Tuesday, April 11, 2017

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

A handsome stranger moves to the small Pennsylvania town of Central Valley, and his name is Chris Brennan. He’s applying for a job as a teacher and varsity baseball coach at the local high school, and he looks perfect, on paper. But his name is an alias, his resume is false, and everything about him is a lie. And he has a secret plan – for which he needs a pawn on the baseball team.
Susan Sematov loves her younger son Raz, the quirky and free-spirited pitcher of the team. But Raz’s adored father died only a few months ago, and the family is grief-stricken. Secretly, Raz is looking to fill the Daddy-shaped hole in his heart.
Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who’s dedicated to her only son Justin, the quiet rookie on the team. But Justin’s shy and reserved nature renders him vulnerable to attention, including that of a new father-figure.
Mindy Kostis is the wife of a busy surgeon and the queen bee of the baseball boosters, where her super-popular son Evan is the star catcher. But she doesn’t realize that Evan’s sense of entitlement is becoming a full-blown case of affluenza, and after he gets his new BMW, it’s impossible to know where he’s going – or whom he’s spending time with.
The lives of these families revolve around the baseball team – and Chris Brennan. What does he really want? How far will he go to get it? Who among them will survive the lethal jeopardy threatening them, from the shadows?
Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will keep readers riveted to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget
One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline is one perfect novel.  It weaves lots of little lies and story threads through a compelling tale that examines both the darkness of domestic terrorism as well as the ordinary struggles of suburban life. I've read nearly every book Lisa Scottoline has written and while they're all terrific, One Perfect Lie is outstanding and her best yet. Definitely pick up your copy today and come out and meet her on her book tour, not only is she a great author, she's a really great woman to meet!  Odds are you'll get a warm hug with your signed book.  Visit her website for tour dates and additional information on her books.

Special thanks to St, Martins Press and Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for honest review.

Lisa & I at Book Expo circa 2013

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Group Post: Blizzard Blitz

We're getting hammered right now in Orange County, NY with a blizzard that is expected to bring anywhere from one to two feet a snow.  It's the perfect day to stay indoors with a good book.  I asked the group for their favorite story featuring snow.

Every time, we get a major snowstorm, I think of The Baby Sitters Club: Super Special #7: Snowbound by Ann M. Martin in which a massive snowstorm hits Stoneybrook, CT causing all kinds of mayhem for the gang.  Stacey and her mom are stranded in their car on the way home from the mall; Jessi gets stuck at her dance school and Kristy acts hysterically awkward when the guy she is crushing on gets snowed in with her and her family.

I was going to pick The Baby-Sitters Club: Super Special #7 also but then I thought of Super Special #3: Winter Vacation by Ann M. Martin.  While on a class trip to a ski lodge, the girls become baby-sitters for a group of elementary school kids when their school bus has an accident in the snowy weather despite this, everyone ends up having a great time.

The Shining by Stephen King, a family with a psychic kid go to live in a hotel during the off season. Dad goes insane, tries to kill the family, hotel burns down, lots of snow.

Or, Downtown Owl by Chuck Klosterman,  There's a freak snowstorm that kills a woman trapped in her car. (Fortunately Stacey and her mom didn't meet the same fate).

To Build a Fire, a short story, by Jack London  It's the story of a man traveling on foot through a blizzard and it's aftermath desperately trying to keep himself from freezing to death.

As Red as Blood by Salla Simukka  This book reminded me of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for a YA audience,  Set in the harsh Finnish winter, this book features Lumikki who just wants to finish school and stay out of trouble but that's difficult to do when she stumbles into a plot involving thousands of blood soaked euros.   There are some plot holes and I think something is lost in translation but it is an entertaining and enjoyable mystery with slight fairy tale overtones.

Now what about you? What are some of your favorite snow/winter themed books?  Share with us!!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Group Post: Currently Reading

We continue working through the "A to Z Bookish Survey," as created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner with C for Currently Reading.  I also asked everyone to include the first two sentences of Chapter 3 of their current read.

 As The Crow Flies by Craig Johnson  " 'You could've told me that you knew him.' She banked the turns at ninety, and I was beginning to think this was just the way Lolo Long drove, kind of like A.J. Foyt."

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells  "I told some of you last Thursday of the principles of the Time Machine, and showed you the actual thing itself, incomplete in the workshop.  There it is now, a little travelworn, truly; and one of the ivory bars is cracked, and a brass rail bent, but the rest of it is sound enough."

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney "You see yourself as the kind of guy who appreciates a a quiet night at home with a good book.  A little Mozart on the speakers, a cup of cocoa on the arm of the chair, slippers on the feet."

Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy Mc Carter  "What did Hamilton do with his hands?  Did he smoke a pipe?"

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snickett "Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can also tell you what kind of day you're going to have.  For instance, if you wake up to twittering birds, and find yourself in an enormous canopy bed, with a butler standing next to you holding a breakfast of freshly made muffins and hand-squeezed orange juice, you know that your day will be a splendid one."

Morning Star by Pierce Brown  "Blood beads where buzzing metal pinches my scalp.  Dirty blonde hair puddles onto the concrete as the Gray finishes scalping me with an electric razor."

So what about you?  What are you currently reading?  Share with us!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Group Post: Best Sequel Ever

We continue working through the "A-Z Bookish Survey," as created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner with B for Best Sequel Ever.

Savage Sam by Fred Gipson, the story of the son of Old Yeller is one of my favorite stories ever but sadly, it's next to impossible to find in bookstores.  

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss, or Doctor Sleep by Stephen King.  
Fever by Lauren DeStefano, it got me really hooked into the series.  Her writing was very good and the story although odd was capturing.  
The Penderwicks in the Spring by Jeanne Birdsall.  While I loved every book in the series, this closer to it, hit all the perfect notes. It was funny, sweet, sad, moving, and just perfect!
A Darkness More Than Night by Michael Connelly.  While it's the 7th book in the Harry Bosch series, it's also the 2nd novel featuring Terry McCaleb and a terrific follow-up to Blood Work that centered on McCaleb.  I loved spending more time in McCaleb's world on Catalina Island and finding out what happened to him after the events in Blood Work, which is one of my favorite Connelly novels.  

What about you?  What do you think is the Best Sequel Ever? Share with us!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Group Post: Author You've Read the Most Books From

For the next 26 weeks, we're focusing our group posts on the "A-Z Bookish Survey," created by Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner.

So, let's start at that very fine place to start, the beginning with "A" and the author you've read the most books from?

35 by Edgar Rice Burrows followed by a hefty amount of Stephen King and Tom Clancy.

35 by Stephen King, followed by 14 by Rick Riordan, 9 by Brandon Sanderson

35 by Lynn Kurland

I'm not even sure to count it but about 100 Nancy Drew books Carolyn Keane, followed by 33 L.M. Montgomery

About 63 books by Ann M. Martin

I'm definitely an Ann M. Martin too! I used to read a book day over the summers in Jr/Sr. High School

Until Jessica and Nancy told me their responses, I was overlooking the obvious choice in Ann M. Martin as well.  I own over 150 of her Baby Sitter's Club books and well over 200 Sweet Valley High/University by the the various ghostwriters using the pseudonym Francine Pascal.   If we're discounting pseudonyms, I've read 26 Michael Connelly novels.

But what about you?  Comment below with the author, you've read the most books from and let's keep the conversation going!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Blog Tour: As You Lay Sleeping by Katlyn Duncan

Today we're proud to be one of the stops on the "As You Lay Sleeping," by Katlyn Duncan blog tour.

As You Lay Sleeping 
by Katlyn Duncan 
Published by: HQ Digital
Publication date: February 20th 2017
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult

I did it all for you…
Cara’s boyfriend is dead.
When fingers start pointing at her, she knows she’s in more trouble than she originally thought. Because Cara can see that something isn’t right.
As her carefully constructed life begins to crumble, Cara isn’t sure who she is anymore.
But maybe that’s exactly what someone wants her to think…

"As You Lay Sleeping," is a great teen mystery.  The action is fast paced and you're kept guessing as to who the killer really is until the very end as there are a lot of red herrings throughout the book.  I especially loved Cara's character growth throughout the novel.  At the onset, she's unnecessarily mean and selfish but once she connects with Ryan, she starts to change for the better and the story really takes off.  What I would've liked to have seen was more background involving Cara's sister Alice.  Alice's secret is revealed but not really explored. Overall this was a fun, quick read that I'd recommend to fans of contemporary YA mysteries.

For additional reviews and information of "As You Lay Sleeping," please visit the rest of the stops on the blog tour.

Xpresso Book Tours is also sponsoring a tour wide giveaway. Visit Rafflecopter for your chance to win!

Tour-wide giveaway (INTL) ends March 2, 2017
  • 1st prize: $25 Barnes & Noble egift card
  • 2nd prize: ecopy of Soul Taken, This Summer, or Darkest Dawn
  • 3rd prize: ecopy of Elixir Bound by Katie Carroll
  • 4th prize: ecopy of Cruel Summer by K.R. Conway
  • PLUS:
    • 1000 entries will unlock: paperback copy of That Moment When: An Anthology of Young Adult Fiction (Katlyn's short story 'Reflection' is included among 40 other stories from YA authors in all different genres)
    • 2000 entries will unlock: signed paperback copy of Undertow by K.R. Conway
    • 3000 entries will unlock: paperback copy of Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall
    • 4000 entries will unlock: paperback copy of Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog 
Special Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours, NetGalley, and HQ Digital for providing an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

10 Books by L.M. Montgomery You Should Read After Anne of Green Gables

If you're like most people I encounter (even most book people), you probably don't recognize the name L.M. Montgomery. At least until you hear that she wrote Anne of Green Gables and then a little light bulb goes off.

I have been a fan of Montgomery's works for basically my whole life. So much so that I wrote my Master's thesis on her Emily trilogy. And presented a paper at the academic conference held every other year on Prince Edward Island. And went to Green Gables TWO DAYS IN A ROW because I didn't get to see enough the first time.

And it always makes me sad that few people know this wonderful woman wrote so much more than just Anne. And, while I love Anne of Green Gables, it isn't even my favorite of her books.

So here you go. My list of the 10 Montgomery novels you might want to check out if you liked Anne... or even if you didn't! Montgomery has something for everyone!

1-3. The Emily trilogy.

After I just told you I wrote my thesis on this are you even a little surprised? And, yes. I know that it's three books, but Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily's Quest really form one narrative and, while you could read the first book alone, you can't get the full picture of Emily without reading the whole trilogy.
Emily has lived alone with her father after the death of her mother. He's encouraged her imagination and her desire to record her experiences in writing. When he dies, Emily goes to live with her two old maid aunts, where she finds a rich family history and inspiration in everything she does.  As she pursues her dream of becoming a writer she faces opposition from a family that doesn't understand her and finds encouragement in the unlikeliest of places. Emily is a writer, a dreamer, and a fierce and independent woman. While Montgomery fans are divided on their approval of the ending of the book, I have always been a fan of it. Emily is a heroine I can cheer for and I've always felt a kinship with her passion for houses and her love of reading and writing.

4. The Blue Castle

Talk to any Montgomery fan and it probably won't be long before this book comes up. And, if my recent experience at the conference is accurate, many would choose Barney as their favorite Montgomery man.
Valancy has spent her life under her mother's thumb. She's worn, eaten, said, worked, and practically even thought only what her mother approves of. But when she gets the news that she has a rare heart condition and will most likely die within a year, Valancy decides she's only going to do things that make her happy. She moves out of her mother's house and experiences joy for the first time. The most fairy-tale-esque of Montgomery's works, this romance makes me smile every time I read it.

5. Jane of Lantern Hill

This book will always hold a special place in my heart as I read it aloud to both of my sisters.
Jane lives with her sweet but sad mother and her domineering grandmother in an austere house in the middle of town. Everything Jane likes seems to be forbidden, from laughing to pets to her friendship with the housemaid next door. Then the letter arrives and Jane learns that her father isn't dead after all. He's alive and well and insisting that she come spend the summer with him on Prince Edward Island. Jane is feisty, intelligent, and determined. She has a passion for life, but lacks much of the impulsive recklessness of Anne (for me, in a good way). She is loyal and loving and her story makes me laugh and cry.

6. Rilla of Ingleside

Technically this is the 8th book in the Anne series, but the narrative focuses on Anne's youngest daughter, Marilla "Rilla" Blythe. It stands alone quite well, so you don't have to read the rest of the Anne books to enjoy it.
Beginning just as the war does, the book follows Rilla and her brothers, sisters, and friends as they face the realities of war on the Canadian home front during World War I. The adults are by no means absent, (particularly Susan, the sarcastic housekeeper who keeps things running at Ingleside and is one of my favorite characters) but the focus is on the impact the war had on an entire generation of young people who went to war or watched their brothers and lovers go off to war and had to deal with the deprivations and uncertainty as they stayed behind. This book makes me tear up just by thinking of it. There are some truly beautiful story lines and some truly tragic ones. A lovely coming of age story juxtaposed against a horrific conflict.

7. A Tangled Web

I read this for the first time recently and absolutely fell in love with it.
When the matriarch of the Dark/Penhallow clan realizes she is dying she holds a grand clan meeting and announces that she has chosen someone to inherit the famous old Dark Jug. The only thing is that they all have to wait a full year after her death before they get to learn who that person is. Old and new rivalries, romances, and quarrels spin through the clan as they each try to be worthy of the jug. This novel, one of the only other ones Montgomery wrote for adults, weaves together so many threads of narrative that it would be easy for it to be overwhelming, but she handles them all with a deftness and a keen insight into human nature. A complex family saga with clever humor and not a little bit of biting realism, this book is one I will be returning to again and again.

8. The Story Girl

If you remember the tv show The Road to Avonlea, then you'll be familiar with some of the characters in this novel, as the series was based on this book. Unique in its execution - the only novel told not only in first person but also from a boy's perspective - the novel also has layers of narratives.
Beverley and Felix have come to stay with their uncle while their father travels on business. Part of the story is Beverley's memories of daily life with his cousins and friends as they work, play, and get into quite a bit of mischief. The rest of the story is made up of Sara Stanley's stories. The title character has a story for every occasion and a gift for telling those stories to their greatest potential. Beverley repeatedly notes that he can't capture the tone and expressions the Story Girl employs, but he is driven to try to capture them in print. Less a narrative than a collection of stories woven together in the lives of the group of children, there is a sweetness in the novel that always makes me smile.

9. Pat of Silver Bush

Pat feels different from many of Montgomery's novels for me. I have been trying to figure out why this is. I think it's partly because Pat has a whole, cohesive family unit - both parents still living and siblings. I think it's also partly because Pat lacks that imaginative streak and "book smart" intelligence that so defines many of Montgomery's heroines. Pat loves beauty and she loves Silver Bush and all it contains with a passion that rivals most romance novel plots.
The book has less of a plot than many Montgomery novels, but it captures the intense love and trials of a child who is so happy they can't bear change, even if the change might bring something good. There's a little bit of Pat inside me and I can't help but love her and her story. Also, Jingle may be my favorite boy out of the lot.

10. The Alpine Path

This was originally written as a series of autobiographical essays printed in a magazine. Montgomery reconstructed her life and career based on her journals and letters. Since Montgomery is known to have rewritten her journals and reconstructed her perspective on situations or events, this is an interesting look into Montgomery's perception of herself and the picture she wanted to present to the public. A short but interesting look into the author for anyone who likes autobiographies or is curious to learn a little bit more about Montgomery.

Did I miss one of your favorites? Decide to read one of these based on my review? I'd love to hear about it! Leave a comment!