Saturday, December 31, 2016

Assassin's Creed: Heresy by Christie Golden

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Assassin's Creed: Heresy', A Historical Fiction by Christie Golden.

The history of Joan of Arc has been of interest to those who pursue knowledge in the order of Templar’s as well as the actuality of a woman noted by others to be chosen as God’s warrior. In Assassin’s Creed: Heresy by Christie Golden we are taken into the past in the most interesting of ways. A machine known as the Animus has been developed and tested to help pursue historical facts. Somewhat in the technology of virtual reality, the Animus is able to simulate the past and involve its user as one of the past figures of that history as it unrolls.

Members of the Templars, as well as the Assassins, are both interested in the outcome, but Simon Hathaway, being a member of the Templar Inner Sanctum, he is also the new Head of The Historical Research Division. He is ready to use the Animus and enter the body of his own relative, Gabriel Laxart, who fought with Joan of Arc.

Little does he know just how twisted and deep the intents and interests of both the Templars and the Assassins are in the life and death of this strange and dutiful woman. He finds himself just as fascinated with Joan the woman as he is Joan the warrior as he takes on the persona of Gabriel.

What Simon does not realize is just how deep the feelings go, and how strongly he finds himself looking at the truth. There is such a small space between truth and lies, can he reconcile his own beliefs about the who is really the heretic and who is truly the believer? And can he maintain his life as part of the inner sanctum when others may not want the truth to come out? Has his research put his own life in danger as well as that of the young woman helping him in his search for truth?


Golden gives us characters from history, and she uses both fact and fiction to bring us an in-depth and dangerous look into a world that shapes consequences in the future for those whose lineage is just is mired in heresy and truth as those from the past. In a form of history repeating itself, she adds just a touch of both glory and hatred, that makes its way though in a way that connects you, holding you spellbound.


If you enjoy mystery, historical facts and figures, technology, romance, and danger, you will find this work has it all. Mesmerizing and bold, Christie Golden leaves her mark in a twisted and dark tale of courage and truth.

Rating 5/5
Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Leaving Blythe River', A Coming of Age Novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde.


Divorce is usually just as difficult on the child or children of a union as it is on the adults. In Leaving Blythe River by Catherine Ryan Hyde, we meet Ethan Underwood, a 17-year-old who has been unable to come to terms with his parents divorce. He is small for his age and afraid of almost everything. After his parents divorce he found himself in a situation of danger that left him fearful and very quiet, feeling unable to trust most situations.

He is spending time with his father in his remote cabin in the Wilderness of Blythe River, and while unable to forgive his father for the divorce, he has tried to release his fear and anger but to no avail. When his father disappears and does not return to the cabin, Ethan notifies the rangers, who begin a search.

After some research though they are convinced that his father has left on purpose, to move on to other things, after all, that was why his parents were divorced in the first place. There was always something better, just out of reach.

Once more feeling betrayed, Ethan packs up to return home. Yet something keeps nagging at him. What if he is his fathers last chance at life? What if his father is out in the wilderness hoping and waiting for rescue and no one comes? Ethan knows that he should go home, but now he is unable to move forward.

With the help of some locals, an elderly widow, a pack guide, and a limited outdoors-man, he heads into the woods. Punishing cold and weather meet them on their journey but with the help of his new friends, he finds he learns to trust his instincts. With the punishing weather, Ethan wonders if he has set himself and his new friends up for failure and untimely death.


The decision is his, and when he finely realizes that it is his search, he turns his thoughts to what matters most. And as he continues the final phase of his search, he realizes that his discovery is about more then just finding his father, but in coming to terms with his anger and forgiving his father if he can only find him.

Hyde has given us the pain encountered in the break up of families, and the coming of age of a young man who has to find a way out of his own feeling of betrayal. The characters are an eclectic mix, and each has a strength of character that is lacking in Ethan. As they move further into danger, Ethan grows, and evolves, finding a pride he never knew existed. The dangerous and heartwarming story holds you captivated as the search winds down to the conclusion.

If you enjoy tales of courage and strength, as well as romance and friendships, you will find this is where you need to be. Hyde takes you on a steamroller ride of emotion as she fleshes out a story of redemption.


This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group. It hold a great deal of debatable material.

Rating 4/5

Monday, December 12, 2016

Mercury by Margot Livesey

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Mercury,' A Novel by Margot Livesey.

Obsession, betrayal, and jealousy set the stage for Mercury by Margot Livesey. Donald and Vivian have found a life many dream of. Donald is busy in his practice of Ophthalmology but after the children are born Don gives up his surgery, focusing instead on exams and vision correction.

He moves to the countryside with his family. One of Vivian’s passions is riding yet when her children are born, she gives up the idea of a career in riding. After moving, her friend Claudia set her up to train new riders, moving her back into the field she loves. While most of her family including Donald are not big fans of horses, she needs an outlet, and riding is her love.

Mercury, belongs to the mother of one of her worst students. Mercury is a 5-year old Thoroughbred and the owner wants to board him at Wendy Hill, Viv’s place of work. The animal had belonged to the new owner’s brother and she had no where to keep him. She agreed for Vivian to ride and keep Mercury exercised, but even from the beginning, she seemed jealous of the animal, relating some of the stories her brother told her, as he declined in health.

He worried constantly about the horse, and often felt someone was following him, and even riding the animal without permission. He began to act in secretive ways, and he changed, leaving his family to worry endlessly. For Hilary, his new owner, Mercury spelled trouble, but was also a connection to the past and the brother she loved.
Vivian could see the merits of Mercury and didn’t really believe that anyone else could make him as successful as she herself could. What began as a love of a gorgeous and talented horse, became more. She found herself constantly checking up on him, she was ignoring her other chores and the other animals she cared for began to suffer. When it was brought to her attention, she realized that she had allowed herself to become obsessed, and backed herself and her emotions down, spending more time to take care of the other horses, and work harder on training her students.

Yet somehow Mercury had gotten into her soul, and she can’t stop obsessing. Hilary and Claudia are both concerned as Vivian continues to worry. Much like Hilary’s brother she began to feel that someone was trying to harm Mercury. In her concern she decides that she must act on her own. No one else understands the danger.

As Vivian’s obsession explodes, she researches and finds a gun, for protection. Lying to her family and her friends she set traps for an intruder hoping she can she find the answers before it is too late? Why can no one understand her fears? Will she go too far in her search for truth?

Livesey takes you deep into the darkness of obsession, and gives us a glimpse of what can occur. Her characters are an eclectic mix, and as they are drawn together into a tangled group, creating friendships and relationships, not one of them sees the undercurrent of danger that will pull them in.
They each are very likable, and you find yourself wondering why there seems to be such an energy around this mysterious horse. Yet you too begin to wonder, is there truly something amiss? Will anyone’s life ever be the same?

If you enjoy mystery you will find this work remarkable. If you are interested in horses, and the interaction of people, this is a find that will satisfy your craving. But be prepared to be surprised, for Livesey takes you on a journey of twisting and winding happenings, where you begin question your own thoughts.

This would be a great book for a reading group or book club.

Rating 3/5

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Outliers,' A Novel of Suspense by Kimberly McCreight.

Every individual has differences, whether it is inherent in birth, learning though life or even just different thought processes, it is ultimately those differences that make us human.

In The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight We meet friends Wylie and Cassie. Close since childhood they communicate frequently and are always there for each other.  Wylie has not heard from Cassie since their last fight, and in true Wylie fashion she decides it is up to her to save Cassie from herself.

Cassie is missing and texts some very confusing messages to Wylie. Instead of letting her know where she is, Cassie sends clues. Confused and worried Wylie is further thrown off kilter by the presence of Jasper, an on again, off again friend of Cassie's.  Jasper says that Cassie wants him to take her to rescue her, and with all the evidence of Cassie's texts, Wylie has to turn off her gut instinct to help find Cassie and save her from whatever danger she has gotten herself into.

Yet as Wylie and Jasper are led farther into the wood of Maine, Wylie senses that something is really wrong. What is going on with Cassie, and what is she not telling them. The danger and secrecy seem palpable, and Wylie begins to fear for Cassie's life. Why is Cassie being held, and can they get to her in time to save her?

Wylie soon understands that finding Cassie isn't the real story, and that she must look into her own past to find the truths of the danger they now find themselves in. Can she trust the knowledge of what she is hearing, and can they find a way to escape with their lives. There is something about her and Cassie that make them a danger to others, and they must escape before their life is forfeit.

McCreight takes us into a strange and fascinating adventure where the differences of a certain percent of the population makes them dangerous and a threat to the others plans and ideas. She brings us characters with both flaw and strengths creating those you come to care about. The mystery involved and the danger shadowing the chase is palpable, and heady. The lack of knowledge of the true situation keeps you on the edge of your seat as the story plays out, keeping you guessing at each turn.

If you enjoy thrillers and suspense you will find this work to be one for your library. With just a touch of science, and a group of characters not afraid to deliver, you will find yourself guessing the real danger to the very end.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Sisters One, Two Three by Nancy Star

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Sisters One, Two, Three,' a Literary Novel by Nancy Star.

In Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star, we are taken into the lives of the Tangle family. An accident during a visit at Martha's Vineyard creates a secrecy the family is unable to escape. As youngsters the children were very close. Mimi, Ginger and Callie's lives changes dramatically that day on the coast when their younger brother dies in a sand tunnel.

Glory their mother begins the secrecy, separating the girls off and on, never really giving any reasons or excuses. Glory lives a life of fantasy herself, drama and acting are the things she loves and often it overshadows her family. Not long after the trauma of their brothers death, Callie too disappears from their life.  With no explanation or understanding, they move on only to soon release the thought of even having another sister.

Mimi is struggling in her own life now as an adult, and has become more of a caregiver to Glory. Her own family is unaware of the lies that remain below the surface, and her daughter is acting out her own aggression.

Life is difficult and when Glory passes away, the lies and secrets come undone with the return of Callie. After all the distances and hurt can they become a family again? The only thing holding them back is understanding the truth of what really happened that day at Martha's Vineyard.

Star has given us a story of tragedy, sadness, confusion, and redemption. The characters are a wonderful mix of people, each with differing characteristics you can find among your own friends. Glory is delightful to those around her, except her children who feel the neglect and confusion of her stories.

Mimi seems to be the most damaged from the past, and her instincts are to maintain control at all costs. This has driven a wedge in her family, but only because she has no idea of who she really is. The advent of Callie helps to solidify her life, and you are then taken back to a day that changed the lives of all the characters and why.

If you enjoy human interest, secrets, family, and endearing stories, you will find this one you need for your library. The story unfolds involving you in each step, making it difficult to put down. Star has given us an exceptional work of fiction.

This would be a great work for a reading or book group, with discussion and debate to ponder for hours.

Rating 5/5

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Between Worlds', An Interactive Novel by Skip Brittenham.

Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham takes us into an entirely new action packed and interactive work of imagination. Eden Grove seems like a sleepy town, a place to raise children and escape from the stress of larger areas. In the enter of the forest that surrounds it, an aspen grove finds it home. The trees are ancient, and have been a part of the lure of the area, once even claimed to hold a wishing tree. But as the years passed and moved on into the current time, those stories became rumors of old.

Marshall and Mayberry are teenagers, bored and restless at the inadequacy of small town living. They have heard the rumors but know that such talk is not true, yet they yearn for excitement and their chance to be a part of something larger then themselves.  When they decide on a hike into the forest, they suddenly find themselves in a place of importance. As they come to the aspen grove and continue into their hike, they find a tree that appears much older then possible, large and imperious, out of place in a way that seems odd. Wondering if somehow they have found the wishing tree, they determine to make their wishes—just in case.

Sleep overtakes them as they lay against the behemoth tree, and when they awake they find themselves in a world different then their own. Can they be the heroes they dreamed of? What they find is that such magic takes a toll, and danger is a part of this world of mythical creatures. Death is possible and they see first hand that being a hero is more work then they can imagine.  Can they make their way back home before they end up in this new world forever?

Brittenham has given us an alternate reality that is different then those that have come before. His world is full of beauty but also littered with beasts of terrible ferocity. As in most worlds there are good and bad characters, but his small deceptions make is difficult to tell between the two. His descriptions of this world are well thought out, and make you feel as though you are there.

His characters are full of curiosity and bravado, but all the same are teenagers in their old world with all the insecurities that come along with it. He is able to help you feel the connection and you experience their fear and concerns as you your are transported into this strange new world with them. Along with this work comes a free App, that can help you and your young reader view the world even closer. Full of pictures this book is a work of fun and involvement.

If you are looking for a book to entrance your young reader this would be a great find. It is full of mystery, danger, heroic adventure and is tied in with new technology as an added enhancement. This is a tale that holds your attention, and is a great read for both the young adult and the young at heart. I can't wait to see what other adventures Brittenham brings.

Rating 4/5

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sea Spell: Book Four of the WaterFire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly.

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book review: 'Sea Spell: Book Four of the Waterfire Saga," A Young Adult Novel by Jennifer Donnelly.

In Sea Spell: Book Four of the WaterFire Saga by Jennifer Donnelly we are taken back into the world begun in Deep Blue, the beginning, and while Sea Spell is the fourth installment  and a carryover, it is well written and makes sense enough to stand on its own.

Our villain Orfeo has waited for thousands of years and has finally found his descendant, Astrid. A strong and proud mermaid, she will join him in his stronghold but will he be able to persuade her to turn against all she knows and accept her birthright? He only knows that he will do what it takes to bring her into his own way of living or she will suffer the consequences.

While Astrid is struggling for her life and sanity and all she holds dear, Ava, is tracking a talisman in the swamps of the Mississippi. Being blind my be the only thing that keeps her safe in a world where the vision of the spirits that live there are death to mermaids and others that chance upon their domain. They both search for the charms that will help them to win the war.

The rest of their group are in Kargjord, with the other resistance fighters and their helpers, the goblins.

They are  preparing for war, and while Serafina is in the lead, she worries if she will ever see the one she loves again. He has put himself at risk to aid her quest. He is her eyes and ears from the inside of their enemy. With his help can they take on Volneros and save the fate of all that is at stake?  When she learns of a spy and assassin in her group, someone that will betray them at the last moment, she understands she must find the traitor at all costs. She must hold the line while her missing friends look for the talismans necessary to help them win before their world and that of all they hold dear is turned upside down and gone forever. Can she keep continue to trust those closest to her, or is one of them the assassin set to take her down?

Donnelly has built a world that is fascinating and feels almost fairy tale like, but with danger and darkness just a bit bolder than remembered in many of those stories of old. The journeys taken and the dangers visited are strong and make you feel the darkness and dread beneath.  Her characters are strong and exciting, and their friendships are solid and are the glue that binds them. Without this strength of relationship it would be difficult to move forward and the trust engendered is the most important piece of the plan. Yet what happens when trust begins to erode?

If you enjoy epic battles, danger, romance and just plain great characters you will love this work. While this work is the last of the series, you will still find it fascinating, and may want to find the first three of The WaterFire Saga. Solid entertainment for your young reader and for the adult who is young at heart, this would be a great book for both. Donnelly takes us to a fascinating world, full of characters and creatures that are very interesting and keep you reading late into the night.

Rating 5/5

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Kick: The True Story of JFK's Sister And The Heir To Chatsworth by Paula Byrne

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Kick: The True Story of JFK's sister and The Heir To Chatsworth,' a Biography by Paula Byrne.

The Kennedy's are a fascinating family and one that evokes both power and nostalgia. One of the clan that is less known but with a life you could only imagine is Kathleen Kennedy, JFK's sister, and the heir to Chatsworth. Known as Kick she is and remains a women who made her way, taking first the U.S. and then England by storm with her incredible persona.

In Kick: The True Store of JFK's Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth by Paula Byrne we ware taken into the lives once more of the dynamics and tragedies of a family that will intrigue generations to come, and who have left such and indelible mark on history.

Kick left behind a legacy in two different continents, and was beloved by her family and friends. Finding herself as much, and maybe more, at home in England, she breaks taboo with her family and marries a non Catholic. Love was everything, but Kick was also a Kennedy and proud of her background, the decision rocked her own psyche as well as that of her family back home. Little did she know the man she loved would live such a short life.

Yet we find that Kick continues in her indomitable way, and later finds a passion that even she cannot escape. The story that unfolds holds you immobile as you try to come to terms, as we have had to for so many of this famous and historical family struck by such staggering losses.

Byrne brings us an understanding of one of the lesser known characters, a woman who lived life on her own terms.  Along with this telling we are brought even closer to older brother Joe Jr., as well as the family member most like herself, JFK. There is so much beauty and thought, as well as drama and despair you will find this work very difficult to put down.

If you feel like you know all there is to know about this family, you may find this work to show you the error of your thoughts. If you are as infatuated with the family and their history, then this is a work that will be important to your library. Historical and filled with fact and events as they unfold, you will not be disappointed.

This would be a great book for a book club or reading group. The Kennedy family has always found a way to create interesting debate and discussion.

Rating 5/5

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Brain Storm: A Angela Richman, Death Investigator Novel by Elaine Viets

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Brain Storm', A Angela Richman, Death Investigator Novel by Elaine Viets.

Brain Storm by Elaine Viets is a medical and forensics thriller with a twist. Angela Richman is a Death Investigator and the person who is called in when a death occurs, one of the first there to view the scene and decipher all the clues. Her expertise makes her one of the top in her field and she is relied on to help find the truth.

When she is called in to work on a car crash that kills a teenager, she is just getting into the investigation and suddenly her own life takes a strange turn. In the middle of her investigation she suffers a bizarre series of strokes and as she is rushed to the hospital where she is initially misdiagnosed, putting her life and career at risk. Dr. Gravois is the resident neurologist who fist attends her, with his diagnosis causing further possible damage. When she is finally attended by another neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeb Travis Tritt, she is finally diagnosed correctly, but faces a long and painful recovery. The drugs she takes are strong and hinder much of her thinking, but finally there is at least the possibility of recovery.

Yet while she is under the influence of many lifesaving drugs, she is also addled and hallucinating, making her question everything she sees and hears. When Dr. Gravois is murdered, she finds out the chief suspect is the surgeon who saved her life. While she can't be sure, she just does not believe that he would kill anyone. But there are none standing for him, he is not a person who generates friends or closeness, and he has also had many serious disagreements with Dr. Gravois in the past about his work. She feels like she may be his only hope, but her brain trauma makes her question her own instincts and she is not sure she will ever recover her investigative skills. However, she knows she must take a chance, she may be the only one who can find the truth and save Dr. Tritt from death-row.

Yet even as she looks for clues, there are those who make everything she thinks and says suspect. They question her thoughts and feelings, creating doubt even in those that know her the best. Is her mind still able to offer the skill-set to find the answers to what really happened? She must find a way to trust herself and fine tune her arsenal of knowledge before it is too late. Can she get her own team to back her, and get her bosses to buy into her investigation, when they too worry about her mental status.

Viets has brought us a protagonist who goes from the top of her game, to a darkness all her own. She is unwilling to allow her own problems to stand in the way of rightness, and while she may never be back to who she was before the strokes, she is willing to put it all on the line for truth and justice. Her flaws and strength make her very human, and her belief in justice at all costs makes her a strong fighter and someone you want very much to believe in.

If you enjoy crime drama, forensics and even medical drama this work holds just enough of each to keep you riveted. Angela Richman is a great character, one we may be looking forward to in future editions.

This would be a great work for a book club, creating a great deal of discussion.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Blood On The Tracks by Barbara Nickless

Posted First to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Blood On The Tracks,' A Thriller by Barbara Nickless.

In Blood On The Tracks by Barbara Nickless, We are introduced to Special Agent Sidney Rose Parnell. She is a Railroad crimes Special Investigator, brought in to investigate the murder of a woman who appears to have died at the hands of her fiancé. He is a war vet who lived through serious injuries that scarred him enough that he is known on the rail rider circuit as the Burned Man.  As she begins her investigation she has her own history of war and memories too painful to contemplate.

Parnell and her K9 partner Clyde move into the underground world of the rail riders, those who move from place to place via the railroad. It is a world of danger and savagery, and soon she finds there may be more at work then anyone may know. Uncovering a conspiracy and other crimes that may be linked to it, she finds herself in the middle of danger that puts herself and all she believes in at risk. Can she find the real truth and exonerate a man who has already given so much for his country. His pain and anguish make him stay aloof to her help, but she must find a way to gain his trust in order to help him claim his innocence of the murder of the one woman who believed in him and looked past his surface scarring. A woman who understood him and was ready to marry him. But also a woman who knew a secret that could take down a man in power, one who was willing to risk everything to hide a deadly secret in his own past.

Could Parnell gain The Burned Man's trust and save them both from the savagery of the real truth.

Nickless has given us characters that are both repelling and yet in some cases, decent at heart. She takes us into the danger of those who have nothing and are willing to kill to stay alive, and she makes you feel the fear and desperation in a way that makes you turn on the lights and pull the curtains as you read. She brings us both the Burned Man and Special Agent Sidney Rose Parnell, two of those who have seen war and survived in their own manner. Parnell's K9 partner, Clyde, is just icing on the cake to keep you involved to the very end.

If you enjoy suspense and thrillers then you will want to find this work for your library. It is full of  the suspense that holds you on the edge of your seat, and it also provides a ribbon of bravery and hope with a host of anger and feelings that keep the intensity strong.

This would be a great work for a book club or reading group with a great deal of information that would create robust dialogue and debate.

Rating 4/5

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In The Clearing by Robert Dugoni

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'In The Clearing,' A Thriller by Robert Dugoni.

With the advent of several Television shows, cold cases, or unsolved crimes hold an interest to anyone who enjoys police shows, forensic files and all the other types of police work that is conducted in an investigative manner.

In The Clearing by Robert Dugoni we follow Detective Tracy Crosswhite, a young woman who has dedicated her career to bringing closure to families of crime.

When she is asked to look into a case from forty years previous, she is intrigued. Her father, a detective at that time, was the investigating deputy and collected what evidence he could. A Native American high school girl died and her death was ruled as suicide. Tracy's father though thought otherwise, but was unable to find the proof necessary for justice. Pulling this cold case, Tracy feels that she may have a great start, for she feels she will do well at deciphering her fathers collected evidence.

As she follows the leads and tries to stir the memories of a small town, she finds that secrets hold their own allure. Can she find the answer to the suspicious death, or will she struggle to find the truth behind all the red herrings. Can she find the truth without raising old ghosts the could very well put her own life at risk.

Dugoni has created a stirring and grisly death, locking it up to suicide, even when the evidence shows otherwise. His characters are so real, and the small town atmosphere creates just a bit of credence to the secrecy of those involved. The students and friends of the young woman who died seem reluctant, and a few are dead themselves as we are taken into the darkness of lies and secrets. There are those that will go to great lengths to keep the real story from coming to life. Tracy Crosswhite is a character who keeps you following her logic as she tries to piece her story together, and even as she stumbles,she finds a way to move on.

If you enjoy murder mysteries, thrillers, investigation, and cold cases this would be a terrific work for your library. There is just a bit of darkness and creepy tendrils of fear that run beneath the surface, keeping you looking over your shoulder as you continue your reading. Dugoni has brought us another thriller to had to your collection

This would be a great work for a reading group or book club.

Rating 4/5

Monday, August 15, 2016

Her Again, Becoming Meryl Streep by Michael Schulman

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Her Again, Becoming Meryl Streep,' a Biography by Michael Schulman.

Meryl Streep is one of the most talented actors today. Nominated for nineteen Oscars and winning three, she continues to dominate in a field of younger talent.

In Her Again, Becoming Meryl Streep by Michael Schulman we learn of Meryl's earlier years as well as the trials and tribulations of her youth coming up in the talent industry. We first meet her in the 70's as a graduate of Yale Drama School. Looking for her place among a crowd of young talent, she seemed a world apart from the many others new on the scene, much like she does today.

Even in her first season she was able to transform herself into the very characters she played, making a name for herself early on. She drew attention where ever she went especially in the theaters, winning back to back attention in plays as well as several roles in Shakespeare in the park, while others were still looking for their own breaks.

People began to notice her and when she was in the room the conversation was often about her, and the way she dominated the scene. Nominated for a Tony Award early in her career, it was obvious to those in the know that she would move on to greater fame.

This is a wonderful look at Meryl Streep as she finds her way and becomes the actress we know her as today.

Schulman takes us into the past and gives us the story of the making of a legend, from her beginnings as a gifted young woman to her exploits, and life as she makes the decisions that have shaped her into the successful actor she is today.

If you enjoy the theater of Meryl Streep this is a must have for your library. If you enjoy stories of success and talent then you will want to add this to your reading list. This is the story of a woman who set her mark early in the industry of her choice and Schulman is gives us a wonderful look at her beginnings and story behind the legend.

Rating 4/5

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'In Twenty Years,' A Novel by Allison Winn Scotch.

College is a time to stretch your wings, meet new people and chose a direction in life. The friendships made during this time often last a lifetime. Yet there are times that we also lose touch. In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch we follow a group of six friends from Penn State. Twenty years previous when they were all together they were sure their friendships would last. Held together by Bea, the one they all connected to, life seemed as magical as it could be.

Yet when she dies, the group splinters, they are now leaderless and the ties no longer seem to be enough to hold them. Each find themselves estranged, holding old grudges and feelings they have buried that helps to separate them from the easy camaraderie they once shared.

After twenty years they have agreed to meet again, the five remaining friends on the eve of what would have been Bea’s 40h birthday. They have all made their way in life and it is with great reluctance they meet. However, such was her influence upon them their promise to Bea twenty years prior binds them to this reunion.

Not knowing what will happen at this meeting, especially without their leader, they soon find they must confront their past, and come to terms with each other in order to heal and move forward. Even with her death, and the pain that came with it, Bea holds them as if she were still there. Can they find the glue that binds them and make the peace that seems to be what their old friend and ally Bea has expected from them even in death?

Scotch has given us a group of friends whose lives have grown and evolved over the years. Allowing hurts and grudges against each other they have unraveled their bond, which makes them very human. She takes us into their lives as well as that of Bea as they travel on the road that destroyed their trust. The telling evokes tears and joy as well as sadness and death. You will find yourself immersed in this group as they come to terms with their own feelings. Scotch pulls us into her story and the outcome seems to be one we need for ourselves.

If you enjoy literary excellence and friendships that last a lifetime, you will want this book for your library. If you enjoy drama and love this will fit the bill.


This would be a great book for both a Reading group or Book club with a great deal of information to decipher and debate.

Rating 4/5

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Memory of Us,' A Novel by Camille Di Maio.

In The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio, we are introduced to Julianne Westcott, the only child of a
wealthy family. She lives a dream life of money, gowns, and dances, as well as young men wanting to escort her about town. When she uncovers a secret that has been hidden from her, she suddenly sees life in a different manner. This secret changes her life, for she has found a brother, blind and deaf, whom her parents have hidden away in an institution since his birth. Her life suddenly looses its luster and seems pale in comparison to the life of others that surround her.

Choosing to visit with her brother in secret, she meets a young man , Kyle McCarthy, an Irish Catholic gentleman working the grounds of the institution while studying to become a priest. Kyle is the only one who seems able to break through her brother’s barrier, and they have formed a friendship. The meeting is a distraction for them both, and Julianne finds herself falling in love, knowing she will have to soon make a choice. Kyle too must decide, and his choice is even more difficult.

War is on the horizon and creates a deadly shadow that changes their world as the Blitz strikes at the very foundation of England. Julianne is caught in the middle and an accident that changes her life makes her decision more intense. She chooses to leave everything behind, and devote herself to those in need while in every case hiding her identity to protect her loved ones left behind.

Yet there is often light after the darkness and she finds that there may be a way forward from the deceit and damage of her past. Can she find her way clear to becoming the woman she once was?

Di Maio gives us a tough and challenging romance, as well as a chilling rendition of how war tears apart more then the structure of cities, but lives as well. Her characters are a great mix of strength and reserve with just a bit of uncertainty and flaws, that make them very real and easy to relate to. She takes us on a journey into war-torn England and the lives of some who have been dealt some savage blows. The intensity and courage keep you enthralled and reading far into the night.

If you enjoy historical novels, romance, and tales of war you will find this to be a great book for your library. The characters and circumstances stay with you long after the book is finished, leaving you wanting more.




This would be a great work for a reading group or book club with a great deal of interest and discussion available for debate.

Rating 5/5

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'A House for Happy Mothers ', A Novel by Amulya Malladi.

In A House for Happy Mothers by Amulya Malladi we are introduced to two different woman, brought together by need. Pryia lives a life of ease, with everything she ever dreamed of. A loving husband, a job and a beautiful home. Yet she feels unfulfilled without a child. She and her husband have tried numerous times and were unable to carry to term.

Her husband loves her greatly but does not understand her yearning, but is more then willing to accommodate her needs. When they hear of surrogacy available in India, she begins a new journey, one that could lead to hope restored or more heart break.

Asha lives in a Southern Indian village. Her family does not have much. She lives there with her husband and two children barely able to make ends meet and with a home falling down around them. Her husband wants her to become a surrogate in order to move them up in life, there is very good money in the program. Asha does not like the idea but the pressure from her family is great. Her own son is extremely gifted and if their life does not change, he will be unable to get the education that he needs to escape a life of poverty. It is this, and only this, that allows her to make the decision.

Meeting the family is awkward for Pryia as Asha does not particularly like her. They come from different worlds and while Asha is moving forward for need she feels Pryia is only moving forward through want. Yet neither of them know the other, nor what drives them. Continents apart, that is not likely to change.

As Asha moves into full maternity mode, she has to caution herself. She wants so badly to fall in love with the baby. At a certain trimester, the surrogates are moved into a home for care, and Asha has to leave her children till the birth of this new child. This home is known as the House for Happy Mothers. Yet while Asha is beginning to relax, she doesn’t find her new living arrangement to her liking. She misses her home and her family. The other residents are jealous of her because her child’s mother, sends her gifts for both herself and her family. Not everyone has such kind parents for the child they carry.

Malladi takes us into a world that is very different then our own, and gives us characters that have a great deal of inner strength. Each is very determined in their own way to make the most of the situation, and the thread that draws them together becomes a light of goodness and happiness for both.When Asha has a small emergency, Pryia moves herself to India for the rest of the pregnancy, fearing the worst. It is here that they come to understand the other in ways that dissolve the distrust and anger, as well as the feelings of guilt, on both sides.

If you enjoy reading about other cultures and love literary fiction, you will find this to be the perfect work. It is moving and thoughtful as well as full of hope.


This would be a great work for a discussion group creating a great deal of dialogue and discussion.

Rating 4/5

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Bones of Grace,' A Novel by Tahmima Anam.

A serendipitous meeting, a deep seated love, and a clash of cultures are threaded throughout the backdrop of The Bones of Grace by Tahmima Anam. Zubaida Haque is on a quest to find the bones of the walking whale, a fossil that could provide a missing link in evolution. It is during this quest that she has a chance meeting with Elijah during a concert. Elijah is the typical American of the time, and Zubaida is the adopted daughter of a family in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Yet her life is dictated by her upbringing, and at her families insistence, she marries her childhood best friend and resigns herself to live the typical life of the Bangladesh expectation. Giving up her dream of finding her whale and making a decision to forget about Elijah, she finds herself unhappy and feeling confined. A friend offers her an out, when they find a need for her assistance on a documentary film about the beaches of Chittagong where ships are destroyed and then broken down and the pieces sold to the highest bidder.

The locals work this highly dangerous job as the pay helps them to take care of their families. It is here that Zubaida meets Anwar, a man who seems to know the secrets of her past, and how she came to be adopted. Her life is changing, and she now must make a choice, continue with her marriage, making both herself and her husband unhappy, or move forward to the life she had imagined for herself.

Can she move forward and save what she had with Elijah and will she ever fulfill her dream of finding her fossil and her own background. Taking apart ships is dangerous for those involved, but also a way out of their own misery. It is here that Zubaida finds her inner strength once again, and now she must make her hardest decision, one from which she cannot turn back. Is this what she has been looking for all along?

If you enjoy, beauty, romance, and danger, as well as literary fiction this would be a great book for your library. Once started the elements inherent to this type of book will keep you reading. There is a sadness twisting through the story, and yet you find it is just a part of the life of those involved.Anam takes us into a country of beauty and traditions, but also danger and death. She gives us a romance and a hope of renewal in characters that are strong, yet with a depth of feeling. Zubaida is just trying to follow the dictates of her family, which she has never felt part of, but she finds it even more difficult after her chance meeting with Elijah. She follows the dictates of her family because it is what is expected, but Anam also gives Zubaida a core of reserve where she compartmentalizes the hurts and feelings that drive her.


This would be a great book for a reading group or book club with a great deal of interest and creative discussion.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Return to the Isle of the Lost', A Descendants Novel by Melissa De La Cruz

In Return to the Isle of the Lost
by Melissa De La Cruz, we once again return to Auradon, to find that Mal as well as her other friends have received messages telling them to return home. Life has been good and much of their own evil ways are behind them. Mal is the girlfriend of King Ben, and she often even treats those around her good.
She is surprised that someone has the gall to push her around. Yet it makes her curious, why must they all return home. What is happening in the Isle of the Lost. Her friend Evie looks into her Magic Mirror and is only further bewildered.

King Ben is on his own quest to find the reason behind the stories of a dragon on the loose, and Mal worries that it could have something to do with her mother. But even as she follows up by looking in to her fears, she finds that Maleficent is still just as she left her, just a small lizard laying in a cage.

 Emboldened by the encouragement of her friends, they decide they must find out what is behind the summons. They have left both family and friends behind, and they need know if the rumors of a dragon have anything to do with Mal’s mom and the other parents from the Island.  They must sneak back in and see if the danger in Auradon is part of the evil lurking in their own home.

Can they find the plot, for they know there must be one, before it has a chance to destroy the peaceful Kingdom of Auradon, and thrust them back into the evil they left behind?

De La Cruz takes us back into the magical world of the Descendants, and gives us another adventure from the bold and brave children of the evil villains. She gives us a fun and dangerous quest to challenge our crew, and she keeps the adventure alive as they make their way one more time to the place they left behind. Can they steer clear of the danger that may be waiting for them?

This is a great follow up and tale of adventure to the Isle of the Lost. A great read for the young adult as well as those to remain young at heart. With the summer upon us this is a wonderful read for those lazy days as well as a great way to pass the time during travel or even lying on the beach. De La Cruz will keep you entertained.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Kowloon Bay, An Abby Kane Thriller by Ty Hutchinson

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Kowloon Bay', An Abby Kane Thriller by Ty Hutchinson.

In Kowloon Bay by Ty Hutchinson we catch up to Abby Kane one more time as she  continues her work with the FBI. Having lost her husband, and moving her family to San Francisco, to start over, she has finally settled into a routine. Three years have passed and she feels that she has found an even keel.

Returning to her homeland for a holiday, and to help her children learn more about their own Chinese heritage and their father, she is pulled into a consult with the agent who took her place when she left.  They have found a body when renovating a building and as Abby learns more of the history behind the building, she finds her deceased husband's family may well be entwined in the background and that they may well have a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew.

Now even her Mother-in- Law, who she has finally become close too is acting in a strange and secretive way, and Abby is concerned. Is there a possibility that her own family is somehow involved in covering up a murder?  Abby must find a way to unearth the secrets and lock down the real stories and motives to a murder that occurred in the past.

Can she find the truth behind the dead body before it affect her own family. She know that sometimes the truth is not always acceptable, but could her judgement of human nature be so off, could her deceased husband be responsible for something as reprehensible as murder. She doesn’t believe so, but with her Mother-In-Law acting in such a strange manner she is no longer sure of her own beliefs.

Will she find the truth of the matter and with that truth set her free. Can she save the reputation of the man she loved, and the family that is now her own?

Hutchinson delivers another mystery, and Abby is as strong as usual. She is not as sure of herself now thought, as the outcome of her sleuthing could well be the end of her family’s reputation. Through Abby’s exploration of facts and her travels we see China as she sees it, a place of beauty and mystery, but capable as any of danger and brutality.

If you enjoy mystery and thrillers, you will find Abby Kane a strong character. This would be a good book for your library and have you searching for more of her exploits.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Chair, Exploring Damages by Emma Jayne Gray

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Chair, Exploring The Damages,' by Emma Jayne Gray.

The Chair, Exploring the Damages by Emma Jayne Gray is a self-help work that gives you insight and ideas to help you become who you want to be.  Using the venue of the Chair, something so normal and easy to visualize she takes you into thought and ideas of change, using the shape and patterns of the chair as a point to help us to visualize how by changing the colors or patterns on the chair the changes emerge as we create that understanding.

She then ties in numerous other techniques and ideas, differing ways to change disappointment, or sadness, and a variety options to change the toxicity of hurt and anger, as well as depression as it tries to keep you from living a life more fulfilling.

Using the chair as a means of describing our ego or personality, she gives that solid item that is recognizable to all, but that is also different and changeable to reflect our own personal spaces. It is often difficult to move forward with depression, and while we can share the feeling, the thoughts are often confusing. No one else has the ability to see or feel the pain and insecurities inside us. Even if they were to understand, they cannot change what is within, only you are able to affect that change.

Gray takes some of her own experiences and gives us insight as to what she found works, and feels that each individual is capable of being more then what they are. She believes that if one can just turn on their internal light, that they will receive incredible rewards.  She discusses the de- dramatization and the use of perspective, using meditation, yoga and Tai Chi, as well as spirituality and physical movement and exercise. 

You will find this an interesting read, and even find some great ideas that would be instructive in numerous situations.

If you like self-help, and would like some ideas or direction to move forward, you would find this full of differing ideas. Self- help books seem all the rage these days, and I believe that Emma Jayne Gray has given us something just a bit different.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Last Woman Standing, A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp by Thelma Adams

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Last Woman Standing,' A Novel of Mrs. Wyatt Earp by Thelma Adams.

As America settled and people made their way to the west for the lure of gold and land available to begin new lives, some of those people began to make names for themselves.  In Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams, we meet the woman behind one of the most famous of men.  Josephine Marcus is an amazing woman, one that others either disliked intensely or wanted to emulate.

She did not come about marrying in the normal way; she is the cosseted daughter of Jewish immigrants but with a mind of her own. Running away with a friend, she met a lawman, one who has decided she is what he needs in his life. After returning home, she is enticed by the offer of marriage to this famous lawman, Johnny Behan.  Yet his schemes are nefarious as is his way with women, and as she leaves the shelter of her family, and moves to Arizona to get married, she finds she is just another of his women.

Angry and hurt she is much to humiliated to let her family know that they were right all along. Trying everything in her power, she attempts to solidify the relationship and move the marriage forward. Yet at the same time while waiting for this long awaited marriage, she finds herself drawn to another man.  Wyatt Earp is another strong young man and a colleague of Johnny’s. There is something about this man that draws her. Is it his intensity, or the way he looks at her? She tries to put him out of her mind and focus on what she is after and that is marriage to the man of her dreams.  Soon though she begins the see the real many behind her dream, he is not what she thought.  However, by now it no longer concerns her heart, as while her lawman played his games, her heart drew her to the only man for her.

This is the story of how Josephine Marcus became Mrs. Wyatt Earp and her own story of the life of Wyatt Earp and his brothers as she too helped to shape the history of the west.  She is amazing and her reminisces are strong and exciting, leaving you with that longing of having missed something very important.

Adams takes us into history with the unlikely vessel of a woman’s memories. She brings you a woman with flawed thinking, but brave and strong convictions. She wraps the history throughout the work and captures your imagination with the strength and bravado required of the time.  She gives us both the good and the bad, leaving you hurt and angry at the situations at times, but also helps you to understand the making of the legend of the Earp’s.

If you enjoy history and romance, danger and deceit, you will find this is a terrific book for your library. Learning more of the past through such a venue keeps you reading and searching to the very end. She has given us a strong and passionate story filled with historical facts, and you will find it hard to put this book down.

This would be a great book for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of interest to them both.

Rating 5/5

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Pearl' A Novel by Deirdre Riordan Hall. 

In Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall, we follow the life and exploits of Pearl Jaeger, a young woman who is on her own and homeless at a time most are dreaming of their first prom. Pearl has grown up with the privilege of having a rock star as a mother, but JJ has become the product of her life. Drugs and poverty are more her mainstream and Pearl is not interested in following her path.  Angry and hurt Pearl has learned a lesson in trust. For her she has learned she has to look out for herself, and any happiness is only fleeting, for danger and drugs are always just around the corner.

When her Mother passes, her Uncle who has never had a good thing to say about her mom, becomes her guardian, he sends her to an elite boarding school. She is ready to shift her life and uses this challenge as a way to move forward.

Her sanity seems to come in the form of an art teacher who seems as messed up as she is, and when she has to face her own demons, she finds that what she thought was important isn’t  as simple as she imagined.

Through friendships at the school, especially one with a boy named Grant, she finds she has the tools to trust, but can she just rely on these new skills or will her future be forged by her mother’s past. Will Pearl be courageous, as she dreams of, or will the past catch up and take her back into the morass of drugs and failure?

Hall has given us a glimpse into the life that we sometimes hear of, and she gives us characters that are both flawed and human. JJ wants nothing more than to be famous again, yet she continues on a path that drags her further and further into pain. Pearl tries hard to hold her life together, but she too is being pulled into the spiral that draws her mother.  You find yourself rooting for Pearl as she searches for her own courage to beat the demons that destroyed her mother.

If you enjoy literary fiction with a depth of emotion and the creation of hope and courage you will find Pearl to be just the work.  This would be a great find for your library and a great summer read.

Book clubs or reading groups would find this a great find for their discussion groups as it will add a great deal of dialogue for their inspection.

Rating 3/5

Golden: Heart of Dread, Book 3 by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston

Posted first to blog Critics as Book Review: 'Golden: Heart of Dread, Book 3', The Exciting Conclusion by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston.

In Golden: Heart of Dread Book 3 by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston, we find ourselves back in the darkened world of Nat and Wes.  In the conclusion of the Heart of Dread trilogy, we find a bleakness that seems more insurmountable then all that has come before.

The bond Nat has with her dragon is draining daily, and the destruction of New Kandy leaves Wes close to death. In his attempt to find and save his sister from the cruelty he imagines her life, he actually sees just how strong her power of darkness has become and how it has molded her into a stranger, one who will use that power to destroy whoever gets in her way.

Seeking help from any direction, Wes accepts help from the mysterious voice calling out to him from the hidden Blue. Yet he and his crew find this help is not what they expected and that they are in a more perilous situation than they had been before.  Their only hope now lies in Nat, and her quest to find a new world to replace the broken one they are now living in.  

Will Nat survive the loss of her connection to her beloved dragon and can the love she has for Wes hold her to the task of seeing their world reborn.

The conclusion to the Heart of Dread Series is as exciting as the previous works that have led to the making of this new world.  The danger and excitement, as well as the quest to find the answers keep you enthralled, helping to push the characters forward. Yet De La Cruz manages to twist red herrings into the work at various times to keep you from thinking that you know how it will all end.

While this book will stand on its own, it will only bring you a few questions that will make you wonder. If you want the full thrill and detail of this great work, you will want to start where it all began, the making of an epic battle of the ages, and the distinction of varying shades of right and wrong.   

Frozen, and Stolen, Books 1 and 2 will bring you the story in its entirety and you will find the set would be a great fit your library.  This would be a great trilogy for your youngster, but make no mistake; it is also a powerful work for any fantasy fan.

Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston continue to create the stories of courage and friendships, ones that both you and your young adults will enjoy.

Rating 5/5

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Thing Is by Kathleen Gerard

Animals have a reputation for helping with depression and anxiety. In The Thing Is by Kathleen Gerard, we meet an animal that is more than the norm, much more.
Meredith Macuso is very depressed. She has hidden away from the world since the death of her fiancé. Her darkness leaves her unable to work. She is a successful writer, but even that is empty. Her sister Monica is annoying and constantly trying to mother her, and she struggles to keep her from intruding. Yet she knows she’s only acting out of love.
So when she ends up being left in charge of an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac, one who belonged to a client of her sister, she is frustrated. She has never wanted a dog and this dog apparently requires certain activities. He is a therapy dog, hence the name Prozac, and Meredith is not sure how to handle his high energy.
Gerard keeps you entertained with her fun and uplifting work involving a dog that is more than what he seems. Her characters are both sad and determined, but irascible in their own right. You could probably go into any independent living facilities and find many of the same characters out there. Prozac though steals the show with his divine grace and his stubborn decision to make things right.What she does not know though is that Prozac has an amazingly high IQ and a spiritual wisdom that guides him. He is now fixated on working his magic and bringing her back to life, and she has no say in his decision to move forward.
Nevertheless, even Prozac finds her a tough sell. He is determined though and uses his weekly visits to the Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility to bring her out of her darkness. The residents, suffering from losses of their own, help propel Meredith back into the land of the living. Is that possibly the outcome that Prozac had in mind all along?
If you enjoy stories of hope and fun, you will find this a enjoyable read. The Thing Is is a work for your library and one that will strike the fancy of dog lovers everywhere. There is charm and friendship throughout, just the thing to begin your summer.
Kathleen Gerard writes across genres. Her work has been awarded many literary prizes and has been published in magazines, journals, widely anthologized and broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR). Kathleen writes and reviews books for Shelf Awareness. Kathleen's woman-in-jeopardy novel, IN TRANSIT, won "Best Romantic Fiction" at the New York Book Festival.

The Thing Is Book Summary:
Can a woman mired deep in the throes of grief have her heart and soul rallied by a therapy dog named Prozac who possesses supernatural wisdom and a canine Mensa IQ?

Meredith Mancuso is depressed. Ever since the death of her fiancé, she has shrunk from the world. Even with her successful writing career, she's not motivated to work. When her sister, Monica, begs for a favor, Meredith wants nothing more than to say no. But she’s ultimately roped into pet-sitting an orphaned Yorkshire terrier named Prozac.

Blessed with spiritual wisdom and a high IQ, Prozac is an active pet therapy dog. To heal broken-hearted Meredith, he rallies his fan club at Evergreen Gardens, an independent living facility, where he visits each week.

Prozac and the community of resilient older folks challenged by losses of their own propel Meredith, often against her will, back into the land of the living. Meredith learns that most people carry some sort of burden, but it's still possible to find meaning, purpose, and joy—and even love—along the way.

THE THING IS—a perfect read for fans of General Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romantic Comedy, and Dog and Pet Lovers!

Prices/Formats: $5.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
Genre: 
Romantic Comedy
Pages: 
299
Release: 
February 9, 2016
Publisher: 
Red Adept
ISBN: 
9781940215587

Amazon buy link 
http://www.amazon.com/Thing-Kathleen-Gerard-ebook/dp/B01B55MZY2?tag=tributebooks-20
Barnes and Noble buy link
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-thing-is-kathleen-gerard/1123327681?ean=2940152772616

iTunes buy link
https://geo.itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-thing-is/id1079207409?mt=11

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Matchmaker's Playbook by Rachel Van Dyken

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Matchmaker's Playbook,' A Wingmen Inc. Novel by Rachel Van Dyken. 
When injuries occur to potential professional athletes, their career choices must change. In The Matchmaker’s Playbook, A Wingmen Inc. Novel by Rachel Van Dyken, we meet Ian Hunter, a former NFL prospect and one-half of the team in Wingmen Inc. His new company is a secretive, word of mouth dating service where he and his partner use their skills with women to help them become noticeable to their crush, and possibly even get them to hook up.
They have garnered a reputation for success and when Ian gets a new client named Blake Olson, he is sure he is ready for his next triumph. Blake is everything he dislikes in a woman, from her choice of clothing to her footwear as well as her irritating attitude. He finds her to be very annoying and even he is not sure he is up to the task of helping her realize her crush.
As he pushes forward and his recommended transformation occurs he realizes that he is beginning to like her, her spunk and humor are engaging. However, he knows he must stay clear, as his job is to help her succeed in reaching her own goal of romance. He is beginning to wonder if he can make it, for his final ploy is in making the target jealous and that will require some closeness with which he is no longer comfortable.
What will he do when he succeeds; his heart is already feeling the terror of loss. Can he move forward and get past his hurt as he helps Blake realize her dream?
Dyken creates strong male characters with charisma and charm, and puts them in the business of helping women find mates. This also makes her characters just a bit bold but also a little vain. Good looking and charismatic, their own thoughts and quirks make sure they have just enough flaws to make them likable.
Her interaction between characters is initially subtle, but the heat begins to build as Ian begins to loose just a bit of his armor. This keeps your interest as each chink he develops makes him more likable. With Blake being so entertaining and feisty, you will love the way Van Dyken gradually develops their relationship.
If you enjoy romance and fun, you will enjoy The Matchmakers Playbook. It will make a great summer read, sure to keep you enthralled. This would also be a great gift for any of your book-reading friends, sure to keep them entertained.
Rating 4/5