NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Dead Wake by Erik Larson





5 stars -- Riveting account of the last voyage of the Lusitania and all of the details surrounding the sinking of the ship by a German U-boat on May 7, 1915. Non-fiction does not get much better than this -- more suspenseful than many of the popular thrillers -- the tension mounts because the reader knows what is going to happen. 

I rarely give 5 stars, but this book brought out the researcher in me. I have spent hours looking up archives and documents, watching videos, and reading other sources to learn more about this ocean liner and the calamity. I'm going to be recommending this to everyone! 

Thank you to NetGalley and Crown Publishing for the e-book ARC to review. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Walking by Night by Kate Ellis




3.0 out of 5 stars -- This is the 5th book in the Detective Inspector Joe Plantagenet series but the first one I've read. Death stalks the theater and the byways of the most "haunted" town in England.

When an actress who is appearing in a local play, THE DEVILS, is killed and her body is found in an ancient abbey, DI Plantagenet is flummoxed by a witness's report of having seen a nun in the fog. The young woman who discovered the victim has ties to an old case, that of a kidnapped boy, her little brother. In addition, there are other suspicious characters who are all connected in very interesting ways. Then another murder takes place -- disguised as a suicide, and another...who is killing these people, and why?

The fog that cloaks the valley each night plays a role in the developing suspense and sense of the supernatural in this story. For the fog hides those that walk along the old streets and begs the question -- who is watching whom?

The narrative is in the style of a police procedural and flows smoothly. I would have liked to know more about the main character, Joe, who obviously has some issues and flaws that weren't explained in detail. I'm sure it would have helped me enjoy this book more if I had read the previous books in the series.

I enjoyed the book, I'd read another. I liked the setting, the main characters, and the lack of a romance.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House for the e-book ARC to review.







































































































































































































































Monday, March 9, 2015

The Doll Maker by RIchard Montanari (#8)

4.0 stars
 
 An excellent police procedural thriller, the 8th in the series featuring Philadelphia Homicide Detectives Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne, is a winner!

I've read a couple others in this series, and loved the author's writing style. After tearing through this one, I'm determined to go to the backlist to catch up on what other great stories I've missed. This was a very fast-paced read that kept me glued to the pages and had great characters. It never let up!

Haunting and disturbing drama centering on a series of chilling murders where the victims appear eerily staged. With each successive death, Balzano and Byrne are stymied by what appears to be a tenuous connection to a death row inmate and cold case files of kidnapped or missing children. And what about the dolls? As the clues are pieced together, Balzano and Byrne race to find a very unusual type of killer before another victim can be invited to a sinister and deadly "tea dance".

I'd recommend this to any fan who wants to read a complex suspense novel with multidimensional main characters and great "bad guys". I loved that there were no romantic overtones and that the relationship of the partners was based in mutual respect and deep friendship. I can't wait to read the next in this series!

Thank you to NetGalley and Mulholland books for the e-book ARC to review.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Kill by Jane Casey (#5)


3.8 stars

This is the 3rd book featuring DC Maeve Kerrigan that I have read though it is actually the 5th in the series. As always, I think one enjoys a series more if it is read, in order, from the beginning. The author does a good job giving enough backstory to keep a less faithful reader in the loop, however, and I didn't feel completely lost.

Maeve and her boyfriend, Rob, are enjoying an evening wedding in Somerset with the rest of her team when she is sent back to London with DI Josh Derwent -- there's been a murder -- a police officer has been shot dead inside a car in Richmond Park. But that's just the beginning. Even as the manhunt and investigation ramp up, more cops are killed. Are these killings connected? The case is complicated from the beginning and the narrative is solid police procedural.

The only jarring note is the constant emotional barrage from spending time inside Maeve's head with her relationship issues, her ambivalence toward Josh, her reactions to being a female in the police, and her self-esteem concerns. Perhaps I am in the minority, but I don't like Derwent and I definitely don't want Maeve to end up with him romantically. For all her rushing heedlessly alone into dangerous situations, she really comes off at times as immature and wishy washy.

Also, I'm American and I noticed the anti-gun sentiment. I can't for the life of me understand how police in the UK do not carry weapons on the streets or in their patrol vehicles. It seems like, since the criminals might have guns, that tasers, handcuffs, or batons aren't quite enough in confrontations and when going door to door -- there are some real crazies out there!

Despite all, I do enjoy this series and will look for the next book by this author. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the e-book ARC to review.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Fall by John Lescroart

4.0 out of 5 stars -- #16 in the Dismas Hardy series still going strong.

Though I was able to predict the outcome by the end of the first couple of chapters, I still very much enjoyed this entertaining legal thriller that featured Hardy's daughter, Rebecca, trying her first murder case.

A 17-year-old African American girl falls (is thrown?) from a parapet onto the tarmac below a roadway tunnel, is struck by a car, and killed. Because of racial unrest in the city, a white suspect is quickly identified and arrested in a move by the police and prosecutor to show that crimes against the black community are taken very seriously. The accused perpetrator, Greg Treadway, is a 27-year-old middle school teacher and CASA volunteer who had ties to the victim. Sensing an overly zealous and quick rush to judgement, Rebecca Hardy takes the role of defense attorney to prevent a miscarriage of justice.

This is a more complicated situation than first meets the eye and the reader is drawn into the preparation for the trial and the courtroom testimony and legal maneuvering by both sides as the drama plays out. What will the verdict be?

I really enjoyed this legal thriller and will continue to follow this series and author.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Suffer the Children by Craig DiLouie

3.5 out of 5 stars - I don't read a lot of horror, but the description of this one -- a devastating plague kills ALL the children under puberty in the entire world -- grabbed me right away. What can be better than a mystery surrounding what might be a medical condition?? And since it involves the death of kids, there will be a huge amount of pressure to figure out what's going on, stop it, prevent it -- save the future of the human race? With mass burials and devastated families, people cannot function and life breaks down with the grief. When the children start waking up and going home, the real shock begins. The kids need blood to stay alive. A lot of blood. Human blood.

Well this was indeed a very fast-paced and chilling tale. The main point centers on the question -- what would parents DO to keep their children alive? How much sacrifice can be expected from them, and from the entire community, for the sake of the children?

What a horror show, lots of gore! I didn't really connect with any of the characters perhaps because they quickly deteriorated into dangerous monsters who would single-mindedly care only about their own children and families. I didn't like them even as I understood their helplessness and insane grief at what they needed to do in order to keep their children. Those who did not have their own children to feed were fair game and the disenfranchised (homeless, prisoners, etc.) were most vulnerable. Could I do what they had to do? I don't like to think so. I hope not.

Although I didn't like the ending, I did enjoy the book and this foray into the horror genre. The description of Herod (the thing that killed the kids) was interesting and believable to a good degree.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the e-book ARC to review.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

4.0 out of 5 stars -- Huntington's Disease. "It has been called the cruelest disease known to man."

HD takes everything -- your ability to move purposefully, to speak, to eat, to swallow and to perform activities of daily living. Although it doesn't rob you of consciousness or your intellect, you cannot communicate and are well aware of those losses. Left to writhe and jerk, secured into a bed or wheelchair, you watch as bit by bit, over 10-20 years, you finally die of pneumonia or some other opportunistic condition. There is no cure and treatment is limited and not very effective. You have likely lost your job, home, money, friends and, worst of all, you may also have to see your children -- who have a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation of the HD gene -- start their inexorable decline with onset of symptoms. In this very moving novel, we see the destruction that HD brings to generations of a family.

Joe O'Brien is a Boston cop. He loves his wife, Rosie, and his 4 adult children who all still live at home. They are a close knit Catholic Irish family, and, though they don't have much in the way of material things, they do love each other. When Joe starts experiencing mood swings and begins to have unusual movements he's tested and diagnosed with HD. What follows is a description of how this disease affects each member of the family. The biggest part of the book is not how Joe and family handle his disease and symptoms, though that is a huge part of it, but how one of the daughters, Katie, anguishes over whether or not to be tested for the gene mutation. With a 50% chance of having it -- does she want to know or not. And, if she does find out, how does that affect the rest of her life.

I love this type of storytelling -- a family drama and a medical condition with lots of clinical details and information. It was devastating to read about HD and I became attached to the characters in their individual struggles though I wished the author had focused on all of the children and more about Rosie, rather than just Katie. I did have a little trouble with her constant angst. The way the book ends really irritated me -- all that build up and then...nothing. Some say the ending left things on a hopeful note, but I felt cheated.

This would make a great book club book as readers could explore and learn about the condition and then decide for themselves if they would take the test and want to know the results. Yes or no, definitively, do they have it or not. And what would knowing mean.

Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the e-book ARC to review.