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A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller
A Time of Torment: A Charlie Parker Thriller
by John Connolly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $11.87
52 used & new from $11.87

4.0 out of 5 stars Unique & Satisfying, August 15, 2016
Detective Charlie Parker is contacted by Jerome Burnell. Recently released from prison after serving five years for the possession of child pornography, Burnell insists he was framed. He wants Parker to prove his innocence and find who framed him.

Although Parker suspects Burnell is telling the truth, he hesitates and by the time he decides to take the case, Burnell has disappeared and is likely dead. Despite this, Parker goes ahead with his investiation. Eventually, it leads him to Plessy County, West Virginia and a tight-knit, secretive, and dangerous clan and a sheriff who is determined to rid the county of both them and the Dead King, the supernatural entity that gives them their power.

By combining the hard-boiled detective novel with the supernatural in his Charlie Parker series, Irish author, John Connelly, has created one of the most unique and entertaining series out there and A Time of Torment is a fine addition. It is one hell of a page-turner, guaranteed to keep the reader involved and reading right up to the twist at the end, A definite high recommendation for fans of the series or anyone looking for something a little - no, make that a lot - different.


America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History
America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Important, August 4, 2016
The United State has been at war in or for the Middle East for sixteen years. Yet, according to Andrew Bacevich, military historian and retired army colonel, you must go back four decades to the Carter Doctrine to clearly see how the US became so completely enmeshed in this quagmire and why it has been unable to extricate itself.

In his book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East, Bacevich gives a well-documented, concise, and highly readable account of the background, the motives, and the mistakes of successive commanders, presidents, and pundits and why, despite vastly superior weaponry, victory has remained illusory. This is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand how war in the Middle East has become a seemingly permanent fixture of American foreign policy regardless of which political party is in power as well as the costs both in economic and human terms of perpetual war and what is needed to finally bring this conflict to an end.


All These Perfect Strangers: A Novel
All These Perfect Strangers: A Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Kept Me Guessing, July 29, 2016
"This is about three deaths. Actually, more if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways."

It is 1990 and Pen has left both her dysfunctional life in a small town and her secrets to attend university. She is surrounded by people whom she starts to think of as friends but quickly discovers that she isn’t the only one with secrets. Then these new friends begin to die, and it looks like her past is catching up with her.

All These Perfect Strangers is the debut novel of author Aoife Clifford. The story moves back and forth through time and is told by Pen in the first person in the present while we learn about the past often through diary entries that she has written as therapy. Each chapter starts with a date and I discovered very quickly that it was important to note them because, otherwise, the story could be very confusing. But once I figured that out, I found myself immersed in the story enough to care what happened to Pen even when it seemed like she was not the innocent she portrayed herself.

The novel is well-written and, if it was less a pageturner than an intriguing puzzle, it kept me guessing throughout especially as Pen often hints that she is an unreliable narrator and a very good liar. Clifford gives plenty of red herrings and diversions to keep the story moving and the reader involved. She also raises some very interesting and timely moral issues eg. how much should age, intent, and victim be a factor in a murder case.


Dark Matter: A Novel
Dark Matter: A Novel
by Blake Crouch
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.99
72 used & new from $12.51

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High Octane, July 26, 2016
This review is from: Dark Matter: A Novel (Hardcover)
I have only one word to describe author Blake Crouch’s new science fiction book, Dark Matter – whoa!. I don’t want to give away too much about the story except to say this is a book that, should you decide to read it, you’re going to want to make sure they’ll be no interruptions because once started, there’s no way, in this or any other part of the multiverse, you are going to want to stop reading for anything short of the Apocalypse and then only if it starts wherever you are at the time. Crouch ramps up the action and excitement and keeps it going almost non-stop, only slowing occasionally to allow the reader to catch their breath. Crouch’s use of short active sentences and high-octane imagery kept me turning pages anxiously, needing to know what more could possibly happen to the main protagonist, Jason. But it wasn’t just the action and the suspense; Crouch also made me care about Jason, about his determination and willingness to risk so much for the people he cared about. All I can say is, if you’re a fan of heart-pounding action, fascinating world-building, and a hero who is both sympathetic and, at times, well, not so sympathetic, with just the right amount of romance, this gets a definite and loud Holy Multiverse! You Have to Read This! from me.


Beware That Girl
Beware That Girl

4.0 out of 5 stars A Whole Lot of Creepy Fun, July 22, 2016
This review is from: Beware That Girl (Kindle Edition)
Kate always has a plan. She is determined to go to Yale and she has been getting there both by hard work and by charming and manipulating people who can be of help. She is now a scholarship student in her senior year at an expensive girl’s school. By working in the office, she has access to student files and has discovered Olivia, a girl from an extremely wealthy family who has just spent a year in a psychiatric hospital, just the kind of student aid Kate was looking for. Olivia is fragile and easy prey for someone like Kate. But soon it becomes apparent Kate isn’t the only sociopath with designs on Olivia and, worse, it becomes clear that Olivia is just a convenient steppingstone to Kate herself. So what can a predator do when she finds herself prey to someone even higher up on the sociopath food chain.

Beware that Girl by author Teresa is a seriously creepy YA psychological thriller. The narrative is divided between Kate and Olivia. Kate speaks in the first voice. At first, she is unlikeable but slowly as the story unfolds, she becomes more sympathetic – except she is an admitted liar and manipulator and, therefore, an unreliable narrator making it hard to know how much if any she should be believed. Olivia’s story is told in the third person and, in the beginning, she seems a very sympathetic character but again as the story moves forward, it becomes clear that there is something off-kilter about her and we haven’t been told everything – she may be more damaged and therefore more dangerous than she seemed especially as she is being yanked in opposite directions by two predators determined to use her for their own ends. And, then, of course, there’s the charming school fundraiser who is intent on playing both of them and has a whole lot of experience at it.

Certainly this one stretches the willing suspension of disbelief almost to the breaking point but, hey, half the fun of these types of stories is their pure escapism. Beware that Girl is a whole lot of creepy fun as long as you don’t ask too much of it.


Revenants - The Odyssey Home
Revenants - The Odyssey Home
Price: $5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Moving & Heartbreaking, July 17, 2016
Revanant (REV-ih-nunt) – n. a person returning after a long absence or death; a ghost. Adj. 1. Ghostly; returning, 2. Remembering something long forgotten.

When Betsy’s older brother is killed in Vietnam, her grief causes her to act out – hanging with a rough crowd, blowing off school, drinking and drugs. When it catches up with her she is offered a way out of trouble – volunteer as a candy striper at the local VA hospital. When she first arrives and sees the horrible wounds many of these men suffer, she is overwhelmed. Eventually though, as she gets to know them, she begins to really care for them, a feeling that soon becomes mutual, and she is determined that these men will all get well enough to go home.

But there is a mystery patient hidden away on the top floor, one whose existence no one seems willing to acknowledge. When she is assigned to do some filing on the floor, she steals the key to the room. What she finds shocks her – a soldier from WWI with multiple major injuries so that he can’t see, walk, or talk. If it weren’t for his fingers moving on the sheets, she would have thought he had no voluntary body functions at all. Soon, with the aid of her younger brother and a young reporter, she sets out to learn his name and his story and any family that may still be alive so that he can be returned to them.

Revenants: The Odyssey Home by author Scott Kaufman is many things: a coming-of-age story, a mystery, a political thriller, a love story, and a story about war. Most of all, though, it is a story about the devastation war causes not only to the men and women who serve but to the people they leave behind. Based on Homer’s Odyssey, it alternates between Betsy’s journey to deal with her grief through her attempts to return the unknown soldier home and his own journey from young pre-war farm boy to now, fifty years later, a secret patient locked away in a VA hospital attic.

When I first started Revenants, I really didn't know what to expect so I was surprised to discover just how much I was moved by it. It is, at times, heartbreaking, hopeful, haunting, and shocking. It is the type of book that is hard to put down once started and stays with you long after you finish.


Saint's Blood (The Greatcoats)
Saint's Blood (The Greatcoats)

5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Addition to an Excellent Series, July 14, 2016
All is not well in Tristia. Falcio, Kest, and Brestia have finally installed Aline on the throne but, despite all of their best efforts, the people are on the verge of revolt and the Dukes are doing their best to depose her. Worse, someone is killing the saints and the first victim they encounter is Birgid, Saint of Mercy. When she battles her way into the palace and to Falcio, she is dying, her powers almost gone, an iron mask cruelly locked around her face.

Churches and sanctuaries are being desecrated preventing new saints to come into their powers and rumours are spreading throughout the country that the deaths of the saints is proof that the gods themselves disapprove of the new queen. Now the Inquisitors, a holy order or warriors whose purpose is to stamp out heresies, is determined to overthrow her and set up a theocracy. This would destroy everything that King Paelis had tried to accomplish, something Falcio cannot allow. But how do you fight a hidden enemy powerful enough to kill saints. Falcio has no clear plan how to do this but, with the aid of Kest and Brasti and others of his old friends as well as some new ones – even perhaps some unexpected ones like his old enemy, Duke Julliard or the head of the Inquistors himself – he will succeed or die trying.

Saint’s Blood is the third installment in the Greatcoats series by author Sebastian de Castell and a terrific addition to what is one of my favourite epic fantasy series. It is chock full of swashbuckling action, adventure, and, of course, plenty of heart pounding sword fights. Castille has expanded the world-building, added even more dimensions to old characters, and created some marvelous new ones. Like the previous two books, you should make sure you have plenty of time for reading before you start because Saint’s Blood will suck you in from the first word and keep you glued to your seat right to the end.

4.5

Thanks to Netgalley and Jo Fletcher Books for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review


The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
by Joanna Cannon
Edition: Paperback
29 used & new from $8.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, Quirky, & Insightful, July 12, 2016
In the summer of 1976, as the UK suffers its worst heat wave ever recorded, Mrs Creasy disappears. No one knows why she left or even if she left on her own volition or something more sinister has occurred – regardless, they are sure that Walter Bishop is somehow behind it because after all wasn’t he behind the disappearance of the baby in 1967 even if it was never proven. In his latest sermon the vicar preached that God was everywhere and someday he would separate the goats from the sheep and the sheep would go to heaven while the goats would go elsewhere. Which of course raised the question for 10-year-old Grace, the narrator of this tale, and her best friend, Tillie, how can you tell the difference because perhaps if they could, they would be able to solve the mystery of Mrs. Creasy. So while the adults discuss the disappearance and what to do about Bishop, Grace and Tillie set out to find God to ask him. If God is everywhere, surely someone on the avenue must know His exact whereabouts. As the summer and Grace and Tillie’s investigation heat up, old secrets are revealed, interesting and surprising discoveries are made, some bad things happen, a cat comes back, and Grace learns that perhaps there’s a little sheep and goat in everyone.

By making Grace the narrator of this debut novel, author Joanna Cannon gives the reader a quirky, fun, and oddly innocent kid’s eye view of the world of adults. Cannon has a marvelous eye for the complexities and flaws we humans carry around with us and manages to make mundane events interesting, suspenseful, and often wickedly funny as the pair of juvenile would-be sleuths interrogate their eccentric but mostly quite nice neighbours including the alleged villain and certain harassment victim, Walter Bishop. This is a beautifully written, clever, and deceptively simple novel about friendship, loyalty, prejudice, and the secrets people keep and the lies they tell both to others and to themselves to protect those secrets and the consequences those lies can have. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep gets a very high recommendation from me.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Scribner for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review


The Serpent King
The Serpent King
by Jeff Zentner
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $10.58
76 used & new from $6.47

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautifully Written & Touching Debut, July 10, 2016
This review is from: The Serpent King (Hardcover)
The Serpent King is a beautifully written and touching YA tale by author Jeff Zentner. It is the story of three young misfits in Forrestville, Tennessee, a town named after a Confederate general. Dill Early Jr is the son of a Pentecostal preacher who drank poison, handled poisonous snakes, and is now in prison for child pornography, a crime many including his mother believe is really Dill’s. Dill has always been afraid of the snakes, something his father has used to humiliate him. He is also a talented musician although very few outside the church know this. Travis is a gentle giant of a boy, abused by his father, and grieving the death of his older brother. He finds solace in a series of fantasy books, wears a tacky dragon pendant, and carries a staff, all of which help to make him an outcast at school. He spends much of his time online discussing the books he loves and has developed an online relationship with another fan. Lydia is smart, witty, already making a name for herself as a fashion blogger. She uses her wit to fight back against the bigotry and small cruelties of her classmates. Of the three, she is the only one who is an outsider by choice. They are in their last year of high school and all three want to escape the confines of the town but Lydia, thanks in great part to her supportive parents, is the only one who has the opportunity and has already made plans. She is determined, however, to push the other two and offers them both options, Dill through his music and Travis through writing.

The story is told in the third person and alternates between the three giving the reader an intimate look at their thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Dill feels the most trapped and Travis, despite his father, is the most hopeful. Lydia is the least likable of the three often seeming unable or perhaps refusing to see her advantages and pushing the other two to change their futures without looking at the reasons why they feel unable to. On the other hand, without her, they would have no hopes of a better life even if the ones she offers seem impossible.

It is impossible not to root for the three even Lydia or shed a tear when tragedy strikes. Often using short, active sentences, Zentner’s writing perfectly brings to life the poverty of the South, a religion foreign to most of us, the small and large cruelties of many people including some parents, the difficulty of fitting in to this kind of lifestyle for many teens, and the difficulties of escaping. He tells the story with clarity, empathy, and hope and he makes the reader care for his characters in a way few writers can. That it is his debut novel makes it even more impressive.


If I Forget You: A Novel
If I Forget You: A Novel
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Writing Uninspired Story, July 6, 2016
Henry and Margo had met in college. He’s working class, she’s upper; he’s handsome, she’s beautiful. Eventually they were separated by a foolish mistake. Now, twenty years later, he’s a divorced professor with a young daughter; she’s married but bored. Then they meet again by chance and discover that they still share their youthful passion for one another.

If I Forget You by author Thomas Christopher Green alternates between the past and present and between narratives by the two protagonists. Unfortunately, perhaps because neither of the two characters inspired much empathy or even interest in me or perhaps, in fairness, because I’m not much of a fan of romance novels even well-written ones, I never felt connected to the story. On the plus side, however, it is beautifully written which kept me reading to the end. If I didn’t find the story particularly compelling, I enjoyed the language used to tell it.


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