Monday, August 22, 2016

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

Hardcover448 pages
Expected publication: January 24th 2017 by Crown

What They Say......Salem’s chief of police, John Rafferty, now married to gifted lace reader Towner Whitney, investigates a 25-year-old triple homicide dubbed “The Goddess Murders,” in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed one Halloween night. 

Aided by Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims who has returned to town, Rafferty begins to uncover a dark chapter in Salem’s past. Callie, who has always been gifted with premonitions, begins to struggle with visions she doesn’t quite understand and an attraction to a man who has unknown connections to her mother’s murder. 

Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian and sometime-aunt to Callie, is guilty of murder or witchcraft. But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. 

Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again?

Why I Say.....I had read The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry but it was years ago, so when I started reading this book, I saw some characters that I vaguely remembered.  And there were a few, but really this was a brand new story set in Salem.

Callie was a small child when she was found hidden in some bushes, clutching a wooden five petal rose in her hand on the night her mother and her friends were found murdered, dropped into a crevice associated with the ancient Salem witch trials.

When she returns to Salem to help the woman who saved her that night so long ago, Callie discovers a side of her mother's story that she didn't know about.  Her mother and her friends were known as the Goddesses, but not just for their witchy ancestors, but because of their seduction of the local townsmen.  Not for love, or for money, but just because they could.  Which adds a possible motive for their murders.

In the meantime, Callie starts to develop a relationship with the local rich boy, who may or may not be ready for an adult relationship, as his mother is dying and his relationship with his father is strained.  Callie begins to treat his mother with her singing bowls, as she is a sound healer with a gift.

Meanwhile, local police chief, Rafferty, is investigating the Goddess's death, as the main suspect has now been involved with a new murder.  She was once a respected Salem scholar, but now is the crazy, homeless lady who predicts strangers deaths and claims that the banshee that killed the Goddesses is now responsible for this latest death.

I really enjoyed this book, but there was a LOT going on.  If I recall, I thought the same thing about The Lace Reader.  I think the book could have been about 50-100 pages less, and been about 20% better.  For example, the trip to Italy really didn't seem to add anything to the storyline.  I kept waiting for it's significance to appear, but if it was there - I didn't see it.

I really like these books, but I think I would love them if they were a little more succinct.  They tend to meander a bit.

Current Goodreads Rating 3.88

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekly Book Haul......August 21, 2016

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

The previews for The Light Between Oceans made me interested enough to buy the book, but now I'm seeing reviews that say the book is pretty slow.  So it dropped down on my TBR list by a few.  I almost always prefer the book, so I wanted to read it first.  Very few movies ever really pull the feel of the book through for me.  I would say one notable exception was The Shawshank Redemption.  That was an amazing movie.

I bought a new car this week and I'm suffering some pretty severe buyer's remorse.  Three years ago, I bought my midlife crisis car, a little VW Eos convertible.  I loved it, I really did.  But it was pretty small inside, which didn't matter because it's usually only me.  But the trunk was tiny because it was a hard top convertible.  So even if I wanted to go to Home Depot and buy flowers, I couldn't fit the in without spilling soil all over the trunk or squashing them. And I drive on the freeway a lot.  I had a few moments were I felt close to being squashed by the bigger cars next to me.

So all the reasons were there, and I did it.  I bought a Jeep Cherokee Overland, and it's definitely the most loaded car that I've ever bought.  It can pretty much drive itself and has every safety feature you could add, including blind spot monitoring, cross body cameras that alert you if anyone is getting too close, forward collision warning and back up camera, plus many, many more.  

I know most people are super happy whenever they buy a new car, but I'm always sick for days after making a major purchase.  This felt like a major decision, because they don't make the Eos anymore.  So once it was gone, it was gone forever.  

And the VW emissions scandal dropped the trade in value of my car significantly, which was a major kick in the gut.  My car wasn't even diesel, but apparently the trust in VW was so significantly affected, that all VW's are down in resale.  I never understand why people try to get away with things like this, but I'll never buy a VW again.

So just by my little soliloquy here, you can tell this was a major decision in my life.  Still not sure I made the right one, but since it's done, I need to figure out how to make my peace with it.

But back to books.  Here's what I go this week.......


Return to the Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard....Blue skies, new
love, and a glass of Bordeaux . . . what could possibly go wrong?

When Emmy Jamieson leaves her life behind and moves to La Cour des Roses, a gorgeous guesthouse amidst vineyards in France, everything is resting on her success as the new guesthouse manager. 

Looming in the calendar is the biggest booking ever, when the entire eccentric, demanding Thomson family will descend for a golden wedding anniversary. With airbeds on the floor and caravans in the garden, La Cour des Roses will be bursting at the seams.

Emmy knows she’s up to the challenge, especially with the support of the gorgeous Alain, the half-French, half-English, caramel-eyed accountant. But she hadn’t counted on a naked, sleepwalking travel blogger, or the return of owner Rupert’s venomous ex-wife Gloria.

Gloria has a few things to say about Emmy’s new role, Rupert’s finances, and the unsuspecting Alain, which send everybody reeling. Just when Emmy can see a future for herself of endless sunshine, true love and laughter, are her dreams about to be ripped at the seams?

Lizzie's Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow.....A gorgeous country house
hotel, a liberal dusting of snow, a cosy weekend away…what more could Lizzie ask for at Christmas? 

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husband Henry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be … 

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction? 

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....August 14, 2016

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

It's that time of year where summer is winding down back in the midwest and everyone is getting excited for fall.   In Arizona, this is the time of year where everyone starts to get very short tempered and just generally sick of the heat.  It's similar to the end of winter in Illinois.  You get little glimpses of spring, and then the late March snowstorm hits and brings with it overwhelming despair.

In Arizona, it's just the reverse.  You go from your house to work and back again, spending as little time as possible outside in God's oven.  So by the end of August, you are sick of being trapped inside, even your pool water is too hot, and you're ready for winter.

Since I'm from the midwest originally, I'm all about fall and football weather.  It feels unnatural here when I start watching the Bears in 109 degree weather.  I want blankets, crisp air and chili.  None of which are part of an Arizona fall.

I'm still slogging through my TBR pile - I need to power through some reviews today because I've read a lot, but I'm behind on my reviews.

Only one add this week - and it's a Christmas book!  Sadly, I still never received the August Booksparks box.  They've gone through some personnel changes, so I'm not sure what's going on, but it's better for me to start working through my NetGalley pile.


A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham.....Nestled in the Cornish village of
Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic … 

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea - a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright. 

But there is trouble ahead. It soon emerges that Stuart has been keeping secrets from Ivy, and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever. 

When Ivy stumbles across a letter from her mother hidden in an old writing desk, secrets from the past come hurtling into the present. But could her mother’s words help Ivy in her time of need? Ivy is about to discover that the future is full of unexpected surprises and Christmas at Sea Cottage promises to be one to remember. 

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Weekly Book Haul.....August 7, 2016

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly book meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, The Sunday Post is another great site hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  The Sunday Salon is a Facebook page where great readers share what they've read this week and Mailbox Monday is a weekly roundup of the new books people have received.

The world calmed down this week, so I was able to finish three books - yay, me!

I only added one new book because I've got so much on my TBR pile, it's getting gross.  Once it hits a certain level, I get antsy.  But then I see something that I just have to have......

My contact at Booksparks has moved to San Francisco, so I'm not sure if they are just in transition with a new person, or if I somehow dropped off the list, but I haven't gotten my August Summer Reading Challenge box.  I was pretty bummed, but then I realized that I've got plenty on my Kindle just waiting for my attention.

I got a nice credit from Barnes and Noble from the big ebook lawsuit - that seems so long ago.  But I kept hoarding it until I got an email that said use it or lose it.  So I bought Truly Madly Guilty by Liane MoriartyThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. StedmanTricky Twenty Two by Janet Ivanovich, and Night Shift by Charlaine Harris.  An eclectic group of books for sure, but I'll still be excited to get them.  Since I got these books with a credit that I didn't do much to earn, I got all hardbacks so I can give them away when I'm done.

If you are ever looking for a great place to give your books away too - I would of course always recommend your local nursing homes or assisted living facilities, but also consider your local hospital rehab units or high risk Obstetrical units, where many moms are on bedrest for months.

I know everyone was raving about The Light Between Oceans, but I never got on that bandwagon.  Then I saw the trailer for the movie and I was intrigued.

All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris......Aurora Teagarden is basking in the news of her pregnancy when disaster strikes her small Georgia town: four kids vanish from the school soccer field in an afternoon. Aurora’s 15-year-old brother Phillip is one of them. Also gone are two of his friends, and an 11-year-old girl who was just hoping to get a ride home from soccer practice. And then there’s an even worse discovery—at the kids’ last known destination, a dead body.
While the local police and sheriff’s department comb the county for the missing kids and interview everyone even remotely involved, Aurora and her new husband, true crime writer Robin Crusoe, begin their own investigation. Could the death and kidnappings have anything to do with a group of bullies at the middle school? Is Phillip’s disappearance related to Aurora’s father’s gambling debts? Or is Phillip himself, new to town and an unknown quantity, responsible for taking the other children? But regardless of the reason, as the days go by, the most important questions remain. Are the kids still alive? Who could be concealing them? Where could they be?
With Christmas approaching, Aurora is determined to find her brother…if he’s still alive. 
After more than a decade, #1 New York Times bestseller Charlaine Harris finally returns to her fan-favorite Aurora Teagarden series with All the Little Liars, a fabulously fun new mystery.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen

What They Say....Bucolic Newport Cove, where spontaneous block parties occur on balmy nights and all of the streets are named for flowers, is proud of its distinction of being named one the top twenty safest neighborhoods in the US.

It’s also one of the most secret-filled.

Kellie Scott has just returned to work after a decade of being a stay-at-home mom. She’s adjusting to high heels, scrambling to cook dinner for her family after a day at the office—and soaking in the dangerous attention of a very handsome, very married male colleague. Kellie’s neighbor Susan Barrett begins every day with fresh resolutions: she won’t eat any carbs. She’ll go to bed at a reasonable hour. And she’ll stop stalking her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. Gigi Kennedy seems to have it all together—except her teenage daughter has turned into a hostile stranger and her husband is running for Congress, which means her old skeletons are in danger of being brought into the light.

Then a new family moves to this quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac. Tessa Campbell seems friendly enough to the other mothers, if a bit reserved. Then the neighbors notice that no one is ever invited to Tessa’s house. And soon, it becomes clear Tessa is hiding the biggest secret of all.

What I Say.....Sarah Pekkanen has always been one of my favorites, but honestly, I think this was her best book yet.
I belong to a neighborhood Facebook group and some of the entries on it are strikingly similar to Newport Coves, except some of the ones on ours are even worse.  The simplest things can cause huge controversies and sometimes you get to see a side of people you really didn't want to.  Pictures of bad parking jobs are posted, if someone thinks you are driving too fast, your kids are too loud when they are playing, or your dog barks at the wrong time, watch out.  You will have a day long debate amongst people who don't even know you or what your side of the story is.  I think the post that had the most comments was one where people were debating whether people in the neighboring community had the right to use the community park, since they don't pay HOA fees.  The highlight reel was that someone suggested installing a fence where you needed ID checked to make sure you were a resident, the people from the neighboring community were called trespassers and it culminated in one older real estate agent asking the people who disagreed with him to meet him at the park to fight.  It was truly magical people watching, and it opened your eyes to the people who live next to you.

Newport Cove sounds a lot like my community.  When Tessa's family moves in, the neighborhood ladies are intrigued when she seems to be uninterested in becoming part of their neighborhood clique, but Tessa has bigger fish to fry.  She is just trying to keep her family afloat and protecting their secret.

Tessa's husband is a walking zombie after the unspoken thing happened in their old neighborhood.  So she's distracted and making herself look more suspicious by avoiding her friendly new neighbors.

Susan is still in the throes of a traumatic divorce.  She has created a great business, helping the elderly people who are living far from their children, visiting, driving to doctor's appointments, and bringing them goodies.  But as her business bloomed, her marriage faded.  Her ex-husband is happily ensconced in a house with her former friend, and Susan makes a habit out of torturing herself by parking and staring at their home.

Who amongst us hasn't had an ex where you did the drive-by?  Why?  I have no idea, because it just makes you more miserable.  But you get over it and you move on.  But Susan is having a hard time with that, made worse by the fact that her ex and his new girlfriend live in the same neighborhood and have the same friends.

Kellie's got a great husband and a loving family, but as she goes back to work, she's dallying with the idea of an affair with her hot co-worker.  Why?  Because she's bored.  

Gigi's husband wants to be a Congressman, even though she's a semi-regular pot smoker, complete with a sullen teenaged daughter.  Gigi mostly seems bemused by the whole political scene, except she worries how her kids will be impacted by the whole thing.  And when her husband's campaign manager moves into her basement, her daughter starts changing before her eyes - but for the better.  But Gigi's still worried.

So basically I could see many women I already know in these characters.  Sometimes it seems like everyone is basically living the same life, with only slightly different experiences.

This is probably one of my favorite books that I've read this summer.  

Current Goodreads Rating 3.70

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