31 Bond Street succeeds as a mystery and as unique glimpse into Old New York. Ellen Horan has carefully researched the period, the trial, and the char31 Bond Street succeeds as a mystery and as unique glimpse into Old New York. Ellen Horan has carefully researched the period, the trial, and the characters that make up this book and this comes across from the very start. She weaves in details about daily life in the 1850s and makes it come alive.
Henry Clinton who defends Emma Cunningham is a talented defense lawyer who goes on to become the highest paid attorney of his time -- and it is this case that changed his career. Clinton goes up against Abraham Oakey Hall is another historical figure who is later elected mayor of New York in 1868. Clinton is aided by his wife, Elizabeth Clinton, who is a paragon of a wife and would have made a formidable attorney, had women been allowed to practice law during that time. Horan created the character of Elizabeth Clinton and this woman is a foil to the accused, Emma Cunningham. Cunningham's story shows us how difficult it was to be a woman then.
The book stood out for me because of the attention that Horan placed on capturing the historical details of the period. I enjoyed being able to imagine New York of that time -- what the different neighborhoods and peoples were like. I loved learning just how trials were run at that time. Would you have expected that newspapermen attended trial and wrote the trial transcripts for free? In exchange, the newspaper was given the exclusive right to print the trial transcripts. Horan reveals what it would have been like to be in court then.
The book itself captures the period because of its slower pace, vivid descriptions, and the dialogue. It is easy to imagine New York after the Civil War, the sort of life available to a young widow with dwindling resources and the trouble that Emma Cunningham found herself in. Just as the book is about Emma Cunningham, it is equally the story of the Clintons, their legal skill, and the trial that changed their lives. If you enjoy historical fiction, stories of New York, or mysteries and legal thrillers, 31 Bond Street will prove a riveting read.
ISBN-10: 0061773964 - Hardcover $25.99 Publisher: Harper; 1st edition (March 30, 2010), 352 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours....more
**spoiler alert** Forget You is the sort of book that I set aside for my nieces because it's much more than the usual YA romance novel. The characters**spoiler alert** Forget You is the sort of book that I set aside for my nieces because it's much more than the usual YA romance novel. The characters might seem typical, but Jennifer Echols gives them complexity, depth and humor.
* Zoey - captain of the swim team, wealthy (sometimes described as a "spoiled brat"), popular, and high school senior. Her parents are separating and she's chosen to live with her mother, but her mother's had a nervous breakdown and Zoey's trying hard to prevent this from becoming news in their small town;
* Keke and Lila - twins and on the varsity swim team. They're Zoey's closest friends and they sometimes drive her nuts. They think alike, act alike but try hard to differentiate themselves from each other. They're flaky, kind, and funny high school seniors;
* Brandon - blond, wealthy, popular, captain of the football team, and high school senior. He's a major flirt and seems to flit from one relationship to another. He's one of Zoey's best friends and she's a constant confidant for his romantic escapades; and
* Doug - the one person on the swim team that Zoey doesn't get along with. There's some history and some antagonism. We don't know exactly what happened, but Zoey comes down hard on Doug. He has a juvie record and though the record is sealed, Zoey points out his past to keep him from getting summer jobs, etc. With his juvie record, Zoey's persistence, and high school being what it is, Doug hasn't ever had a girl friend even though he's one of the best looking and athletic high school seniors.
Forget You is about how things are never quite what they seem from the outside. It's about misunderstandings and prejudices, loyalty and friendship. It reminds us of what life is like as a teenager -- when parents have so much power over your life and your identity and how we each learn to break free. Carefully crafted, fun, and sympathetic, Forget You is a story of love and friendship. If you're looking for a YA romance for the summer -- whether for yourself or a friend, I highly recommend Forget You. I loved it!
ISBN-10: 1439178232 - Trade Paperback $11.00 (Young Adult) Publisher: MTV: Original edition (July 20, 2010), 304 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher....more
The Making of a Duchess grabbed me from the start. It opens in France during the time of the French Revolution. Julien is the eldest of the Duke's thrThe Making of a Duchess grabbed me from the start. It opens in France during the time of the French Revolution. Julien is the eldest of the Duke's three sons and he wakes up to the sound of peasants attacking their home. He runs to help his brothers and his mother but is surrounded by angry peasants -- some of which he's known all his life. Although Julien is able to escape, the violence and hatred of that night marks him forever.
He and his mother are able to rebuild their lives in England, but Julien cannot forget his brothers who might still be in France. Despite the danger, Julien plans visits to France to search for his brothers and help them escape. Julien is deeply committed to fighting the Revolutionaries who have taken so much from him and his family. When a young French aristocrat -- whose family barely survived the Revolution -- writes his mother, he is willing to marry the young woman. The mingling of noble French blood will be one more victory against the thousands of people that have tried to eradicate his family.
The young woman, Sarah Smith, is actually a governess who has been manipulated by her employer into acting as an amateur spy. Her mission is to pretend to be an escaped aristo and to find proof that Julien Harcourt is spying for France and against England. Her "handler" is brutal and mean -- and clearly dangerous.
As Sarah tries to fulfill her mission, she can't find proof of Julien's disloyalty. Instead, she is drawn to his sense of honor and kindness. But if they work together, they must still find a way to overcome the hostility and accusations from the spymaster that is Sarah's employer and handler.
The book is such a fun read. Each part develops the characters of Julien and Sarah so that I found myself cheering for them and hoping that they'd quickly find a way out of their dilemma. The plot twists, drama, and suspense all come together and make the most of the drama of the French Revolution. The Making of a Duchess is a thoroughly fun historical romance!
ISBN-10: 1402238657 - Mass Market Paperback Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (June 1, 2010), 384 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher....more
I enjoy fast-paced action thrillers with bighearted heroes, so I couldn't put down Brett Battles's latest Jonathan Quinn novel.
Jonathan Quinn is a maI enjoy fast-paced action thrillers with bighearted heroes, so I couldn't put down Brett Battles's latest Jonathan Quinn novel.
Jonathan Quinn is a master at what he does and he's started out on his own. In his business trust and honor are everything. Since this is the third book in the series and Battles intentionally doesn't tell us how Quinn was maneuvered into agreeing to "3 jobs, no questions" which would be a story in itself. It's one of those contract terms that will clearly prove problematic and it does, particularly since Quinn isn't about to renege on the deal.
If you're willing to suspend disbelief and dive into the story, Quinn and his loyal band of ex-military are a fun escape. The "3 jobs, no questions" places them in a precarious position from the start and we see just how wily their employer gets. But there's a larger story -- the targeting of a vulnerable group and the risk of an international incident -- in the middle of the intrigue, espionage, and action.
I do enjoy books like Shadow of Betrayal because of the fast-paced action and unexpected twists. The book read much like a high octane action film with sympathetic heroes and a satisfying conclusion. If you're looking to escape with a fun thriller, check out Brett Battles's Shadow of Betrayal.
NYPD homicide investigator David Gurney retired to a beautiful and remote town in upstate New York with his wife Madeleine. While Madeleine loves theNYPD homicide investigator David Gurney retired to a beautiful and remote town in upstate New York with his wife Madeleine. While Madeleine loves the change of pace and scenery, Gurney is finds it difficult to adjust. He's spent the last twenty years putting homicide cases first, a fact that hasn't been lost on his wife. Madeleine has clear ideas of how they can enjoy their new life together and her frustration and annoyance is quick to rise to the fore. When she encourages him to take art classes, she hadn't expected him to come up with computer enhanced portraits of murderers -- or for the portraits to become such a hit in their local gallery.
As Gurney is settling into retirement, he receives a cry for help from an old college acquaintance. A successful writer and wellness guru is targeted with letters that claim to know what he's thinking: "See how well I know your secrets -- just think of a number." And the letter writer somehow guessed the exact number.
But the taunting moves from letters to violence and along with a ravaged body are puzzling clues. David Gurney agrees to aid the investigation.
In David Gurney, John Verdon gives us a complex and sympathetic new detective -- I hope that it is the start of a new series. Verdon skillfully creates a top notch thriller. He builds on the puzzles and clues from the crime scenes to present a coherent and satisfying story. I also appreciated and enjoyed Verdon's description of Gurney's home life. It was easy to picture Madeleine, her attempts to have Gurney plant tulips, clear the snow, and settle into their new life -- and her resentment at the way that Gurney returns the chase. Think of a Number: A Novel is a nuanced, complicated, and thoroughly entertaining read.
ISBN-10: 0307588920 - Hardcover $22.00 Publisher: Crown (July 6, 2010), 432 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours....more
The Four Seasons is one of the luxury places that evokes images of Beautiful People - good looking, wealthy, glamorous. Based on Availability is an un The Four Seasons is one of the luxury places that evokes images of Beautiful People - good looking, wealthy, glamorous. Based on Availability is an unusual novel that tells the stories of seemingly unconnected women who pass through Manhattan's Four Seasons Hotel. Here are some of the characters that you meet:
* Morgan, the hotel manager, is the dominant character in the novel who is somehow linked to many of the main characters. Glamorous, efficient, and upwardly mobile, few people are aware that Morgan is haunted by the childhood death of her older sister and the extent to which this impacts her every day life. As the manager of the Four Seasons, Morgan is often asked to comp or discount meals, rooms, drinks and to fix all sorts of emergencies. She has her own risky ways of handling the disappointments and stresses of her personal life. But what she really wants is a close female friend, someone to be as close as a sister;
* Trish is the daughter of celebrity parents: a writer and an artist. Her parents have been busy with their careers and social lives all her life. The breakup with her boyfriend hit her hard, but Trish is most upset about the recent changes to her best friend Olive. Trish and Olive had been as close as sisters for as long as they could remember. But now that Olive has found love and lost close to fifty pounds, and has developed a taste for dangerous diversions;
* Louise, an old rock star who once partied with Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Now, her glamorous friend in PR is helping Louise "dry out" and she's opting for the Four Seasons because of the staff's discretion and personal service;
* Franny is a Southern girl and a recent transplant to Manhattan. Franny's job means that she hovers on the fringes of celebrity: She's the tv show stand-in who slips into a celebrity's seat during award shows or TV specials to prevent unsightly "empty seats." Franny "participated silently at game shows, asked questions to guests on morning talk shows, and laughed on command at sitcoms. She contributed on focus groups, helped paper the house of previewing musicals, and ate at an array of new restaurants." While the list of events and places make for good stories and small talk, Franny misses a sense of belonging and friendship -- she feels deeply isolated in the Big City. She hopes to find friends and connections with her neighbors as they share a traumatic experience;
* Anne is single, lonely, and has an obsessive compulsive disorder. Things come to a head as she faces deep disappointment in her love life and professional life;
* Catherine is an only child and married to a After a history of difficult pregnancies and miscarriages, Catherine's overwhelming desire is for a child of her own. As this fixation begins to rule her life, it takes a toll on her marriage;
* Robin is a Manhattan-based realtor and she's been looking forward to spending time with her self-centered and power-tripping older sister, Vicki. They spend the day together shopping on Fifth Avenue and luxuriating in the spa, and Robin realizes something critical about their relationship; and finally,
* Sheila is a teacher living in one of the coveted rent-controlled apartments in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Like many in the City, she has her routine of morning coffee before the start of another day. Sheila finds unexpected sweetness with a flirtation with a charming stranger.
In Based upon Availability: A Novel, Alix Strauss skillfully incorporates her knowledge as a lifestyle writer as she recreates this world of privilege and luxury. Some characters are more compelling than others, I was most sympathetic to Trish. I could relate to her feeling that life was happening so fast -- that the change to the 30s seems so sudden. And it's not just that our bodies seem to betray us. There's the sadness and anxiety as we find that our professional lives and personal lives haven't kept up with expectations. While each of the characters had some particular vulnerability that made them interesting, there were other times when a character's myopia made me want to shake them. I'm sure that Strauss had intended this to be so. How much do you look for likability in the characters that you read about?
Overall, Based on Availability is an interesting glimpse into the lives of beautiful and dissatisfied people in New York. If you're fond of New York stories or contemporary women's literature, I think you might enjoy Alix Strauss's Based upon Availability: A Novel.
ISBN-10: 0061845264 - Paperback $13.99 Publisher: Harper Paperbacks (June 8, 2010), 352 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher. ...more
In 1937, with Germany's antisemitism is on the rise, the Rosenblum decide to relocate to England. Unable to bring their extended family, Jack, Sadie aIn 1937, with Germany's antisemitism is on the rise, the Rosenblum decide to relocate to England. Unable to bring their extended family, Jack, Sadie and their young daughter arrive in Harwich and disembark from a boat full of refugees. A member of the German Jewish Aid Committee hands Jack a pamphlet entitled "While you are in England: Helpful Information and Friendly Guidance for every Refugee."
"Please study this with great care."
"And this? He will truly tell me everything that I must be knowing?"
The man smiled tightly, impatient to be moving down the lines. "Yes. It tells you everything you need to know about the English."
Jack takes this advice to heart and pores over the list of prescribed behavior. He switches to speaking only English, buys British, and aspires for and acquires what he believes to be the trappings of a true English gentleman. The one thing that remains is membership to the right golf club.
Jack tries -- he applies to all the clubs in his vicinity, reaches out to members, offers to buy his way in. In the end, when it becomes clear that the regular golf clubs won't admit him. And since Jack refuses to join a Jewish golf club, Jack Rosenblum makes a life changing decision. He decides to build his own golf club -- to make the best golf club in South West England. He sells their house and uproots his wife to Dorset.
Jack Rosenblum doesn't realize how some of his old habits remain. He retains the European habit of tips lavishly (surely, they appreciate it -- for their good service) and is carefully polite. He doesn't see the contempt that his attempts inspire in the regular English around him. But in Dorset, as he approaches this seemingly impossible task of creating a golf course, his determination, hard work, kindness and good bring him the acceptance that he deserves.
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English: A Novel is whimsical, beautifully written, funny and poignant at turns. Natasha Solomon captures the heartache of the diaspora and the yearning for a true home with accuracy, sensitivity and humor. Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English: A Novel is a book that will resonate with readers of all ages -- it's a book to share with good friends and to revisit over time.
ISBN-10: 0316077585 - Hardcover $23.99 Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (June 21, 2010), 368 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher. ...more
I love Cara Elliott's Circle of Sin series. The heroines aren't the usual helpless, lost women looking for a wealthy and powerful lord to save them frI love Cara Elliott's Circle of Sin series. The heroines aren't the usual helpless, lost women looking for a wealthy and powerful lord to save them from their circumstances. Instead, the members of the Circle of Sin are well educated, unconventional, and deeply interested in learning. These women have interests that go well beyond fashion, men, and children. Each woman has a different area of expertise and the heroine of To Surrender To A Rogue is the archeologist Lady Alessandra della Giamatti. Lady Alessandra played a role in Elliott's earlier novel To Sin With A Scoundrel (Circle of Sin Trilogy), where she had clashed with the dashing Lord James Pierson ("Black Jack").
The heroes in Cara Elliott's novels just as fun and satisfying. They're smart, successful, and they're not threatened by the unconventional. Elliott creates just a romantic hero that I can't help but fall for! Deep sense of honor, kind, funny, athletic, protective, generous, and always strikingly attractive!
In To Surrender To A Rogue, Alessandra and her daughter have been forced to leave Italy for England. As they adjust to their new circumstances, Alessandra agrees to participate in a prestigious and exciting archeological dig. Both the English and the Italian delegation defer to her expertise in planning and the actual excavation. The dig brings many surprises -- both pleasant and unwelcome. Black Jack is a bit of both -- the interaction between Jack and Alessandra is great fun. The banter, the uncertainty and their yield to their mutual attraction is well done and kept me thoroughly entertained. Cara Elliott has a deft touch for historical romance -- she mixes just the right amount of intrigue, uncertainty, and foreshadowing.
If you enjoy historical romance novels with spirited heroines, twisty plots, and constant banter, grab To Surrender To A Rogue! It's a fun, romantic read and a perfect summer escape! My mother stayed up all night reading it -- and then I did too!
ISBN-10: 0446541311 - Mass Market Paperback Publisher: Forever (June 1, 2010), 384 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher....more
Knowing about the author sometimes influences how you approach his work. I started The Life O'Reilly with a strong sympathy for the author since he muKnowing about the author sometimes influences how you approach his work. I started The Life O'Reilly with a strong sympathy for the author since he must have written it while he worked at his successful law practice during the day. I also paid particular attention to his descriptions of Nick O'Reilly's professional life - the intrigue and power plays of the partners at Williams Gardner & Schmidt.
Cohen captured the small details of life at a law firm from the perks to the "fluid schedule" that governs the lives of everyone from paralegal to associate to partner. When Nick changes his schedule, his mentor Phil immediately notices the change and challenges his dedication to the firm. This slowly forces Nick's position to crisis. Cohen's description of Nick's mentor Phil and Will Schmidt, the hard-driving name partner at Williams Gardner & Schmidt are carefully drawn and well done. The rather negative portrayal of lawyers and law firm life is offset in part by Evan, Nick O'Reilly's partner and colleague. Though a successful attorney with a strong independent practice, Evan is deeply dissatisfied with life at Williams Gardner & Schmidt. Evan is torn by demands at the firm and his desire to carve out time for his family. The conversations between Evan and Nick about life at the firm give the book a certain authenticity.
The one part that bothered me was the actual conflict that arose -- but this may have come from my own biases. The one criticism that I have of the book is that I could not understand the path that Nick O'Reilly took. Other reviewers had a different take and gave The Life O'Reilly glowing reviews.
I had expected the book to be a thriller and was alert to sudden violence. The "UNEXPECTED EVENT" caught me by surprise and made The Life O'Reilly an unusual and enjoyable read.
ISBN-10: 1440150273 - Paperback $17.95 Publisher: iUniverse.com (October 21, 2009), 276 pages. Review copy provided by the author....more
Damaged is the 8th novel in the series of Maggie O'Dell is an FBI profiler. Maggie has proven herself and become the "go to person" for the complex se Damaged is the 8th novel in the series of Maggie O'Dell is an FBI profiler. Maggie has proven herself and become the "go to person" for the complex serial killer cases. In Damaged, O'Dell is mentally and psychologically exhausted from her latest case, but she's tough and unwilling to give an unsympathetic boss leverage over her. Maggie has learned to keep her demons to herself. When a cooler filled with body parts is found floating in Florida, her boss sends her down to assist. Maggie ends up in middle of a hurricane trying to help local officials identify a container of body parts, determine whether the parts come from murder victims - and if so, stop the killer.
Maggie's dropped in an unfamiliar city with a minimal support system. Part of the book's strength comes from Kava's description of just how Maggie overcomes these difficulties and learns to make alliances. Things don't come easily for Maggie and she appreciates every consideration and kindness that she receives. Not surprisingly, other folks that are similarly situated warm up to Maggie. One such character is Liz Bailey. Although she's a secondary character in the novel, Liz stands out. She's a rescue diver which means that she's lowered from a moving chopper into dangerous waters and volatile situations. While her courage, technical expertise, and her fast thinking have saved lives, Liz has been assigned to a new team and must prove herself to them. Like Maggie, Liz faces an unsympathetic and chauvinistic supervisor -- and Liz's handling of him and his pettiness bring a certain something to the story.
This is my first Alex Kava novel and I particularly liked her strong women characters. One thing that struck me was how Kava delved into the dynamics between Maggie O'Dell and her direct supervisor FBI Assistant Director Raymond Kunze and (2) the pettiness and power tripping demonstrated by Liz Bailey's direct supervisor towards the competent rescue diver. Both women respond the only possible way -- they take it on the chin and win my sympathy. I love that both Maggie and Liz prove themselves through their competence and work ethic. It was those small moments that made the book stand out to me.
Despite my focus on the work politics that the two lead women face, Damaged is a detective thriller first and foremost. Kava carefully crafts the story so that the action and clues build on each other to give us a fast-paced and complex thriller. If you're looking for a detective or crime thriller with strong characters and an interesting plot line, Damaged will surely satisfy.
ISBN-10: 0385531990 - Hardcover $24.99 Publisher: Doubleday (July 13, 2010), 272 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher....more
In Strong Justice, Land returns to three key figures of Strong Enough To Die a few months later: Guillermo Paz, Cort Wesley, and Caitlan Strong.
TouchIn Strong Justice, Land returns to three key figures of Strong Enough To Die a few months later: Guillermo Paz, Cort Wesley, and Caitlan Strong.
Touched by Caitlin Strong's example, Guillermo Paz has returned to Mexico and tries to make amends for his past. Paz's willingness to protect the downtrodden won him a reputation that's part myth and part legend in his new town. Paz's admiration for Caitlin leads him to head North when he starts to suspect that she might be in grave danger.
Caitlin has been busy investigating the kidnapping and white slavery of young women along the border between Texas and Mexico. While it first appears that the victims are young women entering illegally from Mexico and being forced into white slavery. As Caitlin traces the first disappearances to a particular small town, a disturbing pattern slowly emerges.
Meanwhile, Cort Wesley has been struggling to keep his family together. While Wesley's real and well deserved reputation for toughness has kept him safe, his reputation may cost him his sons. The social worker assigned to his case has been threatening to take away his children. Cort tries to convince Social Services that he should retain custody and that he is, in fact, a good father. Against his better judgment, circumstances force Cort to reach out to his former employers for the money he needs to raise his children.
When Cort's teenage son Dylan stumbles into trouble, he calls on Caitlin for help. Somehow Dylan, Cort, and Caitlin (and eventually Paz) find themselves facing unexpected and unnatural evils together.
Also, while on his way to help Caitlin, Paz researches Caitlin's grandfather, the legendary Earl Strong. Through flashbacks, correspondence, Texas Rangers archives, the memories of survivors and their descendants, and Caitlin's recollections, Land tells us the story of Earl Strong and Texas in the 1930s. Through Earl Strong, we can picture what life was like when Texas Rangers were given the mandate to keep the peace in isolated and lawless towns. Though things haven't changed that much in Caitlin's time, the stories of Sweetwater, Texas in the 1930s tell us much about Texas's history and Caitlin's legacy.
Caitlin Strong is one of my favorite heroines, so I knew that I'd enjoy Strong Justice: A Caitlin Strong Novel. Land also builds on Cort Wesley's personality and history -- he's another hero of sorts who deserves more from the world. The introduction of Earl Strong and the events in the 1930s also give Strong Justice another important story and treat us to a glimpse into the Strong legacy. The book is about the trying to do what is right against desperate odds, just as it is about working to keep the peace and the Texas Rangers but it does this in two time periods and it does so with top notch action and fighting. In Strong Justice, Jon Land gives us heroes to root for and a fun, satisfying, action packed read!
ISBN-10: 0765323362- Hardcover Publisher: Forge Books; 1 edition (June 22, 2010), 352 pages. Review copy provided by the author....more