Thursday, April 23, 2015

Aunt Dimity And The Summer King


Aunt Dimity and the Summer King
By Nancy Atherton
book received by publisher in exchange for fair review








Amazon Blurb - 
It’s June, the roses are in bloom, and the small English village of Finch may be in big trouble.  Two cottages are for sale, but something—or someone—is driving buyers away.  Has a developer targeted Finch?  Will property values skyrocket?  Will a wave of wealthy weekenders drive out the longtime locals?

Lori Shepherd has a lot on her plate—a brand-new baby daughter, her father-in-law’s impending nuptials, and a visit from her dreaded aunts-in-law—but she refuses to stand back and watch while big money destroys her beloved village.  Lori suspects that a local real estate agent is illicitly lining her pockets at Finch’s expense, but before she can prove it, she’s sidetracked by a chance encounter with eccentric inventor Arthur Hargreaves, dubbed the Summer King by his quirky family, is as warmhearted as the summer sun.  In his presence, Lori forgets her troubles—and Finch’s.

Lori snaps out of her happy trance when a series of unsettling discoveries shakes her faith in Arthur Hargreaves.  She stumbles across a detailed map of Finch in Hillfont Abbey.  An ancient feud between Finch and the Hargreaves family comes to light.  Arthur appears to be making secret deals with the shady realtor.  Is the Summer King as kind as he seems?

With Aunt Dimity’s otherworldly help—and her new baby girl in her arms—Lori mounts a crusade to save her village from the Summer King’s scorching greed.

*****

I just loved this wonderful cozy! This was my very first cozy and what a great way to start one. Aunt Dimity And The Summer King was delightful. Each character was so vibrant it was as if they were standing in front of me. What a lovely writing style Nancy has, smooth and descriptive without being tedious. As someone who really enjoys psychotic thrillers, this book surprised me and has me wanting more.

Lori Shepherd has been very busy. Her new baby girl, young twin boys, her father in law is getting married and his snotty wicked sisters are coming from America. Add empty cottages in her beloved town to her list of worries and she starts digging into the mystery as to why no one wants to move to her sweet Finch. A bit of snooping uncovers an ancient feud between Finch and the neighboring town of Tillcoate that all have been privy to but her. In the middle of this mix is the mysterious Arthur Hargreaves Lord of Hillfont Abbey who just may have a hand in keeping buyers away. Lori is on the case with some solid adivice from the beyond in her departed Aunt Dimity.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book! If you need a break from hard core thrillers, love quirky funny characters, and a bit of mystery do read Aunt Dimity And The Summer King!  

4 cannolis


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive, Jessica Knoll
Amazon Blurb - 

HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?
*****
*Fair and unbiased review given in exchange for ARC*

This book was great. It kept me going to the last page! Ani is a bold brash, ballsy, girl!

Ani (pronounced AHni) FaNelli has it all. Beautiful, awesome job at a great magazine, a handsome filthy rich fiance, lives in Tribeca, what more can a girl want right? Well, there's a storm brewing underneath Ani's well constructed facade. It's bubbling right there at the surface and it's taking all of her inner fortitude to keep it from not exploding. How bad? The first pages has her imagining sliding the kitchen knife she's deciding on (Wustof or Shun)  right into her fiance. Oh, she likes the Shun by the way.

And so we're introduced to a character that is complex to the nth degree. Every single aspect of her life is thought out, crafted, from what clothes she wears, the food she puts in her body, to the words she uses to speak to others. Oh yes friends, "Nice to meet you.", vs "Nice to see you.", can show your hand as to your real background in a flash.

Why? Who is Ani Fanelli and what has made her this way? Born TifAni FaNelli in a Philly suburb to a dad who she has no interaction with and a mother who is obsessed with labels, luxury cars and dreams of living in the high falootin Main Line. A silly indescretion as a 14 year old kid gets her taken out of her Catholic school and put into this "hoity toity" private school where she'll be hob knobbing with all the goober smoochers and where her life takes a drastic turn that will alter her forever.

Wow, this book takes you on a ride! It was absolutely exhausting trying to keep up with Ani. Every single aspect of her life was so planned I don't know how she could keep up with it. You feel for her and what she went through as a kid. You struggle with not hating her as an adult, she is razor sharp and will slice right through you, yet she is quite vulnerable under that sculpted exterior. Jessica has crafted quite the tale, her writing keeps you going, never getting tedious. You keep waiting for what's coming anticipating it with each page turned, get ready friends, climb aboard and enjoy the thrill that is the Luckiest Girl Alive.

4 cannolis





Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ask The Dark

Ask The Dark
Henry Turner, Netgally review













Amazon Blurb -

Billy Zeets has a story to tell. About being a vandal and petty thief. About missing boys and an elusive killer. And about what happens if a boy who breaks all the rules is the only person who can piece together the truth.
*****

Billy is a scrappy tough little kid. Dealt a real crappy hand with the death of his mother. His father is on  disability and pretty much a zero, he spends his day carousing the neighborhood doing odd jobs with some fellow townsfolk. His big sister informs him that they are losing their home so Billy takes it upon himself to try and earn money to stave off the inevitable. A daunting task but one he takes head on becoming more like the adult and his father the child.

When he discovers the body of a missing local boy he becomes a bit of a detective as well, telling no one that he stumbled upon the child first.  He starts piecing clues together bit by bit. All the while juggling little jobs here and there saving his money. When he gets too close to the truth Billy finds himself at risk and you get taken on a ride of suspense and danger as he tries to put it all together before he becomes the next victim

Told all in Billy's voice, you are literally there with him, running through yards, talking to friends, yelling at his dad. Great story, great thriller, I highly recommend it.

3 1/2 cannolis


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Bettyville



Bettyville: A Memoir 
By George Hodgeman
read and reviewed at request
of publisher 













Amazon Blurb -

When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will. Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.

As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town—crumbling but still colorful—to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair. Evocative of The End of Your Life Book Club and The Tender Bar, Hodgman’s New York Times bestselling debut is both an indelible portrait of a family and an exquisitely told tale of a prodigal son’s return.
*****

George Hodgman is a single man living in Manhattan, a writer and editor he worked for Vanity Fair frequented many of the "hot-spots" is an addict in remission. That he's gay seems to be more of a fixation and issue to him than to the story itself.

He travels home to Paris Missouri to care for his mother Betty who is suffering from the beginnings of dementia is in her 90's and sadly in the end stage of life. Not an easy task for this only child to tackle. Betty doesn't want to go to a home, she also doesn't want help. She is fiercely independent unwilling to lean on her son.  George tries in vain to just get her to accept his help but it's a brick wall. This story unfolds before your eyes, seeing Betty ask over and over, "What's that drink we have at Christmas? What's the capital of Portugal?" and her writing the answers down on her notepad of things to remember. Her repeated mantra of don't fall, don't fall as she walks. You ache for her as she fights to not slip away, and you feel for George struggling to do what's right by his mother. This is no easy task, one every child truly dreads having to face let alone when you have no siblings to share the burden. 

A sad story when you get to the crux of it, I have but one complaint, this book should have been called Georgetown not Bettyville. This story was more about him and his bitterness at never fitting in, being accepted for who he is. He zings back and forth from present to past. That he's from a hokey little town filled with traditional down home folksy people should be no shock to anyone that he's viewed as the odd one. I kept waiting for this spitfire to show her face and it never came but for a couple of little quips from Betty such as "they still make that?" when George cooked tuna casserole for her. 

It was an ok book, not great, not terrible, just ok. If you can handle what is in my opinion a sad tale, do read.

*Book received by the publisher in return of fair unbiased review.


2 1/2 cannolis



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blackberry Winter

Blackberry Winter
By Sarah Jio
February Book Club Choice













Amazon Blurb -
Seattle, 1933. Vera Ray kisses her three-year-old son, Daniel, goodnight and reluctantly leaves for work. She hates the nightshift, but it’s the only way she can earn enough to keep destitution at bay. In the morning—even though it’s the second of May—a heavy snow is falling. Vera rushes to wake Daniel, but his bed is empty. His teddy bear lies outside in the snow. 

Seattle, present day. On the second of May, Seattle Times reporter, Claire Aldridge, awakens to another late-season snowstorm. Assigned to cover this “blackberry winter” and its predecessor decades earlier, Claire learns of Daniel’s unsolved abduction and vows to unearth the truth—only to discover that she and Vera are linked in unexpected ways.
*****

Vera Ray is a devoted single mom trying so hard to eek out a living in the harsh early 30's. Her sweet three year old boy Daniel has to stay home alone while she goes to work at the night-shift. A crazy late snowstorm has hit Seattle and Vera leaves for work in the middle of it. When she returns home her baby boy is gone. And so starts a tragic nightmare for this woman.

Claire Aldridge is drowning in sorrow. Each day is a chore. She and her husband are drifting apart and she can't seem to stop it. When she wakes to a crazy May snowstorm, her job as a reporter for the Seattle Times calls her to duty. Report about this and the previous crazy Blackberry Winter as it's been dubbed. The story takes her on a journey to the past and the mystery of Daniel's disappearance and the tragic story of Vera. The connections to her own life open her eyes and ultimately her heart that she has closed off.

Will Claire be able to put the pieces of her life and marriage back together?

I loved this book, Sarah is truly a master of blending the past and present seamlessly. I so enjoy turning each page wondering as any fan of Jio will, "Ok, where's the connection? Who's it gonna be?" Your heartstrings are tug, sometimes you want to shake the protagonist, but you're never disappointed. Another wonderful story that a highly recommend! 

4 cannolis


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Unbecoming


Unbecoming by Rececca Scherm 
*book received in return for fair review
Amazon Blurb -

On the grubby outskirts of Paris, Grace restores bric-a-brac, mends teapots, re-sets gems. She calls herself Julie, says she’s from California, and slips back to a rented room at night. Regularly, furtively, she checks the hometown paper on the Internet. Home is Garland, Tennessee, and there, two young men have just been paroled. One, she married; the other, she’s in love with. Both were jailed for a crime that Grace herself planned in exacting detail. The heist went bad—but not before she was on a plane to Prague with a stolen canvas rolled in her bag. And so, in Paris, begins a cat-and-mouse waiting game as Grace’s web of deception and lies unravels—and she becomes another young woman entirely.
*****

Grace is a young girl looking for a place to feel wanted.  Riley and his family did that perfectly for her. She was the daughter Doctor and Mrs. Graham never had. She and Riley were inseparable, his mom even set up a room for her. Part of a threesome that includes Riley's best buddy Alls, they all hangout together growing up in this southern town. The two's relationship blossoms into a romance at a relatively young age, but the dynamic of the threesome doesn't change.  

Told all through Grace's voice, we go on a trip through her life. We travel back and forth from the past to the present. From a young little girl who feels unwanted by her mother and then left out when twin brothers are born, to a teen getting ready to head off to college. There's one thing, Grace is a liar who also has a penchant for stealing. And so begins the plan to rob the town's historic museum.  

The heist goes bad quick landing Riley and  Alls in prison for three years.Grace goes on the run, now in Paris living as Julie working in a shop restoring antiques, hiding in hopes they never find her. Monitering the local paper through the internet for any info on their release, when the day finally comes, she is always looking over her shoulder. How it all unfolds was quite a surprise.

I liked this book.  I never really warmed up to neither Grace nor Riley, so I can see the comparison to Gone Girl, though I did find myself hurting for her more than once. Ms.Scherm has a great writing style. Going from the past to the present seamlessly it wasn't at all stilted. The only negative is that I didn't find it to be a real thriller in the sense of heart pounding action. Other than that, I recommend this book for a good read.

3 1/2 cannolis


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Cold Cold Heart


Cold Cold Heart
Tami Hoag
Netgalley Review















Amazon Blurb -

Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims. Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional,and psychological scars run deep. Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together. But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school. Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past. Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies. Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…

*****

Dana Nolan is a fighter.  She never thought of herself as one. The pretty popular blond girl who dated the high school football player, she was on her way to success.  A new reporter just getting started, when she's kidnapped by a sick killer who tortures and rapes her before trying to finish her off. Dana is the only survivor of this monster.   

After a year of convalescing and therapy she is headed back to her childhood home. Certainly not the happy go lucky gal any longer, she categorizes herself as "before Dana" and "after Dana".  She is struggling with PTSD, as well as a brain injury which results in her having no memory of the incident let alone if she shut the water or how to even navigate the home she grew up in.  Family and friends are strangers to her now.  

Police are wanting to talk to her about the possibility of her kidnapper also having something to do with her best friend from childhood, Casey Grant's disappearance. As she tries to recall what happened that last day the two were together, disturbing pieces start coming back.  Dana is finding she feels she can't trust anyone.  Solving this mystery may just be her undoing.    

This was a great book!  First time reading Tami, and I loved it.  I was trying to figure it out all the way to the end. If I have but one critique, it was Detective Hardy.  I know he was supposed to be rough and gruff, but I found him a bit to hard on Dana knowing full well the atrocities she endured. Read this book people if you love to be on the edge of your seat and guessing to the end!

 4 cannolis


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