Friday, November 18, 2016

A great audio book thriller for my daily commute!

DoublebackDoubleback by Libby Fischer Hellmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an unbiased review.

I absolutely loved this audiobook! I listened during my commute to and from work and couldn't wait each day for that drive because the story was so engrossing. It's actually a book I think I'll want to either read or listen to a second time! The story line kept me on the edge of my seat and I didn't know what was going to happen next. One thing I really liked was when the story moved to Arizona, because I used to live in both Ft. Huachuca and Sierra Vista - both mentioned in the book, along with Bisbee and Tombstone, two favorite places. However, I never heard of the border town called Stephens - Nogales is the border town we used to go to.

I felt so sorry for Georgia when she was in the car "accident" and broke her hand and all she had to go through with that broken hand afterwards. I actually winced the times after when it was hurt again, ha ha.

The narrator of the book was spot on and I don't know if I would have enjoyed the book as much reading it; the audio was so good. I think I have become a convert to audio books and it is my preferred method of "reading" a book nowadays. I am going to look for more of Libby Fischer Hellman's audio books; I want to read them all.

Highly recommend this book!

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

I couldn't put this book down!

Behind Closed DoorsBehind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book in one sitting in the bathtub because I couldn't stop to get out! Wow, what a thriller! I hated Jack and loved Millie and Grace. I don't want want to put any spoilers here, so suffice it to say that it's creepy, disturbing, psychologically thrilling, and a great read. Truly, no one knows what really goes on behind closed doors. It would make a great movie. Highly recommend it!

*I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Another quick, fun read by Lisa Gardner

Find Her (Detective D.D. Warren, #8)Find Her by Lisa Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like Lisa Gardner's books and this did not disappoint. It was a page turner and thriller. I found it a bit unbelievable, however, that the main character, after being abducted and held hostage for over a year, was now trying to get revenge, five years later, by putting herself in such danger of being abducted again, or killed. Still, there were good psychological twists and turns and I enjoyed it.

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A fun, fun book!

Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (The Austen Project, #4)Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun, fun book! I did enjoy it, especially the translation of Pride and Prejudice to the 21st century. I liked all the characters and the very contemporary feel of the book. I also liked the writing style and hope to read more from this author. I recommend this book and it would be a fun book club discussion book.

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Another good Philippa Gregory historical novel!

Three Sisters, Three QueensThree Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Philippa Gregory's books and this was a good one. I did not know much about Henry VIII's sisters, so I learned a lot about Margaret and Mary from this book. They, and Henry's first wife, Katherine of Aragon (daughter of Isabelle of Castille) are the three sisters/queens. Margaret was queen of Scotland, married to James IV and mother of James V, and Mary was queen of France (for a very short time, until the king died). Margaret and Mary both married for love for their second marriages, after their husbands died, although Margaret's wasn't as happy as she hoped. All three women were very ambitious and there were many intrigues in their lives.

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Falling by Jane Green

FallingFalling by Jane Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was disappointed in this Jane Green book. I listened to the audio which was basically fine (I think the author was the narrator and, if so, she was not the best choice, but it wasn't terrible), and I was engaged with the story. But, there was too much about falling in love and whether or not Emma WAS in love, truly. And what happened to Dominic in the snow was a bit far-fetched. I did cry at the appropriate point and I'm glad the book ended as it did, but, still, the story was a bit flat and disappointing. This being said, I'm still a Jane Green fan and plan to read more of her books.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

My favorite book read in 2016!

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just loved this book; it is now my favorite book read this year. I liked it so much, that I am sure I will read it again sometime. I listened to it on audio and the narrator was wonderful. I laughed out loud while listening in the car because some parts were just so funny. I LOVE Ove and wish he was a real person that I could call my friend. The cast of characters, even the wonderful cat, were so engaging and believable. If you haven't read this book yet, I encourage you to immediately find it and read/listen to it; you will be so glad you did!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016


East of EdenEast of Eden by John Steinbeck
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I never read this book before; how did I miss it? I LOVED it! I listened to the Audible version and the narration was outstanding. I read this with my book club as a "long read" for the 2nd quarter of this year. The discussion was really interesting and everyone's opinion was that they loved it. The characters were ALL so well-drawn, I think; I feel I knew them all so well. My favorite was Lee (also Samuel Hamilton) and my least favorite was Cathy, although she was very interesting and creepy. I want to know - who was the father of the twins - Adam or Charles, or did both contribute their sperm, lol? I guess we'll never know.

I did not realize that the Steinbeck family mentioned in the story was John's family and that HE was the narrator - that the Hamilton's were HIS family (Samuel was his mother's father)!

The book is an allegory to the Cain and Abel story from the Bible and this theme weaves through the book, in both generations. I see Cathy as the devil and Lee as possibly God.

The writing in this book is magnificent, the back story was fascinating, the characters were mesmerizing, the sibling rivaly stories were engaging, and the whole story was just wonderful.

I can say that this is my number 1 read of 2016, so far, and in my top 5 of ALL TIME! I will probably read it again, but this time actually read it, although listening was so captivating! I couldn't wait for my commute every day, just to get back into the story.

I highly recommend this book.

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Enjoyable but disappointing.

Most WantedMost Wanted by Lisa Scottoline
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I do like Lisa Scottoline books! I couldn’t put this one down. As an infertile adoptive mom, myself, Christine’s story resonated with me. I was not a fan of her husband, Marcus, however, until the end. Where I was disappointed with the book was with the last 50 pages or so. I felt like the author was trying to finish up the book and tie things up, as it went very fast and parts (like in the cornfield) were somewhat unbelievable. Why was Dom following them in the first place – what tipped him off? It wasn’t really explained well. And his whole story was not explained, either. The ending felt rushed, like Scottoline was on a deadline, after the great pacing of the book prior to that. She needed to build up more to the ending and add some more substance. Still, I do recommend this book.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

One of my top five books that I've read in 2016.

Lilac GirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this advanced reader copy for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I also participated in an online discussion on Goodreads with the author. What a wonderful first book by this author! It was about three different women at the same time period, whose paths cross in unexpected ways. I didn't realize until the end that it was actually based on a true story and two of the characters were real people. The discussion was very interesting and I really liked hearing what the author actually had to say about this book; what a privilege it was to partcipate!

I have read many many holocaust-themed books and this one is very different. First of all, it deals with the all-women's Ravensbruck camp, that I didn't know as much about as the other camps we usually hear about (although I knew that Corrie Ten Boom from The Hiding Place was sent here). Then there was an American, Caroline, in this story, and her story about how she helped from the US was very interesting. It made me want to read more about her and her true life. Then there was the German female doctor's story, and the horrible experiments she was made to perform at the camp. I did not like her character (a true person) very much - she was a brainwashed Nazi.

The book was a long book, but from the beginning I almost could not put it down. I found it to be extremely well-written and believable and a fast read. I cannot wait to read more by this author! I highly recommend this book and it is out now in the stores.

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I loved this Philippa Gregory book!

The Taming of the Queen (The Tudor Court, #4)The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this book on audio from the library. I have to say, it was one of my most favorite Philippa Gregory books. It is about Henry VIII's last wife, Catherine Parr, who I did not know much about before. What an accomplished woman, one of the first to publish a book under her own name (after Henry's death), titled Lamentations of a Sinner. She also authored some other books, but not under her own name, as it was too dangerous. I had always thought she was Henry's oldest queen, when, actually, she was only 31 years old when they wed. He was her third husband, as she was a two-time widow, her last being to a Lord Latimer. It was nerve wracking when reading the book, wondering if he was going to arrest and behead her, like he did to two others of his wives, even though I knew he did not, ha ha. But, still, it kept me on the edge of my seat. lthough it is historical fiction and much of it was fiction, it still made me dislike Henry more than I ever did before. He was a murderer, an egomaniac, a fat slob (the scenes of his eating as a glutton for over two hours per meal were disgusting), crazy, and just a terrible person and father.

Catherine was actually in love with Thomas Seymour (Jane's Seymour's brother and Henry's former brother-in-law) and wanted to marry him, but when Henry asked her, she really had no choice, and was forced to marry him, knowing that the only way their marriage would eventually end was in the death of either one of them. In reading about her after I finished the book, I learned that she did marry Thomas Seymour four months after Henry's death and finally became pregnant and delivered her first and only child with Thomas, a daughter, Mary Seymour. Unfortunately, she died in childbirth, only a year after Henry's death. Nothing is known about Mary after infancy. Some sources say she grew up and married (she was raised in her uncle Edward Seymour's home), other sources say she died as a young child, around age 3.

Catherine, or KP as she signed herself (spelling her name Kateryn) was a good stepmother to Henry's three children, especially to Elizabeth and Prince/King Edward, who were young (ages 9 and 6) at the time Catherine became their stepmother. They were very fond of her. She was also very beautiful and extremely intelligent and wise, and knew just how to handle Henry and save herself from his wrath and from his murdering her. She was very learned, and, I think, pretty much self-taught. She was very religious and a fervent reformer of the church of England, not wanting the country to return to Catholicism.

One of my favorite parts of the book was the painting of the family portrait for the first time, including all three children and Catherine. This is an actually portrait and it's life size. If you google Henry VIII family portrait you can find it. It has both girls on either end, with Will Somers (Henry's "fool" behind Elizabeth and Mary's "fool" behind her. In the center panel are Henry, Edward and Catherine (well, she posed for the photo and it was her clothes), but when it was unveiled, it turns out the artist substituted Jane Seymour's face for Catherine's, the dead queen (number 3) who died giving birth to Edward!! What a dirty trick for Henry to play on her. Catherine was very gracious though (she wanted to save herself), even though she was extremely angry and hurt over it. Check out the painting for yourself!

I think the author did a brilliant job of researching this queen and the time period and I just loved this book. The narration was wonderful and I really liked this narrator, Bianca Amato, who I believed has narrated Ms. Gregory's other books in this series.

BTW, I also partially read the ebook version and at the end of the book there is an interview with the author, discussion questions, and a preview of her next book, Three Sisters, Three Queens. It looks good!

I highly recommend this book, especially if you are a Philippa Gregory fan.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

I loved this book!

The Golden SonThe Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I read it right after reading Secret Daughter by the same author, which I also loved. The story was very engaging (I listened on Audible, by the way) and I really like this author's writing style. I also feel like I learned a lot about medicine and found it quite interesting! The ending was not what I expected/hoped for, but it was satisfying, nonetheless. I look forward to more books from Shilpi Somaya Gowda in the future! Highly recommend.

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a fairly interesting book about the brain!

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical TalesThe Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I probably would not have read this book, except that it was a book club pick. It is a series of case studies by the doctor/neurologist, Oliver Sacks. The patients have a variety of neurological disorders. Some of the stories were pretty interesting; in others I think he went on too long about stuff I wasn't interested in. It was well written and informative, yet entertaining, at the same time. Learning about how the brain works was pretty incredible. In parts, it almost read like fiction - it wasn't dry and too medical at all. I can't wait for the discussion this weekend at book club to see what others thought about it.

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A good psychological thriller!

Pretty GirlsPretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book; lots of twists and turns. The graphic scenes did not bother me. If you like suspense and psychological thrillers, this is the book for you! I WILL read more of Karin Slaughter's books, as I have become a fan.

Basically, it's about a teenage girl, Julia, that vanishes, and also about the murder of a middle-aged man about 25 years apart, and what connects the two events. It's about the girl's two sisters, Lydia and Clare, and their search to find out the truth about Julia's disappearance. The family fell apart after Julia's disappearance, the parents divorce (the mother remarries and the father spends his life searching for Julia), Lydia gets involved with drugs and alcohol and is estranged from Claire, while Claire marries a rich guy she had known since her school days.

The book is pretty disturbing in parts, with graphic scenes of psychopaths and their twisted desires, and deals with brutality against women. It is a page turner, however, and I did like it and I recommend it.

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My favorite book read in 2016, so far........

Circling the SunCircling the Sun by Paula McLain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is in my top five of books read this year, 2016, so far. It is a historical fiction book, based on the life of Beryl Markham, who wrote West With the Night. It's about her life (born in England) in Kenya at the beginning of the 20th century. Her mother abandoned her and their father when Beryl was 4, leaving for England with their son, Beryl's brother. She was 20 before she met her mother again. Beryl grew up when the land was known as British East Africa. Her father, a British colonial, raised Beryl himself, and trained racehorses (eventually - they struggled at first in the harsh land) and became famous. Beryl worked with him once it was clear that school wasn't for her. Beryl married young but the marriage wasn't a good one and they eventually divorced. She became famous in her own right for her training of race horses. Eventually she also because a pilot, the first and only female pilot in Africa. She was the first female to fly across the Atlantic, from east to west, also. She lived during the time of, and was friends with Karen Blixen (who wrote the book Out of Africa - Meryl Streep played Karen in the movie), known as the author Isak Dinesen. They both loved and had a relationship with the famous big game hunter, Denys Finch Hatton.

I learned so much about early 20th century Africa/Kenya and it made me research Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton myself - fascinating people. Beryl ended up marrying twice more (Markham was the last name of husband #2, which she kept). I loved reading about the land and the people that Beryl was a part of, more so than her British homeland and people. She grew up speaking fluent Swahili and her childhood friends were the local tribes people.

The author writes brilliantly and I can't wait to read her other book, The Paris Wife, about Ernest Hemingway's wife.

I liked this book so much, that I am now listening to Beryl's own book, West With the Night, and I will follow up with a book called The Bolter, by Frances Osborne, which also takes place in Kenya (a true story; a non-fiction book of the same time period). I highly recommend this book.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A wonderful gem that I'm so glad I discovered!

The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and DisappearedThe 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely LOVED this book. I both listened to it on Audible and read the Kindle book. I can't wait to watch the movie on Amazon Prime next. This book was SO funny and engaging; I just loved Allan Karlsson and all his adventures with famous people - Franco, Stalin, Harry Truman, LBJ, Mao, Kim Il Jung, DeGaulle, and more. I can't wait for our book discussion group to talk about it (actually two of my local book clubs that I am in are reading it now), because it was so fun. I actually laughed out loud at parts of it while driving. I'm sure the narrator's wonderful narration contributed to my enjoyment of the book and I highly recommend listening to this book.

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A fun travel adventure/memoir.

We'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter MemoirWe'll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Memoir by Jennifer Coburn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me just say that I love this book. I am currently an “armchair traveler” (although upon retirement I plan to become a “real” traveler, ha ha) and travel adventure books are among my favorite genre of books, as are memoirs. I love books about bicycle travel, sailing travel, walking travel, group travel – all of it! I even like travel shows on television.
I loved how the author decided to “go for it” and make these trips happen, even though her family had other financial necessities in their life; she made travel (and memories for her daughter) a priority. After seeing her father did young of cancer, she didn’t want to have any regrets in her life (she thought she would also die young) and didn’t want to leave travel until later in life, in case she died before it could happen. I kind of feel the same way; that by waiting until retirement (in 2.5 years for me), I might have waited too long. If I end up getting some debilitating health issues before then, I’ll really be mad. I’ve already been through breast cancer, and that’s enough for me. I just cannot wait to be able to travel at will with my husband. I traveled a lot as a young Army brat and in my early 20’s, but very little since having a family.
I really like the author and her daughter (who appears to be a very intelligent young lady), both of whom I’d like to meet. I feel like a kindred spirit. The two of them appear to have a really good relationship, and I loved reading about their adventures, and misadventures. The book was a delightful read and I especially liked it because I have been to all these places! I could picture the places in Italy and Spain, for example. I was right there with her as she toured Barcelona! I definitely want to go back to all these places someday and maybe keep a journal this time, as Jennifer Coburn has inspired me to write about my travels. The book is an easy and quick read, and, unlike some of the other reviews, I really liked how she interspersed her past life into the book, so that the reader feels like they really know Jennifer and Katie as personal friends. I also like Jennifer’s husband, William, because he supported her in her need for travel, even though he did not accompany them on their trips. He’s a real keeper! I laughed out loud at some parts; it was such an engaging book. I do recommend it if you love travel adventures.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

My favorite book this year, so far!

The Lake HouseThe Lake House by Kate Morton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

** I received this book for free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I also listened to this book on Audible, narrated by Caroline Lee. Although it's only February, it's my favorite book of 2016, so far. I love Kate Morton's books, and this one is my favorite of hers. It spans two time periods, 1933 and 2003. In 1933 an 11- month old boy, Theo Edevane, disappears at night while his family is hosting a midsummer party in Cornwall, England. Is he killed or kidnapped? The disappearance is never solved. In 2003 a female police detective, Sadie Sparrow, is visiting her widowed grandfather, Bertie, in Cornwall. She is on a forced leave of absence by her boss for speaking with reporters about a high profile case she was nvestigating. While on a jog one day, she discovers the hidden Lake House, where the 1933 story took place. As she starts researching the story after she is told whose house it was and what happened there 70 years earlier, she becomes hooked on solving the mystery.

The book moves back and forth between the two time periods (and even earlier, to give the back story) and the two stories, until Sadie meets some of the characters from the 30's who are still alive. She is determined to solve the crime she investigated, as well as the old cold case. As the two time periods rush closer and closer together, there are twists and turns as secrets are revealed, and coincidences occur.

I love Kate Morton's writing and I loved the narration of the book. I highly recommend this book and predict it will be a best seller.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

An excellent novel during the World War II period - a must read!

The NightingaleThe Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is now my favorite book of 2015. I don't understand the negative reviews, as I really loved it. I listened to it on Audible and couldn't wait for my commute every day to listen to it. 3 days later, I'm still thinking about it. I highly recommend it.

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A fun legal thriller, written by a local Virginia judge!

The Jezebel RemedyThe Jezebel Remedy by Martin Clark
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! We are reading it for my at-work book club. It was written by a Virginia judge (Martin Clark) and takes place in Henry County, VA. It mentions many places I know and real people I've heard of or know. It is a legal thriller, and even includes a Virginia State Bar Disciplinary Board hearing - which is very pertinent because I work for the Virginia State Bar in the Disciplinary Section and clerk those hearings!

You can read the synopsis of the book yourself, but I found it a lot of fun because it was written by a Virginian, a signed copy was given to our department to read, and I liked the story. It was a thriller and had many twists and turns and covered different themes (law, crime, adultery, lies, animals, inventions, subterfuge, etc.) The discussion should be very interesting!

I recommend this book. Oh, I listened to it on Audible and the narration was wonderful (I also read parts of the book that I wanted to reread).

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