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The Shore: A Novel
The Shore: A Novel
by Sara Taylor
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.63

3.0 out of 5 stars A STORY THAT SWEEPS ACROSS TIME & BACK...., May 21, 2015
This review is from: The Shore: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In the synopsis, we learn that The Shore is a group of small islands in the Chesapeake Bay, just off the coast of Virginia, with...clumps of evergreens, wild ponies, oyster-shell roads, tumble-down houses, unwanted pregnancies, murder, and dark magic in the marshes. Sanctuary to some but nightmare to others, it's a place that generations of families both wealthy and destitute have inhabited, fled, and returned to for hundreds of years.

So the story begins, and we are first introduced to two young girls, Chloe and Renee, and watch Chloe in the store, trying to get bait so she and her sister can catch crabs for dinner. The descriptions of Chloe and her life were awesome, and I settled in for a great tale.

But then we meet some other characters, and then more characters...and as each vignette took us into other worlds, with some appealing and others, not so much, I started to lose focus.

Sweeping across time and back again, the author shows many such characters, but none quite so appealing to me as Chloe.

Then we meet Medora, in the 1800s...and I was hooked again. A half-Shawnee woman, with special medicinal talents and a determination to rise above her childhood abuse...she really grabbed my attention, and then I kept waiting for her story to reappear.

The author did a great job of showing us the setting and making the reader feel a part of it. And the darkness of the characters' lives didn't bother me, but the numerous cast of characters and the veering back and forth through time did....I was lost. And then decided to forget about taking notes and just try to enjoy each "story," which worked out better.

The Shore: A Novel was not an enjoyable book for me, but the themes and issues were definitely important ones. 3.5 stars.

Every Fifteen Minutes
Every Fifteen Minutes
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars OBSESSIONS RUN RAMPANT, May 19, 2015
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Dr. Eric Parrish, Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer Hospital in Philadelphia, is enjoying the fruits of his labor at work. His hospital has even earned an award for its performance, which many credit him for.

His personal life, however, is at an all-time low. His wife Caitlyn has left him, and she is doing sneaky things with regard to his visitation with their daughter Hannah. Eric realizes that she has a new boyfriend, and this probably explains a lot about her new attitude.

Then Eric is abruptly brought into the case of a seventeen-year-old boy named Max, who is suffering from depression and possibly other issues due to his grandmother's impending death.

In treating Max, Eric soon learns of the boy's obsessions, part of his OCD, which center on a young girl named Renee.

Suddenly everything is seemingly out of control for Eric, as Max goes missing after his grandmother's death, and the young woman Renee has been found murdered. And at the hospital, a young medical student named Kristine has filed sexual harassment charges against him, which stuns Eric, since she has been coming on to him...and he has shut her down. Are these events random, or is someone pulling the strings? What is the end game?

Every Fifteen Minutes was a fast-paced suspense story narrated in Eric's first person voice, and alternately narrated by an unidentified sociopath. The sociopath also uses the first person voice, and calls himself/herself a "sociopath" and outlines a vague plan to take Eric down. Who is this unidentified sociopath and why is he or she fixated on Eric?

I could not read this book fast enough, eager to find out who had done what. I had suspicions that the "puppeteer" had to be a colleague. But at the very end, a stunning reveal left me reeling. 5 stars.

Bittersweet: A Novel
Bittersweet: A Novel
by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.45
164 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars BENEATH THE SURFACE....EVIL LURKS, May 18, 2015
This review is from: Bittersweet: A Novel (Hardcover)
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When Mabel Dagmar, an ordinary girl, first met the privileged blue blood Genevra Winslow, the most relevant thing about her was how little she noticed Mabel. As if she were simply an annoyance to bear. Or an item of furniture, something she could overlook. Since Ev was her college roommate, Mabel tried to find a way to coexist with the strange girl.

So when Genevra (Ev) made an overture, offering an invitation to a special event, Mabel didn't know what to make of it; she did notice, however, how Ev's moods changed from dark to light, and that her occasional invitations afterwards were unpredictable. But the "intermittent reinforcement" had definitely hooked Mabel.

The invitation to the Winslow family summer retreat at their Vermont estate seemed almost like a gift that could then be quickly withheld. And what Ev did in the subsequent weeks, as Mabel found herself in the middle of a privileged world, was true to form. She alternately snarled, scowled, and withheld her attention, and then drew Mabel back to her with one kind gesture. To say she was spoiled and entitled would be an understatement. I did not like anything about this character, even though I realized that her parents had had a role in creating this behavior.

Because Ev was often unavailable, both physically and emotionally, Mabel found her own way among the family members, and developed a unique relationship with Ev's aunt, Indo, an eccentric woman who made an unusual request.

Narrated in Mabel's first person voice, the reader is drawn into the story, seeing the privileged world through Mabel's eyes...and wanting to warn her as she becomes more and more hooked on the feelings this world engenders. Our narrator tells the story as if looking back on this time and these events. There is a sense of loss about her tale. And all the while, she, too, has a dark secret.

What did Mabel discover about the Winslows? How did what she learned change everything about her summer and her life? Did she rise above the evil she had inadvertently become a part of? And who would be an unexpected ally in the end?

Bittersweet: A Novel was a story about a family so dysfunctional that one would have to look very hard to find anything good about it. How Mabel turned things around in the end brought a satisfying conclusion to the dark and twisted history of this family. 5.0 stars.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Leather Cover, Fuchsia (does not fit Kindle or Kindle Touch)
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite Leather Cover, Fuchsia (does not fit Kindle or Kindle Touch)
Price: $39.99
9 used & new from $28.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Pippa is Delighted!, May 17, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I love my Kindle (Pippa) Paperwhite cover! It is gorgeous, it fits nicely on the device, and I feel good using it.
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Little Black Lies
Little Black Lies
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars THERE IS NO TRUTH, May 16, 2015
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This review is from: Little Black Lies (Kindle Edition)
After finishing medical school at Yale, along with her internship, Zoe Goldman has returned to her hometown of Buffalo for her psychiatry residency. But coming home has brought some baggage with it.

Years ago, Zoe lost her birth mother in a fire, and has some physical and emotional scarring from the traumatic episode. In addition, Zoe has ADHD and some issues with compulsivity. She struggles with these issues, along with how coming home has caused old feelings to resurface. And now the nightmares have begun again.

How will Zoe manage her patient load while dealing with her own issues? Why is her adoptive mother, now suffering from dementia, hiding things from her? Was everything she was told a lie, or has her mother "forgotten" the facts due to her memory issues?

Little Black Lies is a page-turner that I couldn't put down. I loved the mix of Zoe's personal life with the issues of her patients. Why has one particular patient, Sofia Vallano, who incidentally killed her own mother when she was fourteen, started showing up in Zoe's nightmares? Can Zoe find the answers to her own nebulous past? Will she discover the truth behind the lies? And when, in one horrifying moment, she does learn it all, will she survive it?

Finding the answers can be life-changing. There are still too many unanswered questions, Zoe realizes, and what is the truth? What are the lies? I liked this summation Zoe made: "Maybe the truth is this: There is no truth."

A great story for those who enjoy suspense, mixed in with family issues. 5.0 stars.

Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel (Alex Delaware Novels)
Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel (Alex Delaware Novels)
by Jonathan Kellerman
Edition: Hardcover
341 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A PEEK INTO THE WORLD OF ALEX & MILO, May 15, 2015
Our story begins with Holly Ruche, a young pregnant wife who is rhapsodizing about her beautiful and recently acquired ninety-year old home, in Cheviot Hills in LA, and even though it will require some fixing up, she is very happy at the thought. The only thing that bothers her is how the previous owners did not properly cut down that tree, and there is a mess in the yard.

While digging in the garden, she discovers skeletal remains that appear to be an infant. At this point, the detectives are called in, and the initial findings suggest that the remains are at least 60 years old. This fact will complicate the investigation.

Before the detectives can pursue this case further, another infant's body, a more recent one, is discovered in a nearby park. And a woman's dead body is just across the park. Are these two events connected?

When Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware begin their quest to solve the mysteries, their journey takes them along many unexpected trails that veer and twist, making you forget where you started. Oh, yes...what about the first body in Holly's yard?

Soon on their radar are two somewhat reclusive megastars, Prema Moon and Donny Rader, and the very unusual life they share. It is easy to forget about the first least for a while.

The fun in taking the journey with Alex and Milo is also getting to join them as they ponder what to do next, while eating a large breakfast or lunch somewhere. Or watching Alex feed the koi in his backyard and then getting a glimpse of his girlfriend Robin while she works on the guitars she rebuilds. I can visualize the lovely home in Beverly Glen, which is off the beaten track and a little quirky.

But back to the quest. Prema's unexpected cooperation leads Milo and Alex to some answers....and then, after a while, we learn more about the first infant.

As much as I enjoyed Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel, the investigation itself was all over the map, so my enjoyment was centered on Alex and his life and thoughts. In the end, there were satisfactory conclusions, but I'm awarding 3.5 stars for this one.

The Sound of Glass
The Sound of Glass
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $11.43

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ATMOSPHERIC TALE WITH FAMILY SECRETS, May 12, 2015
Our story begins in 1955 with Edith Heyward, in Beaufort, South Carolina, where she secretly works on a project up in the attic of the old antique home, worrying about her husband's return from his trip. It is obvious that she is afraid of her husband, and the bruises tell us more.

Nearby, her young son CJ is playing. With the breezes come the sound of the wind chimes scattered all around; Edith makes them from sea glass.

When two tragedies occur that night, everything changes for Edith.

Fast forward to 2014: we meet Merritt Heyward, whose husband Cal, the grandson of Edith, has died. She has left her home in Maine, as she has inherited the family home in Beaufort. Merritt has her own secrets and fears, and she just wants to curl up alone in the old house and decide what to do next. But will the stream of visitors change everything for her? Why is her deceased father's wife Loralee there with her ten-year-old son Owen? What is her agenda, and what are the secrets she is keeping?

The Sound of Glass is a lovely, atmospheric tale full of family secrets, revealing them one by one, like unpeeling an onion. But will the price of the revelations be worth it in the long run?

The characters were the kind that grip your heart and make you feel every available emotion, the ones you must feel for the mother (Loralee), who always has a bright smile and a humorous Southern saying, but who has taken a difficult journey for her son; for Merritt, leaving behind the dark shadows of her life with Cal, but holding tight to the secrets until her heart opens again in the presence of the wonderful new people in the life she has fallen into. And then there was Gibbes, who was the kind of brother-in-law who could see beyond the surface and realize what those around him needed.

Was everything that happened to them a coincidence? There were connections and threads that seemingly bound many of them together, some before they were born. What is the meaning of that kind of serendipity? A wonderful story that made me laugh and cry, and close the final page wishing I could read more about them all. Five stars.

Eat the Document: A Novel
Eat the Document: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars CAPTURING THE FLAVORS OF THE PAST...., May 10, 2015
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The 1970s were a pivotal time for those in my generation, so I was drawn to Eat the Document: A Novel. I participated in my share of protests against the Vietnam War and the tragedy of Kent State.

From the synopsis, we learn: "In the heyday of the 1970s underground, Bobby DeSoto and Mary Whittaker -- passionate, idealistic, and in love -- design a series of radical protests against the Vietnam War. When one action goes wrong, the course of their lives is forever changed. The two must erase their past, forge new identities, and never see each other again."

As the story opens, Mary has put five states between herself and what happened. She is using the name "Caroline," and it is obviously an informal kind of name change, as we will discover later how she makes the change more permanent. And what that kind of change feels if her life, as she knew it, is now definitely over.

The story sweeps back and forth between the 1970s and 80s and into the 1990s, and we see some similarities between the protests back then and those in the later era. The story spotlights some characters living in Seattle, like Nash, who manages a bookstore called Prairie Fire Books, and the store owner, Henry, who seems to have some dark urges governing his days and nights.

We focus a bit on Jason, the 15-year-old son of the newly recreated Louise (who was once Mary, then Caroline, and a few other reinvented selves). From Jason's point of view, we see that he is struggling with what he feels are secrets his mother is keeping. He senses something.

Will Jason discover Mary's past? Will Nash and Mary connect at some point? Who is Nash? Mary/Louise's movements through the 1970s and onward have brought her to Washington, closer to what is happening in Seattle.

As the past converges on the present, we can look back and feel the flavors of the times as they were changing...and appreciate how, in the present, there is still something of the past that lingers. A captivating read that kept my interest, except for a few chapters that introduced some of the 1990s characters. 4.0 stars.

The Life You've Imagined: A Novel
The Life You've Imagined: A Novel
by Kristina Riggle
Edition: Paperback
45 used & new from $1.49

4.0 out of 5 stars GO CONFIDENTLY IN THE DIRECTION OF YOUR DREAMS...., May 8, 2015
The small town of Haven, in Michigan, is the kind of place some want to leave and never revisit. For Anna Geneva, an attorney in Chicago, coming home after the loss of a dear friend and mentor feels like going backwards. Her mother, Maeve, is struggling with her store, and soon Anna realizes that her old boyfriend's company is planning an urban redevelopment project that will demolish the business. Her protests to the City Council fall on deaf ears.

Reconnecting with old friends is one good outcome of returning to Haven, like with Cami Drayton, who is staying with her alcoholic father and hiding a secret addiction of her own. Can Cami find out the dark secret her father is hiding?

Then there is Amy Rickart, former overweight girl who has lost enough weight to win a fiancé, Paul Becker, one of the sons of the builder who is rehabbing the Geneva's store. Her desire for perfection seems to be governing her life, however, and some strange obsessions do not bode well for her future. Plus, her fiancé is a bit of a jerk.

When Anna sees Will again, the elder Becker son and her old boyfriend, sparks seem to reignite, but how can they possibly make anything happen between them, since he is married with a daughter?

Then, out of the blue, Maeve begins receiving letters from her long missing husband, reminding her of the lost love and the feelings she had before the abandonment that has informed her life for years. Will she respond to his requests? Can she trust him again?

Narrated in alternate chapters by each of the primary characters, The Life You've Imagined: A Novel is the kind of story that reminds us of how old dreams and old friendships can help us reinvent ourselves, even when nothing seems possible. A recurring theme reminds us of the quote: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."

Themes of starting over, reconnecting with old friends and lovers, and redefining one's life in the face of loss and adversity kept me turning pages, enjoying the characters, and wanting to know more. 4.0 stars.

Never Tell a Lie: A Novel of Suspense
Never Tell a Lie: A Novel of Suspense
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars OBSESSION...., May 2, 2015
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At long last, David and Ivy Rose are about to have their first child, after previous miscarriages. With the baby's due date only weeks away, they are clearing out the attic of a previous owner's belongings and having a yard sale. They are eager to finish renovating their old Victorian in Brush Hills, MA.

In the furor of the sale, with all the comings and goings, Ivy is stunned to see a woman, also pregnant, approach and identify herself as Melinda White, an old high school friend.

Ivy knows that they were barely acquaintances, that Melinda was always on the fringes...and that she had probably longed to be part of the crowd.

Suddenly Melinda is going inside the house with David, having asked for a tour, and Ivy is consumed with other yard sale details.

What happens next will be like a nightmare that unfurls and changes everything about the life they thought they had....and with each day that passes, their lives will be reshaped by the events of that day. For Melinda White has been reported missing, and nobody can fill in what happened after she went into the house with David. Not even David.

There was evidence, including a blood-stained outfit Melinda had been wearing, stashed at their curb in a trunk they had placed out there for garbage collection. Why did the neighbor, Mrs. Bindell, report that she had seen Ivy at the trunk? How did fetal tissue get on the clothing? And why is David's old friend Theo, who is also their attorney, acting suspicious?

Obsession, mental instability, and a very devious plan would all unfold, and as the suspense ratchets up another few notches, I was glued to the pages as it all started to make sense. Never Tell a Lie: A Novel of Suspense is a psychological thriller with characters I cared about...and an ending that I was eager to see. 5 stars.

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