Review: The Travelers by Chris Pavone

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It’s 3:00am. Do you know where your husband is?

Meet Will Rhodes: travel writer, recently married, barely solvent, his idealism rapidly giving way to disillusionment and the worry that he’s living the wrong life. Then one night, on assignment for the award-winning Travelers magazine in the wine region of Argentina, a beautiful woman makes him an offer he can’t refuse. Soon Will’s bad choices—and dark secrets—take him across Europe, from a chateau in Bordeaux to a midnight raid on a Paris mansion, from a dive bar in Dublin to a mega-yacht in the Mediterranean and an isolated cabin perched on the rugged cliffs of Iceland. As he’s drawn further into a tangled web of international intrigue, it becomes clear that nothing about Will Rhodes was ever ordinary, that the network of deception ensnaring him is part of an immense and deadly conspiracy with terrifying global implications—and that the people closest to him may pose the greatest threat of all.

It’s 3:00am. Your husband has just become a spy!

I don’t usually gravitate towards spy novels, however, I must admit I was extremely curious to read this book after the buzz I had heard about Chris Pavone’s debut novel The Expats. I’m glad a took a chance and stepped outside my “safety zone” and ventured into the uncharted territory of this genre. I’m going to start by saying what worked for me about this novel, and pretty much everything did. I loved the plot! First and foremost. It was fast-paced and intriguing. The story just flows very naturally. It is intense and a lot of action happens on every page, so you are hardly able to put the book down.The characters were interesting and engaging. I didn’t particularly care for the character of Will, but not by any fault of the author. The book is suspenseful and the ending is not a huge surprise, but all the action in the book more than make-up for it. 5-stars! I highly recommend it.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

5 star

Review: If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

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This is the story of a young boy Will and his agoraphobic mother Diane. They live in Thunder Bay, a port city on Lake Superior. At the time of the novel, neither Will or his mother have ever left the house, and thanks to today’s technology they are able to order everything to be delivered to their house. Diane created an entire world for Will and even homeschooled him.

The book begins with young Will deciding to venture outside the house. He soon meets a boy named Marcus and realizes that outside is not as dangerous as his mother thinks. As Will becomes more fearless, his mother’s fears intensify and the inability to protect her son if she can’t leave the house is at the core of this book which deals with issues of anxiety and mental illness.

Micheal Christie did a superb job at creating these complex, real-life characters, and a wonderful and complex story that captured really well the difficult relationship between mother and son. I really enjoyed this book.

“And how dearly we depend on the lone muscle convulsing in our chests. On the two flimsy balloons that so narrowly rescue us from suffocation. On the wobbly paté in our heads that preserves our very selves. all of it so ad hoc, so absurd, so temporary.” 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is one of those books you feel are going to be a hit. For anyone who is a book lover, books about bookshops spark at a minimum your curiosity if not a deep interest. If you add to that a love for Paris and all Parisian things, then I’m telling you there is no reason for me not to have absolutely loved this book. Unfortunately, I didn’t.

The book tells us the story of lovely Monsieur Perdu who owns a floating bookshop on the Seine, Literary Apothecary, and “prescribes” books to people according to their problems.

“You see, I sell books like medicine. There are books that are suitable for a million people, others only for a hundred. There are even medicines — sorry, books — that were written for one person only.”

Monsieur Perdu, himself, is a wounded soul. He had his heart broken some twenty years earlier by the love of his life, Manon, when she left him without a word. It turns out that Manon did leave him a word, actually, a letter that Monsieur Perdu eventually opens and reads it. From then on the book takes a different turn. Together with a writer and another friend they pick up along the way, Perdu decides to take a trip.

This is about the time the book lost me. It was no longer about the bookshop or about Paris. It turned into long descriptions of places (many absolutely marvelous) and Perdu’s journey through grief. I found myself flipping through the pages to get to the end of the book. It’s not that this is a bad book, or poorly written. It just wasn’t what I expected to be.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: I Take You by Eliza Kennedy

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Meet Lily Wilder: New Yorker, lawyer extraordinaire, blushing bride. And totally incapable of being faithful to one man. Lily’s fiancé Will is a brilliant, handsome archaeologist. Lily is sassy, impulsive, fond of a good drink (or five) and has no business getting married. Lily likes Will, but does she love him? Will loves Lily, but does he know her? As the wedding approaches, Lily’s nights—and mornings, and afternoons—of booze, laughter and questionable decisions become a growing reminder that the happiest day of her life might turn out to be her worst mistake yet. Unapologetically sexy with the ribald humor of Bridesmaids, this joyously provocative debut introduces a self-assured protagonist you won’t soon forget.

Entertaining is the word that comes to my mind when I think of a word to describe  Eliza Kennedy’s debut novel I Take You. This was a relatively fast and fun read. I can’t say that I particularly loved the main character, Lily, or that I agree with her lifestyle and choices, but I can’t deny the fact that this is a pretty funny book that had me laughing out loud at some parts. The ending left something to be desired, but overall I really enjoyed the book, and I would recommend it to fans of this genre.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: The Mapmaker’s Children by Sarah McCoy

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This is the story of Sarah Brown daughter of abolitionist John Brown. She is one of the Underground Railroad’s leading mapmakers. After learning the shocking news that she cannot bear children, she starts to create maps and hide them in her paintings helping save the lives of slaves fleeing north.

The narrative is split between 1850-60s West Virginia and the present day. The flow of the narrative worked well for this novel, with Sarah Brown’s narrative of the past being better developed than the present day story. Overall, this style of narrative brought the characters to life and made it to a very interesting story.

I certainly recommend this book even if you are not a huge fan of historical fiction. I really enjoyed Sarah McCoy’s The Mapmaker’s Children. This book pulled me right in from the very first pages. The characters are vivid and believable. A perfect blend of real historical people and fictional characters.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

5 star

Book Details:

Title: The Mapmaker’s Children/Author:Sarah McCoy/Genre:Historical Fiction/ ISBN:9780385348904/Publisher:Crown/Rating: 5-Stars/Read:July, 2015.

Review: What You Left Behind by Samantha Hays

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Title: What You Left Behind

Author: Samantha Hayes

Pages: 309

Genre: Crime/Thriller

ISBN: 9780804136921

Publisher: Crown Publishers

Rating: 3-Stars

Read: May 2015

Two years after a terrifying spate of teenage suicides, the remote village of Radcote has just begun to heal. Then a young man is killed in a freak motorcycle accident and a suicide note is found among his belongings. When a second boy is found dead shortly thereafter, the nightmare of repeat suicides once again threatens the community.

This is the second installment of the Detective Inspector Lorraine Fischer’s series. I haven’t read the first book, but I was able to read this story as a standalone. The book begins with D.I. Lorraine Fischer’s visit to her sister Jo in the remote village of Radcote, where a series of apparent teenage suicides are happening. Lorraine soon learns that there is more to this vacation than it meets the eyes. She arrives in town with her daughter Stella to find her sister Jo having an extra-marital affair, and her nephew Freddie acting moody and withdrawn. When another teen suicide happens shortly after Lorraine’s arrival, the detective can’t help but start her investigation into what is happening in Radcote.

What You Left Behind is one of those books with a fantastic premise, but gets lost somehow half-way into the story. There were too many subplots and red herrings. The characters were a bit dull, the dialogue was boring and clunky, and although towards the end the novel perks back up leading to a surprising finale–overall this book didn’t do it for me.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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3 star

Review: Ruby by Cynthia Bond

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Title: Ruby

Author: Cynthia Bond

Pages: 368

Genre: Fiction/Literary

ISBN: 978-0-8041-8824-1

Publisher: Hogarth

Rating: 2-Stars

Read: April 8, 2015 – April 16, 2015.

“Hell ain’t nothing strange when Colored go crazy. Strange is when we don’t.”

The debut novel by Cynthia Bond takes place in Liberty, Texas. It’s the story of Ruby Bell and Ephram Jennings, who has been in love with Ruby since they were children, and has never forgotten the girl with long braids running though the piney woods. “Ruby was the kind of pretty it hurt to look at, like candy on a sore tooth.” The book starts when Ruby returns to Liberty after having lived a few years in New York. Ruby has long been considered the town whore used by the town’s men and ignored and shunned by the town’s women. Kind-hearted Ephram never left liberty and lived all his life with his pious and controlling sister Celia. The book switches back and forth between when they were children and the haunting memories of that time, and the present and the chance of reacquainting with each other.

I have very mixed feelings about this novel, and I had a real hard time finishing this book. I’m writing a review because there were aspects of this book that I liked very much. Cynthia’s prose is poetic and lyrical. Her vernacular is vivid, bringing her characters to life.

“She felt a thousand lavender flowers erupting from the edges of her fingers. She felt them playing a delicious melody that scented the wind and called striped bees and hummingbirds…”

“…For the next weeks Ruby walked through the Big Thicket, becoming. The loose black clusters of muscadine grapes on the vine. The egg-shaped seeded maypop fruit. Pecan trees, horsemint, stones and mud puddles.”

But unfortunately, there were also many aspects I didn’t care about this book. The excessive accounts of violence, rape, pedophilia and sexual abuse against children (boys and girls) were very difficult and disturbing to read. I would not recommend this book to the more sensitive readers.

Ruby is a story about love, redemption, social issues and racism at its worst form.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

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2 star