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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE MAGIC OF WIND CHIMES, May 27, 2015
The Sound of Glass by Karen White is an intricately plotted and captivating tale of deception, complicity and buried family secrets that are gradually revealed as the author pinballs from present day to flashback sequences, slowly weaving together the similar but seemingly unconnected experiences and tragedies of three women.

The sights and scents of the South Carolina low country come to life through White’s vivid descriptions and reader can almost hear the gentle tinkling of wind chimes made of sea glass and smell the jasmine scented salt air and pluff mud that line the harbors, marshes, and tidal creeks around the town of Beaufort where the narrative unfolds.

Utilizing the secrets buried within a decades old plane crash, The Sound of Glass steadily draws you into the emotional and often traumatic lives of its characters. Narrated by three women, Edith, Merritt and Loralee, the secrets of each are gradually revealed as well as the consequences of their individual choices on those whose lives they touch.

There’s romance, acceptance and healing as well as the requisite mystery to be uncovered at the ancestral home that makes this a perfect read for a lazy summer day. 3 1/2 stars
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 27, 2015 2:15 PM PDT

London From My Windows
London From My Windows
by Mary Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THE JOURNEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY, May 23, 2015
This review is from: London From My Windows (Paperback)
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So many novels have been written recently addressing various illnesses from Alzheimer's, dementia and bi-polar disorder to defective gene maladies like ALS and Huntington's disease. In each case the author has attempted to provide readers with a better understanding of their chosen subject matter. In Mary Carter's recent LONDON FROM MY WINDOWS the anxiety disorder known as agoraphobia is the "invisible disability" being scrutinized.

Dancing with daddy is every adolescent girls dream, but when 10 year old Ava's father suffers a fatal heart attack while dancing with her and her mother accuses her of being the cause of her father's death, Ava retreats from the world and into the presumed safety of her bedroom.

Fast forward nineteen years. The death of her father's sister Beverly in London brings an unexpected windfall into Ava's life. She has inherited Aunt Beverly's estate.....but only if she flies to London and fulfills a list of requirements set forth by her aunt. In the event that she is unable to meet the requirements the estate will revert to one of Aunt Bev's friends, a drag queen named Queenie (what else). This begs the question, "Can a woman with impaired by panic attacks and a fear of anything outside the safety of her four walls board a plane, acclimate to a new city, learn to socialize with others and ultimately overcome her disability?" Partial answers dwell within the pages of this novel.

Carter has created very unusual and mostly likable characters to populate Ava's world and her inner dialogs as she valiantly attempts to overcome her fears are often amusing. Hopefully, readers will find themselves steering clear of judgment in favor of joining the "Team Ava" cheering section she deals with love, loss, family and new friends (as well as a few frenemies) along the way.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2015 4:33 PM PDT

Crooked Heart: A Novel
Crooked Heart: A Novel
by Lissa Evans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.62

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WAR ON THE HOME FRONT, May 16, 2015
This review is from: Crooked Heart: A Novel (Hardcover)
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I love getting lost in a good book about a particular time in history and the people who lived through that time. For me, historical fiction is particularly enjoyable when the author draws characters that are vivid and distinctively human (warts and all.) With Crooked Heart Lissa Evans has given us a book that is not only heartwarming and engaging, but also features a cast of damaged but largely appealing characters caught up in hardship and poverty of England during WWII. She skillfully captures the reality of both the people and their predicaments without becoming maudlin, sentimental or overly dramatic.

Noel is ten and initially lives with and is home schooled by his aged godmother Mattie, who has taught Noel to be a free thinker but who herself has begun a slow descent into dementia. The war and personal circumstances find Noel evacuated to the town of St. Albans and into the home of a woman named Vee Sedge, her nineteen year old son Donald as well as Vee’s elderly and supposedly house-bound and helpless mother. The occupants of Vee’s household, as well as the homes of many others in the town, contain more than their share of con artists and scammers. From pilfering air-raid wardens to less than honest auto repair shop owners, almost every character is out to better their lot in life by capitalizing on the opportunities that the war is providing. Conscience is placed on the “back burner” as some resort to subterfuge and others outright theft.

Crooked Heart is a dark comedy about survival and the transformative moments in the lives of its various characters. You will find yourself cheering for this unconventional dynamic duo - Vee as she warily explores and exploits every small window of opportunity aided and abetted by Noel, her very capable and astute 10 year old companion. This will definitely go on my list of top ten reads of 2015.

Desert Sundays: A Novel
Desert Sundays: A Novel
Price: $6.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FRIENDS WHO SHAPE US, May 10, 2015
In Desert Sundays author William T. Goodman gives his readers what amounts to a meditation of love, life, sacrifice, loyalty and selflessness through his memorable characters and strong sense of place. The place in question is the small Arizona desert town of Lunden and the characters are three emotionally damaged and basically solitary people thrown together by fate who develop an unlikely friendship. All three are products of their troubled pasts, and each in their own way is deeply flawed as well as remarkably talented. The bond that develops between these three is fraught with a complex and powerful devotion to each other that most people are never fortunate enough to experience.

What results is a beautifully rendered tour-de-force of a novel that makes its way to a finale that is moving and surprising in its examination of the often insular prejudice that lies just below the surface in small towns as well as the addressing and questioning our perception of justice – legal versus moral.

Without resorting to peppering the reader with cloying, artificial emotions the author gives the reader plenty to ponder and digest as he lays bare the intricacies of the human experience and gives us a novel that is a joy to read.

The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year
The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $11.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars SHADE AND CHEESE, May 9, 2015
I've never much cared for guessing games and that is exactly what much of Andy Cohen's latest tome is. In his "yearly diary" the only people he actually NAMES are those he gushes over like Madonna. The others are initials only and it's up to the reader to guess who he is referring to. Of course, SJP (Sarah Jessica Parker) is obvious, but a few of the other initials offer more of a challenge and you often wind up developing a who cares attitude about the whole thing. In addition, I am an avid watcher of the Real Housewives and all of the book's hype about naming names and revealing the "dirt" about participants in the various franchises was a non-starter, in fact the book was downright boring. Be warned, this was one of those "guess who I'm talking about" games, and one I ultimately chose not to play. In fairness to Andy I will admit that the title he chose for his diary "A DEEP LOOK AT A SHALLOW YEAR" is at least 50% accurate. The observations are shallow and shady and the only deep aspect in this whole endeavor is the depth to which he has sunk in his attempt to generate (1) interest in the many Bravo housewives shows and (2) put more money into his bank account.

For those who revel in Andy's TV persona, you will be disappointed with this piece of cheese.

The Woman in the Movie Star Dress
The Woman in the Movie Star Dress
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars FEMME FATALE IN TRAINING, May 5, 2015
The Chinese refer to the vital life force energy of the Universe, present within every living thing as ‘Chi' (pronounced Chee). THE WOMAN IN THE MOVIE STAR DRESS asks the question, “Can garments previously owned and worn by others, carry the Chi of the previous owner and could it actually transfer “human personality and traits” to the current wearer”? Now, what if that previously owner was a movie star like Ava Gardner or Elizabeth Taylor or even a murderer……what then?

Author Praveen Asthana takes the reader on a delightful journey down memory lane with famous Hollywood names from the 30’s and 40’s and a protagonist whose once desolate romantic life is now overflowing with prospects as she meets and dates three men who seem to possess the Chi of her favorites ( Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Humphrey Bogart).

While the basic premise of this book is slightly reminiscent of one called The Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill this version is less dark and eerie and more paranormal –fantasy romance featuring a hard working Native American protagonist named Genevieve (Daisy Bear). Encumbered with the memory of a mother who committed suicide, an alcoholic father, a crazy teen-aged brother and few romantic prospects she manages to find comfort and possible salvation in wearing clothing of long deceased movie stars, “borrowed” from The Hollywood Clothing Store where she is employed, and fueled in part by some of dear old dad’s peyote stash coupled with a few gratuitous sexual encounters. Needless to say that while Genevieve is probably not the daughter you always dreamed about her exploits do keep you reading.

Benefit of the Doubt: A Novel
Benefit of the Doubt: A Novel
by Neal Griffin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25
56 used & new from $6.67

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SMALL TOWN CORRUPTION, May 1, 2015
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With BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT Neal Griffin delivers a classic thriller churning with tension and an adversary with a need for revenge. After serving seventeen years for a murder he insists he didn’t commit, Harlan Lee is out of prison and traveling back to Wisconsin with a master plan of retaliation against the folks who framed him and sent him up the river. No kidding, Harlan is a bad guy who commits grisly crimes however some of his transgressions pale in comparison to those of a few small town officials that put him in prison. From the current chief of police to a thoroughly evil piece of work in the person of Narcotics Detective Doyle McKenzie it seems that the town of Newberg, Wisconsin has more than it’s share of villains in high places and Griffin’s writing demonstrates an excellent talent for exposing the dark, seedy side of corruption in a small town police department.

Caught in the middle of all this drama are Ben Sawyer, a former Oakland, CA. cop whose career has been on a downward spiral since an encounter with a fugitive that left him unemployed, and his wife Alex who have recently relocated to Newberg. Both are targets in a carefully engineered set of circumstances that have result in life taking a dramatic and potentially life changing turn for the couple.

Griffins years spent in police work are obvious as he intuitively creates a company of seriously vile and depraved characters. There are so many unconscionable bad guys on both sides of the law throughout this novel that it becomes almost impossible to delineate between the good guys and the bad.

I certainly hope that this novel is the result of Griffin’s fertile imagination and bears no credible authenticity to individuals he has met in his years in law enforcement.

The Boy Who Granted Dreams
The Boy Who Granted Dreams
Price: $6.15

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PURSUING THE 'AMERICAN DREAM', April 28, 2015
THE BOY WHO GRANTED DREAMS is a novel that satisfies on many levels. It is a love story and a story of family, friends and community but ultimately it is a tale of immigration and the strength of character necessary to overcoming hardship to achieve ones goals.

Author Luca De Fulvio tells the heart rending story of how Cetta at age 14 leaves her small town in Italy with her infant son and comes to New York to find work and a better life for herself and the boy she named Natale (later called Christmas by the port authorities who accepted the most likely translation of the Italian Natale). Forced to work in a brothel in order to support herself and her child, a salvation of sorts is offered to her in the form of Sal, a big gruff oaf of a guy whose countenance and demeanor belie his soft heart.

DREAMS explores the beginnings of radio, and the daily existence of immigrants trying to achieve the American dream on the mean streets of New York in the late 1920's. Writing with passion and vibrancy De Fulvio brings us the story of one couple - Ruth, whose fears, defiance and strengths are many and Christmas, the man with a dream who has loved her from the first day their paths crossed.

While this could be seen as a clichéd boy-meets-girls story it is, in truth, an ingenious and moving exploration of one ordinary couple's path through extraordinary times. Originally published in Italian, this tale loses none of its power and charm in the translation.

Hollywood Lost
Hollywood Lost
Price: $9.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'DUSTING OFF" ANOTHER TAKE ON OLD HOLLYWOOD, April 23, 2015
This review is from: Hollywood Lost (Kindle Edition)
The machinations of a movie studio mogul coupled with a serial killer's obsession and a beautiful, young heroine recently arrived from the Oklahoma dust bowl are the centerpieces of Ace Collins latest offering set in Hollywood's Golden Age.

HOLLYWOOD LOST follows Shelby Beckett from her meager farm girl beginnings to assistant to the head of the wardrobe department of Galaxy studios where her talent with needle and thread guarantee her a job and her beauty allows her to rubs elbows with the heartthrobs of the silver screen. While the featured characters in the novel, like Detective Bill Barrister and his young sidekick Barry Jenkins flow directly from the authors fertile imagination, there are a multitude of other players in this huge cast that certainly resemble some of the Hollywood elite of the early 40's. Gossip maven Ellen Rains bears a striking resemblance to Hedda Hopper, wardrobe designer Betsy Minser could double for Edith Head, while two of the "pretty boy movie stars" Flynn Sparks and Dalton Andrews could be based on a number of heart-throbs of the era - - - three who come to mind are Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power and Dana Andrews - - - - but those are just the faces that appeared in my minds eye while I read.

This story inside a story is well-plotted and rife with red herrings. If you enjoy the characterizations and pacing of the noir books and movies of the late 30's and early 40's, then this trip down memory lane to Depression-era Hollywood should suit you to a "T".

NYPD Red 2
NYPD Red 2
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars DID PATTERSON WRITE MORE THAN THE OUTLINE???, April 19, 2015
This review is from: NYPD Red 2 (Kindle Edition)
When a mystery writer or writers create engaging characters with ample opportunity for enticing cases, a new series is born and readers await with anticipation each new installment of crime solving. In NYPD Red, readers were introduced to Detective Zach Jordan and his partner Kylie MacDonald , members of an elite police task force whose principle function is to protect the powerful and influential citizens of the Big Apple.

In NYPD2 James Patterson and co-author Marshall Karp take us, along with Jordan and MacDonald, on a journey into yet another horrific case. This time the scene of the crime is a carousel in Central Park where the butchered body of a female victim is discovered atop a carousel horse dressed in the latest in hazmat suits. It doesn't take long for the cops to add two and two and connect this killing to three other recent crimes. The question is, exactly what is the perpetrators motive and what message is he attempting to send via his choice of victims and the method of their demise?

I am not sure exactly how much of this book can be attributed to Patterson. The writing is solid and the killer is as unhinged and perverted as a few of the psycho's in Patterson's earlier Alex Cross series (like Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls) however, a lot of the pacing and style sounds like co-author Karp in his Lomax and Biggs series(his novel Cut, Paste, Kill comes to mind). Granted, Jordan and MacDonald are positively reserved when compared to the wise cracking style of Lomax and Biggs......but there is a definite similarity in these protagonist duos.

While most readers of detective fiction will find that this is not to most original story, on the plus side it is a fairly easy read with enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages.

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