Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Review - The Maidens

 
Title
:   The Maidens
Author:  Alex Michaelides
Genre:   Psychological Thriller
Publisher:   Celadon Books
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  352
Date of Publication:  May 15, 2021
My Rating:  5 Stars

DESCRIPTION:
Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.


MY THOUGHTS:

Does Alex Michaelides hit the ball out of the park with his sophomore book? That elicits a one-word answer from me. Brilliant! I could simply stop writing and say it again. Brilliant.

Greek mythology and a murder mystery. How do the two pair? Any author, especially one relatively new with just their second book, is going to have mixed reviews. After all, reviews are subjective. But we are here for the benefit of my experience with The Maidens. I think as a reader I have gotten a bit too comfortable with audiobooks and text to speech. Although I did receive an audiobook of this ARC, I received a print copy for review first. I did download the audiobook from NetGalley but have not yet found time to listen to it. Why am I bringing this up? Well, I love Kindle text to speech. Using this format allows me to multitask, so sitting down to read a print ARC is not my first choice.

So I came up with a plan. That was to sit in my recliner and to read a hundred pages a day over the course of a few days. Well, that did not happen. In fact, I opened the book and did not move until I read it from cover to cover. To say I was enthralled is an understatement. This book was truly captivating to me, despite the mixed reviews I have perused briefly. As soon as I submit this review I will stop and read at least a few of them.

What grabbed my attention so much with this book? Well, I read The Silent Patient as an early release back in 2019. So I have been more than eager for Alex Michaelides's next book. Then, the plot itself. That captured my attention. A small secret society and the murder of one of the students at Cambridge University.

Our primary protagonist is Mariana, a group therapist who works out of her home. This brings her problems that she must contend with, but before she can sort some of those difficulties out, she receives a phone call from her niece Zoe, who tells her that a classmate has been murdered, and begs Mariana's help. Zoe at first tells her that she thinks her professor Edward Fosca has murdered her friend. What is more is that she alludes to a exclusive group of young women referred to as The Maidens

Mariana sees those women with her own eyes as she attends the funeral. She sees them walking down the aisles during the funeral in their flowing robes. As she begins to see how these women are connected to Fosca, she becomes worried for Zoe, especially when one of them is soon found murdered.

Admittedly I know nothing of Greek mythology. And the only thing I know about the Greek language are words that I have read in an Interlinear version of the Bible. This story was rich with both, the mythology and language. However, I was not lost. Not once. I love that including both things made this book stand out from The Silent Patient. The author no doubt comfortably used his Cyprus background and smoothly inserted it into this novel. To me, as a reader who always wants to learn, this came highly appreciated. This thrilling story took on a major plot twist, and I simply was not expecting it. In fact, there was even a surprising tie-in to The Silent Patient

I loved The Maidens and have become a diehard fan of Alex Michaelides. This book has landed in my 2021 list of top reads and no doubt this book will end up in my re-read pile. I cannot wait for his next book and would love to see what direction he takes to see if he writes another thriller of this caliber. 

Many thanks to Celadon Books and to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus in 1977 to a Greek father and English mother. He studied English literature at Cambridge University and got his MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Brits are Coming (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is his first novel.


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SERIES REVIEW - Heart of Texas #4-6



Title
:   A Cowboy Like You
Author:  Donna Grant
Series:  Heart of Texas #4
Genre:   Romance
Publisher:   St. Martin's Press
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:  288
Date of Publication:  November 26. 2019
My Rating:   4 Stars 

DESCRIPTION:

In the Heart of Texas, a heartthrob cowboy may get his second chance at love…

Danny Oldman, the handsome Lone Star sheriff, is still single. He tells himself, and anyone who asks, that he is married to his job―and what matters most is keeping the people of his beloved Texas hometown safe. The truth? Danny still hasn’t gotten over his high school crush. She moved away after graduation and took Danny’s heart with her.

Skylar Long never thought she would have to flee Houston and return home―where it all began for her. But that’s what happened after the man of her dreams turned out to be an actual nightmare. Now, Skylar is desperate to escape her obsessive boyfriend. Nothing shocks her more than seeing Danny again and realizing that their long-ago attraction is more powerful than ever. But can she and Danny find a way to fight against Skylar’s wealthy, powerful ex who is dead set on tearing them apart?


MY THOUGHTS:

Danny Oldman and Skylar Long knew each other in high school, but even though Skylar had a crush on Danny, nothing came of it. It has been years since they have seen each other and what brings them back together is a rather sad situation. Danny is a cop, married to his job, and Skylar is in an abusive relationship. When Danny spies Skylar in trouble, little did either of them realize that now the timing for love has just arrived, but not without its challenges.

Skylar is afraid to trust. What is more is that her ex is extremely abusive and dangerous and if anyone helps her, she would worry for their safety. So she tries her best to get back on her feet by herself. However, the pull of attraction to Danny is more than she can resist, proving that second chances sometimes have a way of bringing true healing and joy. 

I loved the first three books in the Heart of Texas series and have enjoyed reading this one and the two that follow. The stories balance drama, suspense, love, trust and deliver a warm happily ever after.

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


- - - - -

   
Title
:   Looking for a Cowboy  
Author:  Donna Grant
Series:  Heart of Texas #5
Genre:   Romance
Publisher:   St. Martin's Press
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:  368
Date of Publication:  October 27, 2020
My Rating:   4 Stars 

DESCRIPTION:

A cowboy finds love in the most unlikely place in New York Times bestseller Donna Grant's newest Heart of Texas novel, Looking for a Cowboy

A beautiful stranger has come to Clearview, asking questions that are nobody’s business. Cooper Owens also wasn’t born yesterday. He knows that this out-of-towner is hiding a dark secret of her own. Much as he knows he should head in the other direction, he can’t make himself turn away. . .

P.I. Marlee Frampton always wanted to lead a nice quiet life, working as a cop in her local police department. But that dream came to an end when her sister was murdered―and her baby kidnapped. Now Marlee’s come to Texas to investigate the Harpers, who may be linked to shady adoption agencies. Cooper can’t believe that his friends could be involved in anything so sinister...and soon he makes it his mission to help Marlee discover the truth―and keep her safe in his arms. 


MY THOUGHTS:

Cooper Owens is wary of a new stranger in town. She is a beautiful woman that grabs his attention, but Cooper can sense that she is hiding something. Marlee Frampton is a P.I. and her life came to a screeching halt when her sister was murdered. Not only that, her sister's baby was kidnapped, and Marlee is determined to get to the bottom of things, and that includes investigating Cooper and his friends and adoption agencies. Cooper finds that he cannot turn his back on Marlee, and before long, the pair are not only working together, they have the opportunity to explore their growing feelings.

Each book in the Heart of Texas series have suspense in them, and this book Looking for a Cowboy has that and more, and some of the subjects are rather deep, especially when the way the adoption agency functions is revealed. So this book is not a sweet romance. Instead it is high on drama and mystery and is truly a compelling read. 
  
- - - - -

Title
:   A Cowboy Kind of Love
Author:  Donna Grant
Series:  Heart of Texas #6
Genre:   Romance
Publisher:   St. Martin's Press
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:  304
Date of Publication:  April 27, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars 

DESCRIPTION:

Who wants to rodeo again?

Jace Wilder has been rebuilding his life since the love of his life, Taryn, up and left town unexpectedly. But when she mysteriously returns, Jace’s dependable world comes crashing down. Taryn is hiding a dangerous secret, and no matter how hard he tries, Jace can’t stay away―especially when Taryn is at risk. And especially when the attraction he thought he’d buried long ago is back and hotter than ever. Will he be able to trust Taryn again?

Taryn Hillman’s world fell apart one horrifying night, and it’s never been the same since. When she sees a small chance at untangling herself, she takes it, though it means returning to Clearview – and seeing Jace again. But when he vows to protect her, will Taryn take a chance, and this time, never let him go? 


MY THOUGHTS:

There are quite a few romance tropes, and second chances is one of them and is definitely a favorite of mine. Jace Wilder was certain that he and Taryn Hillman would build a future together. Instead, one day she left. Now she is back again and this time she is hiding a secret. Jace has never really gotten over Taryn and when he discovers that she is in danger, he tries to put his feelings aside and is determined to help her, and perhaps find a way to trust her after she broke his heart.

Taryn had little choice but to return to Clearview after experiencing trauma. This brings her back into former love Jace's life. While dealing with issues that are plaguing Taryn, she and Jace soon find that fighting their feelings proves to be an impossible task.. Instead, they deal with the problems at hand, all while rebuilding their relationship. 

A Cowboy Kind of Love is a great addition to a series that I have enjoyed since the very first book, The Christmas Cowboy Hero. Donna Grant writes the storeis in this series with great protagonists, drama and suspense, and I definitely enjoyed each book and am eager to see what next she has in store for her readers. 

Many thanks to St. Martin's Press and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Donna is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty-five novels. Her most popular series is the breathtaking Dark King (aka Dragon King) series featuring dragons, immortal Highlanders, and the Fae.

In addition to her novels, Donna has written over forty short stories, novellas, and novelettes for digital-first and print release. She has been dubbed as giving the “paranormal genre a burst of fresh air” by the San Francisco Book Review. Her work has been hailed as having “deft plotting and expert characterization” by Publisher’s Weekly and “sizzling” by RT Book Reviews.


She has been recognized with awards from both bookseller and reader contests including the National Reader’s Choice Award, Booksellers Best Award, as well as the coveted K.I.S.S. Award from RT Book Reviews. 


Donna travels often for various speaking engagements, conferences, and book signings. She is also a frequent workshop presenter at national conferences such as RT Book Lovers Convention and Thrillerfest, as well as local chapters.



Born and raised in Texas, she also has ties across the border in Louisiana. Growing up with two such vibrant cultures, her Cajun side of the family taught her the “spicy” side of life while her Texas roots gave her two-steppin’ and bareback riding. She is never far from her faithful 80 pound dog, Sisko, or her three cats. She can often be found at the movies or bookstore with her children. Or buying makeup. And shoes.



BLOG TOUR - Murder at the Fair


DESCRIPTION:

Summer flowers, warm sunshine, a maypole dance and… is that another murder? A tricky case is afoot for Lady Swift!

Summer, 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift
, the best amateur sleuth in the country, is delighted to be in charge of the prize-giving at her village summer fair. But the traditional homemade raft race takes a tragic turn when the local undertaker, Solemn Jon, turns up dead amongst the ducks. Jon was the life of any party and loved by the entire village. Surely this was simply an awful accident?

But when a spiteful obituary is printed in the local paper, Eleanor realises there may be more to Jon’s death than first thought. Despite handsome Detective Seldon giving her strict instructions not to interfere, Eleanor owes it to Jon’s good name to root out the truth. So with her partner in crime, Gladstone the bulldog, Eleanor starts digging for clues…

When another local dies in a riding accident, the police refuse to believe he was murdered. But a second vindictive death notice convinces Eleanor of foul play. Solemn Jon’s assistant, a bullish banker and a majestic marquess make her suspect list, but it isn’t until she finds a dusty old photograph that she knows the true culprit behind both crimes. Then another obituary appears – her own! Can Eleanor nail the killer before she too turns up dead among the ducks?

An utterly compelling and charming cozy mystery! Pure delight for fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss.


Buy Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3prBNUJBUY LINKS:


MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   Murder at the Fair
Author:  Verity Bright
Series:  Lady Eleanor Swift #6
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   324
Date of Publication:  June 15, 2021 
My Rating:   4 Stars

Lady Eleanor Swift, her trusty butler Clifford and loyal dog Gladstone are at it again. Eleanor is in charge of a village May Day race. As the race is nearly finishing, one of the crafts in the raft race has not returned to the finish line. It is soon discovered that it was manned by Solemn Jon, a local undertaker who is well loved in the village. After a while, a search is underway, and sadly, Solemn Jon's body was discovered.

At first Solemn Jon's death was deemed an accident, but when the obituary is published, Eleanor cannot help do what she does best. She is determined to discover what happened to him. Eleanor is a well-traveled woman, one who has experienced many exciting things. She has since returned home to Henley Hall and should be living the life of a Lady, complete with servants and much more. However, she consistently eschews convention and is quite adept as an amateur detective. Besides the obituary, Solemn Jon's wife appeals to Eleanor to look into her husband's death.

Eleanor knocks heads with Detective Chief Inspector Hugh Seldon (to whom she finds more than attractive) and he tells her to back off. However, after another death occurs, and another odd obituary having been published, Eleanor determinedly looks for clues. This creates problems for Eleanor, as she finds herself in danger yet again.

Not only do we have Eleanor, whom I have come to love as I have read the five previous books in this series, I am enjoying Clifford's role as well. He proves a fine partner for Eleanor. His banter with Eleanor is quite refreshing. I also enjoyed seeing Eleanor's maid Polly in this story as well.

Murder at the Fair is a truly enjoyable addition to this wonderful cozy mystery series. I am really looking forward to the next book, especially as it seems there is a budding romance between Eleanor and DCI Seldon. I would love to see where that goes. But, more importantly, I cannot wait to see what other crimes fall into Eleanor's purview and how she manages to keep herself safe.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

Review - The Photographer

Title:    The Photographer
Author Mary Dixie Carter
Publisher:  Celadon Books
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Print ARC
No. of Pages:   288
Date of Publication:   May 25, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

Mary Dixie Carter's The Photographer is a slyly observed, suspenseful story of envy and obsession, told in the mesmerizing, irresistible voice of a character who will make you doubt that seeing is ever believing.

WHEN PERFECT IMAGES

As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

ARE MADE OF BEAUTIFUL LIES

But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene―in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

THE TRUTH WILL BE EXPOSED

That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate.


MY THOUGHTS:

Envy and obsession are powerful players in this thrilling story by Mary Dixie Carter. Delta Dawn has a wonderful job. As a photographer, children are often the focus of her talent, and she truly excels when it comes to creating memories for families. However, when she is hired to photograph Natalie Straub's birthday party, Delta begins to have strange ideas. She wonders why she is always on the outside looking in. What if she wasn't behind the lens, instead part of the very scenes she is photographing? The Straub's have an idyllic life of wealth and elegance, and Delta becomes obsessed.

As I became immersed in this story I could not help but think of You by Caroline Kepnes. Although I only read the first book in the series, and have not watched the television show, Joe Goldberg was front and center in my mind as I read this book, The Photographer. It has been three years since I read You, and I hadn't even tracked it on Goodreads. Nonetheless, despite close to two thousand books read since then I remember Kepnes's book almost verbatim.

Why the comparison? What is it about Delta? I think it was privilege. She felt she deserved the life of the Straub family. She lays out a plan of attack, as it were, to instill herself into their lives. This begins by offering to babysit. Then she befriends Amelia, Natalie's mother. This leads to fantasizing about Fritz, Natalie's father. Factor in her excellent skills as a photographer, and she even maniuplates photos to appear as if she has been part of their life's events, including imagining herself with Fritz at the most basest of levels.

Delta's imagination and obsession reaches no bounds. Soon she decides to insert herself into the Straub family, even if that means literally erasing Amelia. In fact, Delta was not the only intriguing and off-balance character. Amelia was no peach in this story. Both of the women had a level of creepiness, leaving me to wonder who indeed would end up on top and where things could possibly land.

Lastly, although Natalie was only eleven years old, she had a few things that were not just right as well. Mary Dixie Carter did a great job at writing characters we the reader could hardly warm up to. Instead, we were pretty much groomed to dislike all of them, for their own reasons, all while leaving me to turn pages vigoroursly as I just had to see this book to its conclusion. No worries there. I was engaged, intrigued and shocked.  
 
Many thanks to Celadon Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Dixie Carter’s debut novel The Photographer will be published in May 2021 by Minotaur Books - St. Martin’s Publishing Group in the US and by Hodder & Stoughton in the UK.

Mary Dixie’s writing has appeared in TIME,  The Economist, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune,  The Philadelphia Inquirer,  The New York Sun, The New York Observer and other print and online publications.  She worked at The Observer for five years, where she served as the publishing director.  In addition to writing, she also has a background as a professional actor. 

Mary Dixie graduated from Harvard College with an honors degree in English Literature and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School.  She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young children.


Audiobook Review - Coming Home to Seashell Harbor

Title
:   
Coming Home to Seashell Harbor
Author:  Miranda Liasson
Narrator:  Kate Marcin
Series:  Seashell Harbor #2
Genre:   Romance
Publisher:   Forever; OrangeSky Audio
Format:  Audiobook ARC
No. of Pages:  384
Date of Publication:  May 4, 2021
My Rating:  4 Stars

DESCRIPTION:

An emotional novel about first love, second chances, and what it means to follow your heart from this award-winning author who "writes with humor and heart" (Jill Shalvis, New York Times bestselling author).

Hadley Wells swapped her dreams of saving the planet for the glamour of Hollywood. But when a very public breakup reveals cracks in her not-so-perfect life, she returns to her hometown to reassess what it is she truly wants. Unfortunately, Seashell Harbor has some trouble of its own—including the first man to ever break her heart.

A serious injury forced footballer Tony Cammareri into early retirement—now he’s determined to reboot his life with a splashy new restaurant venture. He knows better than to expect a happy reunion with Hadley, but he’s determined to make up for the way things ended between them. Yet when Tony and Hadley end up vying for control of the town’s future, they find themselves once again on opposing sides.

As their rivalry intensifies, they must decide what’s worth fighting for—and what it truly means to be happy.


MY THOUGHTS:

Hadley Wells pretty much swoons every times she is around first love Tony Cammareri. They are both back in Seashell Harbor but for very different reasons. For Hadley, her grandmother is recovering from an injury and Hadley is in town to assist her. Having had her heart broken recently, this gives Hadley a time to heal, all while pursuing a dream she once had. WIth regard to Tony, he had the ideal football career but all that is gone due to a career-ending injury. He has an idea to start a restaurant, 

Hadley and Tony both have fond memories of their past, although their lives have gone into different directions for years. Will they get a second chance at love despite major obstacles in their path? There is a building up for grabs - will it be for a no-kill shelter Hadley dreams of starting, or for Tony's new restaurant? Only one of them will get the building. Will pursuit of their dreams push them further apart than ever, even though the spark of attraction is so powerful between them?

I had Coming Home to Seashell Harbor as an audiobook ARC and I was very pleased with Kate Marcin's narration. She did a fine job with the various voices and inflections and this added to my enjoyment of an already warm story. This is the first book in a new series and that makes my heart sing. I enjoyed the story, the characters and the competion between them. There was an additional character who snagged my heart and that was Hadley's grandmother. Then, factor in the dogs in the story and what we have is a very well-rounded story.

Many thanks to Forever, OrangeSky Audio and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Miranda Liasson loves to write stories about everyday people who find love despite themselves, because there’s nothing like a great love story. And if there are a few laughs along the way, even better! She’s a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart winner and an Amazon bestselling author whose heartwarming and humorous small–town romances have won accolades such as the National Readers’ Choice Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and have been Harlequin Junkie and Night Owl Reviews Top Picks.

She lives in the Midwest with her husband and three kids in a charming old neighborhood which is the inspiration for many of the homes in her books.


Miranda loves to hear from readers! Find her at Facebook.com/MirandaLiassonAuthor, and on Instagram and Twitter @mirandaliasson. For information about new releases and other news, feel free to sign up for her newsletter at https://mirandaliasson.com/#mailing-list.



BLOG TOUR - The Child in the Photo


DESCRIPTION
:

I stare at the newspaper article about a baby snatched from the back of a car thirty years ago, and wonder why someone would post it through my door. Looking closer, my blood freezes. The little girl in the photo has an unusual scar – just like mine. I’ve never met anyone with one like it. Is this stolen child… me?

Trembling with shock, I know I have to confront my mother. My parents got me through a horrific accident, helped me find a job I love teaching art, and even with buying my own house. But was it all built on lies?

She tells me the day I was born was the best day of her life, and I’m flooded with guilt for questioning her – but why do I catch her burning papers in the garden the next day?

Then I come home to find a woman sitting on my doorstep, covered in bruises and claiming she knows who abducted me. I don’t know if I can trust her – or if I’ll be the next to get hurt.

Because all the while, I’ve been hiding my own secret. Does whoever sent the article know what really happened the day of my accident? Desperate for the truth, I break into the house of my supposed kidnapper. Inside, I find a handwritten list of names. A shiver goes down my spine as I realise wasn’t the only child to be stolen.

Then I hear a key in the lock, and I know my life is in terrible danger…

An absolutely addictive read that will have you racing through the pages and questioning everything you thought you knew about your family. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Lisa Jewell and Shari Lapena.


BUY LINKS:


MY THOUGHTS:
 
Title
:   The Child in the Photo
Author:  Kerry Wilkinson
Publisher:  Bookouture
Genre:   Mystery/Thriller
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   318
Date of Publication:   June 14, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars

In this thrilling read, one impossible to put down, I began reading how Hope discovers a mysterious newspaper clipping in the mailslot in her door. Therefore, it comes to no surprise that something was about to happen. The clipping contained a photo of a baby that was snatched when she was six months of age 34 years ago. Hope is 34 years of age. What is more is that the photo clearly shows that the infant has an unusual scar. Complely identical to the scar that Hope bears. These simply cannot be coincidences. When Hope confonts her mother, she gets a simple and what should be believable explanation about the scar Hope has.

But, it is not enough. She asks best friend Stephen to accompany her while she tries and look for whatever clues - or could it be lies - about her past and about that mysterious photo. If that is not enough, her mother suddenly does a strange thing - she burns papers in the garden. Does her mother have something to hide? Was Hope the abducted baby from all those years ago? 

Hope's intense desire for answers causes her to take drastic actions. In so doing, she begins to unearth chilling clues that lead to abhorrent secrets, proof that she was indeed abducted - and that she was not the only one. This presents grave danger to Hope. 

While this story explores Hope's past, it is also a story of friendship, and of trust. With regard to her friend Stephen, Hope has found a gem. It is the rock of friendship that just might be enough to carry Hope through this difficult search for the truth. Also, Hope had other issues, and it was these issues that showed her strength and vigor, despite obstacles that might have slowed another person down. 

While Hope had someone she could trust in Stephen, other secondary characters floated into the story, proving that trust was something that had to be earned, especially when danger seemed close at bay. Factor in a twist that eases into the story and The Child in the Photo turned out to be a terrific page-turner, intriguing from beginning to end.

Many thanks to Bookouture and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

https://kerrywilkinson.com/
https://www.facebook.com/KerryWilkinsonBooks/
https://twitter.com/kerrywk

Review - Remember

Title:  Remember
Author Lisa Genova
Publisher:  Harmony
Format:  Kindle ARC
No. of Pages:   256
Date of Publication:   March 23, 2021
My Rating:   5 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

A fascinating exploration of the intricacies of how we remember, why we forget, and what we can do to protect our memories, from the Harvard-trained neuroscientist and bestselling author of Still Alice.

Have you ever felt a crushing wave of panic when you can't for the life of you remember the name of that actor in the movie you saw last week, or you walk into a room only to forget why you went there in the first place? If you're over forty, you're probably not laughing. You might even be worried that these lapses in memory could be an early sign of Alzheimer's or dementia. In reality, for the vast majority of us, these examples of forgetting are completely normal. Why? Because while memory is amazing, it is far from perfect. Our brains aren't designed to remember every name we hear, plan we make, or day we experience. Just because your memory sometimes fails doesn't mean it's broken or succumbing to disease. Forgetting is actually part of being human.

In Remember, neuroscientist and acclaimed novelist Lisa Genova delves into how memories are made and how we retrieve them. You'll learn whether forgotten memories are temporarily inaccessible or erased forever and why some memories are built to exist for only a few seconds (like a passcode) while others can last a lifetime (your wedding day). You'll come to appreciate the clear distinction between normal forgetting (where you parked your car) and forgetting due to Alzheimer's (that you own a car). And you'll see how memory is profoundly impacted by meaning, emotion, sleep, stress, and context. Once you understand the language of memory and how it functions, its incredible strengths and maddening weaknesses, its natural vulnerabilities and potential superpowers, you can both vastly improve your ability to remember and feel less rattled when you inevitably forget. You can set educated expectations for your memory, and in doing so, create a better relationship with it. You don't have to fear it anymore. And that can be life-changing. 


MY THOUGHTS:

Lisa Genova has published five fictional novels. Her debut novel Still Alice (2007) is the heartbreaking story of 50-year-old Harvard professor Alice Howland's early onset Alzheimer's disease. Her sophomore book was Left Neglected (2011), is the story of Sarah Nickerson's life after an accident causes a traumatic brain injury that caused the complete loss of the left side of her body. Love Anthony (2012) was the story told from a very sad point of view - that of an autistic unknown boy.  Inside the O'Briens (2015) told the sad story of forty-four-year-old police officer Joe O'Brien's battle with Huntington's disease. 
And, lastly, Every Note Played (2018) was the tragic story of concert pianist Richard's devastating battle with ALS, losing more and more use of his body. 

The five titles mentioned were all fictional, and I read them after reading the nonfiction book that is the focus of this review - Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting. Until I got this ARC for review, I had not heard  of the author. Reading this book and how memory and how the brain works to remember was explored by neuroscientist Lisa Genova. I was so enthralled with this work, that I had to go back and read the fictional titles mentioned above. Ms. Genova is a highly respected expert involving the nervous system and the brain. 

With the fictional titles, various aspects of the brain and particular injuries were explored. With regard to Remember, the exploration of memory was brilliantly discussed. Things as simple as to how we often try to remember if we shut the stove off, where we put our keys, if we locked the door, etc., After a certain age, are we all victims of early Alzheimer's or dementia, or is growing forgetfullness normal? In fact, this book helps us to find ways to remember, even though we all overload our brain on a daily basis. Ms. Genova goes further in this book. She shows readers how we make memories and what we do to remember the most innocuous of things. 

Although nonfictional this did not read like a self-help book to me. Instead, it was a very good, in-depth almost conversational discussion as to how memories are formed and how we can retrieve them. In fact, sometimes our very environment can influce our ability to remember. I loved learning more about the difference between short-term memory and long-term memory. Or why we can have clear memories from certain dates in our past, but no memories of surrounding dates. I found all of this to be quite intriguing, so much so that I went and read all the books mentioned above. 

Many thanks to Harmony and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lisa Genova graduated valedictorian, summa cum laude from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University.

Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, Lisa has captured a special place in contemporary fiction, writing stories that are equally inspired by neuroscience and the human spirit. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, LOVE ANTHONY, INSIDE THE O'BRIENS, and EVERY NOTE PLAYED. 

Her first work of nonfiction, REMEMBER: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting, published March 2021, was an instant New York Times bestseller.

STILL ALICE was adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth and 

Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland. Film adaptations for INSIDE THE O'BRIENS and EVERY NOTE PLAYED are in development.


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Review - The Plot

Title:   The Plot
Author Jean Hanff Korelitz
Publisher:  Celadon Books
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:  Audiobook and Print ARC
No. of Pages:   336
Date of Publication:   May 11, 2021
My Rating:   4 Stars
DESCRIPTION:

Jacob Finch Bonner was once a promising young novelist with a respectably published first book. Today, he's teaching in a third-rate MFA program and struggling to maintain what's left of his self-respect; he hasn't written--let alone published--anything decent in years. When Evan Parker, his most arrogant student, announces he doesn't need Jake's help because the plot of his book in progress is a sure thing, Jake is prepared to dismiss the boast as typical amateur narcissism. But then . . . he hears the plot.

Jake returns to the downward trajectory of his own career and braces himself for the supernova publication of Evan Parker's first novel: but it never comes. When he discovers that his former student has died, presumably without ever completing his book, Jake does what any self-respecting writer would do with a story like that--a story that absolutely needs to be told.

In a few short years, all of Evan Parker's predictions have come true, but Jake is the author enjoying the wave. He is wealthy, famous, praised and read all over the world. But at the height of his glorious new life, an e-mail arrives, the first salvo in a terrifying, anonymous campaign: You are a thief, it says.

As Jake struggles to understand his antagonist and hide the truth from his readers and his publishers, he begins to learn more about his late student, and what he discovers both amazes and terrifies him. Who was Evan Parker, and how did he get the idea for his "sure thing" of a novel? What is the real story behind the plot, and who stole it from whom?

Hailed as breathtakingly suspenseful, Jean Hanff Korelitz's The Plot is a propulsive read about a story too good not to steal, and the writer who steals it.


MY THOUGHTS:

Jacob Finch Bonner was a well respected novelist after just one book. However, for his sophomore title, he is hit with a hard case of writer's block. To make ends meet, he is teaching a program for aspiring writers, although it has been years since he has published. When someone taking the class, Evan Parker, tells Jacob of a plot for a book, Jacob is intrigued. Then, Jacob discovers that Evan has died, so Jacob takes on Evan's plot as his own and writes a bestselling book. The book has done so good that Jacob rises immediately to the top - including an offer from Stephen Spielberg for a feature film. He is a book thief, but who's to know?

Now, wealthy beyond belief, traveling far and wide, Jacob's success almost comes to a screeching halt - and it starts with a single email - You are a thief. That is all it says. Jacob perhaps should have given the idea of Evan's plot some serious thought. Actually, Evan felt it was a sure thing. If Evan had not died, would he have achieved the very success that Jacob is experiencing? 

Who knows of Jacob's actions? Jacob now starts to dig deeper into Evan's life. Now he needs to know how Evan came up with the plot, and whether or not it had anything to do with his death. What was the plot based on, who was really behind it and who is sure to expose Jacob?

That one email becomes many. Then there are the texts. But, it doesn't stop there. Threats are coming fast and hard, giving Jacob pause. However, the train has left the station and Jacob can do no less than to try and sort things out so that he never becomes exposed.

Although I loved this thrilling story, there was a point I pretty much figured it out. Even though that part of the mystery fell flat, I was eager to see the journey ahead of Jacob so that the many questions and fears facing him would be resolved. The book definitely was intriguing, enough that I pretty much read it from cover to cover in one sitting. Having an idea who was threatening Jacob did not take away my enjoyment of the story. In fact, what it did was to keep me even more riveted to the events as they unfolded. I ended up loving this book and have already recommended it countless times. 

Although I received a print ARC of The Plot, I also got an audiobook review copy. I did have to speed up the book in order to feel a bit more engaged with the story. This is not the first time I have listened to this narrator. In fact, two of the books I have listened to were Gone Girl and The Wife Upstairs. Once I got deeper into the story, I was able to relax into the narration, and thus also have been recommending the audiobook to fellow readers.
 
Many thanks to Celadon Books and NetGalley for this ARC for review.  This is my honest opinion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jean Hanff Korelitz was born and raised in New York City and educated at Dartmouth College and Clare College, Cambridge. She is the author of the novels: The Plot,  You Should Have Known (Adapted for HBO as “The Undoing” by David E. Kelley, directed by Susanne Bier and starring Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant and Donald Sutherland), Admission (adapted as the 2013 film of the same name, starring Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin and Paul Rudd), The Devil and Webster, The White Rose, The Sabbathday River and A Jury of Her Peers, as well as a middle-grade reader, Interference Powder, and a collection of poetry, The Properties of Breath. A new novel, The Latecomer, will be published by Celadon Books in 2022.

With her husband, Irish poet Paul Muldoon, she adapted James Joyce’s “The Dead” as an immersive theatrical event, THE DEAD, 1904. The play was produced by Dot Dot Productions, LLC, for the Irish Repertory Theatre and performed at New York's American Irish Historical Society for seven week runs in 2016, 2017, and 2018.

Korelitz is the founder of BOOKTHEWRITER, a New York City based service that offers "Pop-Up Book Groups" where readers can discuss books with their authors. Events are being held online for the duration of the Coronavirus Pandemic.

She and Paul Muldoon are the parents of two children and live in New York City.