Friday, May 31, 2013

Friday Memes: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris


Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The 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.

This week I am indulging myself by choosing a book from my TBR mountain that I have been really eager to read. I chose Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris which is the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. I have been reading Sookie's story from the beginning and have mixed feelings about the series coming to a close. Here is the description:
THE FINAL SOOKIE STACKHOUSE NOVEL 

There are secrets in the town of Bon Temps, ones that threaten those closest to Sookie—and could destroy her heart....

Sookie Stackhouse  finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated.

Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.

But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…
Beginning:
The New Orleans businessman, whose gray hair put him in his fifties, was accompanied by his much younger and taller bodyguard/chauffeur on the night he met the devil in the French Quarter. The meeting was by prearrangement.
Friday 56:
"I was talking to my honey. I didn't hear you come in," she said chidingly. "What have you been up to? You over 'the flu'? I started to bring you a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle."

Thursday, May 30, 2013

ARC Review: The Spanish Revenge by Allan Topol

The Spanish Revenge
Author: Allan Topol
Publication: Vantage Point (September 1, 2012)

Description: Craig Page, the bold and daring EU Director of Counterterrorism, becomes the focal point of an effort to stop the feared terrorist Ahmed Sadi, whose goal is to provoke a Muslim uprising in Western Europe.  Ahmed, a Muslim fanatic born in Paris to parents who emigrated from Algeria, calls himself Musa Ben Abdil, after a Muslim hero from the Fifteenth Century War with Spain.  Page teams up once again the resourceful Elizabeth Crowder, a newspaper reporter who has also become his lover.  Ahmed’s plans become far more menacing when he is joined by Chinese General Zhou, who had been exiled to France for his devious actions inThe China Gambit.  With Zhou’s assistance, Ahmed’s plan is to launch a horrific attack on the heart of Christianity.  At the same time, Ahmed wants to retake militarily for Islam a portion of Southern Spain.  He relies upon a medieval parchment he claims to have uncovered, in which Queen Isabella on her death bed in 1504 ceded a portion of Southern Spain to the Muslims in perpetuity.  His one main obstacle: Page himself is hot on his trail, determined as ever to save the world from a master criminal.  From Spain to Morocco, and beyond to Italy, Page and General Zhou renew their battle, even as Ahmed plots his deadly revenge.

My Thoughts: In THE SPANISH REVENGE, Craig Page and his girlfriend Elizabeth have to thwart a plot to ignite violent conflict between Muslims and Christians in Europe. Our villain is Ahmed Sadi who has taken the name of an early Muslim hero/martyr named Musa Ben Abdil. However, the villain from THE CHINA GAMBIT—General Zhou—also makes an appearance combining forces with this book's villain.

While the text was readable, it could have used some editing because on more than one occasion different characters repeat the same sentiments using almost the same words. I was also dismayed when Craig's lover Elizabeth tells him something that he surely knew as though it were new information. 

I also had some issues with character development. I felt that most of the characters were two dimensional and generally unlikable. Many of the politicians, including the US President, were shown to be self-serving and/or corrupt. As a matter of fact, it was often difficult to tell the bad guys from the good guys. Of course that does free Craig to be the one who "saves the day" however illogical that would be. 

The story was action-packed with kidnappings, murders, bombs, attempted murder of the Pope, and armed invasion of Southern Spain by Muslims who want to retake the Alhambra. It was exciting—until you stopped to think about how unrealistic it all was. 

People who want a thriller for a beach read might enjoy this one. 

Favorite Quote:
"Perhaps I didn't make it clear." Giuseppe continued, "The man calling himself Musa Ben Abdil is determined to renew actively the war between Christians and Muslims in Europe. If he succeeds tomorrow in killing the Pope and damaging the Vatican, he will have achieved his goal. The Christina response against Muslim communities will be violent and severe. The will then respond in kind. Bloodshed and death among both religions will be horrendous. Surely, you don't want that to occur?"

"Of course not," the Cardinal said. "But canceling the Pope's appearance would mean surrendering to a terrorist. For that's what Ahmed Sadi is. To reward him with victory is unthinkable. The armies of the lord will not prostate themselves before this infidel."
I received this ARC from Meryl L. Moss Media Relations in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: The Spanish Revenge by Allan Topol

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • 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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


This week my teaser comes from a book that has been on the review stack for quite a while—The Spanish Revenge by Allan Topol. I got this unsolicited review copy at the beginning of January. Here is the description:
In The Spanish Revenge, the follow-up to The China Gambit, Craig Page, the daring director of the European Counterterrorism Agency, is faced with a nefarious plot by Ahmed Sadi, a Muslim fanatic, to exploit the age old conflict between Christians and Muslims. Craig again teams up with the good-looking and resourceful Elizabeth Crowder in an intricate tale of deadly revenge. Ahmed joins with Craig’s nemesis General Zhou, who killed Craig’s daughter, raising the personal stakes.
Teaser:
Musa reached into his desk drawer, pulled out a micro CD player and handed it to Yasir. "All you have to do is hold it up to the phone and press the play button."

Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

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.
Happy Memorial Day! I plan to spend the day reading and relaxing. What about you?
Here is what I read last week.
I finally got a chance to read Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. I was pleased with this conclusion to the long-running Sookie Stackhouse series. You can see my review on June 1.

I also read The Spanish Revenge by Allan Topol which had been sitting on my Review Stack for months. I was less satisfied with this thriller because of the cardboard characters and obvious political agenda. You can see my review on May 30.
The two YA books I read this week were also from my review stack and both were amazing books in their own unique ways.

Dare You To by Katie McGarry was a contemporary romance that matched two unlikely characters. The story was packed with emotion and long-buried secrets. My review will be posted on May 30.

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo is the middle book in the Grisha trilogy which is an epic fantasy. I loved the main character and empathized with the difficult decisions she had to make. My review will be posted on June 1.
Since I am writing this late Sunday morning and I just finished Siege and Storm, I haven't started my next book yet. Here is what is on the stack for this week:
Aberration by Lisa Regan is a thriller that was sent to me for review by the author. It was released on May 16 and is my last adult review book until August. 

Mortal Fire by Elizabeth Knox is a review book sent from Macmillan. This YA paranormal will be released on June 11.
I am finally going to be able to read a few books from my adult TBR mountain. These two have been sitting on my entertainment center for quite a while waiting for their opening. 

Cold Fire by Kate Elliott is the second book in a fantasy series. The third book is coming out soon.

Wolf with Benefits by Shelly Laurenston is a paranormal with shifters. It is also part of series of related books. I really enjoy Laurenston's quirky characters and humor.
These two June 11 releases are also sitting on the YA Review stack. 

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry came from Macmillan and is a mystery.

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal was a surprise in my mailbox and is a fantasy. 

The end is in sight for this school year. Because of the huge number of snow days we had this year, we still have eight days with students and then three teacher work days but, then, I will be heading off to my summer home for some reading and relaxing.
I'll have a couple of vacation weeks before returning here to pick up a friend and head off to my first ALA. Since I'm not an ALA member and mostly interested in connecting with publishers, I just bought an Exhibit Hall pass. 
I am excited about the trip for a number of reasons. I haven't ever attended an ALA or been to Chicago. We are still trying to decide if we want to go a couple of days early and do "touristy" stuff or just go for the weekend. What are some "must sees"?
Have a great week, everyone. Leave me a link to your Monday Report so that I can see what you did.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (May 26, 2013)

Tynga of Tynga's Reviews has a meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. Visit her site to check out the linky and see what everyone gets. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow.
Six books followed me home this week. I got:
I got Good As Gone by Douglas Corleone as May's eGalley from Minotaur Books. I liked the sound of this thriller which will be released on August 20.

Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill was a Kindle Daily Deal this week. I have the print book and have read it but wanted a copy for my Kindle.

I am also trying to complete my collection of Jeri Smith-Ready's books. These are all print books.
Voice of Crow by Jeri Smith-Ready is the second book in the Aspect of Crow series.

Lust for Life is the fourth in the WVMP Radio series.
The Reawakened is the final book in the Aspect of Crow series. 

Bring on the Night is the third book in the WVMP Radio series.

What did you get this week?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

ARC Review: Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel


Evidence of Life
Author: Barbara Taylor Sissel
Publication: Harlequin MIRA; Original edition (March 26, 2013)

Description: On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn't last forever…


As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey's hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.

When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.

With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother's love, a wife's obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.

My Thoughts: EVIDENCE OF LIFE was, literally, a book I couldn't put down. I know authors sort of cringe when the book they labored over for quite a long time is devoured in just a couple of hours by a reader. But, Ms. Sissel, your book is going to stay in my mind for quite a long time.

More than a mystery, this story explores a woman's guilt and grief. When Abby Bennett's husband and fifteen-year-old daughter head off to the Texas Hill Country for some camping, Abby's first thought is that she will get some alone time. But when pounding rain and thunderstorms cause flooding and when she gets a mysterious call from her daughter, things change for Abby.

Abby is determined to go to the Hill Country to find her husband and daughter. She goes to the home of her childhood best friend which has turned into rescue central and begins her search. When they aren't found and when the sheriff starts asking questions that indicate that her husband's disappearance may relate to some embezzled money, Abby doesn't know what to think.

Abby searches long past when others have given up. Her life is falling apart. What makes it worse is that everyone—her son, her best friend, the sheriff, her husband's colleagues—are keeping information from her because they think she isn't strong enough to handle it. 

Then a name and a fax number on a matchbook cover in one of her husband's jackets leads to answers that she would rather not have. 

This was an excellent story about a woman who was a homebody, who was quiet, who was not adventurous, finding the hidden strength within her that she needs to unravel the disappearance of her husband and daughter and who grows and changes in her search. While both her mother and mother-in-law are urging her to give up, to hold a memorial service, and to move on, Abby is determined to find her own sort of closure. 

Just a note: My ARC had book club discussion questions in the back that a reader might want to avoid until after they have finished the book. There are some spoilers there. 

Thoughtful readers will greatly enjoy this mystery and will love getting to know Abby Bennett as she deals with something no wife or mother should ever have to deal with.

Favorite Quote:
Abby began losing time. She would wake on the sofa assuming it was morning only to discover it was three o'clock in the afternoon, or she would find herself in the barn with no memory of having gone there. Every day she would try to follow a routine, but then she would come to and find herself balled up in a corner of Lindsey's room or standing outside the door of Nick's study, and her face would be wet with tears and she would not know how long she had been there. 
I received this ARC as a part of the blog tour. You can buy your copy here

Friday, May 24, 2013

Friday Memes: Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel


Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The 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.


This week I am spotlighting a book that has been on my review stack for quite a while. Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel was sent to me because I was on the blog tour for the book. My post was an excerpt and I didn't have a chance to read the book until now. The book was released on March 26. Here is the description:
On the last ordinary day of her life, Abby Bennett feels like the luckiest woman alive. But everyone knows that luck doesn't last forever…

As her husband, Nick, and daughter, Lindsey, embark on a weekend camping trip to the Texas Hill Country, Abby looks forward to having some quiet time to herself. She braids Lindsey's hair, reminds Nick to drive safely and kisses them both goodbye. For a brief moment, Abby thinks she has it all—a perfect marriage, a perfect life—until a devastating storm rips through the region, and her family vanishes without a trace.

When Nick and Lindsey are presumed dead, lost in the raging waters, Abby refuses to give up hope. Consumed by grief and clinging to her belief that her family is still alive, she sets out to find them. But as disturbing clues begin to surface, Abby realizes that the truth may be far more sinister than she imagined. Soon she finds herself caught in a current of lies that threaten to unhinge her and challenge everything she once believed about her marriage and family.

With a voice that resonates with stunning clarity, Barbara Taylor Sissel delivers a taut and chilling mystery about a mother's love, a wife's obsession and the invisible fractures that can shatter a family.
Beginning:
On the last ordinary day of her life before her family went off for the weekend, Abby made a real breadfast—French toast with maple syrup and bacon.
Friday 56:
She and Nick had planned the approach to the house deliberately in a way that would cause a driver to slow and take time to admire the view, but turning onto her street now, her stomach was in knots even as her head filled with ruthless, foolish hope.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

ARC Review: SEAL of Honor by Tonya Burrows


SEAL of Honor
Author: Tonya Burrows
Publication: Entangled Select (May 28, 2013)

Description: It’s a good thing Gabe Bristow lives and breathes the Navy SEAL credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” because today, his life is unrecognizable. When his prestigious career comes to a crashing halt, he’s left with a bum leg and few prospects for employment that don’t include a desk.

That is, until he’s offered the chance to command a private hostage rescue team and free a wealthy American businessman from Colombian paramilitary rebels. It seems like a good deal—until he meets his new team: a drunk Cajun linguist, a boy-genius CIA threat analyst, an FBI negotiator with mob ties, a cowboy medic, and an EOD expert as volatile as the bombs he defuses. Oh, and who could forget the sexy, frustratingly impulsive Audrey Van Amee? She’s determined to help rescue her brother—or drive Gabe crazy. Whichever comes first.

As the death toll rises, Gabe’s team of delinquents must figure out how to work together long enough to save the day. Or, at least, not get themselves killed. Because Gabe's finally found something worth living for, and God help him if he can’t bring her brother back alive.


My Thoughts: SEAL OF HONOR was an exciting and entertaining romantic suspense title. Gabe Bristow is a former Navy SEAL who has left the service because of severe injuries he got in a car accident. He is at loose ends and pondering his future plans. He knows he doesn't want the desk job his father, the General, has lined up for him but he isn't sure that he wants to turn into a mercenary either. When a friend offers him the job leading a team that does hostage rescues and has a hostage in mind, he agrees to give it a try.

The first problem Gabe faces is the herd of misfits that make up his team. They don't have time to work together to develop teamwork if they want to rescue wealthy American businessman Bryson Van Amee from the Colombian kidnappers who hold him.  An additional complication comes in the person of Bryson's younger sister Audrey Van Amee who is determined to help. She is a free-spirited artist and the complete opposite of Gabe's Type A personality. But sparks fly when they meet.

Gabe and Audrey's relationship grows while they are held hostage by two different groups of bad guys and despite Gabe's determination to keep things professional. Audrey shows courage and determination that wins him over.

The plot was nicely twisty, the characters interesting and well-developed, and the writing was smooth. Fans of romantic suspense will enjoy this story. I hope that Burrows has more adventures planned for this team. I want to learn more about the other characters.

Favorite Quote:
He turned to her. "Could you shoot a firearm and not hit me if the situation came down to that?"

"I was born and raised in the South, honey, but I'm no southern belle. I shoot what I aim at," she said in a tone so coated with sugar he was surprised her teeth didn't rot. Then she flashed a smile as bright as that sinful yellow tank top she wore. "But it's still up in the air whether I'll aim at you or not."
I received this PDF from a publicist at Entangled Publishing. You can buy your copy here

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Announcing: Bella Andre Launches New Career with Harlequin MIRA

Finally, for romance lovers who aren't ebook readers, Bella Andre's books will be in print! I took part in her blog tour for the ebook Sullivan series books this past January and loved them. Now they will finally be available in print.

Romance readers will find heart-warming and sexy contemporary romances about the seven Sullivan brothers and sisters. The series features one Sullivan finding their own true love in each title but each title also includes further looks at the lives of the other Sullivans.

After experiencing great success self-publishing her books, Bella signed a groundbreaking, seven-figure, print-only deal with Harlequin MIRA. Starting with THE LOOK OF LOVE in June, the rest of the series will appear at one month intervals.

You don't want to miss these. Check out my review here.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Teaser Tuesday: SEAL of Honor by Tonya Burrows

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • 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 and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

This week my teaser comes from SEAL of Honor by Tonya Burrows. I got this PDF from a publicist at Entangled Publishing. The book will be released on May 28. Here is the description:
It’s a good thing Gabe Bristow lives and breathes the Navy SEAL credo, “the only easy day was yesterday,” because today, his life is unrecognizable. When his prestigious career comes to a crashing halt, he’s left with a bum leg and few prospects for employment that don’t include a desk.

That is, until he’s offered the chance to command a private hostage rescue team and free a wealthy American businessman from Colombian paramilitary rebels. It seems like a good deal—until he meets his new team: a drunk Cajun linguist, a boy-genius CIA threat analyst, an FBI negotiator with mob ties, a cowboy medic, and an EOD expert as volatile as the bombs he defuses. Oh, and who could forget the sexy, frustratingly impulsive Audrey Van Amee? She’s determined to help rescue her brother—or drive Gabe crazy. Whichever comes first.

As the death toll rises, Gabe’s team of delinquents must figure out how to work together long enough to save the day. Or, at least, not get themselves killed. Because Gabe's finally found something worth living for, and God help him if he can’t bring her brother back alive.
Teaser:
"Tranquilo," Jacinto said, his voice warped by the mask but still as friendly as ever. Like he was talking about a futbol game. Or the traffic. Or the weather. "Let it happen, Se├▒or Van Amee. Go to sleep now. I won't hurt you. You're worth too much money."

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (May 20, 2013)


It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

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.

My reading week started slowly but I picked up speed at the end and managed to finish five books.
I read Of Triton by Anna Banks which is the sequel to Of Poseidon. It is a mermaid story that is enhanced by a wonderful main character. Emma is smart, articulate, and feisty. She is also half mermaid and torn between her mother who fled the undersea world and her boyfriend who wants to make her part of it. My review will be posted on May 25 for this May 28 release.

SEAL of Honor was a nice romantic suspense title. I liked the main characters very much and thought it was very suspenseful. My review will be posted on May 23 for this May 28 release.
The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross is the third book in her YA steampunk series and was an excellent adventure. I loved both the science fiction aspects and the romances in this one. My review is here for this May 28 release.

Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne is the sequel to Monument 14. It continues the story of the group of school children who took refuge in a superstore when massive hailstorms led to the release of chemical weapons that caused devastation. It is told from two points of view and was exciting and gripping. My review will be posted on May 23.
I couldn't put Evidence of Life by Barbara Taylor Sissel down. I was swept into this story of an ordinary woman who has to deal with extraordinary events. When her husband and daughter disappear during massive floods in the Hill Country of Texas, Abby Bennett has to find the strength and courage to try to find them and find out what happened. This was a heart wrenching exploration of grief. My review will be posted on May 25.
I have just begun an eARC that I have been really wanting to read—Dare You To by Katie McGarry. This is a contemporary romance. I loved Pushing the Limits when I read it and can't wait to dig into this one.

Next Week

I am still trying to catch up on review books.
Both my YAs this week are sequels. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo follows the very successful Shadow and Bone. I got this fantasy which mines Russian mythology from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. It will be released on June 4

The Pirate's Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke follows The Assassin's Curse. This eARC from NetGalley is also a fantasy which will be released on June 18.
I am finally going to be able to fit Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris into my reading schedule. I am so eager to read the conclusion to the Sookie Stackhouse series.

I also have The Spanish Revenge by Allan Topol on my review stack to read. This is a thriller that has been sitting on the stack for far too long. It was released on Sept. 1, 2012 but I didn't get it until Jan. 1.
The non-reading highlight of the week was my road trip to The Red Balloon on Wednesday evening when I got a chance to meet Jeri Smith-Ready and to learn more about her books and her social media presence. I had a great time!

What do you have planned for this week?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (May 19, 2013)

Tynga of Tynga's Reviews has a meme to spotlight the books we receive each week. Visit her site to check out the linky and see what everyone gets. I guarantee that your TBR pile will grow.

This week was a quiet one for adult books. I just got two.
I received a print copy of Bella Andre's From This Moment On for review. I read the ebook in January and really liked it. It will be released in print for the first time on June 25.

I also got The Human Division by John Scalzi which is a new story in his Old Man's War universe. I liked that series and am eager to see what happens next in this science fiction series. 

What did you get this week? 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

ARC Review: The Last Girl by Jane Casey


The Last Girl
Author: Jane Casey
Publication: Minotaur Books (May 21, 2013)

Description: Vast wealth offers London defense attorney Philip Kennford a lot of things: a gorgeous house with a pool in the backyard, connections in the top echelons of society, a wardrobe worthy of Milan runways. But his money doesn't provide a happy marriage, or good relationships with his twin daughters…and it does nothing to protect his family when someone brutally murders his wife and daughter in their own home.

When Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan arrives at the scene, the two survivors—Philip and his second favorite daughter, Lydia—both claim to have seen nothing, but it's clear right away that this is an unhappy family accustomed to keeping secrets. Maeve soon finds herself entangled in a case with a thousand leads that all seem to point nowhere, and it doesn’t help that her boss, whom she trusts more than almost anyone, is starting to make decisions that Maeve finds questionable at best.

In The Last Girl, Jane Casey once again demonstrates her ability to write vivid, three-dimensional characters and spin a gripping, unpredictable mystery.

My Thoughts: Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan and her partner Detective Inspector Josh Derwent are called to a double murder and find that the victims are the wife and daughter of defense attorney Philip Kennford. Kennford is well known to both of them and not at all well-liked. He is rather famous for getting his clients off whether or not they are guilty. Philip and Lydia, his other daughter, are both horrible witnesses. Derwent and Maeve are convinced that they are both keeping secrets.

Maeve and Derwent soon find themselves investigating dissatisfied clients with grudges and some of the many women that Kennford has slept with and abandoned. We are looking at an abundance of people who wanted Kennford dead but not necessarily his wife and daughter dead.

Maeve is also dealing with some relationship problems with her boyfriend Rob. Maeve has moved in with him to get away from a stalker but feels that she has jumped too fast into something she can't control. She is constantly second guessing herself. Rob, a former colleague, is now in a different section of the police and is being hit on by his superior. He hasn't shared this information with Maeve because he thought he could handle it. When someone sends suggestive pictures to Maeve, it feeds her suspicions about Rob and convinces her that she should end the relationship.

The characters are all well-drawn and well-rounded people. Derwent is sexist, abrasive, not at all politically correct, and willing to be on Maeve's side when the chips are down. I liked the relationship that they have. Maeve isn't going to let any of his rude comments upset her and she, respectfully, gives as good as she gets. 

Fans of police procedurals will enjoy the twists and turns of this well-written tale.

Favorite Quote:
"Can you remember the last time we tried to have sex in the shower?"

He winced. "Remember it? I'm still seeing a chiropractor."
I got this eARC from Minotaur Books' Early Reviewer program. You can buy your copy here.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday Memes: The Last Girl by Jane Casey

Happy Friday everybody!
Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The 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.

This week I am spotlighting The Last Girl by Jane Casey. I got this mystery through Minotaur Books' Early Reviewer program. It is the third in the Maeve Kerrigan series and will be the first one I have read. Here is the description of this May 21 release:
Vast wealth offers London defense attorney Philip Kennford a lot of things: a gorgeous house with a pool in the backyard, connections in the top echelons of society, a wardrobe worthy of Milan runways. But his money doesn’t provide a happy marriage, or good relationships with his twin daughters…and it does nothing to protect his family when someone brutally murders his wife and daughter in their own home.

When Detective Constable Maeve Kerrigan arrives at the scene, the two survivors—Philip and his second favorite daughter, Lydia—both claim to have seen nothing, but it’s clear right away that this is an unhappy family accustomed to keeping secrets. Maeve soon finds herself entangled in a case with a thousand leads that all seem to point nowhere, and it doesn’t help that her boss, whom she trusts more than almost anyone, is starting to make decisions that Maeve finds questionable at best.

In The Last Girl, Jane Casey once again demonstrates her ability to write vivid, three-dimensional characters and spin a gripping, unpredictable mystery.
Beginning:
She'd been swimming for almost an hour. Her legs felt weak, her arms heavy every time she lifted them out of the water into the night air that still shivered with the heat of the day.
Friday 56:
"Laura didn't stand up," I said quietly. "She didn't even know she was in danger. She knew her killer or she wasn't scared."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

ARC Review: The Caretaker by A. X. Ahmad

The Caretaker
Author: A. X. Ahmad
Publication: Minotaur Books (May 21, 2013)

Description: Who is the caretaker hiding in the shadows of the Martha’s Vineyard mansions he tends?

Back in India, Ranjit Singh commanded an elite army squad. But that was years ago, before his Army career ended in dishonor, shattering his reputation. Driven from his homeland, he is now a caretaker on the exclusive resort island of Martha’s Vineyard, looking after the vacation homes of the rich and powerful. One harsh winter, faced with no other choice, he secretly moves his family into the house of one of his clients, an African-American Senator. Here, his wife and daughter are happy, and he feels safe for the first time in ages. But Ranjit’s idyll is shattered when mysterious men break into the house. Pursued and hunted, Ranjit is forced to enter the Senator’s shadowy world, and his only ally is Anna, the Senator’s beautiful wife, who has secrets of her own. Together, they uncover a trail of deception that leads from the calm shores of the Vineyard to countries half a world away. And when his investigation stirs up long forgotten events, the caretaker must finally face the one careless decision that ruined his life- and forced him to leave India. 

A gripping tale of hidden histories, political intrigue and dangerous attractions, A. X. Ahmad's The Caretaker introduces a new hero for our times: an immigrant caught between two worlds and a man caught between two loves.

My Thoughts: THE CARETAKER was a wonderful suspense novel that was so well-written that I didn't even notice the prose because I was so involved in the story. Ranjit Singh is a Sikh and a disgraced army officer who has brought his family to the US to make a new life for them. But, after working unhappily in his wife's uncle's store, he has moved his family to Martha's Vineyard and become a landscaper. However, winter is coming, the jobs are ending, the house they are renting is falling apart, and his wife is sinking into depression. 

When the wife of a Senator he worked for during the summer offers him a caretaking job and leads to other jobs, he feels confident that they will survive the winter. But a series of break-ins makes the area dangerous. When the furnace in their rental house dies, he moves his family into the Senator's house. Then armed men break in searching for something and start a string of events that involve international politics and Singh's own past as a soldier in the Indian Army.

The story has a marriage that is breaking, an affair that has no future, clashes with Homeland Security and all sorts of dangers. Through it all Singh holds fast to the plan to save his family and shows both strength and honor. Singh is a well-rounded character. We learn about his past through the dreams and sometimes hallucinations he still has about the events that ended his army career.

Fans of suspense novels with unique main characters will really enjoy THE CARETAKER.

Favorite Quote:
"This place—" James gestures at the corridor. "—this whole place is full of men hiding from something. Druggies here, and plenty of ex-cons. But you, Captain, you're different. You show up with a turban and a beard, then it's gone. Now you have some sort of microfilm. And last night the elevator was working, so I went down. Tow men were in the lobby, asking the night manager questions. They showed him a picture, an old picture, but it was you, wearing an army uniform."
I got this eARC through Minotaur Books' Early Reviewer program. You can buy your copy here