Friday, October 27, 2017

When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Reviews: 'When We Were Worthy, ' A Novel by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen.

Tragedy and secrecy often come together, whether for good or bad. Ignorance is not always bliss as deep-seated secrets only delay healing. In When We Were Worthy by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen we are introduced to a small Georgia town and its inhabitants.

The school plays a big part in the lives of those who live there, and sports are the glue that holds it together. So, on the night of a big win, everyone is horrified when three girls from the cheerleading squad are killed in a collision. The boy who had been driving the vehicle that struck their car, is held responsible for their deaths.

There is a very big question revolving around why, Leah, the forth cheerleader was not with them. As rumors and grief threaten to overwhelm the families of all involved, secrets begin to leak to the surface. As parents such as Marglyn, mom to one of the cheerleaders, and Darcy, mom of the boy standing accused, at opposite sides of the spectrum, try to find answers, town members find themselves taking sides.

Why wasn’t Leah, there, she has her own secrets, and why are there now rumors swirling around Ava, a substitute teacher? How can the truth help to set free the hurt and anger threatening to tear the town apart?

Whalen has taken us into the heart of small town America and shown us both the best and the worst that can happen during tragedy. Torn from the headlines of many stories we hear on the news, this is a sad and tragic work that speaks to the damage that can occur with gossip and secrets and the lengths some will go to in an effort to hide their past.

You care about the characters and their flaws and secrets are as real as those of the people you interact with daily. It is the tragedy that creates the danger, and the secrets that someone is trying to hide that make it all so senseless.

If you enjoy drama and suspense, you will find this a great read. When We Were Worthy will enhance your library and be a great find for those who enjoy drama and emotions, taking you into the thought and feelings that often result from tragedy. Whalen also brings light to the demons of youth and helps us to understand the dangers that face our children as they try to reach their potential.

Rating 4/5

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Child Finder By Rene Denfeld

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Child Finder', A Novel by Rene Denfeld. 

Children are some of the most vulnerable human beings. They often go missing or disappear without a trace. Some are found, and many are not, creating loss and turmoil in homes and families that change the core pattern of their lives. In The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld, we meet Naomi, a young woman known as the child finder.

She has no past she can fully remember, but she knows that she must never give up on finding those who are lost. She is methodical, and strangely knowing of how to move forward. She is often the last hope of those to have come close to giving up.

Madison Culver disappeared three years ago when her parents were in the wilderness looking for a Christmas tree. She was there, and then she wasn’t. Naomi learns that Madison would have been eight years old now, and is relentless in her pursuit of answers.

In a strange dilapidated old cabin, deep in the wilderness we also meet Snow Girl, a child transformed by the weather, and captured by a deaf-mute trapper in the woods. She is sure of herself, yet understands that her safety is tied to making sure the man who made her out of snow remains trusting and sure of her as she as she finds her own way. Snow Girl is smart and resourceful, writing fairy tales to keep herself occupied.

Is she the missing child, and if so, can the child finder track her down? Will their worlds collide and bring about the safety and release of both? Naomi has her own past, one that drives her to look, a dream that keeps her moving to find those missing. And who is the trapper that no one really seems to know?

Denfeld brings us a tale of growth and loss, one of danger and stress. She tells the story from both sides, alternating between different character’s voices as the drama unfolds. The story takes you forward on a fast-paced search and recovery, one that keeps you turning the pages. Imminent danger is palpable, keeping you reading, while the mystery is deep and full of angst and loneliness. Danger and urgency are the prevailing worries.

If you enjoy mystery, romance, danger and some darkness you will love this story. This work takes you on a journey and keeps you turning the pages until the truth comes out. The characters will stay with you a long time.

The Child Finder would be a great work for a reading or discussion group, with a great deal of information to discuss and debate.

Rating 5/5

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: The Half-Drowned King,' An Epic Novel by Linnea Hartsuyker.

War and salvage have long been in the world. The days of these tales live on in songs and novels as well as history. In The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker, we are taken into the past as it pertains to the areas of Norway and its surroundings.

We are taken on an epic tale of danger, growth, romance and tragedy as we travel into a past full of Vikings and warriors, as they determine who will oversee the land and how it will affect them all. We follow Ragnvald, the son of a murdered king, and his sister Svanhild as they strike out each on their own to find their way, with each wanting nothing more than their birthright. While Ragnvald seeks fame and glory as well as revenge, Svanhild would like nothing more than to be loved.

Ragnvald has seen a vision of a Golden Wolf, and is determined to make that vison come to pass. He is still both hurt and angered by an incident where his own murder was sought by his stepfather as well as that of a neighboring King. That King’s son, Solvi, was tasked with the murder, and while he tried, he failed. Ragnvald cannot forget. Unbeknownst initially of this betrayal, his sister Svanhild meets and falls in love with Solvi.

When Ragnvald is away, preparing an army for war, Svanhild is taken and wed to Solvi. This is something the Ragnvald cannot allow, and he vows to kill Solvi, and take back his sister. How can revenge trump love, and how can there be any ending to such a task except further tragedy.

Hartsuyker takes us into a world of danger, secrecy, revenge, and glory, as well as savagery and romance. Her characters are amazingly likable with both their own faults and shortcomings as well as a solid dose of common sense. You are drawn to both sister and brother as their paths appear to merge, and you feel a hurtful tension knowing that both are in pain, and yet each has their own idea of what will set it right. In a world so set by visions of glory and revenge, who will prevail? This is a great epic tale that will play on for some time and you will be enthralled by the nuances.

If you enjoy history, epic tales of glory, romance, tales of courage, revenge and war you will find this to be a great read. Be ready to be drawn in and begin rooting for those you feel are in the right, which will be different for each reader.

You will enjoy this work of fiction that draws from bits and parts of history, tales, imagination and superstitions.

Rating 3/5

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer on East End: Double Eclipse by Melissa De La Cruz

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: In Summer on the East End: Double Eclipse,' A Young Adult Novel by Melissa De La Cruz.

The Witches of East End” series keeps growing with the introduction of twin witches, Mardi and Molly Overbrook. In Summer on the East End: Double Eclipse by Melissa De La Cruz, we are introduced to this new duo, as they begin their vacation in the home of their Aunt Ingrid. With their father being Thor, the god of Thunder, they have a great deal of responsibility to just staying out of trouble.

Trouble though has a penchant of following those who live among the gods and goddesses, and they are no different. When they learn a secret from their past, they begin to question everything they know about their family. Along with the secret also comes a strong and mysterious prophecy, one that seems to drag them deeper than imagined into both the past and future.

Mardi’s boyfriend Tyr, is the god of war, while Molly is still on her own. Yet things begin to change as danger begins to follow them, putting both themselves and their family at risk. Then a hot new guy comes to town and suddenly everything heats up even further, as both girls find they will need to use their magic as danger mounts, putting them and all they love at risk.

The vacation finds them back to their mischievous ways, and takes them in directions they never imagined.

De La Cruz stirs up the imagination with her newest work on the Witches of East End and her new and emerging young witches. She builds a story of romance, suspense and danger, setting a sizzle to the atmosphere.

Her characters are very likable, each with distinct personalities, and feelings. As with most twins they squabble and fight but allow no one to stand between them. This is a great addition to her series and another terrific read for your young adult.

If you are looking for the right book for your young reader, or if you enjoy a romantic work with danger and fun attached this is just the right book for your library. De La Cruz gives us another solid hit for her Witches of East End cast and ensemble.

Rating 4/5

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Idea of You ,' a Romance by Robinne Lee.

Love comes where it will and not always with permission. In The Idea of You by Robinne Lee, Solene Marchand finds her life just where she wants it, she is friends with her ex-husband, she has a wonderful daughter, and her art gallery is thriving. When she takes her daughter Isabelle to her favorite boy band, she feels like the journey will make them even closer. That is very important to her since the divorce.

What she does not expect is the attraction she feels for one of the members of the band. Her daughter is smitten, as is usual, but Solene is in her late thirties, she is above such antics. Yet the attraction seems to go both ways. Intrigued and concerned, she embarks on a series of trysts, telling herself that it is just chemistry yet the situation grows into a genuine relationship, one that helps her to gain a sense of herself that she had thought gone forever.

Yet trouble is ever close as rumors and the madness of the media, begin to shine a light on her journey. She begins to realize how her own chance at happiness can now imperil all that she holds dear. How will her daughter take such a perceived betrayal, when she herself is attracted to members of the band? Can Solene take a chance at happiness if it could ruin her relationship with her daughter, and friends?

Lee gives us a sexy romantic story of a May, December relationship with all the excitement and peril involved. Her characters are spontaneous and bold, but also with a zest for life that is both refreshing and fun. She twists in guilt and remorse, making it hard to separate the woman from the mother, and she finds a way to keep a slight level of friction that is just a bit edgy. You find yourself rooting for both mom and child, hoping for it all to come out right.

If you enjoy a good romance filled with life and passion, you will find this a great read. Lee keeps you on edge wondering which direction Solene will take. This is a work that takes you into the romance of a woman who wants more, yet must find a way to ease the effect on her own family and friends.

This would be a clever work for both a reading or book club, with a great deal of discussion and debate tied in.

Rating 3/5

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The End of Temperance Dare,' A Novel of Suspense by Wendy Webb. 

In The End Of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb, we are introduced to Eleanor Harper. She has become the director of Cliffside Manor, an artist’s retreat. Beginning as a tuberculosis sanatorium in the early years, it has made a name as a retreat for artists. Eleanor knows of the Manor after having done a story on it, as a journalist and crime reporter. When the position became available, she was interested hoping to find a more peaceful job, and very surprised at being chosen.

From the very first night things get off to a strange start; the prior director who had planned on retiring, commits suicide. With such an inauspicious beginning Eleanor finds herself feeling a sense of doom. With her background though she is unwilling to give up the job and moves forward to welcome her first group of artists.

As she meets the group assigned for her first retreat, she begins to wonder what has drawn them all together. She feels that each person was chosen personally by the prior director, but she cannot determine why. There is something eerie and frightful about the building, and some of the rooms. As strange things begin to happen, weird and frightening forces seem to be moving in, putting all the inhabitants at risk. Can she find a way to fight and save them all? Who is Temperance Dare, and why is she out for vengeance.

Webb takes us into the darkness of a secret that has lasted for years. She chooses an old sanatorium, a place where many with tuberculosis end up dying, and develops a story that oozes doom and retribution. She creates a sense of terror from the very beginning with the death of the previous director.

She creates her characters with various strengths and flaws, making is hard to determine just exactly is happening, and she creates a connection between each of them, and someone or something to do with the early years of the sanatorium. The story creates an eerie feeling of impending danger, and keeps you reading with the lights on.

If you enjoy tales of suspense and horror, you will find this a clever work. Webb takes you into the dark places and holds you spellbound with terror.

This would be a terrific book for a reading group

Rating 4/5

Friday, August 11, 2017

Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'Everything We Keep,' A Mystery by Kerry Lonsdale.

In Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale, we meet Aimee, a young woman whose wedding day has turned into a tragedy of untold proportions. What was to be the beginning of a life with her fiancé James, has become his funeral, turning her life upside down.

As she grieves and tries to come to terms with her loss, she finds an opportunity to open her own coffee shop, something that she had always wanted to do. Somehow things fall into place, and she finds that she can move forward, if she keeps herself busy. Hiring on Ian has helped and her friend Nadia keeps her grounded.

When a mysterious young woman reaches out to her with a secret, she is alarmed. This young woman tells her that James is not dead, but alive and unable to remember who he is. Can she believe this news or could there be some truth to it?

Getting a clue that sets her heart racing, she books a trip to Mexico, which is where James is supposed to be living. She must follow her heart and the clues. What if he is alive, she must know for sure and help him if she can. Little does she know that she will set a cavalcade of danger in motion that could put her and the life she has made, in danger. Is James alive, and can she find a way to reach the answers to his disappearance without risking it all?

Lonsdale gives us a mystery filled with characters both charming and sometimes naïve. You are both captivated and concerned as the story moves through its paces, as Aimee tries to find the clues and then helping bring James back to himself. The story is interesting and fast paced. It keeps you entertained while you find yourself choosing the characters you are looking to champion.

If you like romance and mystery you will find this an interesting read. It radiates the mystery itself as well as mysterious characters who show periodically through the story, keeping you guessing as to what part they play.

This would be an enjoyable book for a book club or reading group with numerous actions and decisions that would create great dialogue.

Rating 3/4