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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Child Finder By Rene Denfeld

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Child Finder', A Novel by Rene Denfeld. 

Children are some of the most vulnerable human beings. They often go missing or disappear without a trace. Some are found, and many are not, creating loss and turmoil in homes and families that change the core pattern of their lives. In The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld, we meet Naomi, a young woman known as the child finder.

She has no past she can fully remember, but she knows that she must never give up on finding those who are lost. She is methodical, and strangely knowing of how to move forward. She is often the last hope of those to have come close to giving up.

Madison Culver disappeared three years ago when her parents were in the wilderness looking for a Christmas tree. She was there, and then she wasn’t. Naomi learns that Madison would have been eight years old now, and is relentless in her pursuit of answers.

In a strange dilapidated old cabin, deep in the wilderness we also meet Snow Girl, a child transformed by the weather, and captured by a deaf-mute trapper in the woods. She is sure of herself, yet understands that her safety is tied to making sure the man who made her out of snow remains trusting and sure of her as she as she finds her own way. Snow Girl is smart and resourceful, writing fairy tales to keep herself occupied.

Is she the missing child, and if so, can the child finder track her down? Will their worlds collide and bring about the safety and release of both? Naomi has her own past, one that drives her to look, a dream that keeps her moving to find those missing. And who is the trapper that no one really seems to know?

Denfeld brings us a tale of growth and loss, one of danger and stress. She tells the story from both sides, alternating between different character’s voices as the drama unfolds. The story takes you forward on a fast-paced search and recovery, one that keeps you turning the pages. Imminent danger is palpable, keeping you reading, while the mystery is deep and full of angst and loneliness. Danger and urgency are the prevailing worries.

If you enjoy mystery, romance, danger and some darkness you will love this story. This work takes you on a journey and keeps you turning the pages until the truth comes out. The characters will stay with you a long time.

The Child Finder would be a great work for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of information to discuss and debate.

Rating 5/5

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: The Half-Drowned King,' An Epic Novel by Linnea Hartsuyker.

War and salvage have long been in the world. The days of these tales live on in songs and novels as well as history. In The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker, we are taken into the past as it pertains to the areas of Norway and its surroundings.

We are taken on an epic tale of danger, growth, romance and tragedy as we travel into a past full of Vikings and warriors, as they determine who will oversee the land and how it will affect them all. We follow Ragnvald, the son of a murdered king, and his sister Svanhild as they strike out each on their own to find their way, with each wanting nothing more than their birthright. While Ragnvald seeks fame and glory as well as revenge, Svanhild would like nothing more than to be loved.

Ragnvald has seen a vision of a Golden Wolf, and is determined to make that vison come to pass. He is still both hurt and angered by an incident where his own murder was sought by his stepfather as well as that of a neighboring King. That King’s son, Solvi, was tasked with the murder, and while he tried, he failed. Ragnvald cannot forget. Unbeknownst initially of this betrayal, his sister Svanhild meets and falls in love with Solvi.

When Ragnvald is away, preparing an army for war, Svanhild is taken and wed to Solvi. This is something the Ragnvald cannot allow, and he vows to kill Solvi, and take back his sister. How can revenge trump love, and how can there be any ending to such a task except further tragedy.

Hartsuyker takes us into a world of danger, secrecy, revenge, and glory, as well as savagery and romance. Her characters are amazingly likable with both their own faults and shortcomings as well as a solid dose of common sense. You are drawn to both sister and brother as their paths appear to merge, and you feel a hurtful tension knowing that both are in pain, and yet each has their own idea of what will set it right. In a world so set by visions of glory and revenge, who will prevail? This is a great epic tale that will play on for some time and you will be enthralled by the nuances.

If you enjoy history, epic tales of glory, romance, tales of courage, revenge and war you will find this to be a great read. Be ready to be drawn in and begin rooting for those you feel are in the right, which will be different for each reader.

You will enjoy this work of fiction that draws from bits and parts of history, tales, imagination and superstitions.

Rating 3/5

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer on East End: Double Eclipse by Melissa De La Cruz

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: In Summer on the East End: Double Eclipse,' A Young Adult Novel by Melissa De La Cruz.

The Witches of East End” series keeps growing with the introduction of twin witches, Mardi and Molly Overbrook. In Summer on the East End: Double Eclipse by Melissa De La Cruz, we are introduced to this new duo, as they begin their vacation in the home of their Aunt Ingrid. With their father being Thor, the god of Thunder, they have a great deal of responsibility to just staying out of trouble.

Trouble though has a penchant of following those who live among the gods and goddesses, and they are no different. When they learn a secret from their past, they begin to question everything they know about their family. Along with the secret also comes a strong and mysterious prophecy, one that seems to drag them deeper than imagined into both the past and future.

Mardi’s boyfriend Tyr, is the god of war, while Molly is still on her own. Yet things begin to change as danger begins to follow them, putting both themselves and their family at risk. Then a hot new guy comes to town and suddenly everything heats up even further, as both girls find they will need to use their magic as danger mounts, putting them and all they love at risk.

The vacation finds them back to their mischievous ways, and takes them in directions they never imagined.

De La Cruz stirs up the imagination with her newest work on the Witches of East End and her new and emerging young witches. She builds a story of romance, suspense and danger, setting a sizzle to the atmosphere.

Her characters are very likable, each with distinct personalities, and feelings. As with most twins they squabble and fight but allow no one to stand between them. This is a great addition to her series and another terrific read for your young adult.

If you are looking for the right book for your young reader, or if you enjoy a romantic work with danger and fun attached this is just the right book for your library. De La Cruz gives us another solid hit for her Witches of East End cast and ensemble.

Rating 4/5