NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Done blogging!

I've decided to quit posting these reviews! If you're interested in what I'm reading, head over to and check out my profile

or find me on Goodreads

Thanks to all those who were following me at one time or another.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Distant Shores by Kristin Hannah

3.5 out of 5 stars - "We're all afraid. It's the going on that matters."

This novel highlights the pain of unfulfilled dreams. It is better to try and fail than to never give yourself the chance to find out.
An empty nester with an ambitious husband wonders who she is and decides to take some time to find out of there is anything left of the girl she once was or if she has sublimated everything in her devotion to her marriage and family.

Possible Spoiler:
I would have rated this higher if it had not had a too pat, fairy tale ending

Now You See Her by James Patterson

3.0 out of 5 stars - Fast and entertaining even if totally unbelievable!

This is James Patterson so just go along and enjoy the ride, suspend your disbelief at the perils survived, and then turn it off just as you would a mindless movie!

Faith by Jennifer Haigh

4.0 out of 5 stars - Pertinent and discussion-worthy...

Sheila's beloved brother, Art, a much-respected Catholic priest, is accused of abusing a boy whom he had taken under his wing. Although she believes that he can't possibly be guilty of the charges against him, she has doubts when he refuses to defend himself and answer the many questions she has.

Sheila's parents and her other brother, Mike, are staunch Irish Catholics who are blindsided and humiliated by the outpouring of anger against their family and try to find some explanation for how and why this has happened.

A great family story -- love, redemption, sacrifice -- and much to discuss considering the current state of this topic in the news today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Night Eternal by DelToro and Hogan

3.0 out of 5 stars Vampire apocalypse--no sparkles here...

The third and final book in this series almost screams MOVIE! As I read it, I couldn't help but see the cinematic version on the big screen. That said, I liked it well enough. This was not a "touchy, feely" vampire novel; it mainly consisted of scene after scene of completely implausible battles between the small band of human rebels who hadn't been turned or corrupted and the vampires who were in control of the entire planet. The reader must suspend disbelief at the peril this ragtag band endures and escapes!

Starting off where the second one ended, Dr. Eph Goodweather and the motley crew he leads, are trying in vain to figure out how to get Eph's son back (Zach was kidnapped by his mother and taken to the Master) and how to find the Master and destroy him. In between hiding in their various hidden lairs and combating marauding vampires, they acquire a nuclear weapon that lacks a detonator. Meanwhile, Nora and Fet are drawn closer together and the other supporting characters are dealing with their own personal issues. Guided by The Born (aka Mr. Quinlan, an offspring of the Master), they also seek to discover the place of the Master's origin so they can detonate the bomb there, kill the Master, and bring vampire rule to an end. This new world has undergone a lot of changes since humans were subjugated as blood suppliers (type B+ is preferred) and the darkness descended. There are no computers, cell phones or other modern devices, and any humans not in captivity serve the Master or have been corrupted into the various occupations that keep the vampires fed and humans controlled. The main characters survive unbelievable peril as they try to decipher THE LUMEN, an old silver-edged book that tells about the rise of the Ancients and its relation to the Biblical "fall of the angels" battle. Convoluted? Yes, but it all sort of makes sense in a way that another explanation might not. Some have complained about the religious aspect of the epic, but I thought it fit.

Does this ragtag band of fighters save the day and restore the planet to the humans? The narrative moves at a fast pace and reaches a somewhat predictable conclusion. If not wholly satisfying, the reader will at least be glad to have reached the end. I can't imagine reading this book without having read the previous two. I'm not a huge fan of this genre, which I would call futuristic horror, but I did enjoy this alternative "end of the world as we know it" novel with its unique approach: apocalypse by vampire.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg

3.0 out of 5 stars - We are all in the business of numbing ourselves...

OK story about a visiting nurse who takes care of an old crush when he comes back home to die of brain cancer. Romance. Sappy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz

2.0 out of 5 stars

Annoying character with author trying too hard to be funny.

I had to force myself to keep reading this when I wanted to toss it aside after the first couple of pages. I had read the first book in the series a long while ago and apparently forgot how ridiculous the family members and their business operations were. When a book is praised by authors, I'm suspicious because I am fairly sure they're just trading bon mots on an exchange program, so when these raves were from the likes of Entertainment Weekly and People magazine, I should have known to skip the book just as I avoid all tabloids. Pass unless you like juvenile humor, annoying characters and a very lame plot.

Even though this is the second in a series, you don't need to have read the other one to "get" this -- you're repeatedly reminded of every last detail from the previous book with footnotes and appendices.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sorry by Soran Drvenkar (translated from German by Shaun Whiteside)

2.0 out of 5 stars SORRY - this was not for me., October 19, 2011
This suspense thriller about four disaffected friends whose unique business venture goes dreadfully wrong was not for me. I would call it a complicated mess. As a device, the author used shifting points of view throughout the narrative as well as all different voices (first, second and third person) alternatively so that the reader was often confused. Not only that, but there were also backward and forward movements in time so that any sense of an unfolding sequence of events was absent. In addition, often things that happened were hinted at rather than fully described which also left the reader constantly guessing about what was going on.

Ordinarily I like a thriller that makes me think and gives me a lot of clues to analyze or things to ponder, but this was all over the place. Themes of child pornography and sexual abuse, torture, gratuitous killing, etc. advanced the plot: someone is using the concept of "sorry" to commit revenge murder. The ending wasn't satisfying nor am I sure that I completely understood the whole point of everything or who did what to whom. I didn't like it. It was hard work to read. I'm glad I finished it, finally. And I won't be recommending it. PASS.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Stranger You See by Amanda Kyle Williams

4.0 out of 5 stars Murder and mayhem - southern style..., October 16, 2011
I love suspense thrillers and this one kept me turning the pages as I wanted to find out two things: first and foremost -- who was this monstrous serial killer dubbed "Wishbone"? and who was this ex-FBI profiler turned private investigator and skip tracer named Dr. Keye Street? With many twists and turns and an almost unbelievable climax, we do get an unequivocal answer to the first question and a desire to learn more about the female protagonist in this debut of what will be a new series by this author.

The setting is Atlanta, Georgia, in the waning days of summer. Mutilated bodies of all ages, races and gender have been found and the killer is taunting the police team led by Keye's friend, Lieutenant Aaron Rauser. He brings Keye into the case when he receives the first letter and wants her to help him by developing a profile and listening to him discuss the case. She was a brilliant criminologist and profiler before alcoholism ended her career with the FBI, but she is drawn in and begins to delve into the psychological and behavioral aspects of the investigation. In addition, Keye continues her private work for local attorneys and bondsmen.

Since I don't "know" Georgia, the atmosphere and detail about the southern culture and lifestyle were intriguing and made me want to visit. I enjoyed the novel because the main character, Keye Street, is imperfect and interesting and I want to follow her into a complete recovery from her past and addictions. I imagine that the rest of the cast of supporting characters, now sort of cardboard stereotypes, will be fleshed out as the series develops. I was a bit chagrined about the romance but it seems inevitable in this type of book. I'll be looking for the follow up novel to see how it all holds up.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

One of the BEST books I have ever read!

5+ stars!
I finally finished Cutting for Stone -- I put the first disk in my car CD player in July. To say it was magnificent and a masterpiece is true for me, but it was so much more than that. An experience. I felt like I KNEW those people and loved them dearly and I'll miss them from now on. This is one of the best books I have ever read. I had to wait to write some sort of review because I could barely breathe after I finished and I wanted to go back and start the story all over again. How lucky to be a person just beginning to learn the history of the Stone family... To say it's one of my favorite books is not an understatement. There are many reasons why it touched me, I don't know if the book resonated so much because of the medical and OR stuff or because of the story, but the combination was overwhelming!

I have read thousands of books in my lifetime and this is one of my top five. At this moment in time, I can't even name others besides Gone with the Wind as far as a book having a deep and lasting impact on me.
This is going to be ONE OF THOSE......Sure there are books I liked a lot --but not many like this come along for a person in her lifetime. This was that book for me. Perhaps a lot of it was because I was first and foremost once an OR nurse who lived and breathed and loved surgery. But it was more than about surgery. It was about family and struggles and survival -- ultimately forgiveness and redemption.
Anyway, take it for what it's worth and please read it. I was lucky enough to get to listen to the audio version which I've packed off to mail to my daughter today and I also read the actual book. I'd listen in my car while driving to work and then catch up to where I left off when I got home. Hearing the words spoken and pronounced with that fantastic voice and accent really made the book come alive for me. I would urge everyone to get this audiobook version instead of reading it if you can!  ENJOY!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Roadside Crosses by Jeffery Deaver

3.0 out of 5 stars - Convoluted and implausible, a thriller involving blogs and gaming

This was just OK. I doubt I read another Deaver novel that features Kathryn Dance as I don't like the character. Really wasn't very suspenseful and way too many red herrings and subplots. The main message: people spend too much time on the internet, they accept rumor, speculation and innuendo as fact -- and reveal far too many personal details.

Skip it or borrow if you're a huge fan.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

2.0 out of 5 stars - Romance and self-discovery, but a very long journey...

I have not read any previous novels by Marisa de los Santos so I had no expectation of this book purportedly about a strong and "magical" friendship tested by a separation. I read other reviews that praised this highly, so I was excited to read it but thoroughly disappointed when I did.

The main themes in the book center around the following: when you love someone, you have to go 'all in' -- and that there is always room for one more (in your heart? your house?) -- and people in your life may be "gone but here."  Hmmm, really? That seems obvious enough to most of us and nothing new to any adult who's had some life experience including tragedy and loss.

The characters did not seem fully developed into more than stereotypes of romantic fiction nor did they captivate me in any way and I just did not like any of them. The plot is trite and unbelievable with a "seek and find" game as three adults and a child traipse across the world in a frenzy to find an old friend who had left them behind years ago and moved on with her life.

If you like predictable and slow moving novels with little tidbits of facts that are meant to tell rather than show, you might like this. At times, I felt the author was trying to "show off" as she went on and on about every little thing from the color of something to a thought in the head of a character. I will not look for another by this author.

Pass. I need to go clear my palate with a good thriller!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cold Plague by Daniel Kalla

4.0 out of 5 stars  
"The purest water on earth" is deadly...
The two doctors with the World Health Organization who appeared in the novel, Pandemic, Dr. Noah Haldane and Dr. Duncan McLeod, join forces with the European Union's department of agriculture representative Elise Renard to analyze several recent cases of what appears to be a variant of Creutzfelt-Jakob Disease. When the team arrives in Limoges, France, to begin their investigation into seven mad cows, they quickly discover that this rapidly accelerated vCJD is not a straight-forward situation of contaminated cows leading to human infection. They delve more deeply into the case and find what they believe is a link between the dead human victims -- is the link connected to the cows or to water all consumed before their deaths? Water that was given to them by a mutual acquaintance -- water with supposed healing properties that came from the huge recently tapped underground lake in Antarctica - Lake Vostok. The purest water on earth, untouched by pollution. The market for this drinking water will be huge and those that discovered and tapped it definitely anticipate the huge profits they will get when it is bottled and brought and sold to the type of people who will pay a hundred dollars or more for a single bottle. They need to solve the mystery fast.

Unfortunately, as the reader suspects immediately, the water contains prions that act very rapidly to destroy the brains of those who consume it. In a race against time, the WHO team and Elise Renard try to find and stop the greedy owners who don't seem to care that they are selling a very horrible death along with the water. The reader knows the major characters involved in this complex coverup, but is not fully able to separate the good guys from the bad guys until almost the very end of the novel. It moves along at a nice pace, back and forth between the settings of French provincial farms and small cities, to the cold ice of the Antarctic.

My favorite genre is the medical thriller and I read them mainly for the science and this idea of the CJD was original and well done. I knew that the doctors would save the world from drinking the contaminated water and having a massive CJD outbreak, but the story of how they solved the case was interesting and I really enjoyed it. I saw that Kalla has written another novel, Of Flesh and Blood, and I may have to read it at some point, but I'm really waiting for another with the Haldane and McLeod characters as I want to see what happens to them next!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Burning by Jane Casey

4.0 out of 5 stars - Solid investigative police procedural

The Burning Man is the name given by the press to the killer who has attacked and beat four women to death before setting them on fire in various places in the city of London. Maeve Kerrigan, a detective constable and one of the few women on the team, is called to the scene of a fifth victim. As she begins to delve into the crime and interview friends and relatives, some questions about this particular murdered woman, Rebecca Haworth -- make Maeve wonder if Rebecca is really the victim of a copycat killer instead.

The narrative is told in the alternating voices of Louise, Rebecca's best friend, and Detective Kerrigan. Although the ending is somewhat predictable, the story is good and the characters are well developed. It's not a typical fast paced suspense thriller but more a well plotted and deliberate by the book report of the investigation into the crimes. I understand this is the debut of a new series and I will most likely look for the next one when it comes out.

Monday, September 12, 2011

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

4.0 out of 5 stars  
RED: the color of blood, the color of murder, the color of sin...
Hannah Payne wakes up in a cell after being injected with a virus that has turned her skin completely red -- her crime: she aborted her illegitimate pregnancy in a new American society where that is illegal. She will not name the father of her unborn child, a famous married minister, nor the abortionist, and is charged and convicted of murder. What happens to Hannah when she is released from the temporary post-chroming seclusion and is thrust back into a society where she is stigmatized and humiliated by everyone who sees her as a Red? Prevented from returning to her home by parents who will not allow her to live with them, Hannah must navigate a scary road to regain her dignity and make a new life for herself in a world where there is no longer separation between church and state -- and no protection for the Chromes.

I've just paged through all the wonderful reviews written on this product page about When She Woke. I agree wholeheartedly with those who suggest that you obtain and read this book if you like dystopian, futuristic novels about family, religious controversies, crime and punishment, relationships, and self-discovery. The author weaves a very interesting tale -- yes it does have themes similar to those found in some of the classic literature mentioned in other reviews, but it brings all of those together in a new and very thought-provoking way. This would be a fantastic book for a book group discussion, and though probably more appealing to women, I'd love to hear from any men who read it as well.

I will be recommending this!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Accident by Linwood Barclay

4.0 out of 5 stars  
How well do you really know those people in your circle of family and friends?
I have read all of Barclay's previous books so was looking forward to the latest one! This suspense novel had a fast pace with an interesting subject presented immediately in the prologue - the illegal sales of counterfeit merchandise and the seedy, dangerous underground -- and it kept me turning the pages well past bedtime.

A quiet suburban neighborhood is rocked first by the car accident death of a housewife and mother, Sheila Garber, whose inexplicable car crash while driving drunk results in the unraveling of the lives of several interconnected families. As her husband, Glen, and daughter, Kelly, try to come to terms with this tragedy, discoveries are made that make Glen wonder if indeed "the accident" was what it seemed. As the narrative goes on, suspense mounts as first one character and then another comes to light as involved in a ring of sorts that centers around the sale of various items and a stereotypical villain who wants "the money." The novel has several plot twists but a savvy reader will not be too surprised as events unfold and the climax is reached.

My main complaints, and the reasons I don't give this novel 5 stars: I felt that the death toll was unnecessary -- it didn't advance the plot, and it seemed overmuch. In addition, I've come to notice that the protagonist, in this book he's named Glen Garber, is one that Barclay duplicates in every single book -- a decent ordinary man, husband, father driven to extremes by events he didn't anticipate and now must avenge. This man is always a bit naive and ignorant about things going on under his own roof until the moment when he's spurred into action and then pretty much has to take matters into his own hands and figure out the truth even though he's facing some pretty unrealistic scenarios that cause the reader to suspend some disbelief.

Despite feeling sometimes that I keep reading the same Barclay novel over and over, I would recommend this for any of his fans and others who enjoy a suspense mystery with lots of layers and a well-constructed (though not completely unpredicted) conclusion.