23. April 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Thriller/Suspense

Dark Rooms by Lili Anolik, 323 pages, read by Paula, on 04/22/2015

hw7.pl

The Secret History meets Sharp Objects in this stunning debut about murder and glamour set in the ambiguous and claustrophobic world of an exclusive New England prep school.

Death sets the plot in motion: the murder of Nica Baker, beautiful, wild, enigmatic, and only sixteen. The crime is solved, and quickly–a lonely classmate, unrequited love, a suicide note confession–but memory and instinct won’t allow Nica’s older sister, Grace, to accept the case as closed.

Dropping out of college and living at home, working at the moneyed and progressive private high school in Hartford, Connecticut, from which she recently graduated, Grace becomes increasingly obsessed with identifying and punishing the real killer.

Compulsively readable, Lili Anolik’s debut novel combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl’s Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott’s Dare Me.

 

15. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Children's Books, Drama, Fiction, Mariah, Mystery

The Danger Box by Blue Balliett, 306 pages, read by Mariah, on 04/13/2015

Blue Balliett’s Danger Box explores the topic of evolution while investigating crime in a small town. Zoomy and his new friend, Lorrel, have a lot of”firsts” this summer. Zoomy makes his first friend. Lorrel starts her first gig as investigative reporting. Together they research an old notebook that has dropped into Zoomy’s life. It soon becomes clear the notebook has something to do with explorer and scientist, Charles Darwin. Excited, the children both start researching Darwin and decide they want to share their newly learned information with the rest of the town. They secretly write and print copies of a newsletter describing Darwin, but not revealing who he is. The town enjoys finding the papers stuffed into books at the library or sitting on benches around town. Hardship hits Zoomy’s life when his grandparents, who are also his guardians, lose their family business in an unexplained fire. Zoomy and Lorrel turn to their mysterious notebook as a source of comfort. It becomes clear that the notebook actually belonged to Charles Darwin and was one of many he kept notes in. There are a few other small mysteries taking place at the same time to add a little more to the plot.

Mostly, this book seems to be an introductory biography of Charles Darwin. Having read Balliett’s work before, I was expecting more. This book seemed fare more simplistic than Chasing Vermeer, but perhaps it was intended for a younger audience. I read it with my nine-year-old son and he was kept focused and interested throughout the book.

14. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Mystery

Sabotage at Willow Woods by Carolyn Keene, 176 pages, read by Angie, on 04/13/2015

I haven’t read a Nancy Drew book since I was in elementary school and I am not sure they have improved with age. This is the fifth book in the Nancy Drew Diaries series. Nancy is in high school and has two best friends, George and Bess. George’s cousin Carrie Kim is running for city council on a platform of a new sports complex for the neighboring high school. Someone doesn’t want her to build the complex though and starts sending her threatening notes. Nancy goes undercover at the high school to find out who is doing it.

First of all the title and cover of this book has nothing to do with the story. Nancy never goes into the woods and even though Willow Woods would be destroyed for the new sports complex there is no sabotage. The story was pretty tedious and I ended up skimming most of the book. It is overly simple and not well written. Fans of Nancy Drew might appreciate this new series, but true mystery fans are going to look elsewhere.

11. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Private Vegas by James Patterson, 416 pages, read by Jane, on 03/30/2015

What happens in Vegas…stays Private.

Las Vegas is a city of contradictions: seedy and glamorous, secretive and wild, Vegas attracts people of all kinds–especially those with a secret to hide, or a life to leave behind. It’s the perfect location for Lester Olsen’s lucrative business. He gets to treat gorgeous, young women to five-star restaurants, splashy shows, and limo rides–and then he teaches them how to kill.

Private Jack Morgan spends most of his time in Los Angeles, where his top investigation firm has its headquarters. But a hunt for two criminals leads him to the city of sin–and to a murder ring that is more seductively threatening than anything he’s witnessed before. PRIVATE VEGAS brings James Patterson’s Private series to a sensational new level.

–from Goodreads.com.

11. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Jane, Mystery

Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, 336 pages, read by Jane, on 03/10/2015

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.

–from Goodreads.com.

10. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

Obsession in Death by J.D. Robb, 404 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/28/2015

22571696 .Eve Dallas has solved a lot of high-profile murders for the NYPSD and gotten a lot of media. She – with her billionaire husband – is getting accustomed to being an object of attention, of gossip, of speculation.  But now Eve has become the object of one person’s obsession. Someone who finds her extraordinary, and thinks about her every hour of every day. With a murderer reading meaning into her every move, handling this case will be a delicate – and dangerous – psychological dance.

I love the Death series by Robb, futuristic setting in a familiar place and knowing Robb will keep us guessing until the end, with just a bit of romance thrown in.  I really like the way her characters have grown, yet stayed the same, it makes them more loveable.  Each book she writes shows us a deeper look into why Eve Dallas does what she does and I’ve yet to read one of the series where I felt the plot was not living up to potential.  A great whodunit series.

10. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

The Job by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg, 289 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/19/2015

21530229 Charming con man Nicolas Fox and dedicated FBI agent Kate O’Hare secretly take down world’s most-wanted and untouchable felons, next job Violante, the brutal leader of a global drug-smuggling empire. The FBI doesn’t know what he looks like, where he is, or how to find him, but Nick knows his tastes in gourmet chocolate.

From Nashville to Lisbon back alleys, from Istanbul rooftops to Thames, they chase clues to lookalike thefts. Pitted against a psychopathic bodyguard Reyna holding Kate hostage and a Portuguese enforcer getting advice from an ancestor’s pickled head, they again call driver Willie for ship, actor Boyd for one-eyed Captain Bridger, special effects carpenter Tom, her father Jake – retired Special Forces, and his talent – machete-wielding Somali pirate Billy Dee. This could be their biggest job – if they survive.

I love pretty much anything Janet Evanovich writes!  While this series doesn’t have the amount of humor I find in her Stephanie Plum series, there are funny moments and the characters have one of those relationships where neither really admits the attraction they have for each other.  While you know they will always pull off whatever they have in motion to catch bigger fish, it’s nice to read a fun book where you know the characters aren’t going to be killed off and you can enjoy their interactions.  If only real life went off as smoothly as their cons against the bad guys go.

10. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Leslie, Mystery

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, 351 pages, read by Leslie, on 03/14/2015

18885674 There’s a murderer on the loose—but that doesn’t stop the girls of St. Etheldreda’s from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The girls attending the boarding school, Prickwillow Place, suddenly find their dreary lives fraught with murder, suspicion, and romance, as they try to determine who murdered their headmistress and her brother.  All throughout the book, the girls are identified by descriptions added to their names, so we don’t forget their shortcomings, which also turn into strengths.  Each twist and turn have the girls on edge and wondering which will come first, solving the murders, being murdered themselves, or having to return to the homes they dread.  Great read for girls.

08. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Madeline, Mystery

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, 297 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/15/2015

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins this debut novel about a mixed-race family living in 1970s Ohio and the tragedy that will either be their undoing or their salvation. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart.

–from Goodreads.com.

08. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Madeline, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Invisible City by Julia Dahl, 304 pages, read by Madeline, on 03/01/2015

Just months after Rebekah Roberts was born, her mother, an Hasidic Jew from Brooklyn, abandoned her Christian boyfriend and newborn baby to return to her religion. Neither Rebekah nor her father have heard from her since. Now a recent college graduate, Rebekah has moved to New York City to follow her dream of becoming a big-city reporter. But she’s also drawn to the idea of being closer to her mother, who might still be living in the Hasidic community in Brooklyn.

Then Rebekah is called to cover the story of a murdered Hasidic woman. Rebekah’s shocked to learn that, because of the NYPD’s habit of kowtowing to the powerful ultra-Orthodox community, not only will the woman be buried without an autopsy, her killer may get away with murder. Rebekah can’t let the story end there. But getting to the truth won’t be easy—even as she immerses herself in the cloistered world where her mother grew up, it’s clear that she’s not welcome, and everyone she meets has a secret to keep from an outsider.

In her riveting debut Invisible City, journalist Julia Dahl introduces a compelling new character in search of the truth about a murder and an understanding of her own heritage.

–from Goodreads.com.

06. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Angie, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, 374 pages, read by Angie, on 04/05/2015

When a man turns up dead in the cucumbers Flavia De Luce is on the case. Flavia is the youngest daughter of the de Luce family of Buckshaw. She is fascinated with poisons and determined to find out all she can about the dead man. Her quest leads her to her father’s boyhood and a mysterious suicide at his school. It also has her delving into the world of rare stamps and the study of philately. Flavia and her trusty bike Gertrude travel around the area collecting clues and putting the story together.

This was a wonderfully quirky British mystery and a delight to listen to. I loved plucky Flavia and her eccentric family. Even though she is only eleven, she is smarter than many of those around her. I particularly enjoyed how the book unfolded; the mystery was not at all obvious and the reader learned what was going on as Flavia did. I can’t wait for her next adventure.

06. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

Gray Mountain by John Grisham, 368 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/30/2015

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

–From Goodreads.com.

06. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Tracy

The Art Thief by Noah Charney, 304 pages, read by Tracy, on 03/01/2015

Rome: In the small Baroque church of Santa Giuliana, a magnificent Caravaggio altarpiece disappears without a trace in the middle of the night.Paris: In the basement vault of the Malevich Society, curator Genevi – ve Delacloche is shocked to discover the disappearance of the Society’s greatest treasure, White-on-White by Suprematist painter Kasimir Malevich.

London: At the National Gallery of Modern Art, the museum’s latest acquisition is stolen just hours after it was purchased for more than six million pounds.

In “The Art Thief,” three thefts are simultaneously investigated in three cities, but these apparently isolated crimes have much more in common than anyone imagines. In Rome, the police enlist the help of renowned art investigator Gabriel Coffin when tracking down the stolen masterpiece. In Paris, Genevi – ve Delacloche is aided by Police Inspector Jean-Jacques Bizot, who finds a trail of bizarre clues and puzzles that leads him ever deeper into a baffling conspiracy. In London, Inspector Harry Wickenden of Scotland Yard oversees the museum’s attempts to ransom back its stolen painting, only to have the masterpiece’s recovery deepen the mystery even further.

A dizzying array of forgeries, overpaintings, and double-crosses unfolds as the story races through auction houses, museums, and private galleries — and the secret places where priceless works of art are made available to collectors who will stop at nothing to satisfy their hearts’ desires.

Full of fascinating art-historical detail, crackling dialogue, and a brain-teasing plot, Noah Charney’s debut novel is a sophisticated, stylish thriller, as irresistible and multifaceted as a great work of art.

–From Goodreads.com.

01. April 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery

Beth's Story, 1914 by Adele Whitby, 148 pages, read by Angie, on 03/31/2015

Beth can’t wait for her 12th birthday. On that day she will finally get the famed “Elizabeth” necklace that has been passed down to every Elizabeth in her family for generations. She is also excited because her French cousins, the Troufants, are coming for her party. Her excitement changes when they arrive however. Her cousin Gabby is a snot with very little time for Beth. Beth has also had to deal with her lady’s maid leaving unexpectedly. She promoted Shannon, one of the housemaids, even though there were other maids with more experience. Then Gabby’s necklace goes missing and Shannon is accused of stealing it. Beth is determined to find out what really happened before Shannon is dismissed.

So little girls and fans of Downtown Abbey might enjoy this book, but it was a bit too simple for me and it seemed very historically inaccurate. First the mystery of the stolen necklace. I had it figured out immediately and actually couldn’t believe it took Beth as long as it did to figure out. Then there is a mystery that keeps being alluded too. Great-grandma Cicely keeps confusing the twins who started the family (Elizabeth and Katherine). It seems obvious that the two probably switched places before Elizabeth married and Katherine went to America. As for the historical inaccuracies, they made me cringe. First you have the butler basically ordering Beth around. Even I know that wouldn’t not have been done in 1914. She is the heir to the house and will one day be her boss so there is no way he would have gotten away with treating her the way he does in the book. The other things are quibbles like Shannon dressing up her uniform and the other maids sabotaging her. Plus you have the behavior of Gabby’s maid Helena, who was just horrible. I knew we were in for an interesting ride when she started giving orders to the housekeeper in front of the family. Stuff like that was just not done. I made it hard to take the book seriously and to continue reading. I think Whitby should have done a bit more research before she started writing this book. I am positive there are lots of books out there that talk about how servants behaved at the beginning of the 20th century.

29. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Mystery

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick, 368 pages, read by Angie, on 03/28/2015

Truly Lovejoy comes from a long line of Lovejoys. When her father is injured in Afghanistan and loses his arm, the family picks up and moves to his hometown in New Hampshire. JT can’t be a pilot with only one arm and his injury has turned him into Silent Man. Truly misses her joking father and feels like she is invisible in her family of seven. It doesn’t help that her math grades are bad and she has to be tutored by her dad before he will let her join the swim team.

JT and his sister True have taken over the family bookstore, Lovejoy’s Books, while their parents join the Peace Corp. Truly isn’t thrilled with leaving Texas or her best friend. In Pumpkin Falls, she tries to go into stealth mode, but being 6-feet tall and new in a small town she definitely stands out. She is soon friends with Lucas and Cha Cha and solving a 20-year-old mystery. While helping out in the shop she finds an unmailed letter in a first edition of Charlotte’s Web. The clues in the letter lead the friends allover Pumpkin Falls and introduces them to a lot of interesting characters around town.

I really enjoy small town books with quirky characters and Pumpkin Falls seems to have its share. There is the busybody postmistress, the bag lady who seems to carry kittens in every pocked and the helicopter mom who can’t seem to let Lucas grow up. Pumpkin Falls also has a winter festival and a required cotillion for the middle schoolers. Then there is the frozen waterfalls and the fact that the town was founded by a Lovejoy. It all adds up to an interesting story. I liked the fish-out-of-water aspect of Truly’s tale and the fact that her dad is a wounded warrior. I thought the mystery aspect wasn’t that interesting and didn’t really add much to the story; however, the rest of it was really entertaining and a fun read.

27. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Katy, Mystery · Tags: ,

Big little lies by Liane Moriarty, 458 pages, read by Katy, on 03/27/2015

9780698138636_p0_v2_s260x420Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

From www.goodreads.com. 

25. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fiction, Mystery, Paula, Thriller/Suspense

The Girl On The Train by Hawkins, Paula, 323 pages, read by Paula, on 03/24/2015

hw7.plRachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.

I loved this book.  I couldn’t put it down.  Rachel is such a believable character.  She is an alcoholic.  And on the night Megan goes missing she’s drunk.  She knows she’s seen something.  But she can’t remember what.  Lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing right up until the end.

 

22. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Adult Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Mariah, Mystery

Small Favor by Jim Butcher, 423 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/22/2015

I am already a fan of Jim Butcher’s writing, and Small Favor is one of the even better stories. The wizard for hire, Harry Dresden, is caught up in a fast-paced adventure from the very first pages. Fae from the court of the Summer Queen begin attacking Harry while he is training his apprentice. Though it is unclear why Summer Fae are after his blood, Harry has upset enough of the Summer royalty to make some pretty good guesses. The Winter Queen appears to be helping the harassed wizard, but her help comes unsolicited and at a very high price. This is all a sideline to the main plot and problem of the tale. Fallen angels, known as Denarians, have come up with a plan that may make it possible for them to bring about the destruction of the world. By kidnapping a little girl known as the Archive, who is receptacle of all written knowledge, the Denarians would be able to wreak massive damage. Harry Dresden must evade the wrath of the Summer Court, neutralize the “help” of the Winter Court, and fight a handful of fallen angels with god-like powers.

Small Favor is book #10 in the series the Dresden Files. Each book in this series has its own plot arc and resolves by the end. However, the characters are well written, well developed, and return in most books. The familiar characters and plot elements which cause character growth make it more enjoyable to read the books in order. I would recommend the Dresden Files to any fantasy reader. Butcher uses tried and true fantasy creatures and adds in new ideas, also. He also has a nice mesh of fantasy and modern crime, since the main character works as a detective specializing in missing items. I would caution, though, that the first book has a very slow start. The series is worthwhile if given a chance.

21. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Award Winner, Children's Books, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Mariah, Mystery, Thriller/Suspense

Doll Bones by Holly Black, 244 pages, read by Mariah, on 03/19/2015

Three friends, Zack, Alice, and Poppy, play an imaginary game that seems to have all the best elements of fantasy. Making their own rules and using action figures, they write adventures that span weeks, months, and years. However, when Zack’s fathers decides Zack is too old for games with girls and dolls, everything changes. Zack is so angry and hurt that he handles the matter by refusing to deal with it. He tells Alice and Poppy that he no longer wishes to play their pretend epics and shuts himself off. The girls are hurt and bewildered. Then, late one night, Poppy and Alice show up at Zack’s window. Poppy has been suffering from evil dreams in which one of the dolls visits her. The doll, known as the Queen, claims she was made from the bones of a murdered child, and she will not leave them in peace until they bury her body in the proper place. Not knowing whether they really believe, the children set off on a dangerous adventure.

Children’s horror is not an overly populated genre, but Holly Black enters it with style and skill. The tale picks up quickly and keeps pace throughout the book. Revelations regarding the nature of the children’s changing relationships are woven seamlessly throughout the drama of being terrorized by a ghost. Dealing with the changes of life and maturity can be almost as frightening as supernatural events. In the end, the book was never too scary, too ridiculous, or too boring. I would recommend it to an older child, probably around middle school, who enjoys horror.

20. March 2015 · Comments Off · Categories: Mystery, Tammy, Teen Books

Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers, 392 pages, read by Tammy, on 03/06/2015

inherit midnight   Seventeen-year-old Avery has been sent to a boarding school by her outlandishly wealthy Grandmother who has raised her. She is the ostracized illegitimate granddaughter of a drunk son and has no love for her cousins or uncles. She rarely sees her father. Now her Grandmother has set up a competition to see who deserves to inherit the entire VanDemere fortune. It’s family member against family member as they race around the globe and solve puzzles from the mines of Venezuela to the castles of Scotland. Since she is under 18 Avery has to be accompanied by an adult. Riley the son of her Grandmother’s lawyer goes along. But is her to help her or just protect his father’s interests at staying employed by Grandma. Is she falling in love with him and further complicating things? If Avery loses she knows she’ll have to go back to the horrible boarding school but is that motivation enough to get her through all the challenges? Who will the one and only heir be? Who can Avery truly trust? And is winning worth her life?