Contemporary Fiction #bookreview: Takes One to Know One by #SusanIsaacs @GroveAtlantic

Takes One to Know One by Susan Isaacs

My review: 4 of 5 Stars

Lots of sleuthing and snark make Takes One to Know One enjoyable reading. I delighted in the characters and the crisp dialogue. The pace was steady, not a gripping page-turner. The mystery of Pete Delaney and the witty chatter of Corrie Geller kept me reading despite the slower pace. Toward the end the drama increased quite a bit, and the suspense and intrigue grew. The only real action came late in the book but made for a tense few chapters where I learned a bit about self-defense and zip-ties. If you don’t mind the strong language and like cozy mysteries, Takes One to Know One should be appealing. 

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note I received a free copy from the publisher via BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review. 

Contemporary Fiction Book Review: The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels @RevellBooks

The Words Between Us by Erin Bartels

My review: 4 of 5 Stars

The Words Between Us is, at its heart, a love story between Robin, Peter and their books and words. It is also a story about forgiveness and moving forward. Bartels immediately draws the reader in with a character whose tragic past makes her both interesting and mysterious. I wanted to root for Robin, and sometimes I did. Other times she was so bitter and defensive that I wondered how Peter could love her the way he did. My reaction to most of the characters was mixed because Bartels made them complex and not easy to like. The narrative was woven between the past and the present until the past caught up. This technique added perspective and helped the reader better understand the characters. Books and words were lovingly conveyed to the point of adoration. I could appreciate this because I also love books, but sometimes it was a bit much. The ending leaves the reader with the sense of a Happily Ever After but not a certainty which was, I felt, realistic and acceptable. As Robin finally began to let go of her past and her bitterness, the book became a more enjoyable read. I recommend The Words Between Us for those who love bookstores and classic literature.

In accordance with FTC guidelines, please note I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Contemporary Fiction Book Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

My Review:

4 of 5 Stars

If you like family drama, Ask Again, Yes fits the bill. Keane writes a story with a tight grasp of time, place and character. But it is tragic. This is not a happy story, but it is definitely juicy and intense. Ask Again, Yes delves deeply into the lives of two families forever connected by one horrible event. I disagreed with the author’s assessment of her characters’ well-being at the end. She tied up some very messy lives just a bit too nicely. Nevertheless, the drama and the flawed but interesting characters kept me turning the pages. It was a fast, dramatic read.

Quotes:

“Once a cop always a cop, the guys said when they visited. But the more they said it the less it rang true” (p. 169).

“Kate thought about their wedding day as a conclusion to something, where he thought about it as a beginning. Rising action versus falling action. They were reading two different books” (p. 309).

I ordered this book from the Book of the Month Club.

Contemporary Fiction Review: #TheLateBloomersClub by Louise Miller

The Late Bloomers Club by Louise Miller

My review: 3.5 of 5 stars

Set in Guthrie, Vermont and centered around two sisters, The Late Bloomers’ Club is largely about finding your true calling and sense of self a bit later in life. While this novel has small-time charm, it approaches the characters with a more liberal attitude than the more conservative At Home in Mitford (which is the book someone compared this to when recommending it to me). I liked the town well-enough as well as most of the characters, but I was disappointed that the writer chose to include foul language and blatant references to sex. When I think small-town novels, I think cozy and sweet and something I could give to my mother-in-law. The baking and the diner and the sense of community worked for a cozy novel, but the other elements I mentioned soured it a bit. It’s not a bad book, just not what I was expecting. Nevertheless, I read it in one or two sittings and liked it overall.

Please note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Quotes:

“Why is it that people from the city think that money can solve all problems?” (p. 53)

“Change was inevitable. But that didn’t mean that I welcomed it” (p. 85).

“I had always thought that mornings were a time to take things in, so you would have something to savor later” (p. 212).

Short Fiction Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman @WmMorrowBooks

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

My review: 5 of 5 stars

Trigger Warning plays with the readers’ sense of reality. The stories are sometimes creepy, usually quite clever, often mysterious, and occasionally horrifying. Many also contain a bit of whimsy. All are imaginative, surprising and unexpected. Each story plays on the readers’ fears and mess with reality just enough to keep the reader unbalanced and surprised. The majority of the stories can be read in one sitting, making for entertaining escapes. I enjoyed each one for different reasons, but all reflected well the talent and unusual mind that belong to Neil Gaiman. Even if you don’t normally read short fiction, you might want to give Trigger Warning a try. Each story stands on its own, so the book can be read at any pace you choose. If you only have 20 minutes to spare for a good story, this collection has plenty to offer. Highly recommended!

Quotes:

“Writers live in houses other people built” (p. xxxiv).

“The Thames is a filthy beast: it winds through London like a blind worm, or a sea serpent” (p. 33).

“If you walk toward the truth, you will reach it, whatever path you take” (p. 46).

Please note: In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

For more short fiction reviews click here: http://www.theloopylibrarian.com/study-short-fiction/

 

Thriller Book Review: Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo

Pray for Silence
By Linda Castillo

My review: 4.5 of 5 stars

Pray for Silence features gruesome, disturbing violence that haunts the reader in much the same way as it haunts the cops in this story. Castillo spares no detail, increasing the horror quotient ten-fold. The characters, the police procedures, and the Amish practices feel authentic, and the author also knows when to throw in a bit of humor to take the edge off. Fast-paced and tense this Kate Burkholder book is (like the others) hard to put down and even harder to forget.

Quotes:

“There is an underground society that runs beneath the Norman Rockwell-facade of most small towns, and Painters Mill is no exception” (p. 25).

“The mind of a killer is a dark, malignant place, viscous with a cancer of black thoughts and secret hungers most people can’t imagine” (p. 91).

“For a reason I can’t readily identify, I’m reluctant to leave. I feel if I walk out, I’ll be closing the door on unfinished business” (p. 216).

If you like gruesome, gritty murder thrillers, you might also try:

Tami Hoag’s Kovac and Liska Books

Romance Book Review: North of Need by Laura Kaye

North of Need (Hearts of the Anemoi Book 1)
By Laura Kaye

My review: 3 of 5 stars

North of Need reads like an R-Rated Hallmark movie. It does offer something different in the form of Gods of the Seasons giving it a unique mythological twist. But, the author seemed to play fast and loose with that mythology, creating her own rules. She even brings in the subject of climate change. The story was playful and a quick, enjoyable read even though it was a bit sappy and corny. Not great, but not bad. If you’re looking for a different kind of romance, this may fit the bill.

Quotes:

“You know you’re going stir crazy when shoveling backbreaking wet snow counts as entertainment” (p. 2).

“Sometimes the label of ‘widow’ weighed a thousand pounds with all the things you felt you shouldn’t do” (p. 58).

Book Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

My review: 4 of 5 stars

WARNING: This book will make you angry and sad. With a heart-pounding beginning, fast-pace and intense suspense, The Kitchen House is a compelling but difficult read. Everything that happened in this story is heartbreaking. I struggled through the sadness, pain and tragedy of it all. This novel is an unrepentant, unflinching story about slavery, race, class and human anguish. That said, it is a favorite among book clubs and would make for great discussions. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction. Just keep the tissues handy as well as something to punch.

“I don’t see nothing but trouble coming every way I look” (p. 122).

“When I slept, I often dreamed that I was on a ship. I would wake, my heart pounding from fear of the next wave, the one that would wash away all that was familiar” (p. 180).

Reader’s Guide

Book Review: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

My review: 3.5 of 5 stars

This is one of the few books where I liked the movie better. It was smoother and more engaging. However, I still think The Jane Austen Book Club would work well as a book club choice. It is witty, poignant, and clever with characters’ layers gradually pealed away in a succession of book discussions and flashbacks. Although The Jane Austen Book Club is both intelligent and highly literary (especially if you’re a Jane Austen fan), the staccato rhythm is bothersome. The narrative simply doesn’t flow evenly, and as a result, the pace slows. The middle bogged down, but the pace finally picked up toward the end. Not exactly a page-turner, but I still enjoyed the read. Recommended for book clubs and Jane Austen fans.

Quotes:

“A night that began with mind-reading a grateful crustacean and ended with drunken elves would be a night to remember” (p. 131).

“She meandered around her point, which, when gotten to, was seldom worth the journey” (p. 159).

“No one with real integrity tries to sell their integrity to you” (p. 185).

Reader’s Guide

Book Review: Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

My review: 4 of 5 stars

When I want a good laugh and some quirky characters, I often turn to Nick Hornby. He hasn’t disappointed me yet. Juliet, Naked was not one of my favorites, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Hornby has a funny sense of the absurd which comes across well in his stories. Juliet, Naked featured quirky, entertaining characters who were obsessed with a certain musician and a certain record. The imagery and metaphors were even humorous. Sometimes I was laughing so hard I couldn’t see the words anymore for the tears in my eyes. I felt so-so about the ending, but it was a fun read overall. Recommended if you want a light-hearted, hilarious read.

Quotes:

“…people who are quite content don’t have a rubbish life…” (p. 139).

“It was hopeless, life, really. It was set up all wrong” (p. 145).

“…the trick to doing nothing…was not to think while you were doing it” (p. 162).