Friday, March 24, 2017

review: mangrove lightning by randy wayne white

Doc Ford and his friend Tomlinson are mixed up in another bizarre case in Mangrove Lightning, the 24th book in Randy Wayne White’s Doc Ford series. This one involves a family curse and the horrific abuse of a kidnapped young woman. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t read the books that came before this one, but Mangrove Lightning felt disjointed with pieces of the narrative seemingly missing, especially regarding the family curse aspect. The most interesting part came in when a connection was made to crimes of the past, but there was little development there.
3/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, FSB Associates.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

review: follow me down by sherri smith

Follow Me Down marks Sherri Smith’s debut as a thriller novelist (she previously wrote historical fiction)—it is a novel that the word “amazing” does not due justice. A pharmacist with a pill problem, Mia Haas must return to her small North Dakota hometown when her twin brother disappears after being accused of murdering one of his high school students. Mia believes Lucas is innocent and feels the police aren’t investigating other possibilities, so she takes it upon herself to do so with the assistance of Adderall and other drugs. The small town politics (the murdered girl is from a wealthy family while the Haas twins grew up poor not knowing the identity of their father) combined with high school gossip and family secrets make this a murder mystery with high stakes and plenty of twists.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Forge.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

review: never let you go by chevy stevens

In this stunning thriller with an unexpected ending, Chevy Stevens uses time-shifting to create the highly plausible scenario in which Lindsey Nash fell in love with and then escaped an abusive man only to have to worry about him again after his release from prison and reconnection with the daughter Lindsey tried to shelter from the abuse. Although she rebuilt her life, Lindsey is completely shaken by her ex-husband's contact, especially when he creepily leaves a CD of songs from their wedding on her car. And it's not just little things like that--someone breaks into the house and even poisons the dog. Lindsey fought for her life once, but now it seems she'll need to do it all over again. Never Let You Go is a rollercoaster of emotions where the twists never stop.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, St. Martin's Press.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

review: revenge of the evil librarian by michelle knudsen

To save her friends, Cyn had to make a deal with a demon in The Evil Librarian. In the thrilling Revenge of the Evil Librarian, one part of that deal gets called in as Cyn encounters more demons while at theatre camp with her boyfriend, Ryan. But it’s not just demons that Cyn must battle this time because a female friend of Ryan’s is at camp and she seems to be moving in on Ryan. There’s plenty of drama in this sequel, but Cyn comes across as less confident and a lot more whiny which detracts from her awesomeness as a demon-fighter.
4/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Candlewick.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

review: seeking mr. wrong by natalie charles

Part comedy and part romance, Seeking Mr. Wrong by Natalie Charles is downright fabulous. Kindergarten teacher Lettie has a great side career going as a picture book author—at least she did; her publisher has been sold to a publisher of erotica and Lettie’s contract specifies another book! (That part seemed a little far-fetched—surely she’d be let out of the contract under such circumstances.) Lettie decides to give erotica a try, which means lots of research including some of the hands-on variety. Lettie doesn’t have a boyfriend having been dumped by her fiancĂ©, so she sets about finding a man to get some experiences for her new novel. Through a set of fun circumstances that man winds up being the new vice principal at her school. But what if Lettie develops actual feelings for her Mr. Wrong? With plenty of witty dialogue and brilliant scenes, Seeking Mr. Wrong is oh so very right.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Books.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

review: missing man by barry meier

In Missing Man: The American Spy Who Vanished in Iran, Barry Meier details the life of Robert Levinson from his days as an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to how he came to disappear in Iran in 2007. Unfortunately some of those details are still not known as Levinson remains missing. Without some sort of revelation as to Levinson’s status now, Missing Man felt unfinished but Meier does an excellent job of pulling together multiple sources to reveal Levinson’s likely role as a contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency. Meier writes that Levinson was not on an officially sanctioned mission, but was in Iran to gather intelligence (the specifics of which are unclear, but Levinson’s cover story of investigating counterfeit cigarettes is clearly false given the information Meier shares). Missing Man is a meaty book that paints a picture of the real man behind the spy headlines.

About the audiobook: There are a lot of details and names in Missing Man that make the audio format less than ideal—it would’ve been nice to be able to go back to reference previous instances of a person’s appearance in the narrative. Ray Porter narrates with a level tone that works for this journalistic accounting of events. The audio version runs 8.5 hours and was published by HighBridge in May 2016.
4/5
Review copy provided by Audiobook Jukebox. For more information: http://www.helpboblevinson.com/

Monday, February 13, 2017

feaure: jen lancaster

Back in 2011 and 2012, I wrote about book signings held by Jen Lancaster (twice), Meg Cabot, and Ally Carter for a now-defunct site. Since those posts are no longer available, I'm sharing them here. Below is the second one about Jen Lancaster visiting the Seattle area. It first appeared June 2012.

When an author with the popularity of Jen Lancaster comes to town, Third Place Books just outside Seattle always moves the book signing to the larger Commons area that features a stage and plenty of seating. Even so, there were only a few empty seats as Lancaster answered questions for nearly an hour before moving on to the book signing portion of the evening.


The ever-amusing Lancaster talked about her pets (of course) and upcoming books amongst other topics like reality TV (she does enjoy Ice Loves Coco) and books by others (Fifty Shades of Grey came up, but she didn't elaborate much). Next out will be The Tao of Martha detailing her attempt to follow the edicts of Martha Stewart. Her struggles to make varied crafts and recipes sounded hilarious, especially as she related the Easter celebration that went so very wrong. Who knew Easter eggs shouldn't be hidden well before the kids arrive on a hot, sunny day! She noted that her next work of fiction will clearly be fiction (unlike If You Were Here which seemed inspired by her own house-hunting adventures) because she realized how distracting it is to read a book that might be the author's real life after reading Bethenny Frankel's Skinnydipping. The next novel should be released in early 2013 and is said to be about high school girls, time travel, and the band White Snake.