Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Copenhagen Affair by Amulya Malladi

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Copenhagen Affair,' A Book of Romance and Intrigue by Amulya Malladi.

Feelings and emotions often determine our course of direction. They determine our mood and the way we react around others. Emotional baggage is often the culprit, and the feelings often come with depression, sadness, and anxiety. In The Copenhagen Affair by Amulya Malladi, we meet Sanya, a woman who feels lost and alone. After experiencing an emotional breakdown at her place of work, she no longer understands her role.

Married to Harry for over 20 years, Sanya is not surprised when after one of their therapy sessions, he decides a change of pace will help her. His company is sending him to Copenhagen for work and he feels it will be just the thing to revive her. Harry is positive a new location is just the thing to bring her out of her doldrums. He has to temporarily relocate there to close a deal for his company, and Copenhagen's beauty and generosity are rumored as unsurpassed.

Sanya finds herself on her own once they reach Copenhagen. The beauty of the city mesmerizes her, but it is the meeting with Anders Ravn, that holds her attention. Although she initially does not know it, he is the owner of the company her husband is trying to acquire. Rugged, with a scar on his face, he intrigues her, and she struggles to get him out of her mind. Yet, he too seems just a bit smitten and she runs into him often through her travels. When she finds that her husband Harry has an affair, she no longer feels that she needs to hold her feelings in check. But there is more, there are allegations of crime in Anders’ business, tensions are heightened, and danger beckons.

Sanya finally begins to move through her breakdown, finding her way though her nightmare of fear and feelings. Yet how will it all end?  Can she emerge from her crisis whole, once more the woman she was? How will the danger surrounding both the men in her life affect her new-found strength?

Malladi takes us through a relationship full of pain and pitfalls. Her characters are likable, and her description of the beauties of Copenhagen make you feel as if you are there as well.

If you enjoy mysteries, romance and intrigue, you will find this an enjoyable book for your library. It is an easy read and will keep you interested as you follow the red herrings for the answers.

Rating 3.5 /5

Monday, January 22, 2018

Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Between Me and You,' a Novel by Allison Winn Scotch.

As life moves forward, we all evolve in differing directions. Often, relationships continue to work, but at other times lives also move apart.  In Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch, we follow the lives of a young couple that are much in love. When they first meet, Ben Livingston is an up-and-coming screen writer. Tatum Connelly is trying to make her way as an actress. Both very difficult situations. Marrying and having a child seems like the cement that will hold, but will it?

As Ben continues his career, he begins to make a name for himself. But as the years move forward, Tatum is discovered and soon her star is rising. Her rise though, co-insides with Ben’s screen writing failures. Suddenly life is not as it once was. Rumors, hurt, and distances between them begin an overwhelming gulf of distrust and hurt.

Remembering their past and the love they shared, can they find a way to bridge the hurt and anger that is pulling their family apart?

Scotch does an amazing job of creating a scenario where it is easy to see how people split up. We often read about it in the papers, and even in differing jobs, it occurs. Using jobs of power and prestige, the tale is much of what we often read in tabloids, both tantalizing and yet sad. We read and wonder, yet always hope it will never happen to us.

Her characters are both, great people, trying to find a way to make their lives together work, but often making mistakes due to the lack of communication and contact. This only makes the situation more volatile. Each character narrates their own feelings and insights, making it a provoking story of angst, anger and yet love.

If you are fond of drama and growth, with both romance, family and the glitter of movies and screen, you will find this to be a delightful book to keep you entertained. You become so engrossed in the reading it is difficult to put down.

This would be a clever work for a reading or discussion group. The dialogue it would create could start some very good debate.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties by Camille Pagan

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties by Camille Pagan.

As we age we sometimes lose sight of who we once were. In Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties by Camille Pagan, we follow the life of Maggie Harris. In doing so, we are taken into a journey that happens to many.

Maggie is now 53 with a happy marriage and two grown children. She finds herself anxious about many things but the one sure thing in her life has always been her children and her marriage. When her husband suddenly leaves her for another woman, even that surety walks out the door.

Now Maggie suddenly realizes that she has lost track of life and hardly recognizes the woman she has become. Years of putting her husband and children first, the person she last remembers as herself seems to have been lost once she moved past her thirties.  Can she find that woman again and rebound from the hurt and anxiety that now absorb her?

Pagan does a wonderful job of bringing us a character that is so believable you feel like you know her. You can relate to many of her problems and concerns, as well as understand just how easy it is for some to find themselves in the same situation. With her usual precision, Pagan breaks down the barriers of thought and how we can find the strength that is within everyone of us.

Every day these same circumstances seem to happen, which makes you feel more involved in some way. Like you have more at stake. Often to move forward we must take stock of our past and our own decisions.

If you enjoy family drama and stories of growth you will find this a terrific addition to your library. Tie in drama and romance and this will also intrigue those more interested in finding a silver lining.

This would be an enjoyable book for a reading for discussion group with a great deal of ideas for dialogue.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Address by Fiona Davis

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Address,' A Novel by Fiona Davis.

In The Address by Fiona Davis, the opportunity to move to, and work in New York City at the Dakota, a newly built apartment for the wealthy is too wonderful to resist. Sara Smythe comes to the attention of the architect, Theodore Camden in the most unlikely of ways. She saves one of his three children to the gratification of both he and his wife. To be a female manager in 1884 was certainly an unheard-of feat, yet such an opportunity would build her life, and put her closer to Theo, the man who changed that life.

One hundred years later we meet Bailey Camden, She has been stripped of everything, a former interior designer, drugs became her way of life. Rehab has brought her back but now she must rely on others to help her through. Homeless and without any prospects she must lean on her cousin Melinda. She is the biological great granddaughter of Theodore Camden. Melinda is set to inherit the Camden fortune which includes the Dakota. Melinda allows Bailey to oversee the renovation of her apartment, the very apartment where Theodore himself resided.

Agreeing to the task, Bailey is nevertheless distressed by the thought of changing the character and history of such a wonderful building. This is the room where Theodore Camden resided after being stabbed by a former employee, Sara Smythe. Sara was later found guilty and put in an insane asylum.
As Bailey begins her work, little does she realize that her life will turn upside down one more time. There is a secret that others are willing to do anything to keep it from getting out. The tension builds as she begins to decipher the clues to the mystery of the past.

Davis takes you deep into the past and gives us a story of courage, bravery, love and revenge. But loss is also included, with a touch of grief that permeates the narrative. Her characters are very real, and the situation builds suddenly, dragging you in deeply, and forcing you to choose sides. Davis gives us the beauty and wonder of the time. Yet there is also a danger and darkness, willing to create chaos.

You are taken into the wonder of New York in the past, and treated to the beauties the helped to make it the city it has become. The unfolding narrative becomes just one of the stories that are scattered throughout the history of the city, but one that holds both hope and danger, keeping you reading deep into the night.

If you enjoy history, mystery, familial interactions and family tree distinctions, you will find this work to be full of all. This work will keep you reading, working to find the mystery and horrified to see how life can often change in just an instant. 

Rating 3/5

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire

Yet, one day Lucy doesn’t come home. Days later her body is found deep in the woods. The initial pain of the loss brings Will and Sophie together, but Will is angry. He cannot get past the anger and rage of someone taking their daughter. Sophie finds her own way to deal, by getting involved in finding lost children and bringing them home.

They no longer communicate, and the anger only builds. Still, their marriage is not at a crisis point, one that Will does not want. But he is unable to move on.

When Sophie takes a break, and goes to the beach with a friend for the summer, Will suddenly understands that he is driving a wedge between them. Yet, he cannot control the rage that runs through him.

When Father Gervase asks him to paint portraits of the saints for a new cathedral, he is not interested. Yet Father Gervase is insistent. Slowly Will finds interest in the project, and as he chooses those who hold the look of pain, he finds a way to make them shine with saintliness. Unknowingly, his project will take him to places and to meet people that he cannot have imagined.

One of his models possesses something of Lucy’s that she would never part with. Will is incensed, wanting to act before speaking. Yet he finds that there is no guilt in this young student. Little does he know that the evil is lurking very close and that his questions and curiosity which have taken over some of the rage, is bringing the evil to light. Will he find the answer before one of Lucy’s best friends dies?

LeClaire has given us darkness, and evil, but finds a way to grace though the light of love. Her characters are your neighbors and friends, and the circumstances they experience happen all too often. She creates fierce, independent thinkers, and finds a way to tie in the events that shape them all. You grow to know and enjoy the individuals, and begin to understand their pain.

If you enjoy stories of people threaded with suspense and danger, you will find this The Halo Effect fits the criteria. The beauty of the paintings and the interaction with the priest ads a glow of greatness to a darkened soul. The story is dark and yet a twist of lightness shines through giving you hope for those involved.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club, with lots of interesting thought for debate.

Rating 4/5

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tips for Living by Renee Shafransky

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: ' Tips for Living', A Murder Mystery by Renee Shafransky.

In Tips for Living, by Renee Shafransky, we meet Nora, a woman who had the perfect life until the truth came through. Finding out that her husband had an affair was not the worst of it. The fact that he made another woman pregnant, that was the breaking point.

To help rebuild her life and confidence she moves to a small resort town some distance from her previous home in New York City. Here she begins to pick up the shattered pieces of betrayal and hurt. She still understands that all will take time, and that she must get beyond her past. She finds a new job and works to make a name for herself in this new home.

Suddenly the past comes crashing through. Her ex-husband and his new family have bought a home in her new town. Not only that but the new wife has joined her yoga group, and she is now in closer proximity than is comfortable. As her life again begins to swirl downward, a murder occurs that shatters her resolve in such a way that her life once again falls apart.

Who killed her ex-husband and his wife and why does she have no memory of the night it happened? Where did the injuries on her hand and arms come from and why can’t she understand her memory loss?

Trying to hold herself together she becomes a suspect in a crime she is sure she did not commit. Asking questions, she puts herself in the cross-hairs of one who will kill to keep a secret from coming out.

Can she help to find the answers to both the murders and her memory before she becomes a casualty as well? The secrets are layered in piles that hide them among the twigs of truth. Can she free herself from betrayal once again, and help solve the brutal murder of her ex-husband and his wife?

Shafransky does a wonderful job of creating scenarios that create questions and her characters are so real you would believe you know them. Her characterization of them brings you to some that remind you of those you know in your own circles. The realism is quite well done.

If you enjoy murder mysteries and crime stories you will find this a great addition to your library. The work is fast paced and keeps you digging for the truth.

This would be a great work for a reading group or book club with many avenues of discussion.

Rating 3/5

Friday, October 27, 2017

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Reviews: 'When We Were Worthy, ' A Novel by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

Tragedy and secrecy often come together, whether for good or bad. Ignorance is not always bliss as deep-seated secrets only delay healing. In When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen we are introduced to a small Georgia town and its inhabitants.

The school plays a big part in the lives of those who live there, and sports are the glue that holds it together. So, on the night of a big win, everyone is horrified when three girls from the cheerleading squad are killed in a collision. The boy who had been driving the vehicle that struck their car, is held responsible for their deaths.

There is a very big question revolving around why, Leah, the forth cheerleader was not with them. As rumors and grief threaten to overwhelm the families of all involved, secrets begin to leak to the surface. As parents such as Marglyn, mom to one of the cheerleaders, and Darcy, mom of the boy standing accused, at opposite sides of the spectrum, try to find answers, town members find themselves taking sides.

Why wasn’t Leah, there, she has her own secrets, and why are there now rumors swirling around Ava, a substitute teacher? How can the truth help to set free the hurt and anger threatening to tear the town apart?

Whalen has taken us into the heart of small town America and shown us both the best and the worst that can happen during tragedy. Torn from the headlines of many stories we hear on the news, this is a sad and tragic work that speaks to the damage that can occur with gossip and secrets and the lengths some will go to in an effort to hide their past.

You care about the characters and their flaws and secrets are as real as those of the people you interact with daily. It is the tragedy that creates the danger, and the secrets that someone is trying to hide that make it all so senseless.

If you enjoy drama and suspense, you will find this a great read. When We Were Worthy will enhance your library and be a great find for those who enjoy drama and emotions, taking you into the thought and feelings that often result from tragedy. Whalen also brings light to the demons of youth and helps us to understand the dangers that face our children as they try to reach their potential.

Rating 4/5