Friday, August 24, 2018

Review: Pippa

Pippa Pippa by Malynda Schlegel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! This is not an easy review to write. I don’t want to give away anything. Yet a warning is needed. I will do my best.
I’m still digesting what I read. I would place this as psychological suspense. To be honest, for a few chapters, I wasn’t exactly certain what I was reading. Some of it felt like a coming of age story. Pippa comes from a dysfunctional family. There are two other children who are also from dysfunctional families. I was hooked from the start. I know dysfunctional. I have been interested is the why of people’s choices and thinking for at least thirty years. I knew something was off with Pippa, her family and the others who play major parts. The author tells you this in her description but leaves off how well she can confuse things. I was intrigued at the beginning of the story then fascinated and then that ending! I read this book nearly nonstop. It stayed in my head the brief times I set it down. I loved the friendships, dysfunctional as they were also. I thought a lot about how the children tried. I thought a lot about how adults let them down. I thought about people I knew in my life. I will be thinking about this book for awhile. It is not always an easy read. If you had a traumatic life, some of this may trigger memories. I would caution you to be ready for that. There are some not so nice things in this book though the author did not choose to be very graphic. There is a scene with an animal that is disturbing. It was brief but is told by Pippa. Choose wisely when deciding if this book is for you.
I was given an arc e-copy for review purposes. My review is based on my honest thoughts of it. I gave it five stars because it held me captive until the end, I wanted more of the story after the end, I cared about the children, it made me think about how dysfunction in families affect others, it made me think how easy it can be to lead a child and how much we need to improve services for children, and it is a book I would have conversations about. It is a book I would be interested in hearing others thoughts about it.

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Review: Strawberries & Crème Murder

Strawberries & Crème Murder Strawberries & Crème Murder by Susan Gillard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first time reading this author.
I’m intrigued by this book/series. I liked the mystery and that it was a quick read. I didn’t like that I didn’t really get to know Heather or really any of the characters, not even Dave the dog. I’m hoping that as the series goes along the main characters will develop more. It is possible since these are quick books the author is choosing to let us get to know everyone a little at a time. That would be fine as we don’t know anyone very well our first meeting. I also question how quickly and easily Heather is allowed to help with the investigation. I can go with things though if I like the characters.
It took me about an hour or so to read it. It was interesting enough that I plan to read a few more to see how the story and characters develop.


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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Review: In the Dog House

In the Dog House In the Dog House by V.M. Burns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book by this author that I have read. I really enjoyed the first book and was looking forward to this one, which kicks off a new series. Unbelievably I loved this book even more than the other book.
I loved the sleuth and her friend but even more, I loved the dogs! Even though the series is titled Dog Club Mystery, I wasn’t certain if dogs would have a good part in the books. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author did have the dogs as part of the action, throughout the story. Yay! This was a definite win for this dog lover. The mystery was tight with several suspects and lots of motives. I am not big on going into plots. I think it ruins the fun for people who read the reviews before reading the books. The plot was excellent and the main characters likable, the dogs absolutely lovable.
My recommendation is to get the book and read it. If you aren’t convinced then request the free sample. The only way to know if a book truly fits you is to try it out.

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Review: I Know You Know

I Know You Know I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant! I enjoyed this book very much. I loved the podcast element. The twists that came were absolutely surprising for me.
I think this is one of those books that you will either love or hate. Some of the characters you will probably dislike and distrust. One of those I could relate to which made it easier for me to understand her even while I didn’t trust her. This is a crime thriller with two children who are murdered. I think that is difficult for most people. I want to say more on that but to do so, might ruin things for you. My advice is to try it. If you are on the fence about it, use the free sample option. I was surprised by it. The last half of the book, I could not stop reading.
Thank you to Harper Collins and the BookShout app for providing a free copy of this book without any requirement for a review. The review is based on my thoughts of the story. This is the first book of Gilly Macmillan’s that I have read. I do plan to read more from this author.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: We are NOT Buying a Camper!

We are NOT Buying a Camper! We are NOT Buying a Camper! by Karen Musser Nortman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this series! It is a lot of fun to read these books. I really enjoy the main characters. This book took me back to the camping days of my youth.

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Monday, August 20, 2018

Review: The Plot Is Murder

The Plot Is Murder The Plot Is Murder by V.M. Burns
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first book by VM Burns. It is a cozy mystery set in Michigan with a second location in England.

I loved the fact that this is actually two mysteries! The main character, Sam, is writing a mystery. I had no trouble at all following both of them. Perhaps this is because I tend to read more than one book at a time. Maybe my mind is trained to keep them separate. Both mysteries were a lot of fun for me to read. I really hope this continues in some of her future books. The characters were a lot of fun. Nana’s gang of friends were a hoot and some amazing ladies. I also liked Dawson a lot and hope he stays with the series. I would like to see how things turn out for him. The mysteries were some what alike which causes some trouble. They were both interesting. I had an easier time figuring out the main mystery. Maybe we had less information with Sam’s mystery? I’m not sure because Ms Burns did a super job with both.

The book is pretty clean. Irma almost lets loose a couple of times but is stopped. It made me laugh. I recommend it to cozy lovers, especially if they like dogs. Sam has two friends who are amazing. Yes, I do love dogs!

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Review: Americanah

Americanah Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My librarian chose this book for me to read. It is one of PBS’ Great American Reads. I probably would not have chosen it. I’m happy I read it. It is a wonderful book if you want to see America through someone else’s eyes. It touched me. I had only really thought of Nigerians as scammers. This book helped me leap beyond that falsehood. Read this book.

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Review: Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever

Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever by Geoff Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had never heard about this event until I stumbled upon this book. The stories in it are amazing and heartbreaking. I have told so many people about it. Read this book. It is one of the most fascinating books I read this year. I did have to break up the reading, inserting a couple lighter books. It became overwhelming just as the flood was. It is compelling reading, especially if you can imagine the people.

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Review: Waiting for Eden

Waiting for Eden Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cried through this book. I am so grateful to Goodreads, the author and Knopf Publishing for offering this book in a giveaway. I might not have discovered it otherwise. Yes, I did win a paperback copy. This review is my honest opinion.
My son was just 18 when he went to Iraq. What happened to Eden and our narrator were my nightmares the entire time he was deployed. I waited to hear from him. I waited for someone to come to my door. I waited and I prayed...for a call or letter, for no ring of the doorbell. I thought a lot of my time waiting as I read about Mary’s waiting and, also, the narrator’s wait. Though the story is about Eden and Mary, he is also a part of it and he is waiting too. I don’t know how I feel about Mary. I understand the choice she made, or perhaps I just think I do. I don’t know what would have been choice. I like to say, I would have made the right choice. The truth is, though, I don’t know. My heart breaks for the three of them. It breaks harder for Andy. In a sense she lost every parent.
If you are checking out this review, then you had an interest in the book. I recommend you read it. It is my pick for the most profound book I have read this year. It is going to haunt me. Buy Kleenex, a lot of Kleenex, and read this book. I read it twice to do this review. I will read it again. I will think of Mary, the narrator and, mostly, Eden.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Review: Hark the Herald Angels Slay

Hark the Herald Angels Slay Hark the Herald Angels Slay by Vicki Delany
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book I have read in Vicki Delaney’s A Year-Round Christmas Series. I read during Christmas in July. It was also a book club pick.

I really love this series. I’m huge on Christmas happening anytime. To quote from the book, “That Christmas magic. July or December—there’s nothing like it.” That happens to be my favorite quote from the book. I must say the author lives up to her quote. She brought Christmas magic to the pages of the book. Considering there was criminal activity including murder going on, that was no easy feat. I love the characters in this series. Merry and Vicky are the type of girlfriends you want to have, (or be). I love Merry’s Dad who I believe may really be Santa Claus. And Mattie...love at first slobber. The mystery was twisty and not obvious to me. I’m not saying more on that. Read it yourself. The town was fun with a great cast of characters; some easy to like, others take a bit of sugar to get down. I love the small town feel of the series.

Get the book and bring some Christmas magic. I read this with Christmas lights on, carols on the playlist and hot chocolate with cookies to snack on. All the dead and the danger were in the book. It was a lovely Christmas in July.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: Death on the Menu

Death on the Menu Death on the Menu by Lucy Burdette
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first venture into The Key West Food Critic Mysteries. It was my first time reading Lucy Burdette’s writing. I received a hardback review copy through a review club on Facebook. The opinions expressed are my honest thoughts.

In the opening of the book we get a bit of information on Cuba and the US relations and history. I’m not into politics and I debated jumping it or at least speed reading it. Don’t make that mistake. It’s there for a reason. Honestly I found it to be more interesting than I was expecting. I did spend a bit of time remembering a friend I had years ago, especially when I read about Carmen’s husband crossing. My friend’s husband came over from Cuba during the sixties. I was reminded of his stories of what his childhood Cuba was, his adventure coming here and how he said his life was changed living here. He was always grateful and proud that he was a citizen here. Thinking about him made the story very relatable. Take the time to really read that even if you are like me and not into politics so much. It is relevant to the story.

This is the eighth book in the series. I was expecting that I missed a lot, especially in regards to the characters and relationships. I was surprised to find that I was able to jump right in. The author is excellent at weaving in the important characters and their relationships. As I was getting acquainted with everyone, I thought that it was so well done that I could have read all eight books and not really noticed she was catching up new readers. That was one of the best jobs I have seen in combining the information in a way that was relevant to both types of readers. I enjoyed many of the characters in this book. They have invested me in the series, making me want to read the previous books as well as new ones.

The mystery itself was well written. There were many possibilities thrown out at the reader. I was deceived more than once thinking it was this one or that one. The author did well in leading me on a chase. Like I said above the politics play a part but the author did well humanizing it. I was enthralled and, as the pace picked up, I found myself racing through, truly interested in it all.

Another thing the author is exceptional at is bringing the sights, the smells and sounds alive. She is excellent at descriptions. You will get to know Key West very well. Warning: you will get hungry. But don’t worry. There are recipes at the end of the book. I cut down the recipe for the flan. I don’t have the equipment to make that much flan at once. I would say I also did not have enough people to eat it but the flan is addictive. Ropa Vieja has a lot of ingredients making it look intimidating. Try it. It is easy to follow and taste amazing! The Cuban sandwiches are easy to make and delicious. The Baked Bananas was incredible! I love plantains so this recipe was actually the first one I tried. I haven’t tried the other recipes but I plan to.

I recommend the book. It was a lot more fun to read than I was initially expecting. I plan to read the rest of the series.


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Review: Best Day Ever

Best Day Ever Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Omgosh! What a chiller. This book captured me from the beginning. The narrators were excellent. Recommend this book in any version. Read it.

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Friday, August 3, 2018

Review: The Exes' Revenge

The Exes' Revenge The Exes' Revenge by Jo Jakeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won an advanced copy of this book from Berkley Pub.

The book deals with domestic violence. I am a survivor. Did reading this bring up memories? Yes but I choose to deal with them. I have come across so many things in life that bring up something I wish I could forget that, for me, riding it out and dealing with them is my personal best option. It may not be another’s so know that the story has the potential to take you back and make your reading decision with what is best for you. You may not want to read this review because I’m going to talk. It has taken ten years to be able to talk about it and, honestly, I still don’t talk about the really bad stuff.

If you go into reading this book thinking it is a mystery, you will be disappointed. The beginning of the book gives that away. Afterward you find out the how of everything. If you want the book to be solidly realistic, this may not be for you. There are parts that are more fantasy that reality but, in fairness, the book is fiction. Fiction. Not fact. I personally thought the unrealistic parts were interesting. Okay they had me daydreaming about my ex and making a few wishes. What I liked about this book is the three women who find out who they are. Survivors. Damaged yet survivors. They come a long way in a short time. Unrealistic maybe but it still made my heart full. Domestic violence steals so much from you. If you haven’t had the experience you may not realize just how much is taken.

Another thing I appreciated is that the author didn’t just leave it as physical. Actually more of it was mental/emotional. The stuff that crushes you. The things that play over and over in your head. I’m only speaking of my experience here. For me this was incredibly difficult. I can remember the times when I couldn’t take it anymore, the verbal assault, and I would be there asking God to just let him hit me. If you find that shocking, you have no idea how painful a verbal assault can be. My ex used his fists and feet. He also used what he could throw, he used knives, a guard dog, guns and the electrical cord with wires exposed, a wet washcloth thrown on them after the cord was plugged in. There were other, worse, things. I tell you this so you understand how deeply words can wound. The thing about verbal abuse is it can be done in a way that you don’t even understand that you are being abused. You might know to walk away if he, (or she - abusers come in both genders), punches you. But if they are just saying things, some that may have bits of truth being twisted, you might not realize that is domestic violence. You are abused and those words will stay with you long after the relationship ends. So when I read a book like this one and the author understands the pain from psychological abuse, I want to cheer. I want to write the author a thank you letter. I want to tell others to read it with a mind open to feeling the characters pain and their shame. Reading this book and seeing Imogen, Naomi and Ruby realize who they are and what they are worth, meant a lot to me. It was encouraging.

The book had me riveted. I picked it up to read every chance I had, reading far into the night. If you are looking for a psychological thriller, and don’t mind a fictional story being a mix of reality and fantasy, I would say read this book.


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Review: Little Girl Lost

Little Girl Lost by Addison Moore My rating: 4 of 5 stars This book certainly held my attention. I could...