Posted in BOOK REVIEW

FRICTION, BY SANDRA BROWN

 

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Ranger Crawford Hunt is one of those legendary heroes who jumps into whatever fray he faces, saving the day. But some consider his behavior dangerous and even risky. Which is why, after his wife’s death four years before, his daughter Georgia ended up in the custody of her maternal grandparents, Joe and Grace Gilroy. Now Ranger is about to begin the fight of his life as he seeks custody of his daughter. A hearing that will bring out all the bad feelings between him and the Gilroys.

Judge Holly Spencer was appointed to her judicial role after the death of the previous judge, and now faces an election to make her job permanent. Her role to decide custody in the matter of little Georgia had brought her to the court room that day—a day that would change everything in her life.

Before the hearing is scarcely underway, a masked man in a strange uniform bursts into the courtroom, shoots the bailiff, and seems about to shoot the judge. Crawford jumps in, just as he tends to do, and saves Holly, and also, at the same time, kicks the man’s knee out from under him. But the man escapes, and later is cornered on the roof and killed.

Or so they thought.

The case becomes complicated when the shooter of the bailiff and the man on the roof turn out to be two different people. Who is the shooter? Why was he targeting Holly Spencer? Or was someone else the target?

Friction kept me turning the pages eagerly, hoping to find out more about the motivations for the crimes, and staving off my angst at the annoying characters that seemed hell-bent on focusing on Crawford as the one behind the events of that day.

Detective Neal Lester seemed to have a particular blind spot when it came to Crawford, to the point that his investigation continued down very strange pathways.

Joe Gilroy, the grandfather, was combative with Crawford, denying him visits, and taking out a restraining order based on something the inept Neal Lester had said.

I like a story that gets my ire up, though, as it keeps me going even when I’ve been reading far too long. I had some concerns about how things might work out in the end, especially between Crawford and Holly, for whom a romantic relationship seemed to be developing. In the end, things were wrapped up almost too quickly, after the mystery was solved and the criminals were dealt with. But I enjoyed this 4.5 read.

Posted in BOOK REVIEW

REVIEW: WILDE LAKE, BY LAURA LIPPMAN

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They seemed like royalty, the family of State’s Attorney Andrew Jackson Brant, when they settled in Columbia, Maryland. But like many people elevated in the minds of those around them, they had feet of clay. And many secrets from the past. Would those secrets ultimately destroy them?

When Luisa (Lu) Brant took over the office of State’s Attorney, she looked up to her father, his legacy, and how he had done the job. Her first murder case after her election would take her back to the past, some secrets, and some stories that turned out to be untrue. Would Lu find out how dark that past was, and would it be too late? Would it change how she lived her life afterwards?

Wilde Lake was a page-turning story that was more about family than legal cases. How Lu, as a widow, is raising her twins as a single mother in her childhood home, while juggling motherhood and career. The story of what happened to Lu’s mother, and which would only begin to unfold many years later, would have a deep impact on Lu…and on her brother A.J., as well as her father, because of how they kept the secret.

But the biggest secrets of all would be about a fateful night in 1979 and how the actions of some, spurred on by the perceived actions of others, would turn into an event that would inform all of their lives decades later.

Can the secrets and lies be justified? Could the flawed memories of those who participated be counted on in the present? I could not stop reading, as, like other books by this author, I was immersed in the stories and the secrets…until the very end. 5 stars.

Posted in BOOK REVIEW

REVIEW: THE CHILDREN, BY ANN LEARY

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Lakeside Cottage in Harwich, Connecticut, had been a part of the Whitman family for generations. Whit Whitman, whom we met early on in The Children, when he was just a child, would figure largely in the story, but primarily as a legendary character. His marriage to Joan, who had two young daughters, Sally and Charlotte, would launch a whole new blended family that included Whit’s sons from his marriage to Marissa: Perry and Philip (Spin).

His death would set events in motion and unleash issues that would stay buried for years, but in one long hot summer, all would surface with a vengeance. Could the division of trusts and the cottage figure into the trouble? Whit had left Lakeside Cottage to his sons, a trust fund to Joan, as well as to his sons, with the understanding that Joan would stay in the cottage as long as she wished to do so. But maybe everything wasn’t as smoothly settled as they thought.

Our first person narrator is Charlotte, who some believe is agoraphobic, but she simply feels more comfortable in the cottage attic room writing her “fictitious” mommy blog. She makes quite a bit of money from advertisers, and all is well on that front…until it isn’t.

The first ripples of trouble appear when Spin brings his fiancée Laurel Atwood home to the cottage. She seems wonderful on the surface. Charming, in fact, and clearly she is beautiful. But Sally, who has some mental health issues, can seemingly see below the surface. Why does nobody believe her? But who would believe Sally when she “gets like that”? Frenetic and manic, she escalates quickly.

I loved this story. I wanted to stay with the characters well beyond the final pages, and I held my breath while experiencing the story as it unfolded, only releasing my breath when I finally learned the fate of the characters. A 5 star read for me.

*** My e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley.

Posted in WAITING ON WEDNESDAY

SERENDIPITOUS WEDNESDAYS: WAITING FOR “SIRACUSA”

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Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday event, hosted by Jill, at Breaking the Spine.

Every week, we search out upcoming book releases…and then gather around the blogosphere, sharing our thoughts and blurbs. Today’s spotlight is shining on Delia Ephron’s Siracusa, an electrifying novel about marriage and deceit from bestselling author Delia Ephron that follows two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed and relationships are unraveled.   Release Date:  July 12, 2016.

 

 

 

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Synopsis:  New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present.  Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. With her inimitable psychological astuteness, and uncanny understanding of the human heart, Ephron delivers a powerful meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming.

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I am a fan of all the Ephrons, so this book is one I’m very eager to get my hands on.  What are you sharing today?  Please comment and leave your links.

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Posted in BOOK REVIEW

REVIEW: LIES & OTHER ACTS OF LOVE, BY KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY

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For Annabelle, her grandmother Lovey was the voice in her head, the spiritual mentor who guided her with her inspirational messages, like “it is not the truth that sets you free. The truth is the thing that destroys lives, that shatters the mirror…”

Growing up in Raleigh, NC, Annabelle was also surrounded by a bevy of female cheerleaders, from her mother, Jean, the mayor, to her aunts: Laura, Martha, Louise, and Sally. Of course, there was also D-Daddy, her grandfather.

Alternately narrated by Annabelle and Lovey, Lies & Other Acts of Love wraps itself around us in the cozy comforts of a family of nurturing supporters. But as we meander along the pathways of the past with Lovey, or join Annabelle in her journey toward a true kind of love, we learn about the secrets, the lies, and even the almost lethal deceptions that live behind the curtain of each family. And we realize that sometimes you have to forgive the flaws of those you love.

I felt sad for Annabelle’s missteps, and could feel the angst of her emotional pull toward a man who turned out to be wrong for her. When she almost passed by the one who would be the perfect match, I was shouting from the sidelines. The characters were flawed, but fascinating, and the settings felt so real I could have been there in the flesh. 4.5 stars.

Posted in BOOK REVIEW

REVIEW: BURIED IN A BOG, BY SHEILA CONNOLLY

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When Maura Donovan leaves her Boston home following her Grandmother Nora’s death, she is on a mission to connect with family in Ireland. It was her grandmother’s last request, and after her death, Maura found an envelope with just enough money set aside for the trip, along with her passport.

Nora Donovan’s family home was in Leap, by way of Dublin and then Cork, where Maura would meet up with her grandmother’s oldest friend, Bridget Nolan.

But what Maura finds there is not just her grandmother’s old friend, but a whole community of people who already know a lot about her, and who are ready to welcome her. Tea with Bridget led to stories, photos, and learning about Nora’s life before she left Ireland, widowed and with a young son (Maura’s father) in tow.

Everyone seemed ready to step up, offering a place for Maura to stay across from Sullivan’s Pub…and even the use of a car. Soon she is also helping out at the pub. It’s as if the villagers have taken her under their wing in honor of her grandmother.

But past events begin to surface, and Maura is suddenly swept up into a mystery involving a long-buried family secret. A mysterious man seems to be stalking Maura, making her question why someone is trying to scare her away.

Buried in a Bog was a story of community, secrets, and the strength of family bonds. I enjoyed it, although it seemed as though many things came together rather serendipitously for Maura. What I loved most, however, was how I felt as though I was visiting the Irish countryside along with Maura, having tea in an Irish cottage, and hanging out in the Irish pub. 4 stars.

Posted in BOOK REVIEW

REVIEW: AFTER SHE’S GONE, BY LISA JACKSON

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On a movie set in Portland, Oregon, Director Dean Arnette is closing in on the final moments, the final scenes. Then the unexpected happens. A gun is fired. The body double is shot, and all hell breaks loose.

Two months later, Cassie Kramer has checked herself into the psychiatric wing of Mercy Hospital, where she struggles with what seem like hallucinations and blackouts. And to deal with the disappearance of her sister Allie, who was the star of the movie Dead Heat, and whose failure to appear on the day of the last filming had led to her double being shot.

Had someone targeted Allie? Was the shooting an accident, or had someone purposely changed the blanks for real bullets?

Police are all over the situation, beginning with the shooting of Lucinda Rinaldi, who survived, and focusing also on Allie’s disappearance. Had someone abducted her, or was she missing as some kind of publicity stunt?

After She’s Gone delves into the lives of a Hollywood family: Jenna Hughes, mother, and her two daughters, Cassie and Allie. Since Allie has become the star, the rivalry between the two of them has caused some to think Cassie may have done something to her sister. The family had also suffered terrifying events in the past when a stalker targeted them…so now Jenna and her husband Shane have relocated to Falls Crossing, Oregon.

Determined to find her sister and clear her own name, Cassie has checked into Mercy Hospital’s psychiatric unit, worried that her occasional blackouts might mean that she knows more than she realizes.

After leaving the hospital, Cassie flies back and forth between LA and Portland, trying to find answers, and knowing that there is something suspicious about almost everyone who knew her sister. Her behavior, while understandable, seemed frenetic and illogical at times.

Then there are the secrets that surfaced as the story came to a close. Secrets that finally revealed who has targeted the family…and why. The novel was a page turner that moved at a fast pace, although there were so many red herrings and characters to wonder about that sometimes it was hard to keep everything straight. As the final denouement approached, there were some last minute misdirections that kept me guessing until the last pages. 4 stars.