Colleen and Shay are about as different as two women can be. Colleen is a wealthy woman from Massachusetts, who uses money to get whatever she wants....moreColleen and Shay are about as different as two women can be. Colleen is a wealthy woman from Massachusetts, who uses money to get whatever she wants. Shay is an unsophisticated woman from California who uses her looks and tough demeanor to get what she wants. These two women are thrown together when their sons, who were working on an oil rig in North Dakota, go missing. They realize they have to work together to find their boys, since no one else seems to want to help.
The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield is a mystery that explores the lengths two mothers will go to in order to find their children. When they start digging around, they realize the oil company has been implicated in several accidents and injuries that have been covered up. They start to wonder if the company did something to their boys to keep them quiet. There's also a question as to whether the boys just took off, since the work is hard and some men just can't cut it.
I enjoyed the mystery aspect of The Missing Place, and was glad that the truth of the boys' disappearance wasn't obvious until the women learn about it themselves. The characters seemed real and I found myself caring about both mothers as they tried to find their sons. There were some aspects of the story, though, that didn't tie together so well. And there were quite a few loose ends that weren't tied up at the end of the novel. This wasn't too bothersome to me, but if you're a reader who likes complete closure at the end of a novel, you won't get it here (although the mystery of the boys' disappearance is one aspect that is tied up well by the end).
Overall, it was an interesting mystery with a cold, harsh setting that Littlefield brought to life.(less)
When Felix Brewer skips town to avoid a prison sentence, he leaves behind a wife, Bambi, three daughters and a mistress, Julie. When the mistress disa...moreWhen Felix Brewer skips town to avoid a prison sentence, he leaves behind a wife, Bambi, three daughters and a mistress, Julie. When the mistress disappears 10 years later, everyone assumes she went off to be with Felix. Then her body is found nearby. The police never manage to solve the murder case, but Sandy Sanchez, a former detective, decides to open the cold case about 20 years later and is determined to find the truth.
After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman is part crime novel, part family drama. Lippman covers several time frames throughout the novel, telling the story of Bambi and Felix, Julie and Felix, and Bambi and her daughters in the years after Felix's disappearance. We also get to know Sandy a bit, as well as other key characters. It sounds complicated, but it actually was easy to follow after the first few chapters.
I enjoyed the different characters, particularly the three daughters who are middle aged women by the end of the novel. It was interesting to read how their father's disappearance and his affair affected them, and how they related to one another and their mother over the years. The question of what really happened to Julie remained a mystery until it was revealed, as did the question of whether Felix Brewer would ever return to his family.
Overall, this was a good mystery with an engaging storyline that will keep you turning the pages until the end.(less)
Cara Rutledge left her southern home many years ago and made a life of her own. In Chicago, her career is her life. But when her mother asks her to co...moreCara Rutledge left her southern home many years ago and made a life of her own. In Chicago, her career is her life. But when her mother asks her to come home just as she loses her job and her life starts to fall apart, she reluctantly decides to make the trip back to her family's beach house in Isle of Palms, South Carolina.
In The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe, Cara learns that her mother, Lovie, is dying of cancer, unlikely to make it much past the summer. They try to reconnect, but the past is hard to overcome at times. Misunderstandings about the past and her mother's intentions have clouded their relationship, and it takes a lot for them to open up to each other.
I really enjoyed this beach read. While Lovie is dying of cancer, I didn't find the story to be depressing or overwhelmingly sad. She accepts her fate and the author doesn't dwell on her suffering at all. The story of Lovie and Cara is offset with other storylines involving a pregnant teen who is living with Lovie as a caretaker, Cara's childhood friend who is having marriage trouble, and a romance for Cara. Themes of abuse, both physical and verbal, are woven into the novel as well.
There is also a great deal of information about the sea turtles who return to the beaches along the east coast every year to lay their eggs. This actually serves as a sort of rift between Cara and her mother, who is a "turtle lady," responsible for protecting the turtles and their eggs. Cara always felt her mother spent more time worrying about the turtles than about her.
We read The Beach House for book club and although we did have some topics to discuss, it's definitely not as deep as most of our selections. I think it serves better as an easy beach read. The setting and the emphasis on the sea turtles evoke a relaxing, summery feeling.(less)
As a mother, I am familiar with the game that has my children setting up obstacle courses in the family room, and then jumping from couch to pillow to...moreAs a mother, I am familiar with the game that has my children setting up obstacle courses in the family room, and then jumping from couch to pillow to cushion to chair and back to the couch without touching the shark-invested water, or perhaps lava, that is the floor. It's a fun game ~ until they try to play it at the grocery store!
Harry and the Hot Lava is a sizzling new picture book by Chris Robertson about a little boy with a big imagination who loves to play this Hot Lava game too. But with Harry, we get to see the lava of his imagination in shocking color throughout the book. In addition to Harry's wonderful face and gestures, Robertson uses text in various shapes and sizes to add a whimsical and fun feel to the book. He really takes the reader into Harry's imaginative world.
This is a wonderfully simple picture book with vivid illustrations that will definitely appeal to young kids, especially those with an imagination like Harry's.(less)
Peter Byerly is distraught over the loss of his wife nine months ago. He has retreated to their cottage in the English countryside, hoping to return t...morePeter Byerly is distraught over the loss of his wife nine months ago. He has retreated to their cottage in the English countryside, hoping to return to his love of collecting and restoring rare books. But when he opens a book about Shakespeare forgeries and finds a Victorian watercolor of a woman who looks just like his wife, Peter is soon on a search for the origin of the painting and the truth about Shakespeare's real identity.
The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett is a wonderful journey for anyone who loves books. It follows Peter's search in 1995, which turns into a bit of a thriller at times. But Lovett also takes the reader back in time a bit so we can learn the story of his relationship with his wife and how he came to be a bookseller. He does a beautiful job of expressing Peter's feelings about the rare books he encounters, and his feelings are contagious.
And then he takes us back even further to the history of one particular volume, whose life begins in the 16th century. Peter is charged with uncovering the truth behind the book's history ~ is it a real or is it a forgery? His discovery could answer the age-old question of Shakespeare's real identity.
I really enjoyed The Bookman's Tale and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in rare books and the history of books. I will admit that anyone who is not interested in this subject may not be as enamored with the book as I was. But I expect that most of my blog readers would enjoy it. (less)
Gabby St. Claire is extremely excited about the upcoming school play. She and her best friend are determined to make the most of it, even though the h...moreGabby St. Claire is extremely excited about the upcoming school play. She and her best friend are determined to make the most of it, even though the high school kids will likely get all the big roles. They just want the chance to be in the show. But it seems like someone, or something, is trying to make sure the show does not go on. Could it be a student or a teacher trying to sabotage the show? Or is it a ghost? Gabby decides to get to the bottom of it and save the show.
The Curtain Call Caper by Christy Barritt and Kathy Applebee is a spin-off of Barritt’s adult Squeaky Clean Mysteries series about crime scene cleaner Gabby St. Claire. I haven't read that series, but I will definitely check it out. Gabby is an interesting character, at least when she's in middle school. It would be fun to see what she's like as an adult!
A bit of a klutz, Gabby is a kind girl and a good friend. Unfortunately, she has to deal with middle grade cliques and all the challenges that go along with that, but the story doesn't get too serious. It has a pretty good upbeat feeling throughout. There are plenty of characters to look up to, both kids and adults. And the mystery of why spotlights are dropping and scripts are missing is engaging.
Overall, this was a fun middle grade mystery that should appeal to late elementary and early middle school readers. There's nothing too heavy or objectionable in this one. And there's a free novel study pack available for teachers and homeschoolers, if you want to add it to your curriculum!(less)
3 1/2 stars. When Brian Koski is forced to resign from the police force, he goes into business as a private investigator. His first clients are Jeff a...more3 1/2 stars. When Brian Koski is forced to resign from the police force, he goes into business as a private investigator. His first clients are Jeff and Melody Patten, who hire Brian to deal with a man who is stalking their daughter. Collin Lanaski insists that their daughter, Angela, is his own daughter, Courtney, who supposedly died in a car crash while he was deployed to the Middle East.
Identity Crisis by Jean Hackensmith is a great mystery that kept me turning the pages wondering what was really going on. This main storyline of Brian's attempt to keep Collin away from Angela, and his subsequent search for the girl once Collin actually kidnaps her, provided plenty of suspense. Brian's second big case, in which he searches for the long-lost daughter of an elderly couple, adds some variety to the novel, which was nice.
This is actually the second book in the B.K. Investigations series, but it definitely stands alone. I have not read the first book, which is evidently about the case that forces Brian to resign at the start of this novel. But there was enough background information that I didn't feel like I missed anything.
Just about all of the characters are likeable and genuine. The truth stayed hidden for me for a long time. There was a bit of action, but mostly it's the suspense that kept me going. Overall, it was an engaging, suspenseful novel that kept my attention throughout and made me care about the characters.(less)
Don Tillman is a socially inept genetics professor who is on a quest to find a wife after one of his few friends suggests that he would make a wonderf...moreDon Tillman is a socially inept genetics professor who is on a quest to find a wife after one of his few friends suggests that he would make a wonderful husband. He creates a questionnaire with all of the most important questions he'd need to ask a potential wife, including whether she is generally on time, smokes, drinks, etc. But then he meets Rosie, who does not meet most of his requirements.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion is really the story of Don's transformation. Told in the first person from Don's point of view, the reader is drawn into his unique mind, the mind of a man with Asperger's ~ although he doesn't realize this. He does, however, know he is wired differently than others. He has a difficult time feeling emotions and being appropriate in social situations. But with the help of friends, and Rosie, he is working on that.
Don connects with Rosie through her desire to find her father. She doesn't have a good relationship with her stepfather and she wants to find her real father. Don, a genetics professor, is quickly pulled into the project of collecting DNA samples and testing them to find the answer. And the more time they spend together, the more Don learns to deal with social interactions and his emotions.
The Rosie Project isn't overly exciting or incredibly suspenseful, but it is a sweet story about characters that I grew to care about. Don is quirky, to put it mildly, and I enjoyed being in his mind for the duration of the story. There's been a lot of hype about this book, but if you put that aside, you will likely find that you enjoy the story and are hoping for the best for Don Tillman in the end.(less)
Insurgent by Veronica Roth is the second book in the Divergent series. I will start by saying that I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first i...moreInsurgent by Veronica Roth is the second book in the Divergent series. I will start by saying that I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first in the series. It was a nice continuation of the story, and I liked getting to know some of the characters more. But I found the focus of the story in Divergent much more interesting. And now, if you haven't read Divergent, you should stop reading my review!
Insurgent starts with Tris, Tobias and other characters on the train heading away from the conflict that took place in Divergent. The Dauntless are now split between loyal Dauntless and Traitors. War is brewing, and each faction, including Amity and Candor must choose sides. Even the factionless are involved.
Tris is dealing with more than war in this book, though. She is also dealing with her extreme regret over having to shoot Will. She can't even hold a gun now, which isn't a very good situation to be in during a war! Her relationship with Tobias hits some major snags too, especially since Tris keeps putting herself in harm's way.
If you've read Divergent, you should definitely read Insurgent too. I'm planning on reading the final book in the series too, even though I've heard some negative reviews of it. This one was good, but didn't pull me in as much as the first in the series. But I'm glad to have continued the story, and look forward to seeing how it all ends.(less)
When Gus Silva is a boy, his father who is known for his temper kills his mother in a rage. Gus, who was home when it happened, stopped talking. Only...moreWhen Gus Silva is a boy, his father who is known for his temper kills his mother in a rage. Gus, who was home when it happened, stopped talking. Only Hallie Costa, the local doctor's daughter could break his silence. Years later, they fall in love. But another act of violence tears them apart.
The Orphans of Race Point by Patry Francis spans several decades in the lives of Gus and Hallie. It seems at first to be a love story, but it turns out to be much more than that. It covers many topis including friendship, love, religion, abuse, deception and forgiveness. The characters and their relationships seem genuine, and the storyline goes in unexpected yet realistic directions at times.
The story is told from a few different points of view, but each character has an entire part of the book, consisting of several chapters, so the alternating voices are not distracting. I also found that I was able to connect with each character very well because of this style. And it helped with the flow of the storyline as we were able to see how different characters spent the same portion of time, without having to jump back and forth between those characters' stories each chapter.
I personally loved the setting on Cape Cod, mostly in Provincetown. I grew up in Massachusetts (on Nantasket Beach, which is also mentioned in the book) and have been there many times. Francis definitely got the feeling of that setting down in this book. It's clear she's been there many times as well.
At more than 500 pages, this is a hefty read. But it is never boring. The story and the characters evolve and grow as each chapter passes. If you enjoy contemporary fiction with a bit of a mystery involved, I highly recommend it. The Orphans of Race Point would make a wonderful summer beach read! (less)
Rick and Abby grew up together and started a relationship in their teens, but Rick and his family moved away and they lost touch. Through the years, e...moreRick and Abby grew up together and started a relationship in their teens, but Rick and his family moved away and they lost touch. Through the years, each married and built their lives and families. But neither found happiness. Abby got divorced and moved with her daughter to a new home. Rick became disillusioned with his materialistic life and marriage, and decided to break away on his own. And then, a chance meeting brought them together again.
Pressed Pennies by Steven Manchester is a love story that isn't so simple. While Rick and Abby consider getting to know each other again, Abby's 10-year-old daughter Paige has other ideas. She's still trying to deal with her parents' divorce and is comforted by her mother's promise that it will be just the two of them. When Rick shows up, Paige wants nothing to do with him ~ and she wants her mom to herself.
Manchester delivers a beautifully written, emotionally full story of love and sacrifices. He digs into the decisions people make about their own happiness, and how they sometimes put their relationships ahead of that happiness, whether it's a marriage, friendship or parent-child relationship. The characters all seem very honest and easy to relate to, and their relationships and actions seem very real.
If you enjoy contemporary novels that tug at the heartstrings, I highly recommend Pressed Pennies.(less)
A former Detroit homicide detective, O'Clair left the force behind and moved to Florida. He bought a motel on the beach and is enjoying a quieter life...moreA former Detroit homicide detective, O'Clair left the force behind and moved to Florida. He bought a motel on the beach and is enjoying a quieter life. But when two different women end up dead on the beach in front of his motel, his old life pulls him back in. Soon he's wrapped up in the homicide investigation, digging into an old case that has too many similarities with this one.
Eyes Closed Tight by Peter Leonard is a fast-paced thriller that takes us along for the ride as O'Clair tries to put the pieces together before another woman is killed. This time, it's his own girlfriend who has been targeted. Told from multiple viewpoints, including that of the killer, the story is still suspenseful in that the killer's true identity isn't revealed until the end.
One of the best parts of this novel is the way the characters interact and speak to one another. The dialog is realistic and the relationships are as well. It has an easy going, fun tone throughout the story, even when things are a little tense. I did find some of the investigation into the killer a bit complicated at near the end, but it all came together eventually, and I finally figured out what was going on!
Overall, if you are looking for a suspenseful crime novel, you should check out Eyes Closed Tight.(less)
Teaching kids about good manners is tough, especially young kids who have very little interest in learning what they should and should not do. But The...moreTeaching kids about good manners is tough, especially young kids who have very little interest in learning what they should and should not do. But The Do's and Don'ts by Hayley Rose is an adorable book of lessons on how to practice good manners that will surely capture their attention.
The colorful, fun illustrations by Mark Sean Wilson make a dull topic much more engaging. And the choice of lessons is great, speaking from the perspective of a mother! The book covers everything from saying "Thank you" and "Excuse Me" to lessons on hygiene, sportsmanship and letting people get off the elevator before boarding. Rose even addresses some important safety lessons.
The Do's and Don'ts is a great book to share with young kids ~ and perhaps older kids as well since most could use a reminder of some of these rules! (less)