Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Set in 1911 New York City, we are first introduced to Coralie. She has been surrounded by the fantastic and unusual since childhood. Her father (The Professor), a self-proclaimed scientist and owner of The Museum of Extraordinary Things, collects “wonders” for his Coney Island boardwalk show and appeases the crowds with fantastic acts like The Wolfman, Butterfly Girl, and eventually, his daughter (the Human Mermaid). As years pass, the Professor feels pressure to provide the masses with something truly spectacular, or risk losing his already dwindling crowds. As he delves into more reprehensible practices to keep his profits alive, Coralie begins to strain under his suffocating control, wishing for a “normal” life that seems further and further from her grasp.

Eddie, a Russian immigrant escaping from his father and his Orthodox community, struggles to find a place in New York. But he finds his real passion in a chance encounter: photography. Studying under Moses Levy, Eddie begins to supplement his art by taking pictures for police and newspapers. This is how he comes to photograph the horror of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. In the chaos he is approached by a man from his old neighborhood who knows his reputation for “finding things.” He’s desperate to find his missing daughter, who wasn’t among the deceased, and Eddie is reluctantly forced to accept the task.

Eddie’s search for the missing girl eventually leads him to Coney Island and to Coralie, and the two start a passionate and dangerous affair. Though brimming with dramatic tension as the reader waits for these two to find each other, this book is as much a story of individuals as it is about romance. Set in a time of change and often precarious fortunes, it was the character’s back stories and inner monologues (Hoffman tells the story from multiple points of view) that I found the most engaging.

This story is gritty (as, I imagine, most lives were in turn of the century New York) and the characters survive sadness and struggle throughout the book. But, even so, Hoffman manages to create a story that is magical amongst the chaos. For those who have read her previous works, you’ll see her lyrical style come through. This is a great read for all Hoffman fans, for those looking for new historical fiction, or just those looking for a fully intoxicating read.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rock It by Jennifer Chance

IMO Worldwide Media’s newest client is Dante Falcone, former teen heartthrob turned into successful lead rocker of his Paradiso. Twenty-four year old Junior Executive Lacey Dawes has been his biggest fan since she was just a teenager herself and has the scrapbooks and intimate knowledge of his career and personal life to prove it.

Much to the chagrin of her baracuda of a boss, Dante wants Lacey to be his handler on the upcoming “Dream It” tour. Lacey jumps at the chance that this affords her to not only further her career, but also to fulfill a lifelong romantic fantasy. The chemistry between Dante and Lacey amps up the tension, but Lacey knows that she is just another notch in Dante’s bedpost.

When Brenda outs her as the closeted super fan she is, she takes the biggest risk of her life, one that could cost her everything, but either way, she is already in too deep with the risk she has taken with her heart.

This mediocre series starter by debut author Chance hits all the right notes in the spice department, but the contrived plot and unsympathetic characters fall flat and schmaltzy dialogue such as “If only you can dream it, it might come true,” doesn’t help. There are better options, such as Kristen Proby’s “With Me in Seattle” series, in what is sure to be a overcrowded genre.

Originally published in Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, April 18, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Fiction 3/25/2014

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. If you see something you like, simply click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.

Waking the Dead by Heather Graham
Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber
Killer Physique by G.A. McKevett
Death On Blackheath by Anne Perry
The Alpine Yeoman by Mary Daheim
Empress of the Night by Eva Stachniak
To Dwell in Darkness by Deborah Crombie
Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
Tempting Fate by Jane Green
Without Warning by David Rosenfelt
Notorious by Allison Brennan

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Against the Cage by Sidney Halston

Chrissy Martin hasn’t returned to her hometown of Tarpon Springs, FL since she left years ago but is forced back when her brother Slade needs to be bailed out of jail. The very last thing she needs is to run into Jack Daniels, now a local cop who is sexier than ever and also happens to be her brother's best friend who never looked at her as anything more than a bratty kid sister.

Chrissy, having worked the last decade as a doctor in poverty-stricken countries, is no longer the nerdy bookworm he remembers from his childhood, and Jack feels compelled to protect this woman at all costs. Slade is a cage fighter whose underground matches might cost him his life if Chrissy can’t stop him before it is too late. Jack wants to help and protect her, so it is no surprise that she quickly falls into his arms.

He is also a mixed martial arts fighter who epitomizes the one thing she can’t handle - violence. Attending one of his fights brings back all the brutality from her past relationship to the forefront, and Chrissy isn't sure if she can comprise on something that she knows will destroy more than just her heart.

A solid plot with substantial threads to keep the narrative flowing, Halston’s (Seeing Red, Seeing Black) creates an organic and sensual dynamic between Jack and Chrissy that makes an easy buy-in for readers. And if the story isn’t endearing enough, add in Jack’s feisty Chihuahua/pit bull mix that will have readers instantly hooked and eagerly awaiting Bk. 2 (Against the Cage is the first book in the Worth the Fight series).

Originally published in Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, May 2, 2014.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

After the tragic death of her husband, Kate Pheris exists between of world of sleeping and awake - relinquishing control of her life to a micromanaging mother in law with perfect, humidity defying hair and watching through a veil as her quirky young daughter Devin copes with her father’s death. Until the day she wakes up, deciding on a whim to run off with Devin to Lost Lake, a summer resort owned by her Aunt Eby, where Kate spent one short but magical summer as a teenager. For Kate, Lost Lake is a place to escape and to heal. For Eby, Lost Lake is the place she spent the best years of her life, defying family convention and building a loyal (if not unconventional) band of regular visitors.

It’s also a place that’s slipping through Eby’s fingers – she’s finally made the difficult decision to sell her beloved Lost Lake and move on. Eby, surprised by Kate and small group of her regular summer guests demanding to spend their last summer at Lost Lake celebrating, agrees to hold a farewell party to help everyone say goodbye to a place that means something different for everyone. But as Kate feels herself begin to come alive again, she finds herself wondering if she can find a way to not only celebrate Lost Lake, but to save it.

Like Allen’s other works, Lost Lake blends a combination of magic, friendship, romance, and southern charm to create a book that is as easy to read as it is enjoyable. The eccentricities of her characters add dimension, and the converging storylines of Kate, Eby, Wes, and Lisette blend nicely. It is a book simultaneously about closure and new beginnings. If you liked Garden Spells or The Girl Who Chased the Moon, you’re bound to enjoy Lost Lake. It’s the perfect book to curl up to in the cold and dream about summers gone by.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

New Fiction 3/18/2014

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. If you see something you like, simply click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Missing You by Harlan Coben
Cambridge by Susanna Kaysen
Citadel by Kate Mosse
The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer
Don't Look For Me by Loren Estleman
Robert Ludlam's The Janson Option by Paul Garrison

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hunted by Karen Robards

Detective Reed Ware has taken the most powerful people of New Orleans hostage on Christmas Eve. He has a good reason. He is being accused of crimes he didn't commit because he went to the chief of police with a theory of corrupt cops in the department. Also, his CI Hollis, has been arrested with a trumped up charge and now Reed wants him released.

Hostage negotiator Caroline Wallace was on a date when she got the call about the hostage situation. She is shocked when she learns the identity of the hostage taker. About ten years ago, Reed and Caroline had a moment and to be honest Caroline has never gotten over him. As the night progresses, Caroline ends up being kidnapped by Reed. Now on the run, Caroline agrees to help Reed clear his name and bring down the corrupt cops. But not everything is as it seems. And as they start to unravel the corruption, they realize it is even closer than they thought.

Another fantastic romantic suspense by Karen Robards! She is one of my favorite authors and I cannot wait for the next one!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mischief and Magnolias by Marie Patrick

It’s the middle of the Civil War in 1863 Natchez, Mississippi where Union Army Major Remington Harte has declared the home and steamboats of Shaelyn Cavanaugh as the new base for he and his men. Shaelyn has already given up so much for the war, including her brother and fiance whose whereabouts are still unknown, so sacrificing the beloved property Shae and her mother Brenna have worked so hard to maintain is the last straw.

The spunky Shae’s devious actions to rattle Harte only make him find her all the more endearing, and she eventually gives into the lust that has plagued her since Harte’s arrival.

When one of their steamers is attacked costing the lives of many of their men, Quartermaster Vince Davenport suspects Shae might be behind it, especially since no one else knew of their mission. Harte doesn’t want believe the doubts Davenport has now planted in his head, but has Shae been duping him all along in effort to sabotage the Union Army’s efforts?

Patrick (A Treasure Worth Keeping) infuses her story with a cunning female protagonist who will do whatever it takes to save the man she loves. Plenty of intrigue, romance and a unforeseen plot twist near the end will captivate the audience of this spirited tale; enthusiastically recommended.

Originally published in Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | First Look at New Books, March 21, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New Fiction 3/11/2014

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. If you see something you like, simply click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.

Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
Watching You by Michael Robotham
Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
The High Druid's Blade by Terry Brooks
Power Play by Danielle Steel
The Lost Sisterhood by Anne Fortier
Stone Cold by C.J. Box
Night of the Hunter by R.A. Salvatore
Mentats of Dune by Brian Herbert

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Paper Towns by John Green

Quentin “Q” Jacobsen has been in love with the “girl next door” for as long as he’s known her. Margo Roth Spiegelman was cool in the way that seemed effortless – tough and unique and beautiful – making her at once intriguing and unattainable. Until the day she shows up at her old friend’s window in the middle of the night, ready for an elaborate revenge adventure that pulls Q back into her world, filled with brilliant pranks and intellectual banter. After the night of his life, Margo disappears, leaving her exasperated parents barely wondering why and setting Q on a search to find her.

With the help of his friends, an unlikely ally, and a highlighted copy of Leaves of Grass, Q begins to search for the girls he’s known since childhood, but never really knew. As the clues become erratic and the evidence becomes troubling, Q begins to realize that the public Margo was a clever front, which begs the question – who was the real Margo?

I definitely enjoyed Paper Towns. Green’s cast of characters are fun, funny, and authentic – the witty back and forth between Q and his friends is thoroughly entertaining. Though written for a YA crowd, this book is extremely approachable for adults, and will probably make you remember (though I can’t say with how much fondness!) your own high school days. It begs the question: how well do we really know the people we love? Paper Towns explores the idea of self-discovery and perception – a perfect concept for teens and adults alike. And John Green’s writing is as engaging as ever, drawing you in to Quentin’s at times desperate search for Margo and (as so often is the case) himself.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

B is for Burglar by Sue Grafton

In the second book in Sue Grafton's long running mystery series that takes place in the 1980s, PI Kinsey Millhone has agreed to take on Beverly Danziger as her next client. Beverly has received a small inheritance from a distant relative and needs Kinsey to track down her sister, Elaine Boldt, to sign the paperwork. Beverly claims she last saw her sister six months earlier and hasn't heard from her since.

The case brings Kinsey to Elaine's two residences: her condo in Santa Teresa, California and an apartment in Boca Raton, Florida. The Santa Theresa landlord claims she last saw Elaine get in a cab to the airport. A woman named Pat Usher who is staying at Elaine's Florida residence claims that Elaine is allowing to sublet and that she is staying with friends in Sarasota....yet there is no trance of Elaine anywhere. Even her cat and expensive fur coat are missing.

After speaking with Elaine's neighbors, Kinsey learns that there was a burglary and fire at the house next to the condo complex that killed Elaine's friend and neighbor, Martha Gries. Her husband Leonard very much acts the widower in mourning. Working with a group of neighbors and friends at both residences, some trustworthy and others not so much, Kinsey doesn't start to unravel a complex mystery until the very end.

Grafton's books are always sure bets for anyone look for a solid mystery with a likable protagonist that always solves the case, sometimes in unexpected ways. Also, you need not to start at the beginning as this series can be read in any order. This is my go to author when I am in a reading slump since it will a sure bet.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Fiction 3/4/2014

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week. If you see something you like, simply click on the title to place a copy on hold through the Library's catalog.   9780451417558   9780399167294

The Fall of the Governor by Robert Kirkman
Steeped in Evil by Laura Childs
Why Kings Confess by C.S. Harris
Black Horizon by James Grippando
The Bootlegger by Clive Cussler
Bone Deep by Randy Wayne White
A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman
Murder in Pigalle by Cara Black
City of Darkness and Light by Rhys Bowen
Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson
A Circle of Wives by Alice Laplante

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Aftershock by Jill Sorenson

Lauren Boyer is a paramedic in San Diego and has just started her shift. As Lauren and her partner drive along the freeway, an earthquake hits. Next thing she knows she is trapped under the freeway and her partner is dead. Knowing there will be many causalities, Lauren maneuvers out of the ambulance and gathers supplies. The first person she encounters is Garrett Wright. Together they work to help the injured and assess the situation. They make base at an RV and are joined by a grandfather and granddaughter, a pregnant teen and two severely injured.

They soon realize that they aren't alone. There was a van carrying convicts and they have the guard's gun. Lauren and Garrett must come up with a plan of escape and stop the convicts from harming them and taking all their supplies. But Garrett has a secret and when Lauren finds out, it could ruin all the trust they have built.

I loved this book! It was very suspenseful. It kept my on the edge of my seat waiting to see how they would escape. The next book in the Aftershock series is Freefall.