Thursday, March 30, 2017

review: gentlemen of the shade by jen sookfong lee

Jen Sookfong Lee was 15 when she and a friend skipped school to see My Own Private Idaho in the theater. She'd just purchased her first pair of Doc Martens and was immersing herself in alternative music; this was basically my life in the early 90s as well, so I found her assessments highly relatable. Throughout Gentlemen of the Shade, Lee explores the culture of the time, the reaction to My Own Private Idaho, the life of the actors and director, and how the movie affected her as well as the movie's role now two decades later. Lee writes, "There was an abundance of hypocrisy in the world around us. Before My Own Private Idaho, I was only dimly aware that this was true and was still, at least partially, a believer in the prettiness of the culture I had grown up in. After My Own Private Idaho? That was a whole different story." Her examination is thought-provoking and the analysis of the period is excellent.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publisher, ECW Press.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

review: lucky catch by deborah coonts

A stolen truffle might not seem like much, but in Lucky Catch by Deborah Coonts, it's a very sought after, expensive truffle and people are turning up dead. As always, Lucky finds herself at the center, but she cares even more this time as her new sort-of boyfriend disappears at the same time that someone is found dead at his restaurant. Coonts really ups the stakes for Lucky in this fifth book of the series both in terms of the crime and her love life (Lucky's former love is back and wants Lucky back). When all is revealed, Lucky's skill at thinking on her feet proves vital as she once again faces danger.
5/5
Review copy provided by the publicist, Kate Tilton.

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.