Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Book Review: Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

Author: Belinda Bauer
Publication: Atlantic Monthly Press (August 4, 2015)

Description: Belinda Bauer is a phenomenal voice in British crime fiction, whose work has won the CWA’s Gold Dagger Award for Crime Novel of the Year and garnered rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Winner of the 2014 Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, Rubbernecker is a gripping thriller about a medical student who begins to suspect that something strange is going on in this cadaver lab.

“The dead can’t speak to us,” Professor Madoc had said. But that was a lie. The body Patrick Fort is examining in anatomy class is trying to tell him all kinds of things. But no one hears what he does, and no one understand when he tries to tell them.

Life is already strange enough for Patrick—being a medical student with Asperger’s Syndrome doesn't come without its challenges. And that’s before he is faced with solving a possible murder, especially when no one believes a crime has even taken place. Now he must stay out of danger long enough to unravel the mystery. But as Patrick learns one truth from a dead man, he discovers there have been many other lies closer to home.

A can’t-put-it-down page-turner from one of the finest voices in UK crime, Rubbernecker puts Belinda Bauer firmly on the map of world-class crime writers.

My Thoughts: Patrick Fort tells most of this story. He has Asperger's which makes it difficult for him to communicate because he lacks an understanding of visual clues or idioms. Since his father's death when he was around 8 and a school social worker told him that his father went through a door, Patrick has been trying to understand death and find out where his father went.

After years of experiments with roadkill and the growing disgust of his alcoholic mother, Patrick tries and tries to understand. He gets a chance to move to Cardiff and take part in a class for new medical students which will have them working on dissecting cadavers for 22 weeks. He is their "disability" student. The students' first task is to determine the cause of death. Nothing is obviously wrong with the man they are dissecting. When Patrick discovers a peanut in the airway of a man who had been fed through a tube, he is initially just curious. He sneaks into the office where the records on the cadavers are kept and learns that the cause of death is listed as heart failure. He doesn't believe it and begins to believe that his cadaver was murdered. He also learns his cadaver's name - Sam.

Meanwhile, a second story thread follows patients who are in long-time comas or vegetative states and follows a man named Sam who is beginning to come out of his coma. Sam had been in a car accident and as he comes to consciousness he wonders who the strange woman is who visits him and where his wife and daughter are. He also sees a young doctor end the life of the coma patient who shares his room. Unable to move or speak and being cared for by a nurse who is more interested in making a conquest of the husband of another patient, Sam is helpless to do anything about what he saw.

As Patrick investigates, he comes closer and closer to solving the mystery of Sam's cause of death and also uncovers secrets in his own family. The story was unique because of the perspective of Patrick who sees facts but has trouble figuring out the reasons for actions.

I enjoyed the story and liked how the mystery gradually unfolded.

Favorite Quote:
Patrick stared at his tutor's hands, while bits of puzzle started a slow new circuit in his head. The scarred finger, the fragments of blue latex, the padlocked door -- he wasn't even sure they were bits of the same puzzle. There was so much confusion in Patrick's life that he couldn't assume anything. He tried to calm down; tried to think clearly.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

First Paragraph/Teaser Tuesday: Gravelight by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Every Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posted the first paragraph of a book she is reading or planning to read. In 2018, Vicki from I'd Rather Be at the Beach is taking over this meme.

Here's mine:
The power of the wellspring surged around her, even through the thick stone walls that kept her from it. The hour was late, and the mountain would have been robed in moonlight save for the summer storm boiling up through Watchman's Gap.

Link up here. It is very easy to play along:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! Everyone loves Teaser Tuesday.
Here's mine:
"Last time a flatlander tried that, he fell over backwards and we had to sweep him out with the sawdust," Evan said.
This week I chose Gravelight by Marion Zimmer Bradley which has been on my TBR mountain since before May 8, 2008 when I started LibraryThing and added all the books at my house. Here is the description from Amazon:
Wycherly Musgrave doesn't have good luck with cars and alcohol. Trying to outrun the memory of a young woman he may have killed in a drunk-driving accident, Wych sends his expensive sports car sailing off the road...and, with his usual impossible luck, survives the crash with no more than a few bumps and bruises. the car is totaled, stranding Wycherly in the tiny mountain town of Morton's Fork. Making the best of a bad situation, Wych decides to try to dry out.

Wycherly isn't Morton's Fork's only unusual guest this summer: A movie star has taken up residence in a converted schoolhouse. Sinah Dellon left Morton's Fork as an infant foundling. Now she's come home to learn who her people were - and why she has the ability to read minds. But Sinah's psychic powers do not help her with the townsfolk, who turn from her in fear and hatred.

Equally untrustworthy, according to the residents of Morton's Fork, are the RV-load of researchers from the Bidney Institute, come to investigate centuries of reported hauntings, vanishings, poltergeists, and other phenomena. They too are poking around in things better left unexplored. Before long, Truth Blackburn, heroine of Bradley's novel Ghostlight, discovers that the source of the psychic storm is a renegade Gate - and one with a connection to Truth's own tangled past. But she cannot close the Gate alone, and the true Keeper is nowhere to be found.

In despair, Wycherly Musgrave has made a pact with evil. In fear, Sinah Dellon feels her soul slipping away under attack from a vengeful spirit. In dread, Truth Blackburn must make a great sacrifice to save all the people of Morton's Fork, and the man she loves, from the power of the Gate.

Monday, July 16, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (July 16, 2018)

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I will be combining my YA and adult reading and purchases on this one weekly roundup. YA and middle grade reviews will still be posted on  Ms. Martin Teaches Media - my other blog.

Other Than Reading...

I had a great visit with a friend this week. She arrived Monday afternoon and left Thursday evening. We talked and talked, ate out, visited the casino, watched DVDs, and played computer games. What I didn't get a chance to do was read.

Once she left, all the late nights caught up with me and I spent Friday and the weekend mostly lying on the couch napping and reading. I did go to the Greek Festival on Saturday afternoon and stock up on Greek food. I got a lamb dinner, a souvlaki dinner, and a gyro to feed my brother and I this weekend. One thing I've noticed about Duluth is a lack of Greek food. Rochester had a couple of nice Greek restaurants. Duluth has a couple of places to get gyros but no other Greek food.

This week will be filled with festivities centering around my 50th high school class reunion. Most things are grouped around the weekend. I'm hoping to do some reading during the first part of the week. However, I'll probably be reading The Others series by Anne Bishop instead of the books that are on my calendar.

Read Last Week

If you can't wait until the review shows up on my blog, reviews are posted to LibraryThing and Goodreads as soon as I write them (usually right after I finish reading a book.)
  • These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch - First book in a new YA Epic fantasy series. My review will be posted on August 1.
  • Written in Red by Anne Bishop - re-read from my Keeper Shelves.
Nine by Zach Hines (August 7)
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Next Week
 The Point by John Dixon (August 7)
The Body at the Tower by Y. S. Lee (Mine)
Mortal Arts by Anna Lee Huber (Mine)
#murdertrending by Gretchen McNeil (August 7)
Wild Hunger by Chloe Neill (August 14)
Shadowspell by Jenna Black (Mine)

Reviews Posted

On Inside of a Dog:
Lovers and Ladies by Jo Beverley
The Disappearing by Lori Roy
Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

On Ms. Martin Teaches Media:
When Life Gives You Demons by Jennifer Honeybourn
Nyxia Unleashed by Scott Reintgen

Want to See What I Added to My Stack Last Week?

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Under Fire by Scarlett Cole
All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater - autographed and a gift from my friend

The Hollow of Fear by Sherry Thomas (Oct. 2)
Wolf Rising by Paige Tyler (Oct. 30)

What was your week like?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Book Review: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Shelter in Place
Author: Nora Roberts
Publication: St. Martin's Press (May 29, 2018)

Description: From Nora Roberts, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Year One (December 2017), comes Shelter in Place— a powerful tale of heart, heroism . . . and propulsive suspense.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, helplessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

My Thoughts: This standalone thriller begins at the DownEast Mall outside Portland, Maine, on a July evening in 2005. Two girls take their friend to the latest science fiction movie to help her get over being dumped on social media by her boyfriend of seven months only to find out that he, and the girl he threw her over for, are at the same showing. A college sophomore takes his break from the restaurant where he works to chat up the girl he liked to date at the sunglasses kiosk and then stops off at the gaming store to get his buddy to ride shotgun for him. A perfectly normal evening at hundreds of malls across the country...until the shooters arrive.

Simone, our heartbroken girl, is in the restroom when the shots begin in the theater she just left. She's the first to call 911. Then she stays hiding until the police come to find her. Reed, our boy looking for a date, hears the shots on the way back to his job, rescues a small boy looking for his mother, and hides in the sunglasses kiosk next to the body of the girl he wanted to date. The first cops on the scene were outside in the parking lot dealing with a fender bender when the call came in. Officer Essie McVee rushes into the mall along with her partner. Backup is three minutes out.

In eight minutes, the whole thing is over. Three 16 and 17-year-olds are dead as are their 80-some victims. Hundreds are wounded and, wounded or not, no one there is unaffected.

Thirteen years later, Patricia, the younger sister of the boy Essie killed, is ready to get revenge for those people she blames for killing her brother. She's a psychopath, sure she's smarter than anyone else, and she is motivated to right what she sees as the injustice of her brother's death. In fact, she is the one who planned the whole mall shooting but her brother moved up the timeline before she was ready.

Reed has become a cop who has been investigating the shooting and aftermath in his spare time for his whole career. He and Essie are partners both in the police force and in the investigation. Patricia tracks him down and shoots him and he wounds her too. As part of his recovery, he goes to Tranquility Island which he remembers fondly from childhood family vacations and where he meets CiCi who is a free-spirited artist who happens to be the grandmother of Simone. Simone has also become an artist after going through her own tough time after the shooting.

Reed becomes the new Chief of Police and he and Simone fall in love. However, Patricia needs to be caught before they can finally move on. Tensions mount as Patricia claims more and more victims and both Reed and Simone know that they are on her hit list.

This book has all the elements that Nora Roberts is known for. The characters have strong support systems and strong networks of friends. Both Reed and Simone are strong, caring people who don't need a relationship to fill gaps in their lives. Though they are very different people, the cop and the artist enrich each other's lives.

This was a fast-paced story filled with suspense and love. I couldn't put it down.

Favorite Quote:
"Isn't the world a fascinating place, Reed: How it intersects, crosses, separates, pulls back? That boy destroyed that sweet girl, and she was a sweet girl. He destroyed all hper potential. Simone brought her back, triumphantly, with er talent and the love she had for our Tish. This police officer responds because fate put her right there, and stops that sick boy from taking even more lives than he had, and helped Simone through the start of the awful aftermath."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Memes: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City ReaderThe Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

On Friday, July 22, 2005, Simone Knox ordered a large Fanta--orange--to to with her popcorn and Swedish Fish. The choice, her standard night-at-the-movies fare, changed her life, and very likely saved it. Still, she'd never drink Fanta again.
Friday 56:
Once or twice in the past Reed had had very interesting dreams about getting Angie naked. Now, after recurring nightmares of hiding beside her dead body, he sat in the back row of the Methodist church for her funeral.
This week I am reading Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts. Here is the description from Amazon:
From Nora Roberts, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Year One (December 2017), comes Shelter in Place—a powerful tale of heart, heroism . . . and propulsive suspense.

It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at video game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, helplessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

ARC Review: The Disappearing by Lori Roy

The Disappearing
Author: Lori Roy
Publication: Dutton (July 17, 2018)

Description: Two-time Edgar Award-winning author Lori Roy spins a twisted, atmospheric tale about a small Southern town where girls disappear and boys run away.

When Lane Fielding fled her isolated Florida hometown after high school for the anonymity of New York City, she swore she'd never return. But twenty years later, newly divorced and with two daughters in tow, she finds herself tending bar at the local dive and living with her parents on the historic Fielding Plantation. Here, the past haunts her and the sinister crimes of her father--the former director of an infamous boys' school--make her as unwelcome in town as she was the day she left.

Ostracized by the people she was taught to trust, Lane's unsteady truce with the town is rattled when her older daughter suddenly vanishes. Ten days earlier, a college student went missing, and the two disappearances at first ignite fears that a serial killer who once preyed upon the town has returned. But when Lane's younger daughter admits to having made a new and unseemly friend, a desperate Lane attacks her hometown's fa├žade to discover whether her daughter's disappearance is payback for her father's crimes--or for her own.

With reporters descending upon the town, police combing through the swamp, and events taking increasingly disturbing turns, Lane fears she faces too many enemies and too little time to bring her daughter safely home. Powerful and heart-pounding, The Disappearing questions the endurance of family bonds, the dangers of dark rumors and small town gossip, and how sometimes home is the scariest place of all.

My Thoughts: Lane Wallace, newly divorced, is back in her old hometown with her two daughters though she had never intended to return. She and her girls are living with her parents at the Fielding Plantation. She thought that she had escaped her abusive home life. Her father was an abusive bully who made her childhood a frightening thing. He was also employed by the boys' school that was next door. Years after it closed, boys who were at the school got together on Facebook and recalled the beatings and deaths that happened there. Lane's father's name featured prominently as one of the abusers. He was questioned but no charges were filed. However, the rumors alone have made many of the town turn against them.

When Lane was thirteen she had a fight with her mother, ran off, and triggered a manhunt to search for her. Her father was certain that one of the boys from the school had taken her. When she was discovered in the attic of the house, her father couldn't admit that he was wrong. She and her mother were forced to live the lie of her abduction. Attitudes toward Lane changed making he a victim in the town's eyes. She couldn't escape their scrutiny until she ran away with her husband.

Now that she's back, she's still fighting that victim identity. It doesn't help that a young woman who was working on restoring the plantation has disappeared and rumor has it that a serial killer is hunting blonds - like her daughters.

This story is told from four viewpoints. Lane, her mother Erma, her youngest daughter Talley, and Daryl, a man searching for his brother was an inmate at the school, all tell various parts of the story. The voices are distinct but each of them has in common that they are damaged people. Lane is tired of living her lie. Erma is tired of being frightened of her husband and catering to his every need. Talley is lonely and frightened of her sister Annalee. Daryl, raised in a abusive home himself, can't connect with people and therefore takes to following girls who interest him.

The writing style made it hard for me to connect with the characters since each character's fears so filled their sections that it was sometimes hard to follow the story. Fans of introspective mysteries would be the best audience for this one.

Favorite Quote:
Annalee's eighteen now. She needs her space and for Lane to show trust in her. It's something Lane never had growing up because she was, from the time she was thirteen, that girl, and when everyone thinks they know your worst secret, you become something less than everyone else. Nothing about your life is private or even decent. No one trusts you either, because when tragic things happen to a person, the tragedy sticks.
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from Edelweiss. You can buy your copy here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book Review: Lovers and Ladies by Jo Beverly

Lovers and Ladies
Author: Jo Beverley
Publication: Berkley; Reprint edition (April 1, 2008)

Description: In these two delectable novels, someone craves to be married and loses sight of the joys of true love—until their heart is opened unexpectedly...

The Fortune Hunter: A stunning beauty rejects the charming suitor who isn't wealthy enough to save her impoverished family. But she can't so easily dismiss the memory of their sweet shared kiss.

Deirdre and Don Juan: The dashing Earl of Everdon is most eager to marry someone-anyone-who will bear him an heir. But when he meets a quiet, well-bred lady who fits the bill, he must resort to an amorous dance of deception to gain her acceptance to his proposal.

My Thoughts: The collected edition of two of Jo Beverley's early Regency romances was a nice reminder of how much fun Regency romances can be.

THE FORTUNE HUNTER (1991) tells about the romance between Amy de Lacy and Harry Crisp. Amy's family has fallen on hard times and she feels that it is up to her to better her family's situation. Amy is blessed, or cursed, with exceptional beauty. She finds it embarrassing to be stared at but decides to use her looks to marry a fortune. She gets caught in a storm on her way to the local nabob's house and finds herself taking shelter at the hunting lodge rented by Harry Crisp and two of his friends.

Harry is a wealthy young man who has recently begun to look for a wife because his father has been ill. He isn't, however, the flashy kind of wealthy which leads Amy to reject any kind of relationship with him. Her heart isn't so sure of her decision but she has decided to disregard it in favor of her head. We end up with a stubborn young woman who is determined to follow her plan despite the fact that her family wants her happiness and not her sacrifice. Harry and Amy have a lot of trials to go through before they reach their happy ending.

DEIRDRE AND DON JUAN (1993) plays with a different trope. Mark Renfew, Earl of Everdon, has a well-earned reputation as a Don Juan. The fact the he was abandoned by his wife who fled to Europe with a lover has kept him safe from marriage-minded mamas. But now he receives word that his wife has passed away and he wants to find a second wife on his own before he becomes the target of debutantes hunting for a husband and a fortune.

He decides to focus his attention on Lady Deirdre Stowe, daughter of the Earl of Harby, and an acquaintance of his mother who shares her interest in needlework. Deirdre is thin and plain and dealing with her mother's outrageous choices for her wardrobe which don't suit her at all.

Everything should be fine. Except Deirdre has already met a man that she would prefer to marry. She has a deal with her mother that she will be given permission to marry him if she doesn't receive an offer during her London Season. Don's proposal wrecks her plans but she can't turn him down according to the deal she made with her mother.

It doesn't take long for Don to fall in love with Deirdre but it isn't easy for him to convince her that he is the right man for her. I liked that the two of them share a sense of humor. I also liked that he saw all of Deirdre's strengths and loved her for them.

Favorite Quote:
A light flickered in his eyes. "You should never warn the enemy. Now I have only to capture your hands before assaulting you."

Deirdre's eyes didn't waver from his. "Then I will wait until I am free. I mean what I say, my lord. Kiss me again and I will hit you with all the power in my arm at the first occasion, even if it takes decades!"

He burst out laughing. "I am entranced! Imagine us, two decrepit specimens lingering at Bath, when you see your opportunity at last. You totter over to my side and tip me out of my Bath chair with a strong right. "

Despite her fury, a laugh escaped Deirdre. "I would not have to wait that long, I assure you."
I bought this one sometime before May 8, 2008. You can buy your copy here.