Sunday, August 28, 2016

Bread or Death: Memories of My Childhood During and After the Holocaust by Milton Mendel Kleinberg

This was a tough and eye-opening read for me. I remember reading "The Diary of Anne Frank" when I was around 10 years old so I jumped at the chance to read another personal account of the Holocaust. I was struck by how much Mr. Kleinberg and his family's survival depended on sheer chance and luck. He really has a gift with writing and the book reads as if he is sitting across from you talking and not through the written word. 
There were quite a few times where I just had to stop reading and just cried. Other times, I was so full of grief that I was beyond tears. I really think that this book should be recommended reading to go along with "The Diary of Anne Frank" although considering some of the situations that happened I would recommend slightly older children or "tweens" to be the intended audience for this book.
This is a book that will stay with me and has affected me. The Holocaust is something we should never ever forget. I am also amazed at the courage of Mr. Kleinberg and his family especially his mother. I fully intend to purchase a copy of this book for my older daughter to read and it is one I want on my bookshelf to read again and again. 
I received a copy of this book from the publishers (thank you) for free in exchange for an honest review. I want to thank Mr. Kleinberg for having the courage to put down on paper a part of his life that must be very difficult to think about. 

Five out of Five Stars

The Sculthorpe Murders ( Detective Lavender Mysteries, #3 ) by Karen Carlton

I have always loved historical mysteries and so I was curious and hopeful when I requested to read this book even though it is third in a series.
The setting is Northamptonshire in 1810 when two Bow Street policemen, Detective Lavender and Constable Woods are sent from London to Middleton to investigate a very grisly and violent murder. 
There are so many red herrings, multiple plots. and colorful characters in this book. Karen Charlton has a gift for describing the scene and atmosphere so well that I really felt as if I was there and when I "returned" to modern times that I had taken away some knowledge about this time period.
I was very impressed with the end of the story where Ms. Carlton talks about how she came up with the idea for the book and I was very impressed with the amount of research she did. She includes some actual historical figures as characters, and crimes that really did happen. 
This is a tiny bit of reference to people and happenings that occur in the first two books but it does not detract from the book in any way.
I absolutely loved this book. I love this time period with the beginnings of modern police. I remember reading Bruce Alexander's Sir John Fielding mysteries and was so sad when he passed away as I really enjoyed that mystery series. I am just so thrilled to have found another author who writes this kind of book with such accuracy and talent. I will definitely be reading the first two books in this series to catch up and waiting for the next one. 
I received a copy from the publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.

Four out of Five Stars

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ice Rift by Ben Hammott

There is just something about being isolated and hunted in the Arctic or Antarctic that draws me every time and this novel does not disappoint.
After an anomaly is discovered by NASA, a team of scientists are sent to the Antarctic to find out what exactly is going on. There is so much going on in this novel and I almost had the feel of H.P. Lovecraft with hidden horrors that no one should ever see. There seems to be a definite homage paid to "The Thing" but I found this book to be quite different and a lot of fun to read especially at night. I also liked how the author developed the main characters and did so in such a way that it did not detract from the book itself but added a needed element. 
I received a copy of this book from the publishers for free in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars

End Point by Peter Breakspear

I was curious about the premise of this book but ended up feeling like something was missing and sometimes I had to force myself to go on.
The story line is very intriguing and original but I felt like it needed more character development and overall descriptive narration. There was much of what someone thought, said or did but very little description of the reasoning behind it. I never felt like I was in the story.
A four man team are sent to recover an object which fell to earth but they end up traveling farther than they imagined to places they never imagined in order to find out the possible fate of mankind.
As I said, the idea is very original and I would love for the author to redo some areas such as character development and setting the atmosphere with his wording and scenery description. I would love to read the novel again with a few twerks here and there.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Two out of Five Stars

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Jersey Devil by Hunter Shea

This book was definitely not what I expected at all. I had thought it would follow a typical Jersey Devil story but it ended up to be quite different.
The Jersey Devil has been quiet for awhile but is now active again in new and more threatening ways. One cursed family decides to put an end to the curse and creature once and for all.
The atmosphere and scenery are written so well that I felt like I was there camping in the Pines. I absolutely loved the character of Boompa but found the others to be less developed. That is fine in this case because the story is more an action thriller rather than a story about the characters themselves.
All in all, I enjoyed this book. Hunter Shea took the legend of the Jersey Devil and made it his own. If you decide to read this book be prepared for lots of blood and gore. This is the first book I have read by this author and am impressed enough to want to read more.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars

The Widow by Fiona Barton

I had to take a couple of days to think about this book after I finished reading it. I did like it hence the four stars but I also put it down a few times very frustrated with the widow herself.
It is a dazzling examination of the complicated relationship that can exist between a husband and wife especially abusive relationships and enablement.
I was so ticked off and irritated at how dense and submissive the widow was but in the end that is my issue and has nothing to do with the book itself.
In the end, I decided on four stars because I was drawn into the story to the point of staying up late at night reading it to the finish. I found it to be well written although it did take me a little time to get used to the rapid past/present chapter changes. I also ended up sitting in my bed just sobbing for at least 10 minutes. I can honestly say that this is one of those books that will stay with me and I will not forget. I am looking forward to reading more by this author.

Four out of Five Stars

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Living Grave by Robert E. Dunn

One of my friends recommended this novel and I am so glad she did and I understand why. I literally did not want to put the book down and really got involved in the complex character of Katrina "Hurricane" Williams. Her character is so well developed and I really became attached to her and didn't want the book to end.
Katrina left the Army after a horrible betrayal and became a sheriff's detective in a small town in the Ozarks while trying to come to terms with her life and what happened in the Army. The story begins with the disappearance of a local girl from town. I really don't want to give away more as I do not want to spoil it for anyone.
Suffice it to say, I became absorbed with Katrina, her world, and the colorful people around her. This is really an amazing start to what I expect to be a fantastic series. Very highly recommended. I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Five out of Five Stars

Chills by Mary SanGiovanni

When I first began this book, I thought it would be a more of a police procedural so I was pleasantly surprised to find a subtle H.P. Lovecraft touch.
It begins in an average way with police called out to a body found hanging upside down and it isn't until they take a closer look that the scene is found to be more macabre than the police had imagined. There are hints that this is might be an occult murder rather than a regular killing. Adding to the sense of unease is a freak snowstorm very late in the season (May).
The strength of the book is the suspenseful and descriptive writing that sets the stage for a sense of uneasiness that just crawls under your skin and doesn't let go. I really liked the strong character of Kathy Ryan who is brought in as an occult specialist.
All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book (especially at night during a thunderstorm) and highly recommend it to anyone who are fans of the horror of the unknown.
I received a copy from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars

Friday, August 12, 2016

Cascadia by H.W. "Buzz" Bernard

Dr. Rob Elwood, a respected geologist, has studied the Cascadia Subduction Zone, a dangerous fault off the coast of the Pacific Northwest, for years. Now he’s having repeated nightmares of a massive earthquake and tsunami striking the region. Knowing he’s placing his reputation and career at risk, he goes public with his premonitions.

The quake fails to occur and Rob fears he’s lost everything. But the disaster does strike, just not when expected, and Rob finds himself not only vindicated, but hurled abruptly into a life-and-death rescue mission with his private aircraft.

Rob’s story intersects with several others, including that of a retired fighter pilot attempting to make amends to a woman he jilted twenty-five years earlier, and another of an elderly black man searching for legendary buried treasure along the rugged Oregon coast.

Four out of Five Stars

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Celia, a Slave by Barbara Seyda

This was such an emotional and difficult play to read. Celia, a Slave by Barbara Seyda is actually based on a true story. Celia was a female slave who killed her owner after years of terrible abuse in 1855 and ended up being executed for her "crime". She was only 19 years old and was a mother. 
I would love to see this on the stage but as it is, the play resonates with all of the horror, outrage, anger, prejudice, and grief in the words themselves. It really is a powerful play and I am not surprised that it won the Yale Drama Series Prize. 
I would also like to see this play adapted into a novel as well. Very highly recommended reading about a part of history we must not forget.

Four out of Five Stars

Monday, August 8, 2016

Little Tails in the Jungle by Frederic Brremaud

I was definitely surprised by this book. I had thought it would be a simplistic toddler story but it is so much more than that. I love the combination of graphic novel/gorgeous wildlife drawings. It is also very informative and fun for children who are interested in learning about the variety of jungles in our world and the ecosystem. I also liked how they left a link for further information at the end. Highly recommended for elementary school age kids.

Four out of Five Stars

Sunday, August 7, 2016

America's Most Haunted Hotels by Jamie Davis Whitmer

I am a sucker for ghost stories especially ones by "ghost hunters" that are based on real experiences. I found this book to be very well researched and well written. I enjoyed how the author began by telling a bit about the history of the hotel and then led to the investigation which basically involved staying a night at the haunted hotel. I was very impressed by the idea of a husband-wife team with both writing separate feelings and observations after each investigation. I also appreciated how they didn't assume that every bump in the night was supernatural in origin. In general, they were either debunked or declared unexplained. Much research was done to learn more about a particular hotel's legends. One of the biggest bonuses of the book is that at the end of each section there is information on hotel prices, nearest airports, and ghost tour prices. I was so impressed with this book that I bought another book by this author. Don't miss this one if you love a good haunting investigation. I received a copy of this book for free from the publishers (thank you!) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Four out of Five Stars

Wrecked by Maria Padian

This is a very timely novel considering the epidemic of rapes on campus that are becoming public knowledge.
Haley is a soccer player who has been forced to the sidelines because of too many concussions but becomes involved when her housemate is raped on campus. Richard is a housemate of the boy who is accused of the rape. Both Haley and Richard are asked by their housemates to be a support or counsel which makes their developing relationship very difficult.
This is a very thought-provoking and uncomfortable read because of the subject matter but it is so skillfully written with much sensitivity and thought and really is a book we should all read. The author speaks from so many different angles and characters that it spans the complexity of the situation in the sense of who is responsible, the questionable reliability of memory and eyewitness, and finally what the penalty should be.
As I said, it is an uneasy read but is so beautifully written and is a social issue today. Highly recommended.

Four out of Five Stars

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Time of Torment (Charlie Parker, #14) by John Connolly

This is my first excursion into the world of Charlie Parker. Usually, I don't like to read a book out of order but when I was offered this book I decided to give it a try. I am so glad I did because I was blown away by so many things to do with this novel.
Charlie Parker is a private investigator who takes on the Cut which is an ancient isolated community with the help of his associates Louis and Angel after a client who has been convicted of an unspeakable crime disappears.
The book starts off very quickly and never lets up. The writing is flawless and engrossing and I loved how what seems to be unconnected occurrences end up connecting the entire story together. I rarely give a five star unless the book is exceptional (to me).
I have never read a book by John Connolly before (how did I miss you?) and I can honestly say he has a brand new fan. Now I have to be off to get the first book in the series. Very highly recommended!
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 
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Five out of Five Stars

What Color is a Kiss? by Rocio Bonilla

Monica loves to paint and has decided to paint a kiss but cannot decide what color a kiss really is. Can she solve the problem?
This book was so adorable. I loved the illustrations and also how the author subtly teaches children about colors.
Highly recommended. I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Three out of Five Stars

The Toothless Fairy by Timothy Jordan

This is a cute little story about a lonely fairy who wants friends but is afraid of being rejected because she is toothless and is convinced she would scare them away. Then she sees how children are not afraid of Halloween costumes so she decides that Halloween might be a great time to try to make friends.
My son who is 6 years old was very interested when I told him I had a book for him to read with me because of the title itself. He loved the rhyme and enjoyed the story so much he asked me to read it again.
I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

3 out of 5 Stars