Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Things We Save by Joanne Zienty

In this self-published debut by Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author winner Joanne Zienty, centers on a dysfunctional Chicago south side family. Claire Sokol has run away from her past to Missouri at least twenty years ago where she is a mother and a girlfriend to her daughter's father, but she is called back home to Chicago when her grandmother dies and her father needs help cleaning out her house.

Reluctantly, she returns home to her alcoholic father with her box of unsettled mementos from a rocky childhood in tow. Digging through grandmother's things proves traumatic, as every room and many of her things drudge up memories of her past, a past full of sadness and death.

But her past is not all sadness, despite the loss of her brother early on. Her best memories are of her cousin Jamie, who was not only her best friend, but loved her romantically. Jamie was the one who protected her from the family bully, Dougie and whose mother, Peach, Claire had wished was her own mother.

Claire's memories stretch through Jamie and her's formative years, from a couple of immature kids to young adulthood where the complicated nature of their relationship becomes trying. The reader hopes that Claire's time back home will force her to face her demons and learn the truth behind those family secrets buried a long time ago.

The story is engrossing to keep you interested if you are a dedicated reader, although Zienty's verbose writing will have many abandoning the story early on. Judicious editing would have benefited this story greatly.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Marriage Match by Tracy March

Cyn is the personal assistant to Maple Creek’s wealthiest resident and matriarch of the Hawthorne Resorts fortune, known as “the Queen,” who has an assignment that comes with a $25k bonus if she is successful: to ensure her grandson, Trent, falls in love during the production of Hawthorne Resorts next marketing campaign.

The advertisements will feature Trent on dates with three perfect women hand-selected by the Queen. If Trent gets hitched, Cyn will secure the cash, which she needs to prevent her parent's home from falling into foreclosure. Trent is the kind of sexy, rich tycoon who would be easy to fall for, and he becomes smitten with Cyn while working together so closely. Cyn knows she can’t compare to the woman the Queen has in mind and her family’s future depends on Trent falling for one of them.

In the style of the TV series, The Bachelor, Trent goes on each date in the most beautiful, tropical resorts in the world that are ripe for love, but he can’t stop thinking about the girl behind the scenes.

Despite the predictability, March’s (The Perfect Proposal, Tempted in the Tropics) characters are easy to root for and the sex scenes vague enough to please readers who like the heat on the mild side. This is especially appealing as an uncomplicated story set in a warm locale appropriate for these cold winter nights.

Originally published in Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | January 30, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New Fiction 1/27/2015

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.

The Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates
Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley
Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey
The Family Business 3 by Carl Weber
Echoes of Dollanganger by V.C. Andrews
The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon
Breaking Creed by Alex Kava

Saturday, January 24, 2015

I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark

This is the first in a debut series, which is unusual for the prolific "Queen of Suspense" Clark, who has written standalones for decades.

Television producer Laurie Moran has an idea that will hopefully procure her failing station and career the boost they need. The series will reenact a cold case with all the original players, and the first program highlights the "graduation gala, which is the unsolved case of Betsy Powell's murder, which occurred twenty years ago.

Betsy Powell was murdered in the bedroom of her Long Islan home during the night of the college graduation party her and her husband, Robert, threw for her daughter Claire and friends Nina, Allison and Regina. Other attendees who were also at the gala that night include housekeeper Jane and driver Josh. Every single one of them have reasons and something to gain from Betsy's demise.

The stakes are high for Laurie, and not only for her career. This show will put her back in the limelight, much to the dismay of her retired police chief father, Leo. Five years earlier Laurie's husband was shot down in a park, the killer had never been apprehended and left this threat to their son Timmy, "you and your mom are next." With two potential killers on the lose, everything is bound to come to a head at the reunion.

Clark's books usually feature a plethora of characters that are exhausting for readers to track. The characters here are much more contained. The plot reminds me of the movie Clue, where all the suspects reunite and the killer is finally revealed. This is the start to an enjoyable suspense novel sure to please Clark's longtime readers.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Gabe and Lea are in a creative writing class together in college. Lea thinks Gabe is cute and Gabe thinks Lea is cute. But they are both shy and Gabe had an accident a year ago and is still recovering. It seems like everywhere they go they run into each other. They also live in the same dorm and order the same Chinese food. If two people were meant to be, it is these two!

This story is told from fourteen different viewpoints but never from Lea or Gabe's. And eveyone agrees these two should be together, from their creative writing teacher to the barista to even the park bench.

I really enjoyed this book. It was fun following the romance of two people from different points of view. It is funny, romantic, and adorable. A must read it you need a little something sweet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New Fiction 01/20/2015

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.

Puzzled Indemnity by Parnell Hall
First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen
Cane and Abe by James Grippando
Burned by Karen Marie Moning
See How Small by Scott Blackwood
My Father's Wives by Mike Greenberg

Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones

Charley Davidson has a special gift: she is a grim reaper, but not a reaper of the black shroud, scythe-wielding variety. Charley is an average twenty-eight year old Albuquerque single who simply has ghosts who contact her when they need help passing to the other side. In addition to the grim reaper gig, Charley has her own private investigator business and also assists her Uncle Bob, an APD detective, solve crimes.

Uncle Bob has enlisted the help of Charley again to investigate the murder of three lawyers who have also reached out to Charley to hep them pass over. The search leads her to a human trafficking ring and an innocent man doing time for a crime he never committed.

While helping her Uncle, Charley also wants to track down the "being" who pleasures her in her dreams. She first met Reyes Alexander Farrow as a teenager and his mysterious appearances every since have given her pause. She feels a strong connection towards him but don't know if he is good or somehow related to the "big bad."

This is the first in what I hope is a long running series; there are eight so far in the Charley Davidson series. Jones constructs a multi-layered plot and sexy love scenes that keeps the pages turning. There are also quirky secondary characters, such as Mr. Wong and Cookie, that add to the fun and are sure to make a appearances in the next volume.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Shopaholic to the Stars by Sophie Kinsella

"Sophie Kinsella returns to her beloved Shopaholic series with Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) newly arrived in Hollywood and starry-eyed. She and her two-year-old daughter, Minnie, have relocated to L.A. to join Becky’s husband, Luke, who is there to handle PR for famous actress Sage Seymour. Becky can’t wait to start living the A-list lifestyle, complete with celebrity sightings, yoga retreats, and shopping trips to Rodeo Drive.

But she really hopes to become a personal stylist—Sage’s personal stylist—if only Luke would set up an introduction. Then, unexpectedly, Becky is offered the chance to dress Sage’s archival, and though things become a bit more complicated, it’s a dream come true!

Red carpet premieres, velvet ropes, paparazzi clamoring for attention—suddenly Becky has everything she’s ever wanted. Or does she?" - from the publisher

As a fan of the Shopaholic series, Sophie Kinsella does not disappoint with her latest in the saga that is Becky Brandon.  I found this installment funny and intriguing with an ending that makes the reader excited for the next book.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

New Fiction 01/13/2015

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.

West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan
The Carrier by Sophie Hannah
Amnesia by Peter Carey
Saint Odd by Dean R. Koontz
The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith
Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Thomas wakes up in a cold metal box, disoriented, scared, and not altogether sure who he is.  Suddenly, he’s greeted by light and the faces of a group of boys he doesn’t know, welcoming him to The Glade.  It’s their home, surrounded by the looming stone walls of The Maze, an ever-changing labyrinth.  Their memories, like Thomas’, have been wiped clean.  Their lives are marked by order and routine, revolving around one thing: staying alive.

But suddenly everything changes.  Because, soon after Thomas’ arrival, a girl is brought to the Glade.  She’ll be the last.  And she has a message.  Everything is going to change.  Without his memories, or a clue why he or any of the boys were brought there, Thomas knows one thing: the maze is their only way out.  And he needs to find it.

This is a book that gives you more questions than answers.  Though the pace moves a bit slowly at times, there is an undercurrent of urgency that makes the book a fast read.  The details are vivid, and Dashner does a good job creating a world that is much different from other dystopian novels.  I recommend it for fans of other post-Apocalyptic YA fiction like The Hunger Games or Divergent, or anyone looking to dive into a suspenseful new series.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Star Trek The Next Generation Doctor Who Crossover: Assimilation 2

The Borg have joined with the Cybermen in an alliance that would prove futile to those who resist them.

It is up to Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise along with the help of a visitor from the same alternate universe the Cybermen arrived from. A man who is called the Doctor.

I liked this graphic novel a lot. As a fan of Doctor Who and Star Trek, I could not wait to read this crossover. The authors and artists appeared to keep the characters true in personality and appearance.

I had thought that more shows would be represented since the original series crew made an appearance. But they may have left this open to use for a possible sequel.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Fiction 1/06/2015

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.

Trust No One by Jayne Ann Krentz
 Insatiable Appetites by Stuart Woods
A String of Beads by Thomas Perry
A Martini Shot by George P. Pelecanos
The Body Snatchers Affair by Marcia Muller
A Fine Summer's Day by Charles Todd
The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell
Winter at the Door by Sarah Graves
Strands of Sorrow by John Ringo
Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Call the Midwife series by Jennifer Worth

This autobiographical series follows nurse Jenny Lee as she embarks on a journey to become a midwife to the women of London’s poor post war East End.  Uprooting her life from its comfortable middle class surroundings, she finds herself at the doorstep of the convent of St. Raymond Nonnatus, suddenly unnerved and wondering if this adventure would turn out to be an impulsive mistake.

What follows is a story that is uniquely told and endlessly engaging.  The women and men of the Docklands come alive, their stories at times happy, tragic, ordinary, and inspiring (and often at the same time).  Jennifer Worth muses that the lives of midwives and midwifery are largely absent from the pages of history, and her stories seek to bring them alive.

I found myself pulled in this memoir right from the start.  The stories and characters jump right off the page.  At times graphic and technical (be ready for detailed descriptions of birthing scenes), her stories create a rich and multilayered tapestry of life in the time.  I recommend the series (which includes Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse, and Farewellto the East End) to anyone interested in 1950’s London or history with a focus on women’s issues.  For fans of the series, I also suggest the BBC series Callthe Midwife, which I found to be an excellent adaptation of the books.