Monday, April 22, 2013

Stalking Sapphire

by Mia Thompson

I received an advance copy eBook of Stalking Sapphire from NetGalley and, as with most ARCs, there were some rough spots.  I almost gave up reading because the first 3rd of the book was so choppy.  Actually, I did set it aside with no intention of going back but I couldn't quit thinking about the story.  I finished it.  First book in a long time that I stayed up until the wee hours to finish.
Despite the illusion Sapphire Dubois presents to the rest of the world, she is not just your stereotypical 22-year old Beverly Hills heiress; she hunts serial killers. While her fellow heirs spend their nights with trending celebs and drugs at the hottest club, Sapphire secretly spends hers luring, capturing, and anonymously handing over So-Cal’s most wanted killers to the police — just your average Tuesday night. 
What Sapphire doesn’t know is that one of her adversaries is watching her every move, aware of both her true identity and her unconventional hobby. Needless to say, he doesn’t approve. Used to being the one who redefines the definition of predator and prey, Sapphire’s world abruptly shatters when a gruesome ‘gift’ arrives for her at the Beverly Hills Country Club. With her involuntary crush, handsome Detective Aston Ridder, close on her tail, Sapphire now has to rethink her routine strategy and figure out how to capture a killer who already knows she’s coming.
What I didn't like:   I've already mentioned that my copy of this book didn't get transferred to my Kindle in the best condition and I assume the finished product will not have the same problems.  The only other problem I had was with Sapphire's rich friends but they toned down a bit towards the end.  

What I liked:  Sapphire.  She's plucky and smart, but not always.  And I loved the idea of a beautiful woman setting traps for serial killers and, of course, catching them.  Then there's the tension between Sapphire and the brash detective.  He's such unlikable character, but he had his moments.

This was Ms. Thompson's first book and she did an amazing job.  Stalking Sapphire is a first-rate thriller.  I'm looking forward to the 2nd in the series.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The One More Thing

by Anne Perry

A stand-alone from one of my favorite authors who writes two wonderful mystery series - Thomas & Charlotte Pitt and my favorite, William Monk.
And then there's her WWI series that I loved.  I have another stand-alone, The Sheen on the Silk, which is set in the Byzantine Empire that I can't wait to curl up with.

The One More Thing is set during the French Revolution - a time period that intrigues me and I've read several books about.  This book deals with a murder that took place in a family home.  The investigation only covers a period of weeks, but the Revolution sets the stage for the goings on.

 I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Perry provided a fascinating window into history and people's lives during this part of the Revolution.  Again, I found myself grateful to be a woman, living in America.

I never am able to figure out who the murderer is and this case there were only a handful of people to choose from.  A very interesting novel and a good mystery.  I suggest you give it a read.

One more thing before closing.  Covers interest me and I would like to know what kind of discussion goes into choosing the one for American audiences.  Very seldom are they as interesting as those for European and Canadian audiences.

* I received a copy of The One Thing More from NetGalley in exchange for my review.  No other compensation was received.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One Step Too Far

by Tina Seskis

This book is going to be hard to review.  I've been thinking about it for days and still don't know quite what I think about it.

I like books that flit back and forth between time periods and characters, but this one bothered me.  I know that was the author's purpose and it added to the tension of what was happening in the main character's life.  Overall, the writing was good, as was the story.

I was tempted on a few occasions to set it aside, but I kept reading.  It was nice to have everything fit together and make sense in the end.  Overall, I just didn't love this book but I can't quite figure out why.  It would be a good one for a book club because there would be so much to discuss.

I would love to hear from others who have read One Step Too Far.  What are your opinions?  Can you put into words what I am failing miserably to do?  Or did you love it?

*I received a copy of One Step Too Far from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Tapestry of Fortunes

by Elizabeth Berg

If you go into a bookstore today you will see this beautiful cover on display.  At some point when I was reading this book, I stopped and thought what I would write about this book when I reviewed it.  That day was dreary outside, but inside my house and inside my soul there was warmth.  I felt like I often do when I sit outside on a beautiful, warm spring day - I read for  awhile and stop periodically to appreciate the beautiful flowers, the smell of spring, and the soft breeze.  When I closed the book and looked at the cover and I thought, "That cover sums up what I'm feeling."  There's a feeling of gentleness, taking time to sip a herbal tea, and enjoying the natural flow of days, and life.

Tapestry of Fortunes came at a good time for me.  It brightened up my days and made me feel lighter.  There's nothing earth-shattering or remarkable about it's story, only the learning to accept life, to listen to your inner voice and do what it suggests or urges.  I groaned when I read the first couple pages and learned the main character was a motivational speaker.  She even shared some of the advise she passed onto others.  My early thoughts, "Oh, good grief!  This is not what I need - advise on becoming a better me."  I was in a grumbly, heaving mood and I didn't want to be told to snap out of it.

I kept reading and soon the advise stopped and the gentle caressing started.  When I finished the book I didn't want to change anything about myself or my life, I just wanted to be more of aware of the good things around me.

Tapestry of Fortunes is a story about friendships - old and new and renewed.  Here's the write-up from the cover flap:
Cecilia Ross is a motivational speaker who encourages others to change their lives for the better. Why can’t she take her own advice? Still reeling from the death of her best friend, and freshly aware of the need to live more fully now, Cece realizes that she has to make a move—all the portentous signs seem to point in that direction. She downsizes her life, sells her suburban Minnesota home and lets go of many of her possessions. She moves into a beautiful old house in Saint Paul, complete with a garden, chef’s kitchen, and three housemates: Lise, the home’s owner and a divorced mother at odds with her twenty-year-old daughter; Joni, a top-notch sous chef at a first-rate restaurant with a grade A jerk of a boss; and Renie, the youngest and most mercurial of the group, who is trying to rectify a teenage mistake. These women embark on a journey together in an attempt to connect with parts of themselves long denied. For Cece, that means finding Dennis Halsinger. Despite being “the one who got away,” Dennis has never been far from Cece’s thoughts.

I received a copy of Tapestry of Fortunes from Random House in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Tuesday's Gone

by Nicci French

This is the 2nd in a series featuring Frieda Klein.  The first was Blue Monday which I haven't read yet but will be doing so soon.  Nicci French is the pseudonym of English husband-and-wife team Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.  They have written several stand-alone thrillers that I can't wait to read.

Here's the description of Tuesday's Gone from the authors' web page:

For Frieda Klein the days get longer, the cases darker . . .
Psychotherapist Frieda Klein thought she was done with the police. But once more DCI Karlsson is knocking at her door.

A man’s decomposed body has been found in the flat of Michelle Doyce, a woman trapped in a world of strange mental disorder. The police don’t know who it is, how he got there or what happened – and Michelle can’t tell them. But Karlsson hopes Frieda can get access to the truths buried beneath her confusion.

Painstakingly, Frieda uncovers a possible identity for the corpse: Robert Poole, a jack of all trades and master conman. But the deeper Frieda and Karlsson dig into Poole’s past, the more of his victims they encounter – and the more motives they find for murder. Meanwhile, violent ghosts from Frieda’s own past are returning to threaten her.

Unable to discover quite who is telling the truth and who is lying, they know they are getting closer to a killer. But whoever murdered Poole is determined to stay free – and anyone that gets too close will meet the same fate.
I loved this book.  Starting with Michelle Doyce - why would she keep a naked, decomposing man sitting on her couch?  I had to have an answer to that.  How are  Frieda and Karlsson going to get the necessary clues from her deranged mind?  The dead man seems to be an enigma, too. 

I may have discovered a new author and series that are in my top 5 list, though I probably should read a couple more by this team of authors before I get too excited.  Let me just say, based on this book, they are heavy contenders.

***I received an ebook of Tuesday's Gone from NetGalley and the Penguin Group in exchange for my honest review.***

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey

by Wendy Wax
No secrets about Downtown Abbey are laid bare in this review.  This book briefly deals with happenings from Season One and Two of Downtown . 
I loved all three seasons of Downtown Abbey and saw this book as a way to continue the nostalgia and loss I was feeling when Season Three ended.  I wanted more and didn't want to wait for Season Four that won't show until next January. 
This book is not really about Downtown Abbey and it isn't even necessary to have seen the show to enjoy the book.   It's more about three  women and the one male concierge who develop an unlikely friendship.  They know of each other before the concierge, Edward, decides to show weekly screenings of the first two seasons of Downtown Abbey in hopes of building a feeling of community in their upscale apartment building.  It's fun to see how these different personalities forge a bond that helps them through some tough times in their individual lives.
I thoroughly enjoyed the backgrounds of each individual and how Ms. Wax provided me with just enough to further peak my interest.  Sometimes more knowledge led to more questions, which fed my desire to keep reading. 

 I liked some of the characters better than others, but I could sympathize with each and I absolutely fell in love with Edward.   Even though moments from the actual show weren't talked about very much it was fun getting a glimpse or two of past episodes of Downtown Abbey that I had forgotten about.  I need to re-watch all seasons again.  Netflix, here I come!

 Everyone who reads this will wish they lived in an apartment building with a concierge like Edward.  Oh, my!  The Sunday night viewings were enjoyed along with the most delicious sounding refreshments.   What a fun way to watch Masterpiece Theater with friends and neighbors and good food and drink.  It would be great to bring Edward to life and have him cater a book club meeting.   (That would be a perfect job for someone living in a city!)

I recommend this book to those who loved Downtown Abbey as well as those who haven't watched the show or haven't even heard of it.  If you like books about friendships, hurdles in life, a little romance,  starting over again, finding love, keeping it,  along with a touch of humor, I think you'll enjoy this book.  I certainly did.

 ***I received an advanced reader's copy of While We Were Watching Downtown Abbey in return for an honest review.***