes, he was unhealthily obsessed but where in the book was this developing love explained? A love that was all one sided as Ruth and him only had about two short conversations throughout the whole book.

Also, although the story did repeatedly wonder about the inconsistency between what Ruth fed the children and what the medical examiner stated their last meal was, it wasn’t until the big reveal that you realized why it mattered. But at the point, it really did not matter. I don’t know what book my favorite author read that inspired such a great blurb on the book cover.  


*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Roberta

Monday, April 17, 2017

In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell


The year is 1928. Kate Moore is looking for a way out of the poverty and violence of her childhood. When a chance encounter on a transatlantic ocean liner brings her face-to-face with the handsome heir to a Chicago fortune, she thinks she may have found her escape—as long as she can keep her past concealed.

After exchanging wedding vows, Kate quickly discovers that something isn’t quite right with her husband—or her new family. As Mrs. Matthew Lemont, she must contend with her husband’s disturbing past, his domineering mother, and his overly close sister. Isolated at Lakecrest, the sprawling, secluded Lemont estate, she searches desperately for clues to Matthew’s terrors, which she suspects stem from the mysterious disappearance of his aunt years before. As Kate stumbles deeper into a maze of family secrets, she begins to question everyone’s sanity—especially her own. But just how far will she go to break free of this family’s twisted past?



When I read the summary of what In the Shadow of Lakecrest I knew that I wanted to read and review this book; I was excited when I got it in the mail and learned that I would get to read this book.

I really liked the main female character “Kate.” As I started reading this novel I started to feel like she was rather na├»ve and too trusting with certain people, I found that I could not relate to her the most and I felt bad for her, but I was frustrated with her at the same time. 

By the end of the book I was rather surprised to learn that there was a whole other side to her that I didn’t honestly think she would have. One character that I absolutely hated was “Matthew’s” mother. From the first time I was introduced to her in the story until the end I hated her and could not feel any sympathy or love for that woman. The mother reminded me of some women that I know that I don’t like in my life as well.

I loved the era and the setting that this novel took place in. I thought the author, Elizabeth Blackwell, did an amazing job capturing the essence of the time and making this amazing novel feel like it was an actual incident that happened. I could not put this book down! It kept my attention until the very end and even after for a few days.

 I was really surprised at the ending, I honestly thought it would end a completely different way than it did; but I loved it! If anyone loves a good mystery/thriller type book I recommend this one. Out of a 10 I give In the Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell an 8 and Ms. Blackwell as an author a 9. I can’t wait to read more books by her!


*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tiffany

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman


Best friends Annie and Sarah need cash—fast. Sarah, a beautiful, successful lawyer, wants nothing more than to have a baby. But balancing IVF treatments with a grueling eighty-hour workweek is no walk in the park. Meanwhile, Annie, a Harvard-grad chemist recently transplanted to Southern California, is cutting coupons to afford her young autistic son’s expensive therapy.

Desperate, the two friends come up with a brilliant plan: they’ll combine Sarah’s looks and Annie’s brains to sell a “luxury” antiaging face cream to the wealthy, fading beauties in Annie’s La Jolla book club. The scheme seems innocent enough, until Annie decides to add a special—and oh-so-illegal—ingredient that could bring their whole operation crashing to the ground.




What is a girl to do when she cannot move to ritzy La Jolla and does not have any friends?  Join a book club, of course!  And when she needs money to send her son to therapy, what can she do?  Team up with her brilliant lawyer friend and sell the rich, vain women of La Jolla something they cannot live without.

            In Crimes Against a Book Club, Kathy Cooperman introduces us to Annie.  The new transplant to California wants to fit in, but her job as a chemist does not exactly qualify her to be at the center of the social scene.  Enter her best friend, Sarah.  With her beautiful face and brilliant way with people, Sarah has a way of schmoozing with anyone.  When Sarah decides to try another round of IVF and Annie needs to send her son to therapy, the two friends concoct a scheme to sell high priced face cream to the La Jolla women in their book club.  But in order for them to make the kind of money that they need, this cream cannot just be a mixture of ordinary products.  It has to ensure repeat customers.  With the addition of one little illegal ingredient, will Sarah and Annie be able to get the money they need or will they be put into legal jeopardy?

            Crimes Against a Book Club is a lighthearted look at the social scene in wealthy enclaves.  The book club women follow the stock character model for the most part (trophy wife, plastic surgery addict, etc.), and their problems do not seem to reach beyond the occasional affair or money woes.  I needed to write the character’s names down to keep them straight, but I must admit that some of them were quite humorous.  I particularly enjoyed the references to books that the characters had read that came in little snippets at the beginnings of the chapters.

            The problems of the main characters were treated lightly, but not dismissively.  Seeing what Annie and Sarah went through to help their families was touching, and it reminded me that often, women do things out of the box in order to help their families.

            My biggest complaint about Crimes Against a Book Club was the way that it ended.  The ending was rushed and did not seem very realistic.  I wish that it had been given more time to develop and that the solution was more in keeping with the rest of the story.   Light, funny, and fun, Crimes Against a Book Club was enjoyable reading, and I look forward to more from Kathy Cooperman.



*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Mirror Sisters (The Mirror Sisters #1) by V.C. Andrews


Alike in every single way.... with one dark exception.

As identical twins, their mother insists that everything about them be identical: their clothes, their toys, their friends . . . the number of letters in their names, Haylee Blossom Fitzgerald and Kaylee Blossom Fitzgerald. If one gets a hug, the other must too. If one gets punished, the other must be too.

Homeschooled at an early age, when the girls attend a real high school they find little ways to highlight the differences between them. But when Haylee runs headfirst into the dating scene, both sisters are thrust into a world their mother never prepared them for—causing one twin to pursue the ultimate independence. The one difference between the two girls may spell the difference between life... and a fate worse than death.

Written with the taboo-breaking, gothic atmosphere that V.C. Andrews is loved for, The Mirror Sisters is the latest in her long line of spellbinding novels about mysterious families and tormented love.




In true V.C. Andrews style, Mirror Sisters is fantastically dark and a tad bit creepy. The writing is top notch and definitely draws you deep into this disturbing story. Haylee and Kaylee are identical twin sisters and although their mother loves them dearly she is obsessed with everything being entirely equal for them. If one does something wrong both girls get punished. She even believes that they must even think the same thoughts at the same times. She openly expresses thinking of them both as halves to the same person and together as her perfect daughter.... singular. 

The girls learn pretty early on what their mother expects of them and try desperately to please her by always being the same and equal in all things. Even as it drives a wedge between their mother and father. The problem with this is that one of the girls has much darker thoughts and motives than the other. Most of the book is establishing the extremes of their home life and starts to have clues into the one sisters darker nature. 

The story was a bit repetitive at times but I was too invested in the overall plot to worry about that. Although it is hinted that something goes terribly wrong I was still amazed at just how far things got at the end of the book. That cliff hanger is just too much! I absolutely have to read the next book to find out what is to come of this horrible situation. 



*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April K.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle (Spotlight & Giveaway)


My name is Calvin Sinclair, I'm eleven years old and I have a confession… ...I killed my brother.


It's the summer before grade six and Calvin Sinclair is bored to tears. He’s recently moved from a big city to a small town and there's nothing to do. It’s hot, he has no friends and the only kid around is his six-year-old brother, Sammy, who can barely throw a basketball as high as the hoop. Cal occupies his time by getting his brother to do almost anything: from collecting ants to doing Calvin’s chores. And Sammy is all too eager - as long as it means getting a "Level" and moving one step closer to his brother's Eagle status.

When Calvin meets Aleta Alvarado, a new girl who shares his love for Goosebumps books and adventure, Sammy is pushed aside. Cal feels guilty but not enough to change. At least not until a diagnosis makes things at home start falling apart and he's left wondering whether Sammy will ever complete his own journey...

From Ant To Eagle. 



Praise:
"An honest portrayal of love, loss, and friendship in the face of a life-changing journey." — School Library Journal


"Lyttle’s debut is an uncommonly honest examination of mortality and the ways in which growing up complicates sibling relationships. ... Lyttle delicately tackles the subjects of grief and death, trusting middle-grade readers with a sophisticated story that includes notes of humor. A moving and ultimately hopeful book." — Booklist



"Lyttle's voice for Cal is appealingly direct and articulate ... and his account of his struggle to cope will appeal to readers. Tender, direct, and honest." — Kirkus Reviews

Purchase at Amazon HERE

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Excerpt:
My name is Calvin Sinclair, I’m eleven years old, and this is a story about my brother.


I wanted to start at the beginning—the day Sammy was born—but I can’t remember the day he was born and anyway, I can’t start there.
There’s only one place I can.



Last summer.



Before the Ontario heat began to smolder, before the corn was much higher than my shoulders, before I’d ever met a girl named Aleta Alvarado.



Before everything fell apart.



Let me get two things straight before I begin:



First—I loved my brother. I loved him more than I knew and more than I knew how to show. Sure, I picked on him, manipulated him, excluded him, neglected him, but deep down, I loved him. It’s hard to explain so I’ll just leave it at that.



Second—and this is the hardest part to write, but it needs to be said.



I’m the one who killed Sammy.

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Alex Lyttle is a pediatrician living in Calgary, Alberta with his wife and three children. He was raised in London, Ontario – the setting of his first novel, From Ant to Eagle, which he wrote based on his experiences working in the Pediatric Oncology unit. When he is not working, writing or playing basketball, he enjoys learning new magic tricks to perform for his young patients. 

http://alexlyttle.com/

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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Moral Defense (Samantha Brinkman #2) by Marcia Clark


For defense attorney Samantha Brinkman, it’s not about guilt or innocence—it’s about making sure her clients walk. But the case of Cassie Sonnenberg touches a raw nerve in Sam that makes it painfully personal.

A savage attack in a suburban home has left a father and son fatally stabbed, and a mother clinging to life. And Cassie, the family’s adopted teenage daughter, is accused of the bloody crime. It’s a tabloid-ready case that has the nation in an uproar—and Sam facing her biggest challenge. But when she learns the murders were sparked by years of sexual abuse, she doubles down to get Cassie exonerated.

Yet, even as Sam probes the secret past of a seemingly happy family, the dark memories of her own tormented life threaten to consume her. And as Cassie’s story keeps twisting at every turn, in troubling new directions, Sam must fight all the harder to separate dangerous lies from the terrifying truth. 




Samantha Brinkman is a defense attorney, and this is good news for Cassie Sonnenberg.  Cassie is desperate need of help when she is accused of murdering her adoptive father and brother and nearly killing her mother as well.  In Moral Defense, by Marcia Clark, Samantha seeks to find the truth behind the murders and to clear up some of the other cases that could get her killed.

            Though I did not read the first book in this series, picking up characters was no problem.  Samantha Brinkman runs an office with her investigator, Alex, and her assistant, Michelle.  Samantha is asked by a friend to be Cassie’s legal advocate.  When incriminating evidence is found that implicates Cassie, Samantha tries to understand her client and to get her off the hook.  In addition, because of her morally ambiguous choices, Samantha has to try to find a way to procure some drugs or cash to make a long-standing problem go away.  Add a container full of immigrants to the mix of problems (along with some gang members), and Samantha has her hands full.

            Samantha is not an entirely likable character, and she has made some questionable decisions.  Thanks to Clark’s experience with the justice system, these problems feel logical and believable.  Most of the characters in the book are a mix of bad and good, and this makes the book quite readable.  Samantha is not above bending the rules a bit, and this makes her a more complex and interesting character.  While I am not usually a fan of police procedurals/legal thrillers, I found myself wanting to read this book and turning the pages quite quickly.

            Easy to read and exciting, Moral Defense is the perfect way to immerse yourself in a who-done-it (or how-they-did-it) novel.



*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina

Monday, March 20, 2017

Patch Town: Up From The Ashes by Robert Parlante

Someone is trying to harm Martin Gilmore. First a white jalopy with a missing tailgate tries to run him down. He encounters road rage involving a dark blue van. Then an oversized black truck stalks him for the final kill. As Martin follows clues leading to the suspected killer, he receives startling news. His young daughter Ruthie faces a diagnosis of breast cancer. Martin’s world collapses, having lost his wife three years earlier to cancer. And now will Ruthie face a similar nightmare? Employed by a real estate development company, Martin is drawn into a web of corporate deceit as Ruthie’s illness overwhelms him, and the killer zeroes in on him. Martin must confront hard choices: be a supportive dad to Ruthie, try to live as an ethical believer, and deal with his feelings for his friend Linda. In the end, Martin faces an inferno of hatred where his life hangs in balance and his trust in God is challenged.


Patch Town: Up From the Ashes is the second book in a series, but it's the first in the series I read. It reads as a standalone novel and at only one hundred and five pages, a relatively quick read.  Martin has had his share of troubles. He had troubles growing up, then he lost his wife to breast cancer. He's now trying to get his life together, going to church, talking to God and doing the right thing.  However, the past has a way of catching up.

Someone is trying to kill him. He's nearly been hit by a speeding vehicle several times, and it's never the same vehicle. It happens so fast that he can't see who is behind the wheel.  Not only is this bearing heavily upon his mind, but he's not sure how the relationship with his friend Linda is going.  He thinks he is ready to move things to the next level but he's still unsure. And to make matters even worse, one of his worst nightmares is rising. His daughter Ruth may have breast cancer; the same cancer that took his wife.  Martin will need to get on his knees and put all of his faith into God if he hopes to get himself and Ruth out of their current predictaments alive or have peace with the results.

A quick read that has elements of suspense, family dynamics and a splash of romance mesh together into a solid and sharp read.  Parlante's talent with words draws vivid images in the reader's mind that really bring it all together.  Solid writing and a great novel.



*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Wendy