Friday, February 5, 2016

Flamecaster, A Shattered Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review; ' Flamecaster,' a Shattered Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima.

In Flamecaster, A Shattered Realms Novel by Cinda Williams Chima,she introduces us to a young and powerful healer with a gift of magic named Ash. Son of the queen, he is forced into hiding after a series of murders. He is ready for revenge and is close to the man he searches for, the King of Arden.  He is not sure if he can use his healing powers for vengeance.

While he is planning his move, Jenna Bandelow, a spy, is also planning to strike against the king. She carries a mysterious mage-mark on the back of her neck that will make her a target. She believes that it is only a tale until she becomes hunted by the King’s guard. Unwilling to become a pawn she decides to put an end to the King in her own way.

Ash and Jenna come together in a strange twist as dark magic begins to makes its own mark in the world. With both having more to hide then imagined, can they survive the threats leveled against them? Will their differences hinder them or will it bring them together in ways that will help them grow?

Chima has given us a fierce pair of young people who have grown up way to soon. Their magic’s make them targets, and they both hunt the same man. She takes us into a world of beauty and chaos and litters it with both magic and powers. She delivers on the protagonists as well as the victims in ways that keep you enthralled.

If you have a youngster who loves to read this is a great work of fantasy. For the young at heart you will find your own magic all over again between the pages. The plots and ploys will keep you spellbound and you will find this work hard to dismiss once you have finished. This is a great work for your library, one you can read over and again.

Rating 5/5

Friday, January 29, 2016

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand

Posted first to bloc critics as Book Review:'Happy People Read and Drink Coffee,'A Novel of Hope by Agnes Martin-Lugand.

In Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand, we are introduced Dianne, a young woman who has lived a wonderful life. She is married to the love of her life, has a delightful young child, and owns a charming literary café in Paris. In the blink of a moment everything changes when her husband and child are killed in a car accident.

Suddenly everything has lost all meaning, and depression becomes her norm. Both her parents and best friend continue to keep after her to go back to work, and try to move on. For her there is no way to put the past behind her, and she is done with being pushed when she is not ready. She knows she will never be ready, and decides on a whim to leave her home and head to the Irish coast, a place her husband had always wanted to visit. The objections of those closest to her make no difference for she has made up her mind. She is determined to heal in her own way, and rebuild her life on her own terms.

Here she meets an abrasive and angry photographer who dislikes her from the beginning. She has no idea why he is so set against her, but she really doesn’t care. She will not be bullied by the likes of him or anyone else. Yet as they are thrown together they find they have more in common and as the days stretch on, Dianne realizes that she has fallen for him. Romance is re-kindled for both, but it is time for Diane to return home and pick up her life. Will the romance be enough to sustain them?

This is a powerful story of love and loss and how life moves forward often of its own accord. Both tearful and uplifting this is a exquisite story of re-growth and renewal after tragedy. Lugand takes you into a tragedy and makes you feel the pain. She then give you romance and hope which makes this work one of believing that love brings its own healing, and memory of love past doesn’t need to destroy but can  help to build a bridge to that future.

If you enjoy romance and growth you will find this an uplifting story beginning with tragedy and yet moving beyond, finding a way to love and trust again. A story of finding yourself when it seems that all is gone.

This would be a great work for a reading or discussion group.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Ex by Alafair Burke

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Ex', a Mystery by Alafair Burke.

In The Ex by Alafair Burke, we are taken on a journey where both the past and present collide in the arrest of a Widower, Jack Harris, for a murder he claims he did not do. His past relationship with the first love of his life is soon to become his lifeline to reality as he begins a fight for both sanity and freedom. Having lost his beloved wife three years previous, he has finally thought to begin again. That is when his life again begins to unravel.

His only help is with the woman who first broke his heart, Olivia, one of the city’s best criminal defense attorneys. Yet can he convince her of his innocence? The circumstances surrounding the murder point directly to him as the killer.

Olivia wants to be there for him, she believes she knows him well, but time could have changed him, and the death of his wife may have been a catalyst that sent him over the edge. One of those killed in the shooting is a part of a lawsuit that involves the death of his wife, and she has some doubts.

She finally decides she is will to representing his as a way to make up for her own past with him and her own guilt in feeling somewhat responsible for his state of mind.  But what she finds is that not everything is as clear as it should be, and she may not have known him as well as she thought.

Can she help him without getting caught up in her own past and lay her own demons and doubts aside. She refuses to believe his guilt, but what if she is wrong.

Burke takes us into the lives of everyday people and sprinkles both doubt and belief, alternating between both past and present to bring us a story of hurt and anger, as well as love. Her characters are full of both flaws and mistakes, making them very likable, and drawing your involvement.  She weaves both past and present together in such a way that you feel as though you have always known the characters and even understand the motivations.

If you enjoy mystery and investigation you will find this to be a great work. If you are looking for a book to curl up with that keeps you entertained then you have found it. Burke has done another great job of bringing her characters to life.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The God's Eye View by Barry Eisler

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: The God's Eye View,' A Political Conspiracy Thriller by Barry Eisler.

A conspiracy of sinister and dangerous proportions will keep you riveted when reading The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler. NSA director Theodore Anders is convinced the only way to keep America safe is to monitor and surveil every email, phone call, and internet connection. Our safety is his utmost concern.

His personal assistant Evelyn doesn’t care about any of that, she is just learning a few things that are not entirely comfortable and only wants to continue working in order to take care of her deaf son. Initially she is open and direct in her communication with her boss, but she now feels a bit of fear, without quite understanding why.

He leads her on, knowing that at some point she may become a liability. For now though she keeps his office running efficiently.

Things change and become even more terror filled when Evelyn finds evidence of a NSA program that is code named Gods Eye View. With this discovery she also finds out about the mysterious deaths of a few journalists. As her job takes her deeper into jeopardy she is unsure where to turn, as now she feels danger creeping into her own life.

As time ticks away and the possibility of whistle blowers finding more information she is dragged further into the dangerous world of political mayhem. Is the giant deaf man who befriends her son a friend or foe? Can she find out before the unimaginable happens?

Eisler takes us deep into the world of politics and gives us a number of ‘what if’ scenarios.

Conspiracy and conspiracy theorists often evolve when questions remain without answers, especially in the hidden agendas of the government. Leaks such as those released by Snowden keep you on the edge of your seat, and the author’s characters drag you in. You will find it difficult to decide who are really the good guys and the bad guys. There is a psychological terror threaded throughout as you begin to dread the outcome along with his realistic characters.

If you enjoy political thrillers and conspiracies this is a must have for your library. One read through is simply not enough, you will find yourself going back for another read to catch up on all the nuances that may have been missed. Prepared to be terrified and looking over your shoulder as you catch up with The God’s Eye View.

This would be a great book for a reading and discussion group. Conspiracy invites dialogue and controversy.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Wicked Lewiston, A Sinful Century by Steven D. Branting

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Wicked Lewiston, A Sinful Century,' by Steven D. Branting.

History has a place in every area, town, city or country of the world. Historians often research so that we may learn of our past, often in an effort to help our understanding of who we are and where we have come from, as well as alerting us to what we need to change in the future in order to grow and prosper.

Things that occur in different regions often leave traces that affect far wider areas than can be imagined. In Wicked Lewiston, A Sinful Century by author and historian Steven D. Branting, we are introduced to an area in Idaho that has a past of murder and mayhem that seems incomprehensible.

From the very beginning this area that is nestled in the confluence of two great rivers has drawn a crowd. The weather is lovely, the area full of fish and game, and the winters often without the snows that strike the rest of the country. Lewiston became a city before the police force as we know it began, giving those who had a penchant for trouble room to commit crimes and allowing even questionable deaths to go un-investigated.

Branting has taken a timeline of offenses from the mid 1800's though the early 1900's depicting crimes of a nature that are disturbing even to this day. It is not even the crimes themselves that are so disturbing but their frequency that’s unbelievable. For a small area, even in the late 1800's, Lewiston was known for both crime and prostitution. Initially the capital of Idaho, it seemed to draw many of the seedier people, those looking for more than what was available in other, more structured areas.

This is an interesting tale of an era that one would think was a thing of the past. However as with most cities and areas, sometimes death only hides its presence. Branting’s time line of nefarious deeds and circumstances takes you into the minds of those whose decision to take what they feel is their due, or to take the lives of others keeps you digging to find the cause.As the city grew, so too did crime. Murder and greed consumed those whose lives touched the wrong characters. From the back alleys of Lewiston to the glamour of Washington D.C, murder and corruption became just a little too bold as even those who left the area drew the wrong sort of attention.

If you enjoy history and are also avid into real life crime and punishment, you will find this a work that would be great for your library. Branting researches the information and finds a way to make it both interesting and informative.

This would make a great work for discussion group as they discuss the growth of law and discovery in an evolving era.

Rating 4/5

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Dinner Party,' A Novel by Brenda Jonowitz.

In The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz, we are introduced to two different families coming together for the first time. The connection of their children to each other creates an occasion that both families feel can only help them. Each has differing reasons to push the relationship. The dinner party is set for the Passover Seder and will be the night the Gold's of Greenwich meet the Rothschild’s of New York.

Silvia’s youngest daughter has recently begun dating and Silvia is beside herself with joy. The invite to the new boyfriend is customary but when she finds out his parents will also attend she knows that the first impression is the best one. Her life becomes consumed in making the party one that will be the stuff of legends. Yet she has other concerns. What does she do with the inappropriate boyfriend of her other daughter Sarah, as well as his Italian mother? Despite all her hard work, the food the wine, the linen and the potential drama, she understands that holidays are really about family.

Can she release her inner grievances and find a way to allow her family to live their own lives. As each family works at making the moment function, can they allow the demons that invade their lives to be set aside and create the atmosphere necessary for such a momentous occasion.

Janowitz does an amazing job of bringing us the need and misunderstandings between differing families and their interactions. She develops her characterization so that you can relate to many of the difficulties, and it draws you into the inner workings of the drama being played out. You are drawn to her characters and their flaws just as a moth to a flame. There is tenderness beneath the actions that are drawn out, and connections that are not expected, but suddenly become real.

If you enjoy literary drama and stories of people with differing agendas you will find this a wonderful fit for your library. The characteristics and flaws are so real and the concern and agenda twisted beneath the surface stay with you. Janowitz brings us a poignant story of love and family that is different than the norm.

Rating 4/5

Thursday, December 17, 2015

North of Here by Laurel Saville

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'North of Here,' A Novel by Laurel Saville.

In the blink of an eye tragedy can end all that seems important. In North of Here by Laurel Saville, we meet Miranda who grew up in privilege, but sheltered as well. At the death of her beloved father she finds herself at a loss. In her need she is drawn to their handyman, ready to cling to something familiar. Dix is kind and dependable, but understands that need is not the same as love.

Nevertheless, he finds himself falling for her, knowing that what they have can either bring happiness of further despair. He is willing to be there but finds that her need is much deeper then he suspected. When a man from her distant past shows up, he offers her a chance to do meaningful work at a secluded property with a similar group of his followers. Darius is an idealist, and very charismatic. She feels that he has the key to helping her re-make her life. His draw is powerful and she ends up leaving Dix to move to the compound and become someone else.

Dix, in his grief does not understand, and while her tries in a variety of ways to win her back, his persistence only pushes her further. Darius uses his persuasion to convince her that Dix only wants to control her, and she doesn’t realize that Darius is the actual controller.

Saville does a great job at getting into the psyche of her characters and bringing out the pain and sadness, as well as the confusion. She gives us a story of hope and redemption that doesn’t seem to have an answer. Both hope and redemption descend into tragedy taking you on a journey of despair.In her desperation to find herself, both Miranda and Dix pay a price that neither of them ever imagined.

If you enjoy literary fiction, this is a great work. This would be a solid book for your library. This would also be a great book for a reading and discussion group, a great deal of contradictions and questions that would be eminently discussable.

Rating 3/5