Monday, March 27, 2017

Quicksand






My review of Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito:
 
 
I am glad I was able to get the ARC of this fiction book. It reads like a true story. I really enjoy Scandinavian Noir and this book was part mystery, part legal thriller, and is told from the perspective of one of the main characters. Maya Norberg stands trial for the deaths of several people in her high school class in Sweden. It's one of the worst massacres in Swedish history. Maya is telling the story and we go back and forth between then, before the killings, and now, as we hear about her trial and her time in jail. The big question, is Maya guilty? No spoilers here, but this book translated (the first of this author's to be translated to English) from Swedish was a page turner. Maya's voice resonated with me and felt genuine. All the things that we think in our head, but don't speak aloud are articulated here. The feelings we had when we were 17 or 18 and our relationships with our friends. The characters are drawn from a broad spectrum, Maya's boyfriend Sebastian is the super rich boy with lots of dysfunctionality (having it all doesn't make for a happy life), Amanda, Maya's best friend one of the popular girls, Dennis the refugee from Africa, Labbe, Sebastian's well adjusted best friend and Amanda's eventual boyfriend, Christer the teacher who's trying too hard to be cool, and Samir another refugee from an unnamed Muslim country. All of them are drawn into the vortex that will eventually lead to 5 deaths. Will Maya's legal team lead by Sander be able to convince the judges of her innocence? The media has already portrayed her as a snobbish, uncaring killer, but is she really? Thank you to Penguin Random House & the author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 
 
 
 


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Suspense!!
Quite possibly my favorite genre.
Peter Swanson, I am waiting for your next book. I know you just published your third, Her Every Fear in January 2017, but write fast. PLEASE?! 




I kept watching all the news, reviews, and buzz about Peter Swanson's books. For some reason I only got wind of him when he released The Kind Worth Killing in February 2015, but he burst on the scene and the reviews were phenomenal. His books, when I read the description were just the kind of thriller or suspense books that appeal to me. I just had a full book reading schedule!

I did a Peter Swanson marathon when I was away for three weeks in February. It needed to be done and I decided to do it right. I started at the beginning with The Girl With a Clock For a Heart. What a title! It was very unique story. A situation where the girl, Liana, may not be who she says she is. She and George meet and become an item in college. George really falls for her, but he's not completely gullible, because when she shows up in his life again twenty years later, he's ready to deal with her. She left him with a giant mess twenty years before. The writing style is a little raw, but then it's his first published novel. I LOVE the Boston setting. I lived there for twelve years, so I felt myself there on the streets and in the neighborhoods. 

Then came The Kind Worth Killing. Again, how can a thriller book lover not be hooked by that title?! The story starts out on a plane, business class flight, London to Boston. So, were back in that city, so perfect for a suspenseful tale. Here we have Ted Severson who while sitting in business class, begins chatting with the attractive and intriguing, Lily Kintner. Ted's married, but what happens on the a trans-Atlantic plane, stays on the plane, right? Even if you say, semi-seriously that you want to kill your wife? Well, Lily says she'll help and as we read on, we find out this may not be Lily's first time killing someone!

Then I read Swanson's latest, Her Every Fear. London makes an appearance again at the beginning. The neurotic Kate Priddy decides to do an apartment swap with a distant cousin, Corbin Dell from Boston. Kate's family is surprised that she's taken the big step to live for several months in Boston, she's always been a bit anxious, especially after what happened with her first serious boyfriend. Kate on the other hand thinks it's just what she needs, a change of scenery and the opportunity to pursue the art classes she's been wanting to take. This story has a sort Hitchcock, Rear Window element (always a favorite movie of mine) and there's this air of creepiness that seeps in through the paragraphs. I really found myself worried about Kate and wishing she's look over her shoulder or be a bit more careful. We again have an old friend that cycles back in and that friend may not be a novice when it comes to killing.

I guess if Peter Swanson's months of release are an indication, we won't see anything until at least January 2018. I'll be in my room crying and waiting.

http://www.peter-swanson.com/





Sunday, March 12, 2017

30414127 

My second book by Ms. Di Maio, and it was better than her first, in my opinion. She expertly weaves two stories and two time periods. The 1940's story of Della Lee in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula Lee and the present day story of journalist Mick Anders and Dr. Paloma Vega who are brought together in the little border town of Puerto Pesar, (Port of Regret) where Della and Eula were brought up and where tragedy seemed to guide their lives. While this book might be considered romance, I really love the lighthearted way in which the author treats romance. It takes a back seat to the story of the the heartbreak of Della's life and the connections that Mick uncovers between Paloma, her grandmother, and Della Lee who is released from prison to return to Puerto Pesar after 70 years in prison. The story shows how the two stories mirror each other and you will find yourself wanting to know more about these connections across the decades. Thank you Camille for the lovely shout out in your acknowledgments. It was so unexpected and a thrill as a fairly new blogger. Thank you Ann-Marie Nieves of Got Red PR for the ARC hard copy of this book for my shelf. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Isn't this the most beautiful cover?

Behind Her Eyes, by Sarah Pinsborough, was a bit of a disappointment for me, but here's my review:

I was thinking this was going to be 2017's Behind Closed Doors and while there was much I liked about this thriller, the paranormal twist with the dreams just lost me. Louise is a single mum in London and her life seems to be going nowhere. She meets a guy in a bar, they hit it off, share a kiss and she thinks that's the end of that. When she arrives to work at the psychiatrist's office she finds out the guy she kissed in the bar? That's her new boss! Things get more odd when Adele, the wife of David (the doctor Louise works for) befriends Louise. Louise begins to carry on a sort of double life. This tale is twisty and psychotic that just when you think you've figured things out, you'll be knocked sideways with yet another revelation. As I said, I liked the story, but could do without the supernatural dream stuff. Thank you to Flatiron Books for the Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for my honest review. 

Lay Death at Her Door, by Elizabeth Buhmann, was another mixed bag for me. Here's my review:

Kate Cranbrook is a liar. She tells us that almost at the beginning of her sordid tale. This was another rather twisted psych thriller that I wanted to like, but a few things just seemed too far fetched to me. Kate was attacked and raped back in college and her boyfriend was murdered. She sent her attacker to jail, but it turns out Kate sent an innocent man to prison, AND she knew that he was innocent! Now, many years later, the man is getting out of jail when DNA evidence comes to light. Kate is put on the spot, having to come up with a tale that maybe she couldn't see her attacker. There's much more to Kate's story and that of her father, Pop, and it may or may not be tied to their early life in Kenya. It just seemed than we can imagine and that's where things started to unravel for me. I don't mind disliking the main character, but things need to be plausible.  

The Girl In the Ice by Robert Bryndza, my review:

I am huge fan of British mysteries and police procedurals. I am always drawn to a messed up, wounded protagonist (think Harry Hole in Nesbo's series), sort of the under dog type and Det. Erika Foster falls into that category. She's just come back to the force after months on medical and psych leave due a botched investigation where her husband and several other cops ended up dead, and it might be in part to her screw up. The author has gotten a great cast of characters on board for the  subsequent books in this series. A young girl is found dead under the ice of a pond at city garden. Her father is a member of parliament, but as Erika's investigation continues it seems there may be connections for human trafficking and the Russian mob. Of course Erika doesn't want to make a wrong move or accusation and so she must work even harder to find out what the connection is before another girl turns up dead. I cannot wait to read #2.  

We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter, my review:

Amazingly this work of historical fiction is based on the author's own family. I read a lot of WWII and Holocaust based stories and this will definitely be in my top 15. I was completely tied up in the lives of the Kurc family. The story begins around the Seder table in Poland 1939 with war on the horizon. We follow three generations of this Jewish family that are torn apart and end up on different sides of the globe. One couple ends up in Siberia at a work camp, another couple works in the Polish Underground, a daughter passes herself off as Aryan with fake papers later hiding her parents (they manage to escape the ghetto) at the farm of a Polish couple who are Christian, one son makes it to Palestine working as a doctor, and another son makes his way all the way from warn torn France to Brazil via ship. They all manage to survive and come together in the end. An important and poignant tale of the darkness of human spirit and the triumph of survival.

The Orphan's Tale
 

I was very happy to get to read my first Pam Jenoff book. Why had I never read anything by her before? I honestly don't know. She has written at least fourteen books, mainly historical fiction, and many focused on Eastern Europe and WWII. A genre that I enjoy and read a lot of. In any case I was christened as a Pam fan with The Orphan's Tale.

The story follows Noa, a young Dutch girl whose father kicks her out of the house after she becomes pregnant with a Nazi soldier's baby. She ends up in a home for unwed mothers and her baby is taken away. Noa then escapes and begins work cleaning the bathroom at a train station, eking out a living. The author conveys such a sense of the absolute bleakness that was prevalent in the time and place of the book.

One day while cleaning, Noa hears a faint cry from one of the box cars. She slides open the door to find the car filled with what she realizes are Jewish infants. They have been separated from their parents, most are dying and some already dead. Thinking of the baby that was wrenched from her after birth, she grabs an infant that is still alive and escapes into the snowy, wooded, night.

She finds refuge with a German circus that is made up of many misfits and people hiding in plain view from the Nazis. To earn her keep, Noa starts to train as an understudy for Astrid, a famous aerialist. In the beginning Astrid seems to dislike Noa and her baby, but as the two train together, they form a bond, and Noa begins to understand all that Astrid has lost. The two become like sisters with their shared losses and grief.

The author poignantly tells the story of Noa, the baby she names Theo, Astrid, the Jewish circus performer who was married to a Nazi soldier, and Herr Neuhoff the German circus manager who risks his livelihood to protect his performers and make sure the show goes on.

It's evident that Ms. Jenoff has done copious research and I learned from her website, that she worked for the foreign service and was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. There she worked on matters such as the preservation of Auschwitz and securing restitution of Jewish property. She is now an attorney and teaches law at Rutgers. I understand that the story was based on several similar stories she came across in her years of research on the Holocaust. It is a unique and powerful story.

Thank you TLC Book Tours and author Pam Jenoff for the opportunity to read and review this for my blog. 

http://tlcbooktours.com/ 

http://pamjenoff.com/ 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/899272610122986/ 

Purchase Links:

http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Orphans-Tale/Pam-Jenoff/9780778319818?id=6806214300029 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HB9Q7CW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-orphans-tale-pam-jenoff/1123457576?ean=9780778319818 
 





   

 

 
 








Hello? Is anyone there? I'm guessing that's what you've been asking.

I know you haven't heard from me for awhile, but there's a good reason for that. I've been traveling, my mother-in-law is in declining health and I traveled for 3 weeks to visit with her in Pakistan. Since my return, I've been fighting the flu. Boo!!

The good news is I read a TON of books while I was away and so many, many reviews need to get posted. First I thought I'd list the books I read.

I had a Peter Swanson marathon: The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, The Kind Worth Killing, and Her Every Fear. I am now a massive fangirl of Peter Swanson and cannot wait until his next book. I love the settings of the books in Boston, where I lived for many years. It all felt so familiar to me.

More on the thriller front, I read: The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza (Detective Erika Foster #1), Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinsborough, and Lay Death at Her Door by Elizabeth Buhmann. 

I read We Were the Lucky Ones, WWII, historical fiction by Georgia Hunter.

I read the 2nd book by Camille Di Maio, Before the Rain Falls. Her debut novel, The Memory of Us came out last year. 

I read my first book by Stephanie Evanovich, Big Girl Panties. Boy was that like a breath of fresh air after all the thrillers I had been reading. It felt a bit risque to be reading that while in a Muslim country, lol!!

Prior to my departure I read Pam Jenoff's, The Orphan's Tale in conjunction with TLC Book Tours. I apologize to Lisa at TLC and Pam Jenoff the author for my delay in getting my review up for that. When I signed up I was not planning on being away and then Lisa
graciously changed the date for my review, but then I fell ill with the flu. So, that will be my first review after I publish this little missive.

I am currently reading the latest by Ausma Zehanat Khan, Among the Ruins. This is the third in the Rachel Getty & Esa Khattak mystery series. Excellent if you like police procedural. 

Lot's of great books coming up on my TBR, so stay tuned and thanks for your patience while I attended to health and family issues.