Rated 2 stars ** Ebook. Published June 1, 2015. Merit Press.
Rich and pampered sixteen-year-old Morgan Lindstrum is upset because her mother and father aren’t talking to each other, and not spending time at their beautiful home in Princeton, New Jersey. She is also confused about feelings she’s been having for her best friend Ansel and, on top of everything, her beloved Grandfather passed away.
While trying to make her way through the minefield that has become her life, Morgan discovers her mother has a secret centered in Brooklyn. Her curiosity about her mother’s past leads her to discover poor Irish relations, which include her real grandfather Terence Mulvaney. Her mother is reluctant to forgive her father for past wrongs, but Morgan is determined to bring the family back together.
While seeking a bridge of reconciliation she soon discovers her newfound relatives may soon become part of Brooklyn’s homeless population. Morgan must call on all of her resources to try and reconcile her family, but it may come at a price she cannot pay.
Though “Crossing into Brooklyn” realistically described the city’s homeless population, contrasting its poverty with Princeton’s upper class, fake exterior, I thought Morgan’s constant references to what happened in Chicago did not lend merit to the storyline and were a distraction. In addition, though she came across as a heroine, there were aspects of her story that did not come across as believable. Her encounter with Carlos, as well as the fact that she managed to come and go many times through a very poor, rough area of Brooklyn without once being challenged by area residents for being a richly dressed girl in a poor neighborhood did not ring true to this Brooklynite.
I have mixed feelings about this book, so will leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.
Rated 2 stars ** ARC. Ebook. Published May 17, 2015. Lacewing Books. (Includes Reference materials.)
West and his best friend Mark hated high school, and planned revenge for all the times jocks ignored or made fun of them. After spending time researching terrorists, both homegrown and abroad, they were ready to make their mark on the world. Using knives, machetes and homemade bombs, they worked their way through a school bus filled with high school kids, and forever changed Laney’s world.
With West and her mother now dead, joining the father she’d never known, fifteen-year-old Laney is sent to live with her grandmother, Meme, in the woods of upstate New York in a place upon which civilization has not dared to encroach. Meme is not an exceptionally friendly woman, but she and Laney soon come to an understanding. It is with her help that Laney learns to put herself in the shoes of those who have gone before and to rely on nature for her needs. She also learns to quiet her own mind and regain the glimmer of a path for her life, which West had taken in his quest for revenge.
“The book of Laney” gave great insight into the minds of terrorists like West and Mark, as the author used real diary entries from homegrown terrorists to help readers understand why people would behave in such an horrific way. The life which Laney now found herself living, and how she saw herself after the murders, were all realistic topics.
However, I felt the book lost its attempt at being believable when Laney’s paranormal visions become its highlight. It would have been better if the author had found a realistic way to help Laney find a way to cope with her issues without having to resort to make believe. Struggling teens who may have looked to this book for insight into their own situations will not find solace through the paranormal.
I would have given the book a higher rating if the author had stayed true to the book’s premise of a young girl learning to cope with life after facing death one too many times, instead of letting it deteriorate into these visions. In addition the cover is very “blah,” and would have been lovely if it had looked like the beautiful Adirondack woods into which Laney poured so much of her heart and soul.
Because of having a major issue with this hugely unrealistic topic in the midst of realistic ones I can’t recommend this book, but will leave it up to you to decide if you want to read it or not.
Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. 2011. CreateSpace. (Includes Discussion Questions).
We first meet Becky in 1963 Georgia when’s she’s 13 years old and suffering through yet another beating by her Momma, who the town believes to be the picture of beauty and grace. The only bright spot in her life is Johnny, the son of her housekeeper. They’ve known each other their whole lives but, because he’s Mexican, her mother hates him and forbids them to see each other.
With Johnny gone, her stepfather Frank becomes her only friend. He believes in her and loves her and, with his help, Becky slowly learns to accept herself. It takes time, but she learns to listen to her heart for the lessons it’s been trying to teach her about her life.
As I read about the constant beatings and abuse Becky suffered over the years from her mother and stepbrother all I could think was “how could anyone not have noticed?” Unfortunately that was the reality of the times, but knowing this doesn’t make reading about it any easier.
I was upset about the abuse, but I was really upset that she seemed to sit back and accept it as the norm, even as an adult, because the years of abuse had rendered her pliant. It seemed as if the author wanted her stripped down to having nothing left to live for before she was allowed to make a decision of her own.
At the risk of giving out too many Spoilers, let me just say I think Becky should have been allowed to come to her senses long before she lost everything she held dear. She should have been allowed her time with Johnny, and not endured everything the author piled upon her, including the time she spent with Frank.
Recommended, with some misgivings, for Adults.
Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Published June 2, 2015. Simon & Schuster.
A few days before her wedding Georgia sees Ben, her fiancé, with his ex-girlfriend and a little girl. Unable to deal with what she was seeing, she decides to run back home to her family in Sonoma. There, amongst the grapes in her father’s vineyard, she is certain to find the respite and peace she seeks.
Instead, once home, she realizes everyone seems to be hiding a secret life of his or her own. As her life gets even more tangled and complicated Georgia will have to figure out how to deal with Ben, her parents, and her brothers as well as her own issues. With the clock ticking towards her wedding day decisions will have to be made that may not turn out the way she, and everyone else, thinks they should.
While reading this book I learned more than I expected about the wine making process and the life of grapes, which give wine its life. In addition the word “synchronization” and it’s definition, used to explain the many plot twists in the book, is the heart behind the story, the grape behind the wine, and the wind behind Georgia’s sails.
Readers will find themselves wondering about their own life’s synchronicity, finding it’s sometimes best to not overanalyze the details, but to seek to understand. “Eight hundred grapes” insists readers scrape below the surface of what things appear to be, so as to see more than what they thought they were seeing.
Recommended for Adults.
Rated 4 stars **** Ebook. 2010. (Includes “Discussion Questions.”)
Blair Van Howe and Danny Moran had been the best of friends since their days in law school. Both are rising stars in their prominent law firm, but one fateful evening everything came to a screeching halt for Danny. Though a great lawyer he had problems holding his liquor, and that particular night was too intoxicated to drive.
Blair was thrilled to drive Danny’s Porsche, but wound up causing an accident that killed an innocent driver. Afraid his budding political career would suffer if the truth came out Blair framed Danny, allowing him to take the fall for his own crime. Danny was too drunk to know he wasn’t at fault, while Blair believed he could make great changes in other’s lives if he stayed quiet about the accident and kept his political dreams alive.
Throughout the book, as Hayes tells Danny and Blair’s story and the truth struggles a bit too long to be revealed, readers are constantly brought back to the question of who had the better life. Was it the man one step away from becoming President who lived his life based on a lie, or was it the man who lost everything yet had everything in the end? What kind of life do you live when no one is watching?
Hayes ends his thought provoking novel with even more thought provoking Discussion Questions, sure to generate debate on these issues.
Recommended for Adult readers.
Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Ebook. Published March 1, 2015. Thomas & Mercer.
When Zoe awoke that fateful night, she didn’t have any recollection as to what could have happened. In her last memory she and her friend Hollie were traveling through Vegas having fun, but she had no clue as to how they had now wound up captives in a strange place. Managing to free herself she saw Hollie being tortured, but chose to abandon her and run for her life.
In the 15 months since the attack, Zoe’s life has drastically changed. Unable to forgive herself for leaving Hollie behind, and choosing her own life over Hollie’s, she decided to punish herself. She dropped out of graduate school, separated herself from family and friends, and blamed herself everyday for Hollie’s disappearance. However her lonely existence is shattered when she learns of the murder of a young woman, which closely matches what happened to her and her friend Hollie.
Zoe decides to work with the police to find the killer, but she doesn’t know that the killer knows exactly where she lives and wants to finish the work he’d begun fifteen months earlier. Zoe is in his crosshairs as she’s the only one that ever got away from him, and he won’t make the same mistake twice.
As Wood leads readers on a desperate chase to discover the killer’s identity before he can find Zoe, the action-packed chapters had me completely engrossed. With each move on the killer’s part bringing him ever closer to Zoe, I couldn’t help but read faster to find out what would happen next to her. “The one that got away” will make readers take a closer look at their surroundings because we now know there are killers amongst us.
Highly recommended for Adult readers.
Rated 3 stars *** Ebook. 2014. Goose Lane Editions. (Includes Historical information in “Acknowledgements.”) Published by Steerforth on February 3, 2015.
Will Starling, who served as a surgeon’s assistant during wartime for 5 years, and his employer have returned to London in 1816 shortly after the Napoleonic Wars. It is a time when London’s inhabitants are striving to rise above the misfortune of war while surgeons seek to uncover the mysteries of life and death. Their ever-growing need to learn about human anatomy has given rise to a black market of grave robberies, for dissection purposes, subjecting them to distrust and fear by the general public.
This new world of experimental scientific knowledge is led by Dionysus Atherton, a surgeon convinced he can bring the dead back to life through unorthodox methods. His increasing thirst for knowledge, and the rumors which surrounded his practice, have raised Will’s suspicions. Will has his own reasons to dislike Dionysus, certain he harbors terrible secrets, and will stop at nothing to get the evidence he needs to put a stop to Dionysus’ way of practicing medicine. However, the more he digs into Dionysus’ life, the worst things become for Will until the secrets he uncovers forever changes his own life.
I enjoyed getting historical background about the great experiments with life and death attempted by surgeons of the day, as well as learning about the London of 1816, and could easily see how these unusual experiments seemed to have given Mary Shelley the inspiration she needed to write “Frankenstein.” What I did not enjoy was the increasingly confusing manner in which the story was told, going from the present to the past or even to the future, and then doubling back to the present. There were all manner of asides thrown into Will’s rambling narrative, which made me flip back and forth to figure out what had happened so I could put it in its context.
Despite these flaws, “Will Starling” will enlighten many on the subject of surgeons of the 19th century, as well as the life and times of 1816 London.
Recommended for Adult readers.