Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review: My Nazi Nemesis

My Nazi Nemesis My Nazi Nemesis by Rich DiSilvio
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rich DiSilvio had me at Nazi. Jack Goodwin sits his fifteen year old daughter, Eleanor, down to tell her about how he met and fell in love with her mother, Veronika. Enter our villain, Alois Richter, and the story intensifies in both action and drama. Father and daughter eventually join forces to right the wrongs of the past in My Nazi Nemesis. This is truly a dark thriller but also so much more; A tale of love, revenge, betrayal, secrets, family, and ultimately living with consequences.

Jack is the main character and good guy in the story, clearly, but I loved loved loved Eleanor, the "50 year old woman in a fifteen year old's body". Smart in the brain and mouth equally, Eleanor brings a lightness that I didn't expect mixed with the conventional seriousness of the subject matter. The banter between Jack and Eleanor is witty and a perfect avenue for bringing the reader through the story. It's easy to hate Alois and even if you think you have an idea of where this is all going, you may just be dead wrong. DiSilvio's writing here is a fantastic example of just good storytelling.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Review: How to swear & love in Dutch

How to swear & love in Dutch How to swear & love in Dutch by Ingeborg Stinissen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At first I didn't think this was actually a book that would teach you an unknown language, my mind went directly to the 'romance in a foreign country' genre. Imagine my surprise when this opened with the phonetic Dutch alphabet, numbers, greetings and then head first into flirting. Because that's super important. Hilarity ensues from this point and the reader finds herself laughing about potential scenarios with handsome Dutch gentlemen. This eventually happens, by the way, without realizing the thoughts are at least partly in Dutch as well. And just like that, you're learning a new language - albeit one I can honestly say I have never been remotely interested in learning before.

This book teaches you specifically how to say "I can't open your bra." and the next chapter is what to say at the wedding! Followed by how to tell your significant other that they are blocking the television. I can't even...

I had so much fun reading How to Swear and Love in Dutch. While it is humorous, Ingeborg Stinissen manages to teach the serious stuff as well. It was an easy going, information filled 60 pages that I would recommend to anyone heading into Dutch country to mingle with the locals.Well done!

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review: The Host

The Host The Host by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Host is absolutely one of my top 3 favorite books of all time. Saw what you want about the writing in the Twilight series, Meyer has proven to me that she's a masterful writer. Yes, perhaps a bit high on the romance aspect but sorry folks, love and the chance for love is what people will fight for.

Let me start with the aliens. I have a tendency to roll my eyes and lose interest in alien plots. But, the aliens in The Host were fascinating. I mean yes, they took over and the human race basically gets wiped out. BUT. Why? Because we are as a whole, a terrible species! We're awful to one another, mindlessly destructive to our planet, cruel to animals, etc, etc, etc... Is it really that much of a stretch of the imagination that beings from another world might not look kindly on that? Now I'm not saying they aren't the enemy in the book but only slightly more so than say, Kyle. That guy was a bad guy! Also, the fact that they weren't little green men or huge snarling grey masses was a big plus for me.

At the heart of this book, what I really fell in love with was the combination of the human spirit and the desperate clinging to the world they knew and leaving room for that sliver of hope that some sort of peace can be reached. The Host made me angry, scared me, frustrated me, and ultimately made me cry. And I don't cry. If a book can make me cry and I don't hate the author with a fury because of it, that's a job well done.

Please don't pass this book up just because you hated Twilight!

View all my reviews

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had my eye on The Woman in Cabin 10 for a while so when I saw it on my sister-in-law's shelf, I snatched it up. One afternoon by the pool, one nasty sunburn, and a couple of heart attacks later, I'm done!

This novel is really fantastic. Lo is one of those female characters who embodies both an almost irritating weakness and unimaginable strength. Her relationship with Jude in the beginning very nearly set me against her. I've never been a woman who enjoys the hot/cold/love/hate back and forth between love interests. Either you're in or you're out so make up your damn mind and stop jerking each other around. *end of rant*

Despite what I felt was a rough beginning, as soon as Lo hears the splash, it was game on. The mystery of who the woman in cabin 10 was, the motives of the other passengers, who did it, who is in on it, how did the mascara disappear, who snuck in... it almost never ends! And it is fantastic! Even the very last page is another reveal.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Review: Humanity's Way Forward

Humanity's Way Forward Humanity's Way Forward by Seth Mullins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Humanity's Way Forward is the third book in the Edge of the Known series by Seth Mullins. I began with book 5, Awaken to the Wilderness, and really enjoyed it. I've never been one to go about things in any sensible order but it's working out for me here.

Here, again, Brandon Chane comes across a bit melodramatic and broody. As much as those characteristics irk me, I can't help but root for him. Given his past, it's hard to hold it against the kid. The way he sees the world, the way he works things out in his head, and the way he relates to the people around him is so interesting. This is a markedly different Brandon than the one I met in Book 5 and it makes me appreciate the progress he apparently makes in two books. Mullins is extremely creative in the way he writes characters. This guy doesn't know one dimensional, and thank the novel gods for that!

The angst of the band members struggling with the climb to the top created a conflict the reader desperately wants to see them come out triumphant. I found the specifics about the music industry fascinating. Humanity's Way Forward is an authentic and humorous read, a nice way to spend an afternoon.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 14, 2017

Review: Sanctuary

Sanctuary Sanctuary by Laurie Larsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sanctuary is the first book in the Murrells Inlet series by author Laurie Larsen. Tagged as contemporary Christian romance, this would be a book I would only pick up when I'm in just the right mood. To be honest, it was reading about the author that made me more interested in reading this. An IT professional by day and romance novelist by night, Mrs. Larsen is proving a woman can wear two different suits and excel in both. It's fascinating to me and gives me an automatic respect for her.

Now onto the story; It's a sweet book. Not sticky sweet but very nearly. The pace is brisk and easy and the reader is saved from long winded descriptions of scenery and house layouts, which I appreciate greatly. I really loved the horse angle, I think it added a dimension to the story that helped shine a light on the human characters. Larsen's talent for writing an engaging story is unquestioned by this reader.

There is a but here... I thought the big 'betrayal' was very much not a betrayal and I was irritated at Nora for painting herself such a martyr over it. I'm sorry but Shaw was a martyr, Sadie was a martyr, even Melanie was more a martyr in the story than Nora. I think I have come to the same type of conclusion about the female characters in Christian romances before and I believe it's why I shy away from the genre. Life isn't black and white, people aren't all good or all bad, and love is rarely painless. It seems like when God and faith is a focus of a story, the characters are far less forgiving from their perch on their high horse. It is something I've witnessed in real life with great disgust and I am aware that my preconceived notions affect the way I relate to characters in those type of books. None of this is the author's fault, it's just the way I feel.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review: Where They Found Her

Where They Found Her Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where They Found Her is a book full of characters that I still think about weeks after finishing. Molly, Barbara, Aidan, Steve, Hannah, Stella, Justin, Rhea, Sandy, Jenna... The way these completely separate characters fall together in ways you honestly do not see coming is skillful and fascinating. When one twist is revealed, my mouth fell open. And then it turns out that isn't even half of the actual twist so I audibly gasped. A few pages later I just yelled for my husband and blurt out what I just read, wondering if he'll find it as unbelievable as I did - only he doesn't because he knows nothing of this story but he smiles and tells me he's glad I'm loving the book. He's used to my weirdness by now.

I understand that none of what I just said tells you nothing about the book so... Molly is a mother still reeling from a devastating loss, working as a journalist in a new town. She is assigned to cover the discovery of an infant found dead in a local creek. Her husband, Justin, is weary and wondering if she can handle it. Soon friends and acquaintances of hers are involved in the case and as things both past and present come to light, the phrase 'what lies beneath' kept popping into my head. So many things are hidden just below the surface and when they come to light, watch out. I promise, you DID NOT see that coming.

View all my reviews

Monday, August 7, 2017

Review: The Sheep Rise Up

The Sheep Rise Up The Sheep Rise Up by Mitchell Graye
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Sheep Rise Up... Wow. I want this to be a movie! Cut throat, sexy in the most savage way, and utterly disgusting when you think these things actually happen in the real world.

Kristen is a corporate lawyer. I know but she's the good guy here! She's a single mom with a daughter in a not-so-affordable college, Jessica, living in a New York City apartment with her leech of a boyfriend, David, and footing the bills for both. When her morally challenged co-workers drag her in the middle of a colossal financial conspiracy and cover-up, Kristen doesn't go along blindly. What ensues is a web of lies and deceit on a massive scale bringing everyone from hired hit men and the SEC to a congressional committee and government bigwigs on the scene.

There isn't a big 'No way!" twist/reveal here but it packs a punch just the same. The main characters were sufficiently fleshed out though some of the fringe characters seemed straight out of central casting for corporate thrillers. Overall, The Sheep Rise Up is a well written, fast paced, thrilling novel.

View all my reviews

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Review: Bits And Peaces

Bits And Peaces Bits And Peaces by Mitchell Graye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mitchell Graye's Bits and Peaces is a book made up of a series of short stories and essays. For some reason I tell myself that I don't like short stories but every time I read a book composed of them, I'm thrilled. This is no exception.

The first part contains several short stories with ordinary characters leading, if not extraordinary, at least interesting lives. Some are extremely short, just a couple of pages, and each one is creative and written with a great hook. The characters are quirky, imaginative, frustrating, and fully developed given the short time the reader spends with them.

The second part of Bits and Peaces is several stories narrated by an alter ego of the author. Think of it in memoir style. These are Graye's interactions with people at various times throughout his career in the big city business world as well as during his quest to become a published author. Speak No Evil and After All These Years are the highlights of this section, in this reader's opinion.

In the final third of the book we get a dose of non-fiction in a collection of essay-like tales that the author put together to expose the human condition. These are told in snippet form of experiences he had in which he learned lessons in acceptance, judging, relationships, feelings, and the like. The reader finds out how Graye came about some of the people and scenarios and the impact those interactions had on him as a person. That last one is very Stand By Me and brings about the same feelings of loss as I felt when the adult Gordie recounts the lives and death of his friends.

View all my reviews