Friday, February 28, 2014

Jenn's Review: Spying in High Heels

Author: Gemma Halliday
Series: High Heels, #1
Publication Date: July 1, 2006
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 250
Obtained: purchased
Genre:  Cozy Mystery
Rating: 3.5
Bottom Line: Farfetched but enjoyable
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Just get it at the library...
 Blurb:  L.A. shoe designer, Maddie Springer, lives her life by three rules: Fashion. Fashion. Fashion. But when she stumbles upon the work of a brutal killer, her life takes an unexpected turn from Manolos to murder. And things only get worse when her boyfriend disappears - along with $20 million in embezzled funds - and her every move is suddenly under scrutiny by the LAPD's sexiest cop. With the help of her post-menopausal bridezilla of a mother, a 300 pound psychic and one seriously oversexed best friend, Maddie finds herself stepping out of her stilettos and onto the trail of a murderer. But can she catch a killer before the killer catches up to her...

Review:  Looking for something light to read, I settled on Spying in High Heels which has been on my Nook for a while now.  While the story was a little past plausible, it was cute and fun which is what I was looking for --imagine a toned down Stephanie Plum with Ranger and Morelli rolled into one cop.

I fell in easily with the characters, although Maddie did make me want to shake her on more than one occaision.  However I found her involvement in the case and with sexy LAPD officer Jack to be highly improbable.  Maddie's investigative skills leave a lot to be desired in the common sense area, but she seems to have good instincts for the truth. That put aside, the case was solid and kept me invested while the romantic intrigue between Jack and Maddie was enjoyable.   

I'm not sure how it will work as a series because I can't imagine a reason for her to be involved in another case.  Will I continue the High Heel series?  I think so; it's always nice to have a amusing, easy read on hand, but it will probably be from the library... or when the next ebook goes on sale.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Jenn's Review: The Mark of Athena

Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, #3
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Pages: 574
Obtained: purchased
Genre: YA Fantasy, mythology
Rating: 4.5
Bottom Line: Percy & Annabeth reunited
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Blurb:  Annabeth is terrified. Just when she's about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo's fantastical creation doesn't appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that's only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth's biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he's now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare...

Review:  Until I started this series, I didn't realize how much I love Annabeth and Percy as a couple.  Since they've been separated, I've been waiting for the reunion, and in The Son of Neptune Rick Riordan takes us right to the cusp... and ends the book.  I just couldn't leave things unresolved, so I decided to read just the first few chapters of The Mark of Athena, but Rick Riordan pulled me in again and I couldn't set it down.

First, I have to say that the reunion was worth the wait.  As the two camps meet, tensions run high and disaster strikes.  The seven from the prophecy take off on their quest leaving chaos discord in their wake.  We've gotten to know all seven demigods on the quest, but this is the first time they are all together and it's an awkward situation.  The Roman and Greek demigods have to learn, not only to trust each other, but to work together.  This is especially difficult for Jason and Percy who are used to being in charge.  Add in some jealousy over abilities and a few love twist and it gets complicated pretty quickly.  However, seven demigods are too conspicuous to be seen all together so as they go on mini-quests together they learn to appreciate and trust one another.

There are plenty of wonderful scenes between all of the demigods, but some fabulous scenes for Annabeth and Percy, not just the reunion.  The epic crescendo has been building for years for these two and it's wonderful to see them finally be open and honest with each other.  Now they know beyond a doubt that they can both go it alone, but that it is so much better when they are a team.  

Continuously changing the voice of the narration can be literary suicide, but Rick Riordan pulls it off with ease.  It helps that each adventure switches to a different character's point of view.  Without backtracking, Riordan makes it clear where everyone stands on what has taken place thus far up through the narration switch. Honestly, the story wouldn't work as well if it were told from one point of view.  

One of the reasons I only wanted to read a few chapters of this books was because the final book, The Blood of Olympus, won't be published until October.  Things are left precariously as The Mark of Athena comes to a close, but I won't be pushing through to The House of Hades because I'm sure as the penultimate book it will have an even bigger cliff hanger that will make waiting until October torturous.  Maybe I'll just have to read Rick Riordan's Egyptian series The Kane Chronicles to pass the time...


Monday, February 24, 2014

Jenn's Review: The Son of Neptune

Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, book #2
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Pages: 513
Obtained: purchased
Genre: YA Fantasy, mythology
Rating: 4.5
Bottom Line: Percy's back!
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 Blurb:  Percy is confused. When he awoke from his long sleep, he didn't know much more than his name. His brain fuzz is lingering, even after the wolf Lupa told him he is a demigod and trained him to fight with the pen/sword in his pocket. Somehow Percy manages to make it to a camp for half-bloods, despite the fact that he has to keep killing monsters along the way. But the camp doesn't ring any bells with him. The only thing he can recall from his past is another name: Annabeth 

Hazel is supposed to be dead. When she lived before, she didn't do a very good job of it. Sure, she was an obedient daughter, even when her mother was possessed by greed. But that was the problem — when the Voice took over her mother and commanded Hazel to use her "gift" for an evil purpose, Hazel couldn't say no. Now because of her mistake, the future of the world is at risk. Hazel wished she could ride away from it all on the stallion that appears in her dreams. 

Frank is a klutz. His grandmother says he is descended from heroes and can be anything he wants to be, but he doesn't see it. He doesn't even know who his father is. He keeps hoping Apollo will claim him, because the only thing he is good at is archery — although not good enough to win camp war games. His bulky physique makes him feel like an ox, especially infront of Hazel, his closest friend at camp. He trusts her completely — enough to share the secret he holds close to his heart. 

Beginning at the "other" camp for half-bloods and extending as far as the land beyond the gods, this breathtaking second installment of the Heroes of Olympus series introduces new demigods, revives fearsome monsters, and features other remarkable creatures, all destined to play a part in the Prophesy of Seven.

Review:  I just couldn't help diving right into this after The Lost Hero.  Rick Riordan has pulled out all the stops for this series, and it's so hard to stop reading.  Plus, it was wonderful to have Percy back, even if he was on his own.

Seeing Percy out of his element was difficult.  I missed Percy while reading about Annabeth in The Lost Hero, but she wasn't around too much.  But reading an entire book about Percy without Annabeth just seemed ...wrong.  I was glad that the memory Juno/Hera left him with his memory of Annabeth.  I was a little afraid she wouldn't because Hera and Annabeth certainly have a bad trackrecord and the godess can be cruelly vengeful. Still the goddess knew Percy needed something to keep fighting for, and that is certainly Annabeth.  

Camp Jupiter is so different then Camp Half Blood that it serves as a great distraction... and I won't spoil it by saying anymore than that.  Of course, Percy falls in with the misfits immediately.  Hazel is an interesting child of Hades... er, Pluto.  Her gifts are quite different than Nico's and it was hard to see how she was going to fit in on the quest.  Frank is not only a misfit, but he has yet to really come into his powers making him an unlikely hero.  Together with Percy they are sent on an impossible quest, and though Frank is in charge, it is Percy who assumes the leadership role naturally.  As things progress, I learned to appreciate Frank and Hazel; it is hard not to after they come into their own fighting alongside Percy, but their presence was a constant reminder of Percy's absent friends. 

I find the Heroes of Olympus even more compelling than the Percy Jackson series.  As the novel comes to a close, we are left on the verge of uniting the two camps, which is more complicated than you might think.  And we still have yet to unite Percy and Annabeth, so of course I couldn't leave things here.  Once again I'm propelled forward into the next novel, The Mark of Athena.  


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Julie's Review: Fallen Beauty

Author: Erika Robuck
Series: No
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: New American Library
Pages: 384
Obtained: publisher
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5 
Bottom Line:  Fascinating telling of a period of time in the life of a renowned female poet.
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Summary: “Without sin, can we know beauty? Can we fully appreciate the summer without the winter? No, I am glad to suffer so I can feel the fullness of our time in the light.” Upstate New York, 1928. Laura Kelley and the man she loves sneak away from their judgmental town to attend a performance of the scandalous Ziegfeld Follies. But the dark consequences of their night of daring and delight reach far into the future. That same evening, Bohemian poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and her indulgent husband hold a wild party in their remote mountain estate, hoping to inspire her muse. Millay declares her wish for a new lover who will take her to unparalleled heights of passion and poetry, but for the first time, the man who responds will not bend completely to her will. Two years later, Laura, an unwed seamstress struggling to support her daughter, and Millay, a woman fighting the passage of time, work together secretly to create costumes for Millay’s next grand tour. As their complex, often uneasy friendship develops amid growing local condemnation, each woman is forced to confront what it means to be a fallen woman…and to decide for herself what price she is willing to pay to live a full life.

Review: Erika Robuck has quickly become one of my go-to authors. It is her ability to fictionalize literary persons that compels me pick up her books quickly. I will say that Edna St. Vincent Millay is a literary person that I knew very little about. Well, now I know a lot more about her, at least one period in her life. Ms. Millay wasn't, shall we say, the most stable of individuals. She was certainly way ahead of her time sexually but she used those experiences to write her poetry. Her husband, Eugen, is the true hero of this novel. He had the patience of Job and must have really, truly loved her to put up with her antics. Although, let's be honest it gave him some freedoms as well.

Fallen Beauty isn't all about Millay but it is about her influence on the people of the town in which she lives. It is about her all encompassing personality and her pull on those who enter her web, even briefly. Once family caught in her web is that of Laura and Marie Kelley. Laura is a single mother living with her scandal in the town she grew up in. She is shunned and quickly builds up walls to protect herself and her young daughter, Grace. Marie is engaged and quickly married to an up and coming politician. It is when Marie and Everette attend a party given by Millay that their fates start to be entwined. Millay begins to have a unhealthy obsession with Laura and tries to do everything in her power to get Laura to be in the same space as her. It isn't until Laura starts to read Millay's poetry that she realizes that they might have something in common after all.

Ms. Robuck does an excellent job of showcasing Millay's instability and Laura's hardened heart. She makes us understand that part of Millay's brilliance is her instability. It is her experiences that fuel her creativity. Her obsessions, and there are many, are what makes her unique. Millay is extremely generous with those that she loves/cares about.

Laura's story isn't that uncommon, even for the 1930s. What was uncommon was that she chose to face the adversity and stick to her beliefs and not let cruelness push her out of her home. It is through Millay's poetry and her friendship with her that Laura's hardened heart begins to thaw and perhaps open up to new love. Laura also helps Millay realize that not every relationship is meant to be sexual and perhaps there are other connections than just that one.

I also love how Ms. Robuck mentions her other literary subjects in the course of her new book. It is a reminder that artist get jealous of other's success. If historical fiction is a genre that interest you and ones that center around a literary figure peak your interest, than you won't want to miss Fallen Beauty.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Julie's Review: The Daring Ladies of Lowell

Author: Kate Alcott
Series: No
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 304
Obtained: publisher
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 4.25/5
Bottom Line: Friendship, loyalty and love are the heart of this novel
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Summary: Eager to escape life on her family’s farm, Alice Barrow moves to Lowell in 1832 and throws herself into the hard work demanded of “the mill girls.”  In spite of the long hours, she discovers a vibrant new life and a true friend—a saucy, strong-willed girl name Lovey Cornell. 
But conditions at the factory become increasingly dangerous, and Alice finds the courage to represent the workers and their grievances.  Although mill owner, Hiram Fiske, pays no heed, Alice attracts the attention of his eldest son, the handsome and reserved Samuel Fiske. Their mutual attraction is intense, tempting Alice to dream of a different future for herself. This dream is shattered when Lovey is found strangled to death. A sensational trial follows, bringing all the unrest that’s brewing to the surface. Alice finds herself torn between her commitment to the girls in the mill and her blossoming relationship with Samuel.  Based on the actual murder of a mill girl and the subsequent trial in 1833, The Daring Ladies of Lowell brilliantly captures a transitional moment in America’s history while also exploring the complex nature of love, loyalty, and the enduring power of friendship.

Review:  There are historical fiction novels set in certain time periods and that sets the stage for the novel but then there are historical fiction novels that surround an event, which can be even more intriguing. The Daring Ladies of Lowell is a novel in the 2nd category and it doesn't disappoint.

It is easy to quickly get caught up in their plight at the mill. They are all trying to escape something; life on a farm, an abusive husband, etc. It is those things that bind them together. They understand each other. Alice and Lovey bond quickly and find themselves at ease with each other. Some think that Lovey is a bit too careless and perhaps she is but there is something easy going about her. She enjoys life and that is infectious to Alice.

Alice is extremely brave in the face of adversity. She isn't afraid to stand up for what she believes in and fights for those she loves, even in death. She is trying to make a way for herself by working in the mill. She quickly becomes a leader in the movement to reform the mills. What the girls ask for isn't much and would improve their quality of life.

Alice is torn by her loyalty to the mill girls and her burgeoning feelings for Samuel. Throughout the book she learns that sometimes you have to take risks to find happiness. Samuel also struggles to find his voice and to get out from underneath his father. He fights for what he believes to be true and right, even if those around him are too weak to follow through. While Samuel and Alice might be from different backgrounds, it is their ideology that unites them.

I found the history of the mills, their work environment and how they attracted young girls to work there. I also loved reading about their manifesto, how ahead of their times these women truly were. I'm a sucker for a good romance intertwined into a well-written novel.

The Daring Ladies of Lowell is fascinating novel about a strong group of young ladies who led change.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Jenn's Review: The Lost Hero

Author: Rick Riordan
Series: The Heroes of Olympus, book 1
Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Pages: 557
Obtained: purchased
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Rating: 5/5
Bottom Line: Beyond Percy Jackson
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Blurb:  Jason has a problem. 
He doesn't remember anything before waking up on a school bus holding hands with a girl. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper. His best friend is a kid named Leo, and they're all students in the Wilderness School, a boarding school for "bad kids", as Leo puts it. What he did to end up here, Jason has no idea—except that everything seems very wrong.

Piper has a secret. 
Her father, a famous actor, has been missing for three days, and her vivid nightmares reveal that he's in terrible danger. Now her boyfriend doesn't recognize her, and when a freak storm and strange creatures attack during a school field trip, she, Jason, and Leo are whisked away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood. What is going on? 

Leo has a way with tools. 
His new cabin at Camp Half-Blood is filled with them. Seriously, the place beats Wilderness School hands down, with its weapons training, monsters, and fine-looking girls. What's troubling is the curse everyone keeps talking about, and that a camper's gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist they are all—including Leo—related to a god.

Review: My daughter has been on a mythology kick lately, which always leads me back to Percy Jackson. Her obsession inspired me to re-read most of the Percy Jackson series, which pulled me directly into the Heroes of Olympus

Though I knew at the outset this book would not be about Percy, I found myself missing him a little as soon as Annabeth showed up. But Jason, even without his memory, is a natural leader and a fantastic hero; he is easy to like and made it easier to be on a quest without Percy.  Leo and Piper are fun to get to know too as they learn to trust their new friends with their secrets.  Unlike Jason, they are awkward heroes who are learning on the fly, kind of like Percy.  Jason's appearance is a mystery and I must admit my first guess was the simplest answer and correct, but I kept wavering towards some much wilder theories.

I enjoyed seeing Camp Half-Blood through a newcomers point of view.  Things have changed since the battle of Olympus, but it was great to be back.  More cabins, more kids... and the fall out from loosing some camp members in battle.  Annabeth is off on her quest with a few others so the only character that seemed conspicuously absent was Clarisse.   Clarisse is so difficult though that the loss of her character thread was more relief than disappointment.

Unfortunately, if I thought my Greek mythology knowledge was rudimentary, The Lost Hero proves my Roman mythology knowledge non-existent. Luckily for me, Rick Riordan does a fantastic job of keeping the reader up to speed without pages of plot exposition.  There is even a glossary at the back. However, I know there were more than a few foreshadowing cues I missed because of it.  It was interesting to see the gods from the perspective of both cultures ...and it made me slightly more sympathetic towards them.

This is going to be a fantastic series.  Heroes of Olympus is more YA than middle grade as the books are growing with the characters as they should.  I loved The Lost Hero so much I immediately delved into the next book in the series, The Son of Neptune and well... Percy is back...


Friday, February 14, 2014

Julie's Review: While Beauty Slept

Author: Elizabeth Blackwell
Series: No
Publication Date: February 20, 2014
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
Pages: 432
Obtained: publisher
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Bottom Line: Not a re-telling but a re-vamping of a popular fairy tale
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Summary: I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told.  And so begins Elise Dalriss story. When she hears her great-granddaughter recount a minstrels tale about a beautiful princess asleep in a tower, it pushes open a door to the past, a door Elise has long kept locked. For Elise was the companion to the real princess who slumbered—and she is the only one left who knows what actually happened so many years ago. Her story unveils a labyrinth where secrets connect to an inconceivable evil. As only Elise understands all too well, the truth is no fairy tale.

Review: I wasn't sure what to expect going in to this book but when I closed it I am so happy I picked it up. While Beauty Slept takes the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty and turns it on it's nose. Sure the story is about the beauty who sleeps but it isn't the same story we are familiar with.

The story is told in flashback by Elise, who was once the close confidant of both Queen Lenore and Princess Rose. Elise is the backbone of this story. We see everything through her eyes. We feel everything as she does. When she arrives at the castle she is quickly taken in by Mrs. Tewkes and shadows a young chambermaid, Petra. Elise is a quick study and is quickly assigned to Queen Lenore's quarters. Due to her nature and hard work, she lands the coveted spot of handmaid.

As with most kingdoms, there are one or two family members who are not happy with the way King Ranolf is handling the affairs. Not only that but there is no apparent heir to the throne, so that goes to his younger brother, Prince Bowen. We all know that there ends up being a Princess, Princess Rose to be exact.

Ms. Blackwell follows the story we know well about the beginning of Rose's life but it's the in-between and end that she takes liberty with. I loved this about the novel. I loved learning about Rose's life in the castle. She was a bold, young girl who turned into a bold young woman. She wanted to be less sheltered, than she was and took some risks to test the limits.

It's hard to review this novel without giving away key plots. Ms. Blackwell is a gifted storyteller and she makes the story of Sleeping Beauty hers. I look forward to her next novel. I will say if you are a fan of fairy tales and/or re-telling of them, then While Beauty Slept is for you.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Julie's Review: Outlander

Author:Diana Gabaldon
Series: Yes
Narrator: Davina Porter
Publisher: Recorded Books
Hours: 33 Hours 8 Minutes
Obtained: (mine)
Genre: historical fiction
Rating: 3/5
Bottom Line: Happy I am finished
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Just get it at the library
Summary: Claire Randall is leading a double life. She has a husband in one century, and a lover in another...In 1945, Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she innocently touches a boulder in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an "outlander" — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of our Lord...1743. Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire's destiny in soon inextricably intertwined with Clan MacKenzie and the forbidden Castle Leoch. She is catapulted without warning into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life ...and shatter her heart. For here, James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a passion so fierce and a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire...and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Review: Dear Lord Diana Gabaldon loves her words. Seriously, I don't think I've met an author who is as wordy as she is. This audiobook could have been trimmed by at least 10 hours. I am happy that I listened to it instead of reading it. I don't know if I could have gotten through the written words. I probably would have chucked the book across the room at some point. Usually these kinds of books are right up my alley; time travel, historical fiction, romance but dear lord it was too much. I don't know why either, but I think I found Claire to grate on my nerves one too many times. I mean it's going to happen in the 33 hours of the novel but sometimes I just had to shake my head.

It really isn't any wonder why she eventually chooses her path. Granted it comes over 1/2 way through the novel but you can't really see her outside of the the mid 1700s. Also, I will admit there is something about her and Jamie together that is intriguing. Let's talk about Jamie for a moment, he's a strapping young man of 23 and he's got charisma. I don't know if he has charm but he certainly has something. He's stubborn and willful.

I understand why people could get wrapped up in this series. It's lush, romantic and adventurous. It is also long and at times dull. There are some parts of this novel that just weren't necessary or fit into the overall scheme. There weren't many but some editing could have helped move the story along.

Now, while I am complaining about Ms. Gabaldon's love of words, it is evident that she knows how to tell a story. It is easy to get caught up in the story of the Clans of Scotland and to see how they lived back then. Also, Davina Porter is an excellent narrator. If it wasn't for her, I would have stopped listening. She changes her voice perfectly to capture the distinct characteristics.

As if you couldn't guess, I won't be going on in the series. To those of you who love the series, I hope it ends well for you. For those of you who haven't started,  be cautious, you might get sucked in and have to finish the whole series.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Julie's Review: A Dark Road to Mercy

Author: Wiley Cash
Series: No
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 240
Obtained: TLC Book Tours
Genre: contemporary fiction
Rating:  3.5/5
Bottom Line:  Predictable ending and needs less loose ends
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Just get it at the library 
Summary: Hailed as "mesmerizing" (New York Times Book Review) and "as if Cormac McCarthy decided to rewrite Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird" (Richmond Times-Dispatch), A Land More Kind Than Home made Wiley Cash an instant literary sensation. His resonant new novel, This Dark Road to Mercy, is a tale of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, a story that involves two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins. When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter Quillby and her six-year-old sister, Ruby, are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a little town not far from the Appalachian Mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex-minor league baseball player whom they haven't seen in years, suddenly reappears and steals them away in the middle of the night. Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and quickly turns up unsettling information linking him to a multimillion-dollar robbery. But Brady isn't the only one hunting him. Also on the trail is Robert Pruitt, a mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, a man determined to find Wade and claim what he believes he is owed. The combination of Cash's evocative and intimate Southern voice and those of the alternating narrators, Easter, Brady, and Pruitt, brings this soulful story vividly to life. At once captivating and heartbreaking, This Dark Road to Mercy is a testament to the unbreakable bonds of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

Review: I went into this novel with high hopes because so many people had raved about his debut novel, A Land More Kind Than Home, but this one fell short for me.The novel takes place during the 2001 home run contest between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa. It is an interesting backdrop considering that Wade used to be a ballplayer and Easter has quite the arm on her. I enjoyed the relationship between Ruby and Easter. I loved how Easter protected and cared for her younger sister but I also felt sorry for her that she was in that position.

Years before their dad had let them down and more recently their mother let them down as well. They have learned at a young age that some adults aren't worth trusting. Wade, is a loser. He's made a lot of wrong and bad choices but does he deserve to be fully cut out of his kids' lives? I'm not so sure. Other than making one more colossal mistake that leaves a wake of destruction, he does seem genuine about wanting to be there for the girls. Unfortunately, there are some people out there that wish to see Wade come to an end.

What bothered me were the loose ends that were left in the end. What exactly happened between Pruitt and Wade? Why was Pruitt so hell bent on revenge? What exactly happened to Pruitt's eyes? He wasn't blind because he could drive, so what was it? He also touches on an important topic in sports, especially baseball, but never fully explores it.

Mr. Cash has an easy way of telling a story. He paints a vivid picture of not only the characters but of the places they visit along their route. It's his subtle way of telling the story that touches you. It's obvious that he's a gifted storyteller.  What he wants us to think about is "what makes a family"? Should a dead-beat father be given a 2nd/3rd chance to do right by his daughters? Is he better than the grandparents that want to adopt them? Can he really change and be there for them? Every reader will come away with different answers and that is due to our own experiences in life.

I have A Land More Kind Than Home in my pile and will be interested to see how that one differs and compares to this one. 

We are merely one stop on a TLC tour for This Dark Road to Mercy. Below is the tour schedule:

Tuesday, January 28th: Book-alicious Mama
Wednesday, January 29th: River City Reading
Thursday, January 30th: Knowing the Difference
Monday, February 3rd: cupcake's book cupboard
Tuesday, February 4th: Sara's Organized Chaos
Wednesday, February 5th: she treads softly
Thursday, February 6th: Turn the Page
Monday, February 10th: Girls Just Reading
Tuesday, February 11th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Wednesday, February 12th: BookNAround
Thursday, February 13th: Kritters Ramblings
Monday, February 17th: BoundbyWords
Tuesday, February 18th: Tutu's Two Cents


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jenn's Review: A Potion to Die For

Author: Heather Blake
Series: Magic Potion Mystery #1
Publication Date: November 5, 2013
Publisher: Signet
Pages: 336
Obtained: purchased
Genre: cozy mystery
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: Another fantastic magical series from Heather Blake/Heather Webber
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Grab

As the owner of Little Shop of Potions, a magic potion shop specializing in love potions, Carly Bell Hartwell finds her product more in demand than ever. A local soothsayer has predicted that a couple in town will soon divorce—and now it seems every married person in Hitching Post, Alabama, wants a little extra matrimonial magic to make sure they stay hitched.

But when Carly finds a dead man in her shop, clutching one of her potion bottles, she goes from most popular potion person to public enemy number one. In no time the murder investigation becomes a witch hunt—literally! Now Carly is going to need to brew up some serious sleuthing skills to clear her name and find the real killer—before the whole town becomes convinced her potions really are to die for!

Review:  When I need a book I know I will love, I pick up a novel from Heather Blake.  This is a new series from Ms. Blake who has a talent for making the magical fit into everyday life as if it's quite common.  It's one of the many things I love about her work.

Once again Ms. Blake's written some magnificent characters I can't wait to revisit.  I actually had a little trouble getting into this one through no fault of the novel itself.  It is just that I miss all of her other characters from her all her other series and was wishing I was visiting with them.  However, by the time I put A Potion to Die For down I found myself having fallen in love with a whole new cast of characters...  and was missing them desperately.  I want to get to know all of them better, especially Carly's cousin Delia who has been relegated as the bad witch by Carly and the rest of her family.

Once again, I found myself wanting to visit the town that Heather Blake created.  I loved the shops and the houses --I could picture them all so vividly.  Also, I must admit that I fell for the red herring hook, line, and sinker.  The real culprit took me completely by surprise... and I won't spoil it for you by saying any more than that.

If you haven't read a Heather Blake book (or a novel by her other nom de plume, Heather Webber), I can't recommend her enough.  She's one of my all time favorites.