Monday, December 10, 2018

The Perfect Girl

Fiction by Gilly MacMillan
In this story, a seventeen-year-old named Zoe and her mother Maria are trying to rebuild their lives after a tragedy. Maria has married a new man who doesn't seem to be aware of their dark past, and she'd like to keep it that way. Zoe calls their new life the Second Chance Family. But of course, secrets can catch up with you...

This was a very exciting thriller!!

I also read recently by this author: What She Knew

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Stormchasers

Fiction by Jenna Blum.

I don't know anything much about stormchasing, except what I gleaned from watching the movie Twister twenty years ago. Generally I figured that stormchasers must be crazy people, to be honest. It was interesting to learn a bit about the subject in this story.

In this book, Charles and Karena are a pair of boy/girl twins in their thirties with a history of obsession with storms, although in different ways. He loves chasing them and she is terrified of them, and the two are estranged. Karena longs to find Charles and repair the rift between them, but it seems that Charles may not want to be found.

This was a great story about these characters and their complicated relationship. along with some excitement from the stormchasing. Good book!

I also read by this author: Those Who Save Us

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Lost Innocents

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

This was an exciting thriller that begins with the kidnapping of an infant and his 15-year-old babysitter. There is also a young couple with a three-year-old who have had some legal troubles that they hope are over.

The story was very good and I liked the characters a lot. There were several surprises!

I also read recently by this author: Cast into Doubt

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Chosen People

Fiction by Robert Whitlow.

This is, like other books by Robert Whitlow that I've read, a Christian legal thriller. It's complex but very good.

The story is about a young Israeli lawyer who lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. She works in international law and gets involved in some interesting business involving terrorism in her homeland.

A very exciting book!

I also read recently by this author: A House Divided

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Party

Fiction by Robyn Harding.

This book gave me a little bit of Oh-No-I-Can't-Look Syndrome. * 

At the beginning of the story, Jeff and Kim's daughter Hannah was turning sixteen and she was having a sleepover in the basement with a few friends. Well, that should be okay, right?

Except Jeff thought it was okay to give the girls a bottle of champagne to share. And Hannah thought it was a good idea to pilfer her parent's vodka and hide it under a sofa cushion.  AND every guest had apparently been tasked with bringing some kind of alcohol or drugs.

It did NOT turn out to be okay.

The story was pretty good, but I had some trouble reading about these people and the bad things that just kept happening even though it seemed like they could have tried harder to avoid them. The ending was not what I expected either. Still, it was interesting.

*That's when you know a main character is making a major error in judgement that's going to have huge and terrible consequences.(see  Saving Grace by Jane Green)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Cast Into Doubt

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

This story starts out with a convenience-store robbery and then shifts to a woman babysitting her preschool-aged grandson while the child's parents go on a cruise for a much-needed break. Almost immediately the second storyline becomes absorbing enough for the reader to forget the first, until they intersect once again... But the connection is not quite what you think.

This was an exciting thriller!

I also read recently by this author: Stolen in the Night

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Spark of Light

Fiction by Jodi Picoult.

This book was quite a page-turner, as well as being the good character story I'd expect from Jodi Picoult.  It's about a shooting at an abortion clinic, which is rather a terrible subject, but this author specializes in making such things readable and accessible.

This was a really good book; my only little problem with it was that I felt a few (less important) things were left unresolved at the end.

I also read recently by this author: Small Great Things

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Sweet Little Lies

Fiction by Caz Frear.

Cat Kinsella is a police detective in London with a conflicted past. When she was eight, her family had been on holiday in Ireland when a teenage girl disappeared, and Cat is sure her dad knew something about it. So she passive-aggressively ruins her relationship with dad over this incident but never confronts him about it (weirdly, I thought). Then it all comes up again when she is working on a murder case, although you get the impression that it's all come up for Cat many times before...

This story was interesting and I was surprised by the ending, but I wouldn't say I couldn't put it down.

Monday, November 19, 2018

The Man From St. Petersburg

Fiction by Ken Follett.

This story, set just before World War I, was an interesting character novel, in addition to being an exciting spy thriller.

I also read recently by this author: The Key to Rebecca

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Key to Rebecca

Fiction by Ken Follett.

This is a spy story set during World War II. It was pretty good, but not as good as others I've read by this author. I think this is one of his earlier novels.

I also read recently by this author: Night Over Water

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Last Mrs. Parrish

Fiction by Liv Constantine.
This thriller started out interesting; it was about a terrible girl called Amber who was plotting to steal another woman's husband while pretending to be her friend. I was enjoying the story, hoping Terrible Amber would get what was coming to her, and then came an exciting twist in the middle!

It's a very good novel by a pair of sisters who are co-writers. Read it!!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Stolen in the Night

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

In this exciting thriller, a very nice family is camping at the lake when one of their daughters is cruelly abducted and murdered. The killer is caught and sent to the electric chair, and the family tries to move on.

Except what if they'd executed the wrong man?

I also read recently by this author: Sisters

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Mrs. Pollifax, Innocent Tourist

Fiction by Dorothy Gilman.

Number thirteen in the Mrs. Pollifax series, this fun mystery takes the reader to Jordan on a secret mission.

I also read recently by this author: Mrs, Pollifax and the Lion Killer

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Mrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer

Fiction by Dorothy Gilman.

This is the direct sequel to Mrs Pollifax, Pursued, and number twelve in the Mrs. Pollifax series.

Just like the other books in the series, this is a fun read with exciting things happened in exotic places: in this case, Africa.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Summer Girls

Fiction by Mary Alice Monroe.

This was nice light read about three half-sisters who visit their grandmother at her beach house in South Carolina.

I enjoyed reading it. It's the beginning of a series, apparently, but I'm not sure if I'll follow up with the next book.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018


Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

In this exciting story, Alex makes a discovery after her parent's death: she has a sister she had never known about before. Her lawyer offers to find the girl for her, but warns that she may not like what he finds....

I also read recently by this author: Missing Child, I See You

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird

Fiction by A.J. Pearce.

I loved this book! Just an adorable Plucky Gal in 1940's Britain Story. The only problem I had was the cover; I may be unfairly prejudiced against this particular shade of mustard, however. I would  have used a black and white photo with red accents I think.

But I digress.

This is apparently the author's first novel. I really enjoyed it!

Friday, October 26, 2018

I See You

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

At the beginning of this story, Hannah and Adam are pretending to be Anna and Alan, a regular couple. They are living "off the grid" in a crowded city, trying to make ends meet on small salaries at jobs they can find without references.

But then their secret identities are compromised by a chance event, and the reason they are hiding may get blown wide open!

This was an exciting thriller with several surprises.

I also read recently by this author: Missing Child

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Social Creature

Fiction by Tara Isabella Burton
Lavinia is New York girl on hiatus from Yale with a magnetic personality and an allowance from her parents. She is also rather a terrible person. Louise, her new best friend, is also pretty awful, but, being rather less fun and much poorer, she has to hide it more.

Their friendship is kind of a recipe for disaster, but, like the proverbial train wreck you can't look away from, it makes kind of a fascinating read as long as you don't mind how rotten these characters all are.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Shape of Snakes

Fiction by Minette Walters,

I recently read a new book by this author that I really liked (see The Last Hours) and I wanted to read some of her other novels. I knew that the author's previous books had been different from the new one; the new story was historical fiction and Minette Walters was apparently previously known for mystery fiction. So I didn't expect this novel to be like the other one... but still...

This book was really different from what I expected. The main character, who for some reason has no first name given, is suffering from a full-on case of Hell-Bent Syndrome.* I mean, she is so DETERMINED to find the person responsible for a murder that everyone thinks is an accident that she spends over TWENTY YEARS on the case. Seriously.

Usually I don't really care for Hell-Bent Syndrome (Short definition: when a character is so wrapped up in solving a mystery that ain't none of their business that they drive everyone insane, often including the reader) but in this case, it was just part of her back story. She'd been obsessed so long that it almost made sense.

But the plot and the resolution were not as absorbing as I'd hoped. Maybe the problem was how very miserable everyone in the story was. I didn't much like any of them.

Still, It was a pretty good mystery, and I was surprised to learn who the killer really was.

*Hell-Bent Syndrome

(See Come Home by Lisa Scottoline)

This is where the protagonist spends the majority of the book Hell-Bent on solving/getting to the root of whatever the problem of the story is (to the exclusion of everything else in his/her life), while EVERYONE else tells him/her to STOP IT. Many times this path involves the main character getting (or coming perilously close to being) fired, evicted, divorced, disowned, and/or bankrupted, all in pursuit of the elusive TRUTH that he/she is SURE is about to be found.

In real life, this would land our friend the protagonist straight in the looney bin. Think about it: When EVERYONE else's version of reality is the polar opposite of yours, that is called, "You're crazy, dude." (In layman's terms.) But not in the world of the Thriller Novel.

In the Thriller Novel, the sufferer of Hell-Bent syndrome is inexplicably and against all odds proven right in the end, and gets to say "I told you so!" to all the nay-sayers in his/her life who thought he/she was nuts. And then he/she magically recovers everything lost during the downward-spiral portion of the story, like the proverbial country song played backwards. ("You get your wife back, your truck back, your job back...")

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Missing Child

Fiction by Patricia MacDonald.

Caitlin has a secret from her past that she doesn't want her husband to know, but when their six-year-old son disappears, it starts to come out!

This was an exciting thriller with a surprise ending.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Mama Might Be Better Off Dead

Subtitled: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America
Nonfiction by Laurie Kaye Abraham.

Published in 1994, this story of the "failure of health care in urban America" is a bit out of date. Still, I doubt the health care system of 2018 is markedly better, to be honest.

There are so many factors involved in health care legislation that I wonder if it's even possible to "fix" it at this point. The health insurance system alone (both public and private) is a money and power giant that I don't see caving anytime soon to being streamlined or regulated.

So in a way, reading this book was kind of a waste of my time, if we are talking about finding a way to actually solve this huge problem that's been growing for oh-these-many-years. In general, this is why I dislike "political" books: they spend pages and pages on The Problem without ever offering a viable solution.

But what interested me in picking up this book in the first place was the story of a family. The author followed a specific "poor" family in Chicago with chronic health problems (the husband had kidney failure, the old grandmother had uncontrolled diabetes, the father was also disabled, and the poor woman who had to take care of all of them was raising three kids) and reported on how they personally navigated the convoluted setup of public health care. So I was interested in learning about these people and their lives.

The thing that struck me while reading this was, although the Health Care System is a problem I can't by any means solve, or even really understand, it was individual people who really made a difference in this family's lives. There was mentioned one doctor, one social worker, and one intern in the sea of health care workers that this family had to deal with who genuinely tried to connect and care as best they could. And interestingly, these were described as religious people, including an Orthodox Jew and Catholic nun.

So I'm taking that as inspiration when face with The Unsolvable: just to do what I can to care and connect with people.

I'm pretty sure that's not the point the author intended, but...

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mrs. Pollifax Pursued

Fiction by Dorothy Gilman.

This is book number eleven in the Mrs. Pollifax series; I just found it at the library book sale and remembered how I'd enjoyed the Mrs. Pollifax books in the past. I got the next couple of books in the series to read too.

These are fun mysteries about an old lady who goes to work for the CIA, with her only (seeming) advantage being that she is last type of person one would expect might be a spy. Start with book #1 if you are interested, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax.

I also read by this author: Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Fiction by Caroline Kepnes.
This was a dark thriller that was a little TOO dark for me.

The plot was compelling and the characters well-written, but I didn't like them at all. It's pretty obvious from the beginning, so I don't think it's a spoiler to say this a stalker story. It's written from the point of view of the psycho-predator-guy, so the reader gets way into his head (again, a little TOO dark), but it's hard to identify with him, or even with his victim(s).

It's a good enough book, but I didn't really like it. Still, I can't give a thumbs-down if it kept my attention so... well...

I also read recently by this author: Providence