Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hunting Shadows by Charles Todd

Hamish and Rutledge are back again solving two seemingly unrelated murders in two different small towns.

Ian Rutledge is working on finding a "shadowy" figure who shoots to kill and then disappears without a trace.  Rutledge has a difficult time finding clues and connections that would lead to the murderer's identification.

The first shooting was at a wedding and the second at a political rally.  No one seems to be able to understand how the two are related nor the reason for the murders.

HUNTING SHADOWS is another great read by Charles Todd; in fact, HUNTING SHADOWS is my favorite of his mysteries, and I have read a number of his books.

Sometimes his murders get too tied up with the war, but HUNTING SHADOWS seems more geared to the people in the story and the plot.  So if you didn't like some of his other books, this one is different, so give it a try.

I always enjoy Mr. Todd's mysteries mostly because of the time period and the twists and turns that ultimately occur.
Rutledge and Hamish are always characters that keep you on your toes. The other characters in HUNTING SHADOWS who perfectly portray the way of life at that time in history will keep your interest.

If you enjoy a murder mystery at its best along with wonderful description and imagery, don't miss Todd's newest Ian Rutledge mystery. 4/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review.

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

One disappearance and then another ten years later.  Could both these disappearances have been planned far apart so no one would know the real reason?

Felix Brewer disappeared because he wanted to avoid going to jail for his misdeeds.  He left his wife and three daughters, but was his wife really surprised he had left?  He never really was with her in the first place.  He always had a mistress and was rarely home.  His mistress, Julie, was his most steady one.  To cause more heartache and questions after Julie’s disappearance, Felix's wife wonders if she may have gone with him.

The questions about whether they were together or not surfaced twenty-six years later when they found Julie's body.

AFTER I'M GONE moves from present to past and from character to character.   I actually was not swept away as I had been with Ms. Lippman's other books until the ending pages.

It was very confusing even when I was three quarters of the way into the book.  I had trouble following the storyline.  The detective, Sandy, made the book for me. 

I had to keep reading, though, just to see if they found out where Felix was and who had killed Julie.

I am not going to say I disliked this book, but it just didn't grab me, didn’t pull me back to reading, or have me thinking about the characters or story when I wasn't reading.  AFTER I'M GONE definitely has a character-driven storyline even though they were not likeable.  Most of them were only worried about themselves.

Ms. Lippman may have been trying something different with this book, but I have to say I was disappointed until the end.  Whenever I hear Laura Lippman, I normally know I am in for a real treat. The treat was late in coming as it came toward the end of the book as Sandy was wrapping up the investigation.  AFTER I'M GONE actually got quite good at this point, and the outcome of “who done it” was very clever.

As I turned the ending pages, I said:  "I know this person did it," and then I said: "no that person did," but I was wrong.  When you find out who really “did it,” you will love it.

My rating originally was going to be a 3/5, but the sensational, clever ending that kept me guessing is going to move it up to a 4/5.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Wife, The Maid, And The Mistress by Ariel Lawhon

Who would have thought that being a maid could be this dangerous?  Maria never would have guessed that.
Maria cleaned for Judge Joseph Crater who had a mistress and who was involved with gangsters. Then one day Joseph disappeared, and even his wife didn't know where he was. 

Joseph’s wife, Stella, their maid, Maria, and Joseph’s mistress, Ritzi, were characters you will love and feel sorry for.  Stella Crater knew about her husband's mistress, Maria saw the mistress one day when she arrived to clean and was sworn to secrecy, and Ritizi hated what she did.  All three women were tied to Joseph Crater for different reasons and hated him for different reasons.

THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS is based on a true incident.  Judge Joseph Crater’s disappearance has never been solved, and his body has never been found.

When I realized THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS was based on a true incident, the book pulled me in even more.  The book took you back to a time when showgirls, speakeasies, proper etiquette for ladies, murders, and greasing palms was prevalent.

You will be drawn into the glitz, the glamor, and the corruption of the 1930's and into the lifestyles of the wealthy as well as the working class.

Ritzi was my favorite just because of her guts. Maria was sweet and got drawn into something way out of her league.  Stella was indifferent to life and her marriage.  They all had a common thread and a common interest.

If you like historical fiction and this era, don’t miss THE WIFE, THE MAID, THE MISTRESS.  The surprise ending ties things up nicely.

I am wholeheartedly recommending this book.  Loved it. 5/5

Friday, January 24, 2014

Degrees of Courage by Shari Vester

Angela was the beginning and Ilonka was the end....two amazing women in DEGREES OF  COURAGE.

Angela Bohaczek's life was put on hold at the age of 18 when her mother died.  She had to take care of her nine brothers and sisters and her father since she was the oldest and her father had no interest in taking care of the family.  

You will follow Angela's life through this ordeal as well as many other situations both pleasant and unpleasant. Angela's daughter, Lensie/Ilonka, is the other major character along with her children.

The book flows nicely and has very interesting characters who will win your heart as well as make you hate some of them.   Ilonka was my favorite because of the love she had for her family and how she carried on through thick and thin times.  Ilonka's life was the main focus of the book.

Ms. Vester did a fantastic job of keeping my interest and creating an excellent storyline for the entire 600 pages. You will love the family saga and the historical facts about Europe and Hungary from the year 1900 to 1970.  DEGREES OF COURAGE did get a bit slow with all the political topics, but they were necessary for the gist of the book.

Despite the political aspect, it is well worth the 600-page read because of the storyline and because of the characters, the excellent writing, and the detailed descriptions. The book was mainly in the narrative style.  You will feel as though you are with the characters sharing all their love, their turmoil, their sadness, and their happy times.

DEGREES OF COURAGE is about strong women who unquestioningly loved their families.  I loved the old-fashioned dating with chaperones that was part of the book and the homey feeling the story and the characters gave the reader.

I also really liked the way the author would make a statement at the end of a chapter that was stating something that was to come in upcoming pages of the book.  It kept up the suspense.
The characters were wonderful, and when the book was over or when I put the book down, I missed them and wanted to know what was going to happen next.  I became very attached and interested in their lives, and it was sad to close the last page.

I enjoyed DEGREES OF COURAGE and am going to rate the book a 4/5.  

My rating of a 4/5 is because of the book’s length and the political information, but DEGREES OF COURAGE was excellent because the marvelous characters drew you in and kept you reading.

This book was given to me free of charge by the author and publisher in return for an honest review.


Monday, January 13, 2014

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Sarah Grimke and Handful were complete opposites in the society of the 1800's.

Sarah was the daughter of a plantation owner, and Handful was her maid.  Both were strong women regardless of their station in life.

Sarah didn't want to have a maid, and Handful didn't want to be a maid.  She wanted to sew just like her mother did.  She wanted to be a seamstress, but in reality, she wanted to be free.  Charlotte, Handful's mother, made all the clothes for the household including the slaves.  She was a bit of of a handful herself.

Through the beautiful storytelling of Ms. Kidd, you will follow the Grimke family through the decades of life on the plantation.  You will meet Missus who was the wife of the plantation owner and who was in charge of of the slaves. She was very cruel.

The main characters, Sarah, Handful, Charlotte, and Missus will keep you up late reading about the day's activities either covert or in plain sight and either cruel or humane. These characters and their bond as well as their differences will be pulling at your heartstrings.

Historical Fiction at its best will be yours when you pick up THE INVENTION OF WINGS.  There is a lot of profound thinking and pondering in every paragraph. 
I wasn't aware of Sarah's role in the abolitionist movement, and was pleasantly surprised to find information about her and her sister, Angeline, as I did some research of my own.

The storyline of THE INVENTION OF WINGS flows easily and masterfully as Ms. Kidd brings to life Southern living, the horrors of slavery, and tells of the people who worked toward abolishing slavery.

Don't miss this well-written, researched book of Ms. Kidd.  Ms. Kidd’s notes at the end of the book were very helpful as she explained how she took the basis of history and fictionalized key parts of it for her book. THE INVENTION OF WINGS was incredible. 5/5

This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Review AND Giveaway of Jubilee's Journey by Bette Lee Crosby

Jubilee wasn't supposed to be Jubilee, and Paul was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Jubilee and Paul had to leave their childhood home since both their mother and their father had died and no one was allowed to live in the house unless they worked in the mines.  Since Paul promised his father he would NEVER work in the mines, he and Jubilee left the town in search of their Aunt Anita who didn't even know they existed.

Jubilee was the sweetest child, and Paul was a wonderful teenager any parent would want as their son.  Paul had to take care of Jubliee when their mother died and then after their father died, but then look what happened.

You are saying....what happened?  Well, you have to read this amazing book to find out. :)

You will fall in love with Jubilee and feel sorry for Paul.  Olivia was the most wonderful person you would ever want to meet.  Ethan Allen was mischievous but oh so lovable. Each character works well with each other and carries the story along with an unforgettable and heartwarming storyline.

Ms. Crosby has written yet another marvelous book that will steal your heart, make you think about your family, and make you not want the book to end.  Ms. Crosby just knows how to put together a remarkable story that holds your interest from the first sentence.
Ms. Crosby writes amazing books with delightful, exceptional characters.  This one will not be a disappointment in terms of characters either.

If nothing else gets you, but I know it will, the cover is enough to draw you right in.  Don't miss JUBILEE’S JOURNEY or any of Ms. Crosby's books.  They all have a feel good theme and a theme that conveys Ms. Crosby’s love of writing, sharing, and giving.

This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the author in return for an honest review.



There will be an e-book for an International/USA/Canada Giveaway.

And a print copy for USA/Canada Giveaway.

Bette is AWESOME, isn't she?

Best of luck.

Contest will run from January 2 until January 11.


The link for the International/USA/Canada giveaway is here. 

The link for the USA/Canada giveaway is here. 


The International Winner is: #17 - Julie.

The USA/Canada Winner is:  #6 - Laura.
CONGRATS to both winners, and thank you to all who entered.

Simply complete the form or forms, and you are entered.  

So that means you have two chances to win if you live in the USA or Canada.

THANKS, and Good Luck.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The First Book Of The Year - 2014

Join Shelia from Book Journey and fellow book bloggers as we feature our first book read in 2014.

My first book of the year will be AFTER I'M GONE by Laura Lippmann.

I started it in 2013, but won't be finished with it until 2014.  Stay tuned for the review.  :)

Here I am reading AFTER I'M GONE: