I love reading debut novels and Fortress Defiled, A Jillian Jax Mystery by Connie Johnson is no exception. Fortress Defiled is set in St Paul, MN whicI love reading debut novels and Fortress Defiled, A Jillian Jax Mystery by Connie Johnson is no exception. Fortress Defiled is set in St Paul, MN which added to my enjoyment of this book. It is always enjoyable to read a story set in an area you are very familiar with. Fortress Defiled had me hooked by about 30% through the book. I knew right there and then that I would be awake until I finished! The story moves at a good pace and keeps the reader on edge to the very end.
The main character, Jillian is a strong and talented agent with a special sense. Without giving away too much, I want to say that I really found the premise of this special sense possessed by Jillian to be very unique and intriguing story element. Jillian has many strong relationships in her life such as her family and her friend, Sondra that play an integral part in her life. These relationships are very touching and very well developed by the author.
I found the ending of Fortress Defiled very satisfying. It is evident throughout Fortress Defiled that Connie Johnson put a lot of research into this book regarding Minnesota and Law Enforcement procedures. The author describes herself as a student of human behavior. Her knowledge in this area is evident in her insightful psychological look into the thought process and actions of the characters.
Yep, this book had me losing a bit of sleep. I had to finish! I will be looking forward to the next book in the Jillian Jax Mystery series. I look forward to learning more about the key characters and their stories. Considering, Connie Johnson’s initial development of these characters, I don’t think I will be disappointed in future novels.
The characters in Fortress Defile learn first hand, that the past always shapes our lives more than we realize. If you are looking for a unique mystery with just the right amount of creepy, Fortress Defiled by Connie Johnson will deliver. ...more
Jon Acuff uses his signature wit and humor to provide advice on how to survive a career “Do Over” either due to either a voluntary or involuntary reasJon Acuff uses his signature wit and humor to provide advice on how to survive a career “Do Over” either due to either a voluntary or involuntary reason. Voluntary Do Overs being, Career Ceiling or Career Jump. Involuntary “Do Overs” being Career Bump or Career Opportunity. Jon introduces the reader to the concept of a “Career Savings Account” (CSA). A CSA is filled with your relationships, skills, character and work ethic. Personally, I am currently in a bit of a strange season in my career. I found the tasks in the book very helpful to put Jon’s theory into practice in my career. I especially liked the information on how to have character in the workplace, which I strive to do each day. I know which areas of my CSA need to be strengthened and I now have steps to improve my Career Savings Account.
My Rating: 4 – I found Do Over by Jon Acuff an enjoyable read. I simply love Jon’s sense of humor. I loved him as a narrator. He is a very expressive narrator with just a hint of sarcasm. He made me laugh out loud more than once. I have been fan of Jon Acuff for years. We lead Financial Peace University and he does make an appearance in Week #5 I believe it is.
I am motivated to invest in myself and my career Savings Account after listening to Do Over by Jon Acuff. The tag line on the cover reads, “Rescue Monday, Reinvent Work and Never Get Stuck!” This is exactly what I needed to hear during this changing time in my career. I would recommend Do Over by Jon Acuff to anyone who is feeling the need to change up their career a little bit or have been faced with an involuntary “Do Over”. Jon Acuff provides very sage advice in a very enjoyable format. I will certainly be listening to more of his books as I enjoyed him as a narrator very much. Honestly, I usually do not enjoy author/narrators very much, but Jon Acuff is very enjoyable to listen to. ...more
My Review: A number of book bloggers were saying good things about “The Lemon Grove”. Said to be the summer read not to miss. When I saw it on NetgallMy Review: A number of book bloggers were saying good things about “The Lemon Grove”. Said to be the summer read not to miss. When I saw it on Netgally, I thought I better request a copy to review. I received my review copy and decided to read it on my vacation. It is a quick, easy read so perfect for a vacation.
Jenn and Greg are on vacation in the beautiful island of Mallorca, Spain. The description of the setting is amazing and very descriptive. You can just feel the heat and the carefree life style of the island. Jenn and Greg are joined by Greg’s daughter, Emma and her boyfriend, Nate. A May/December relationship is sparked between Jenn and Nate. A relationship that is filled with passion and heat. For me, this just wasn’t enjoyable. Being a mother of a 20 something old son, I couldn’t not get the image of my son or his friends out of my head. Not fun!
I found Jenn as a character to be very shallow and insecure. The relationship sprung between them very quickly. As a stepmother, I really could not respect Jenn. Her relationship with Emma was very rocky, but much of that was due to Jenn’s mind set that Emma was Greg’s daughter even though she had been in Emma’s life for many years. Being a stepmother myself, I could not fathom having that mindset. I just could not connect with the characters.
The story line was suspenseful in wondering if they will be found out with many near misses and risky behavior. The ending has you wondering if they were found out or not.
My Rating: 2/5 - If you enjoy steamy, quick summer reads than “The Lemon Grove” by Helen Walsh is for you. For me, I am looking for more substance in my stories and I really could not feel comfortable with this May/December relationship. For me it was equivalent to walking in on our your parents. Keep in mind I was probably the only woman on earth who had absolutely no desire to read 50 Shades of Grey by EL James either.
My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing ...more
Let’s just get this out of the way, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is one of my favorite reads so far this year. I received The Pearl That Broke Its SLet’s just get this out of the way, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is one of my favorite reads so far this year. I received The Pearl That Broke Its Shell from the reviewer program at AudioJukeBox. In my work as a social worker in a metro area, I meet many people and find myself drawn to stories of life within other cultures.
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is the story of two Afghan women, Shekiba and Rahima. Shekiba lived in the early 1900’s during the reign of King Habibullah. Rahima lived in present day Afghanistan. Shekiba and Rahima shared a commonality of living as a Bacha posh. Bacha posh ("dressed up as a boy" in the Dari Language) is a cultural practice in which some families without sons will pick a daughter to live and behave as a boy. This enables the child to behave more freely: attending school, escorting her sisters in public, and working. Bacha posh also allows the family to avoid the social stigma associated of not having any male children.
I don’t want to share too much about the story as you have to really experience it and I can’t really give it justice. I found learning about the history of Afghanistan very interesting. I found it very interesting how in 1920’s Afghanistan rules by King Amanullah Khan and Queen Soraya was looking towards the ways of the West and were making efforts to modernize and empower the Afghan people. Fast forward nearly a 100 years to Rahima’s life and those previous efforts to modernize and empower the Afghan people are non existent. The country is ruled by warlords and wrought with corruption.
While the Pearl That Broke Its Shells touches of issues such as child marriage, warlords, political unrest, drug addiction, and domestic violence, I really was impacted by the strength, perseverance and determination of Shekiba and Rahima to change their naseeb. Naseeb means destiny or fate. The literal meaning in Arabic is "share", but it came to be understood as "one's share in life", and thus his destiny.
This is my first experience with the narration of Gin Hammond. I really enjoyed listening to The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. Gin Hammond provides a very emotional and passionate performance. Her narration is easy to listen to and very enjoyable. She bring the story to life in a manner that added to my enjoyment of the story!
My Rating: 4/5 - The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a debut novel that is wonderfully written. It is hard to believe this is Nadia Hashimi debut novel. I found myself looking for excuses to slip in my earbuds to listen to just a few more chapters. Hashimi provides a very intimate look into the life of two amazing Afghan women. I found myself thinking about Shekida and Rahima throughout my day. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell is a story that will stay with you long after you close the book. ...more
Nicolas Duhamel, AKA Nicolas Colt is an author of one best selling novel, who is struggling to start his second book. He goes to a Tuscan Island ResorNicolas Duhamel, AKA Nicolas Colt is an author of one best selling novel, who is struggling to start his second book. He goes to a Tuscan Island Resort with his girlfriend, Malvina to work on his new book. Nicolas was a very unlikable character caring only about himself and what others think of him. He was extremely egocentric and objectified women. I have to admit when Nicolas described various women and interactions, I had to remind myself, yes, this book was written by Tatiana de Rosnay. Is it a sign of a good writer, if I can’t believe that some very crude passages just could not have been written by a woman?? I think Tatiana de Rosnay does a wonderful job of depicting the struggles of a writer and writer’s block. She really captured the cost of fame should one allow themselves to be so entrenched in that life style of excess.
I was determined to finish this book while it took much longer than usual, I finished this book. My determination to finish was partially due to the smooth, engaging narration of Simon Vance. I think Simon could read a phone book and I would enjoy it! I will be looking or more book narrated by Simon Vance! While the ending of The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay did provide some redeeming actions by Nicholas Duhamel, it was far too late to change my opinion of the story.
My Rating: 2/5 - When I was offered the opportunity to review a book by Tatiana de Rosnay, I jumped at the chance. I really wanted to love this book! I am a huge fan of Sarah’s Key, but unfortunately I was very disappointed in The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay. Simon Vance delivers a wonderful performance as narrator. ...more
My Review: I believe this is the first book by Kate Atkinson that I have read. I must say her writing was outstanding. I love the concept/ story lineMy Review: I believe this is the first book by Kate Atkinson that I have read. I must say her writing was outstanding. I love the concept/ story line of Life After Life. The whole idea of being able to relive your life with a bit of hind sight is intriguing. What might you do differently if you would have known what you now know??
Life After Life takes place between 1910 and 1960. Atkinson superbly portrays this era in history both in London and Germany. The main character Ursula was very well developed as were the lesser characters in Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I had a bit of difficulty connecting to Ursula as each “new” Ursula was a a little different than the previous one due that Ursula’s past experiences. This left me with a bit of confusion and a disjointed feeling initially. But once I got a feel for this I saw how each life added another layer to the story.
As a social worker I was fascinated by Ursula’s story and the impact a small change or decision would make of the final outcome of her life. It is amazing how a even a small change can rewrite history. We have so many choices in life and you never really know how a different choice may impact your life. While in life we may experience hind sight, we don’t get the chance to use that gained knowledge to change our future. Would be interesting if we could.
Kate Atkinson crafts her story in such a manner that the reader truly does experience that feeling of déjà vu when reading Life After Life. This ability to provide the reader with that experience shows the true writing talent of Kate Atkinson. But this is where I might delineate from my fellow book bloggers…I found the end of one of Ursula’s life to the next very disheartening. Once I would start reading again and would be at a similar place and the story took a different path I found this very disjointed. I am a casual reader at heart and like a nice flow to the story. While Life After Life is amazingly written, I really missed the continuous flow of the story. In my opinion, Life After Life had many starts and ends within the telling of the story that decreased my enjoyment of getting lost in the story. This is part could have been due to the fact that I read bits of the story at a time due to my busy schedule and that might have taken away from my overall experience of the book. I think Life After Life by Kate Atkinson is best read in large chucks of time.
My Rating: 4 – I would recommend Life After Life by Kate Atkinson as the characters and writing are amazing and the concept of the story fresh and unique. I really enjoyed the attention made to the details of the historical significance of the setting. Life After Life would make for a great book group discussion.
My Review: I have to admit I picked Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany from Netgalley, based on the cover. Amy Hatvany is a new author to me, but one I plMy Review: I have to admit I picked Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany from Netgalley, based on the cover. Amy Hatvany is a new author to me, but one I plan on reading more of. On Sunday, I decided to start my day leisurely with a bit of reading time. I started Heart Like Mine and found it very gripping and ended up finishing the entire book in one day. This is very unlike me as I have a house and family to take care of on the weekends! Heart Like Mine is a story of love, marriage, parenthood and grief. The struggles of a blended family are amplified by the recent death of the children’s mother, Kelli.
The story flows very well, even with the transition between times and narrators. What really kept me reading this book was how well the emotions of the characters were developed. The tense relationship between Victor and Grace (stepmom) and the emotional roller coaster of the grief, feeling of betrayal and loss of the teen daughter Ava were spot on. I just wanted to wrap in my arms around the youngest child, Max. I loved the ending and being able to see how each character came to terms with each other, the past and the future.
My Rating: 4 – I would have lost sleep to finish this book, if I hadn’t finished it before bedtime! If you enjoy books by Jodi Picoult or Women’s Literature you will LOVE Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany! This is the first book I have read by Amy Hatvany, but it will not be my last ...more
Fever by Mary Beth Keane caught my attention on NetGalley.com due to the topic, Historical Fiction being a favorite genre of mine. I knew little to noFever by Mary Beth Keane caught my attention on NetGalley.com due to the topic, Historical Fiction being a favorite genre of mine. I knew little to nothing about Typhoid Mary, so I was intrigued. Fever caught my attention from the very beginning. I was impressed by the detail that was presented of life in New York and plight of the working class during this period of time.
Fever is the story of Mary Mallon, the first identified carrier of Typhoid. She was a talented cook who worked for well to do families. The fever seems to follow her, leaving illness and death in her wake. Mary was a very strong character, but in denial of her condition. This makes a lot of sense as during that time there was just starting to be talk about the details of disease and how it was spread. There was some misconceptions about the spread of disease as it relates to garbage and the lack of sanitation in New York. The author attempts to give a voice to the thoughts of Mary and her reasons for continuing to cook after being ordered to stop. While I believe Mary was in denial to some extent of the illness she was causing, the author gave little suggestions that Mary might have thought in the back of her mind that she might be causing the fever. Mary was stubborn and very strong, I didn’t like her disregard of others well-being by continuing to cook, especially at the Sloane Maternity Hospital.
Fever by Mary Beth Keane captured my attention initially, but I did find the 2nd half of the book to be less captivating. I completed the book as I was interested in knowing how everything turned out. I wish there was more depth to the story surrounding Mary and her thoughts, reasons and relationships. The book was fictional so the author could have built more into that part of the story. Throughout the story Mary has a love interest, Alfred who struggled with employment, drug and drinking issues. I am not sure how much this relationship added to the story, but it did give some reason for Mary’s decision to return to and continue cooking.
I commend the author, Mary Beth Keane for a very well researched story. Her detail to the life and times of the early 1900 in New York was remarkable. I really enjoyed the detail to the setting and the events during that time.
My Rating: 3.5 – while I did not lose sleep to finish this book – Fever by Mary Beth Keane is very well worth the read! If you enjoy historical fiction you will be very impressed by Mary Beth Keane’s research and detail!
My Review: Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a novel which touches on issues such as racism, homophobia and feminismMy Review: Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a novel which touches on issues such as racism, homophobia and feminism in a heart warming and humorous way. Though these issues are heavy this story is entertaining and evokes real emotions about the various characters. Jackie a housewife from Boston and her family move to the Deep South in the racial charged 1960s. Jackie starts this controversial Literary Society when moving to Collier County. This novel is narrated by Dora, one of the lovable misfits that make up the Literary Society. Each member of the Literary Society bring something different to the table during a time in history when different was not a valued attribute.
The members of the Literary Society are colorful and lovable. I can’t even chose a favorite character as I loved them all. I especially would love to see a movie made of this book just so I can see Dolores, the alligator hunter. My image of her in my mind is pretty entertaining!! The Literary Society is a group of people who are different, but develop a real friendship despite their differences. Change is possible when people look beyond their difference and find their common ground. For this group one common ground discovered was reading/books. Jackie, the Literary Society originator had good intentions and wanted to change the injustices she saw in her new home, Naples. She didn’t always approach the issues in the best manner and was not always successful, but her intentions were good.
After this group has an incident with the Ku Klux Klan, it looks like all was for naught. Can things really change?? But everything turns around for the group and the ending is very satisfying. The group leaves a lasting impression on Naples, Florida. I loved the ending!
Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a debut novel by Amy Hill Hearth and will be available for purchase on October 2, 2012. If you enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, you will love Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society. The characters really make the story!!
My Rating: 4/5 – The story flowed well and the characters were wonderful! I still smile thinking of the image in my head of each character. A wonderful debut novel that kept me up a few nights later than a girl who needs to get to work on time should stay up! ...more