Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw (Book Review)

Title: Aquamarine
Author: Carol Anshaw

About the Book: Imagine how different your life might be if you had taken another path at a crucial turning point in the past.

With dazzling ingenuity and a bittersweet sense of regret, Aquamarine explores the intricate ways early choices -- made impulsively or agonizingly -- reverberate throughout a life.  Shown in triptych is Jesse Austin, on the verge of turning forty in 1990, inhabiting three equally possible lives, each aching with past loss, each defined by headlong love.

Jesse's choices have variously brought her to marry, divorce, or remain single, to love men or women, to live close to her Missouri hometown or deliberately away from it.  But present circumstances can't dispel her deep restlessness.  Jesse is always haunted by the moment she can't get back to, the moment hidden behind the aquamarine, when she lost the gold medal for the hundred-meter freestyle at the 1968 Olympics to a fatally seductive Australian swimmer named Marty Finch.

Aquamarine magically weaves together three scenarios of options embraced or discarded, seamlessly connected by the emotional ties that bind Jesse to the people in her past: her eccentric godmother, her adoring retarded brother, her withholding mother, and, most important, the elusive Marty Finch.

Infused with warmth, wit, and wry affection, Aquamarine plays exhilaratingly original variations on the themes of lost love and the unlived lives running parallel to the ones we have chosen. 

My thoughts:  I found it appropriate to be writing a review of this book today, as it is my birthday.  How often on birthday's do we look back and think where we might have been had we made different choices? Well, with Aquamarine, we get to see what different paths Jesse's life might have taken.

In each story, her relationship with Marty Finch right before the 1968 Olympics and her loss of the gold medal to her seems to haunt her and overshadow her current life.  She doesn't seem to be able to live fully in the moment, but always seems to be searching for someone or something more.  Her restlessness drives her to sabotage her current relationships (or at least be paranoid about them) whether those relationships are with a husband, lover, or child.  I liked that the peripheral characters all seemed to follow very closely to the same path regardless of the one she chose.  It was interesting to see how her attitudes differed toward these people - or more how their attitudes towards her changed because of her different lifestyles.

This isn't a book that I would have normally picked up.  It was chosen because of a book challenge, but I did find it an interesting read.

Publisher/Publication Date: HMH/1992
ISBN: 978-0-395-58562-7
197 pages

The Thirteen by Susie Moloney (Book Review)

Title: The Thirteen: A Novel
Author: Susie Moloney
Publisher: William Morrow

About the Book: Haven Woods is suburban heaven, a great place to raise a family. It's close to the city, quiet, with great schools and its own hospital right up the road. Property values are climbing, and the crime rate is practically nonexistent.

Paula Wittmore hasn't been back to Haven Woods since she left as a disgraced teenager. Now she's returning to care for her suddenly ailing mother, and she's bringing her daughter and a pile of emotional baggage. She's also bringing, unknowingly, the last chance for her mother's closest frenemies . . . twelve women bound together by a powerful secret that requires the sacrifice of a thirteenth.

My thoughts: This was definitely a creepy read.  I finished it late at night and didn't really want to let the dog out one more time before I went to bed!  Haven Woods is home to The Thirteen - Thirteen women that have changed over time, adding members when necessary to keep the number current, each sacrificing something along the way.  These women are drawn in, the younger ones because of selfish desires, their priorities not quite what they should be - the older ones who were searching for a better life for their families.  

Now, Chick, one of the older thirteen, has just buried her husband and goes to bed with Valium and a Zippo lighter.  Soon after, Audra, her best friend and also a widow, gets struck with an unknown affliction and is hospitalized.  Izzy, one of the original thirteen, gets Paula, Audra's daughter, to return to Haven Woods with her daughter Rowan.  You see, Izzy needs Paula and her daughter.  The Thirteen are starting to fall apart and they need Paula . . . and Rowan.

Now, I liked Paula, even though she was a little clueless.  I understand that she had a lot on her mind - no job, no place to live, daughter getting suspended - and then having to return to a place where she had no desire to be to take care of her sick mom -- but she closed her eyes to some obvious things that weren't right, even in suburbia.  I really like Rowan.  She was wise enough to be suspicious of things that didn't feel right, and yet innocent enough to accept the paranormal when she learned about them. 

It has been awhile since I have read a "witch" book and I found this one fun and a little creepy - without all the seriousness that some of the witch books bring with them.

~I received a complimentary ecopy of this book from William Morrow in exchange for my review.~

The Thirteen: A Novel
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow, Mar 27, 2012
ISBN: 978-0062117663
336 pages

Monday, March 26, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading? (Mar 26, 2012)

What are you reading on Mondays is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey - You can hook up with the Mr. Linky there with your own post - but be sure and let me know what you are reading too! 

Currently reading: 
The Thirteen by Susie Moloney
Blood Orchids by Toby Neal

Books up this week:
My goal this week is just to finish all the books I've started!

Bathroom Book:

Books read and reviewed since last week:
You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth

Until next week ----  Ready - Set - Read!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mailbox Monday (Mar 26, 2012)

 Mailbox Monday will be hosted in March by Anna at Diary of an Eccentric.  In My Mailbox is hosted Sundays at The Story Siren.

The first book that I got was from Paperback Swap

The Last Thing I Remember
by Andrew Klavan

Charlie West just woke up in someone else's nightmare.

He's strapped to a chair.  He's covered in blood and bruises.  He hurts all over.  And a strange voice outside the door just ordered his death.

The last thing he can remember, he was a normal high-school kid doing normal things -- working on his homework, practicing karate, daydreaming of becoming an air force pilot, writing a pretty girl's number on his hand.  How long ago was that?  Where is he now?  Who is he really?

And more to the point. . . how is he going to get out of this room alive?

After the Fog
by Kathleen Shoop

The sins of the mother. . .

In the steel mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous 1948 "killing smog,"  headstrong nurse Rose Pavlesic tends to her family and neighbors.  Controlling and demanding, she's created a life that reflects everything she missed growing up as an orphan.  She's even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from her loving husband, dutiful children, and large extended family.

When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose's nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed.  Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog.  As pressure mounts, Rose finds she's not the only one harboring lies.  When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family -- and the whole town -- splintered and shocked.  With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family's healing begin?

Barefoot in the Sand
by Roxanne St. Claire

When all you hold dear is taken away. . .

When a hurricane roars through Lacey Armstrong's home on the coast of Barefoot Bay, she decides all that remains in the rubble is opportunity.  A new hotel is just what Mimosa Key needs, and Lacey and her teenage daughter are due for a fresh start.  And nothing, especially not a hot, younger architect, is going to distract Lacey from finally making her dreams a reality.

A second chance is the only thing you have left.

Love has already cost Clay Walker everything.  And if he's going to have any chance of picking up the pieces of his life, he needs the job as Lacey Armstrong's architect.  What's not in the plans is falling for the headstrong beauty.  Her vision of the future is more appealing than anything he could have ever drafted for himself.  Will Clay's designs on Lacey's heart be more than she can handle, or will she trust him to build something that will last forever?

The Song Remains the Same
by Allison Winn Scotch

She's a wife, a sister, a daughter. . . but she remembers nothing.  Now she must ask herself who she is and choose which stories -- and storytellers -- to trust.

From the New York Times-bestselling author comes a novel that asks:  Who are we without our memories?  And how much of our future is defined by our past?

One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of it -- or who she is, or was.  Now she must piece together both body and mind -- with the help of family and friends who all have their own agendas.  Her husband, Peter, is trying to erase his recent affair and pending divorce from their marital history.  Her mother is trying to sweep the real story of Nell's long-lost father under the rug.  And Rory, her sister and business partner, is trying to protect their volatile relationship with stories of her own.  Although Nell can't remember all that came before, wondering just doesn't sit right with their version of her history. . . 

Desperate for a key to unlock her past, Nell filters through photos, art, and music -- anything to puzzle together the woman she truly was.  The woman she is.  In the end, she will learn that forgiving betrayals small and large is the only true path to healing herself -- and to finding happiness. 

The Side-Yard Superhero
by Rick D. Niece

Although life's journey took him far from his childhood home, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., never forgot the people he met and the lessons he learned growing up in picturesque DeGraff, Ohio, population 900.  A small-town newspaper boy who became a lifelong educator himself, Dr. Niece was deeply touched by the endearing residents of DeGraff who shaped his youth -- especially a young man named Bernie Jones.  Confined to a wheelchair with severe cerebral palsy, Bernie became Rickie's friend, inspiration and superhero, opening a world of compassion, trust and adventure to them both.

Sharing his carefully pocketed memories with fond nostalgia, Niece invites readers from all walks of life to join him as he pays tribute to small-town America, the unbreakable bonds of friendship, and the triumph of the human spirit. 

Kingdom Keepers V: Shell Game
by Ridley Pearson

As the five Kingdom Keepers enter high school, everything is about to change.  The Maintenance Base that controls all four parks in Disney World is under attack by the Overtakers, a group determined to change Disney forever.  Relationships between the Keepers are no longer as simple as they once were.  In fact, nothing is as simple as it once was.

An after-hours visit to Typhoon Lagoon is a game changer.  The Keepers lose one of their most valuable supporters.  But there's work to do. . .

the Disney Dream leaves Port Canaveral on an historic cruise to Los Angeles with a special treat in store for guests:  the Disney Host Interactive teenage guides are on board.

Finn, Maybeck, Charlene, Willa, and Philly join celebrity guests as the DHI experience moves to one of the most advanced cruise ships in the world.

But all is not right below decks.  Strange things are happening.  Unexplained phenomena.  Only the Kingdom Keepers know the truth behind their invitation to be in attendance; nearly ever Disney villain is aboard the ship, including Maleficent.

the Overtakers have infiltrated the cast and crew.  And no one knows what they have planned.

The Dream sets sail filled with enthusiastic guests and crew.  But not for long.  Maleficent takes over a video screen and warns the guests of trouble to come.  With the ship arriving at the beaches of Castaway Cay -- its first of many exotic ports of call -- the Kingdom Keepers are under attack; back home the Base is threatened and about to fall.  The Overtakers have expanded in ways never foreseen, and it's clear they intend to use this element of surprise to accomplish what has eluded them so far: victory.

But not if Finn Whitman and friends have anything to say about it. 

Full Body Burden: Growing up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats
by Kristen Iversen

Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear-weapons plant once designated "the most contaminated site in America."  It's the story of growing up in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and -- unknown to those who lived there -- tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium.

It's also a book about the destructive power of secrets -- both family secrets and government secrets. Her father's hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what they made at Rocky Flats (cleaning supplies, her mother guessed) -- best not to inquire too deeply into any of it.  But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions.  And as this memoir unfolds, it reveals itself as a brilliant work of investigative journalism -- a shocking account of the government's sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents' vain attempts to seek justice in court.  Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class-action testimony, this taut, beautifully written book promises to have a very long half-life. 

What books came home to you this week?

Recent Winners!

I have been lax in posting the winners of some of the last giveaways - so here they are all together!  They have all been notified.

Winner of All He Saw Was the Girl by Peter Leonard - Julie Le

Winner of Hades (YA Paranormal Activity Blog Hop) - Maritza Robinson

Winner of the short story - Leslie and the Lion - Sara Kovach

Winner of 3 Carol Mason e-books (Lucky Leprechaun Blog Hop) - Kaerah Lopez

You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth (Book review)

Title: You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be
Author: Holley Gerth
Publisher: Revell

About the book: Pssst. . .pull up a chair and I'll tell you a secret.  You'd better lean in close for this one.


You don't have to do more, be more, have more.

I'm sure there are security alarms going off somewhere.  You should probably hide this book when your in-laws come over.

But it's true.

It's the kind of true that will change your life, set you free, and make you wake up smiling for the first time in a long time.  I know because that'ss what it did for me. . .

So watch out, sister.  If you keep reading, you just might be next.

With this heart-to-heart message, Holley Gerth invites you to embrace one very important truth -- that you truly are already amazing.  Like a trusted friend, Holley gently shows you how to forget the lies and expectations the world feeds you and instead believe that God loves you and has bigger plans for your life than you've even imagined.

Available March 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

My thoughts: I love these type of books, but I always have a hard time reviewing them.  I think it is because different parts of the book can speak differently to everyone.  So I guess I will just tell you what part touched me and then give you an overview of the book's layout.

I have been having a tough time lately and my emotions have been all over the place. My daughter recently entered into an open adoption with a local couple and we have been dealing with the facts that what open adoption means to us, does not mean the same to them.  Even though we had plenty of discussions before hand and thought we were all on the same page.  So anyway, I cried through out the entire first chapter. And it really hadn't even started to get to the meat of the subject.

The chapter that really got to me was "Why Do I Feel This Way?".  Did I mention that I have been really emotional lately?  I did?  Okay - well, at one point in the chapter she says - Your emotions have nothing to do with reality right now.  Does that ever happen to you?  You get all bent out of shape emotionally, but when you really think about it, you are not quite sure why?

Another question that she posed in the book was, and this one is from memory because I couldn't find it, but it had something to do with what is behind the way you are feeling right now - what is driving your emotions.  (and I was thinking that a lot of my emotions right now are being driven by fear - afraid that I won't get to know my granddaughter like I want to, afraid that my daughter will not be able to move forward, afraid that she will think she did the wrong thing) It made me take a step back and try to put some perspective on everything and, not that I have completely surrendered it to God, I am on a better track.  I still have a little stubborn streak that I have to let go of, but I am aware of it and know I will get there.

This is definitely a book that I would love to share in a Bible study with a group of women, but at any rate, I plan on going back and spending a little more quality time in each chapter. There is a "Go Deeper Guide" in the back of the book that would be great for either a group or for my individual use.

~I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Blog Tours in exchange for my review.~

Publisher/Publication Date: Revell, March 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8007-2060-5
216 pages

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Shore Excursion by Marie Moore (Book Review)

Shore Excursion 
(Sidney Marsh Mystery #1)
Marie Moore
Camel Press

Travel agents are a vanishing breed, but Sidney Marsh, a New York transplant from Mississippi, is holding her ground--at least on land. She is the tour leader on a cruise through Scandinavia for a group of eccentric senior citizens who call themselves the High Steppers. Sidney expects her days to be filled with long meals, shopping expeditions and visits to museums, churches and fjords. But this cruise is anything but routine. There is a killer on board, targeting the High Steppers and quite possibly herself.

After the first suspicious death, the captain and his crew are grimly determined to carry on as usual. Disgusted with their inaction, Sidney decides to take matters into her own hands and launch her own investigation. She enlists the halfhearted help of her friend and business partner, the flamboyant and fun-loving Jay Wilson. Suspects abound. What about those two handsome young men who stay mysteriously aloof? One of them has his eye on Sidney. So does another passenger, far too charming and again too young to fit the "High Stepper" mold. Then there's Captain Vargos, the arrogant ladies' man whose plans to thwart Sidney's investigation might include seduction.

Who is that crew member shadowing Sidney? Is the theater really haunted? Even the High Steppers themselves are not as predictable or harmless as they seem. The closer Sydney gets to the truth, the less she understands. Shore Excursion is the first book in a new mystery series featuring amateur sleuth Sidney Marsh.

Marie Moore Bio:
Shore Excursion is Marie Moore’s first novel, but not her first writing experience, and like Sidney Marsh, she is a native Mississippian. She graduated from Ole Miss, married a lawyer in her hometown, taught junior high science, raised a family, and worked for a small weekly newspaper, first as a writer and later as Managing Editor. She wrote hard news, features and a weekly column, sold ads, did interviews, took photos, and won a couple of MS Press Association awards for some of her stories.

In 1985, Marie left the newspaper to open a retail travel agency. She completed agency and computer training with Airlines Reporting Corporation, Delta Airlines and TWA, earned her CTC (Certified Travel Counselor) designation, and joined the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), International Air Transport Association (IATA), and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). For the next 15 years, she managed her agency, sold travel, escorted group tours, sailed on 19 cruises, and visited over 60 countries. Much of the background of Shore Excursion comes from that experience.

Marie also did location scouting and worked as the local contact for several feature films, including Heart of Dixie, The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag, and Robert Altman’s Cookie’s Fortune.

In mid-1999, because of her husband's work, Marie sold the travel agency and moved to Jackson, MS, then New York City, Anna Maria Island, FL, and Arlington, VA. She and her husband now live in Memphis, TN and Holly Springs, MS.

Marie is a member of Sisters in Crime. 

You can find her at her website: http://www.mariemooremysteries.com/

~I received a complimentary ebook from Tribute Books in exchange for my review.~

My thoughts: This was a fun cozy mystery to read and you got to learn a little about a lot of foreign places on the way.  You know how when you first start to read a book you begin to picture the characters in your head?  For some reason, I was never able to do this with Sydney.  She didn't seem to be hung up on her looks at all, but seemed to get her share of attention from the opposite sex and evidently cleaned up nicely.  I just could never get a picture of her in my head!  

At first there were a lot of characters because of all the High Steppers, but I quickly sorted out who was who.  They seemed like they would be an interesting lot to travel with, with all of their quirkiness.      

I thought that I had it all figured out and that it was taking Sydney, with Jay's on again, off again help, an awfully long time to catch up to what was going on.  But, as usual, I was wrong.  I liked Sydney and the fact that she didn't really take herself too seriously.  She enjoys her work as a travel agent and gets along well with the High Steppers, even though the majority of them are much older than herself. She trusts her instincts when it comes to men, and this usually lands her in hot water as her instincts are pretty fallible.  I think this makes her a little less confident in her professional life than she should be.  What she should do is trust her business instincts and question her personal ones!  

All in all it was an enjoyable read and I would definitely read another Sydney Marsh mystery!

Publisher/Publication Date: Camel Press, April 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60381-874-2
230 pages

It's Monday (okay - so it's Tuesday. . .) What are you reading?

What are you reading on Mondays is hosted by Sheila at One Person's Journey - You can hook up with the Mr. Linky there with your own post - but be sure and let me know what you are reading too! 

Currently reading: 

Books up this week:
You're Already Amazing: Embracing Who You Are, Becoming All God Created You to Be by Holly Gerth
Missing: The Secrets of Crittenden County, Book 1 by Shelley Shepard Gray

Audio Book:
Graceling by Kristin Cashmore

Bathroom Book:

Books finished last week:

Books read and reviewed since last week:

Children's Books read and/or reviewed since last post:

Until next week ----  Ready - Set - Read!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop (Mar 20 - 25)

Seeing as it is the first day of Spring - it is time to clean off some shelves!  I have three books to giveaway to three different winners!  They are Dancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock, Redeemer by Jeffery S. Williams and Adam by Brian H. Winchester.

Dancing on Broken Glass
by Ka Hancock

Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn't have fallen in love, let alone gotten married.  They're both plagued with faulty genes -- he has bipolar disorder; she, a ravaging family history of breast cancer.  But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy's twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there's no denying their chemistry.

Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work -- and they put their commitment in writing.  Mickey will take his medication.  Lucy won't blame him for what is beyond his control.  He promises honesty.  She promises patience.  Like any marriage, there are good days and bad days -- and some very bad days.  In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children.  But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary, she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything.  Everything.  Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window, and the two of them must redefine what love really is.

by Jeffery S. Williams

For the past year, Detective Kristen Cauldron has been grappling with the disappearance of her 8-year-old daughter -- and the case has grown cold.  Returning to work on the force after a year off, Cauldron finds herself working with a new partner and on a new case to catch a serial killer -- an experience that will push her to the edge of sanity.

He calls himself "Redeemer."  His religious delusions justify his elaborate murders.  Using medieval practices, he takes the "lost causes" of the world and "redeems" them -- making their souls ready to stand before God.  His motivation?  Not vigilante justice or righteous judgment, but deliverance -- saving unknown future victims from cruelty, as well as redeeming the criminals from eternal damnation.

Redeemer selects Cauldron, based on her previous background, to be his vessel for revealing the scheme behind his "ministry."  When Redeemer discovers Cauldron's history, he boldly pledges to her that he can find out what happened to her daughter.  Cauldron is secretly caught between duty and hope, concealing it even from Hawkins, her partner who she has come to trust.

Redeemer is a vivid examination of a man's toxic faith and hyper-religiosity, a mother's heart-wrenching loss and compulsion to discover her daughter's fate, a healing and often humorous bond between partners, and a riveting police investigation into this serial killer's psyche and symbolic crimes.  When Redeemer and Kristen finally come face to face, the obsession to know the truth about her daughter threatens to destroy everything she holds close to her heart. 

by Brian H. Winchester

He was named after the moist red earth from which he was formed.  His muscular body was just past the threshold of full manhood.  By current earthly standards he would have looked to be in his late teens.  His intellect was agile, sharp, and endowed with a deep understanding of the world he had just entered -- the kind of understanding that today would take a lifetime to develop.  What he couldn't learn by logical analysis he quickly grasped through a keen intuition that was emotional and spiritual at the same time.

Adam would need all these capabilities to fulfill the charge God had given him -- to cultivate the rich land of Eden in which he had been placed, and to protect and guard it.

But guard it from what?

Adam was about to find out.  Everything about life as he knew it hung in the balance of how well he accomplished that charge. If he did well, he would protect not only his own life, but preserve the soul of every man and woman to follow.  If he failed, the consequences would be beyond even his ability to understand.

The war in Heaven was over.  The battle for Earth was about to begin. 

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mailbox Monday (March 19, 2012)

 Mailbox Monday will be hosted in March by Anna at Diary of an Eccentric.  In My Mailbox is hosted Sundays at The Story Siren. Please visit these posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week! I had a fantastic week this week (as well as last) and am looking forward to doing some Spring Break reading soon!

The Land of Decoration
by Grace McCleen

A mesmerizing debut about a young girl whose steadfast belief and imagination bring everything she once held dear into treacherous balance. 

In Grace McCleen's harrowing, powerful debut, she introduces an unforgettable heroine in ten-year-old Judith McPherson, a young believer who sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith. Persecuted at school for her beliefs and struggling with her distant, devout father at home, young Judith finds solace and connection in a model in miniature of the Promised Land that she has constructed in her room from collected discarded scraps—the Land of Decoration. Where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility and divinity in even the strangest traces left behind.

As ominous forces disrupt the peace in her and Father's modest lives—a strike threatens her father's factory job, and the taunting at school slips into dangerous territory—Judith makes a miracle in the Land of Decoration that solidifies her blossoming convictions. She is God's chosen instrument. But the heady consequences of her newfound power are difficult to control and may threaten the very foundations of her world. 

With its intensely taut storytelling and crystalline prose, The Land of Decoration is a gripping, psychologically complex story of good and evil, belonging and isolation, which casts new and startling light on how far we'll go to protect the things we love most. 

The Inquisitor
by Mark Allen Smith

A spectacularly original thriller about a professional torturer who has a strict code, a mysterious past, and a dangerous conviction that he can save the life of an innocent child.

Geiger has a gift: he knows a lie the instant he hears it.  And in his business -- called "information retrieval" by its practitioners -- that gift is invaluable, because truth is the hottest thing on the market.

One of Geiger's rules is that he never works with children.  So when his partner, former journalist Harry Boddicker, unwittingly brings in a client who demands that he interrogate a twelve-year-old boy, Geiger responds instinctively.  He rescues the boy from his captor, removes him to the safety of his New York City loft, and promises to protect him from further harm.  But if Geiger and Harry cannot quickly discover why the client is so desperate to learn the boy's secret, they themselves will become the victims of an utterly ruthless adversary.

Mesmerizing and heart-in-your-throat compelling, The Inquisitor is a completely unique thriller that introduces both an unforgettable protagonist and a major new talent. 

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms
By Lissa Evans

The telephone cord was hanging from the receiver,
wires sticking out of the broken, dangling end.

Time to go, Stuart thought.
And then the phone rang.

When ten-year-old Stuart stumbles upon a note daring him to find his great-uncle's hidden workshop full of wonderful mechanisms, trickery, and magic, he sets out on a Willy Wonka-like adventure of a lifetime.  In order to find the place, Stuart must believe the unbelievable -- while dodging the annoyingly prying eyes of his triplet neighbors, April, May and June.  With clues to follow, puzzles to solve, and the quirkiest of characters, this uniquely charming fiction debut by comedienne Lissa Evans is sure to enchant middle-grade readers -- and believers -- everywhere. 

Calico Joe
by John Grisham

A surprising and moving novel of fathers and sons, forgiveness and redemption, set in the world of Major League Baseball…
Whatever happened to Calico Joe?
     It began quietly enough with a pulled hamstring. The first baseman for the Cubs AAA affiliate in Wichita went down as he rounded third and headed for home. The next day, Jim Hickman, the first baseman for the Cubs, injured his back. The team suddenly needed someone to play first, so they reached down to their AA club in Midland, Texas, and called up a twenty-one-year-old named Joe Castle. He was the hottest player in AA and creating a buzz.
In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen.  The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.
Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever…
In John Grisham’s new novel the baseball is thrilling, but it’s what happens off the field that makes CALICO JOE a classic. 

Dancing on Broken Glass
by Ka Hancock

Lucy Houston and Mickey Chandler probably shouldn't have fallen in love, let alone gotten married.  They're both plagued with faulty genes -- he has bipolar disorder; she, a ravaging family history of breast cancer.  But when their paths cross on the night of Lucy's twenty-first birthday, sparks fly, and there's no denying their chemistry.

Cautious every step of the way, they are determined to make their relationship work -- and they put their commitment in writing.  Mickey will take his medication.  Lucy won't blame him for what is beyond his control.  He promises honesty.  She promises patience.  Like any marriage, there are good days and bad days -- and some very bad days.  In dealing with their unique challenges, they make the heartbreaking decision not to have children.  But when Lucy shows up for a routine physical just shy of their eleventh anniversary she gets an impossible surprise that changes everything.  Everything.  Suddenly, all their rules are thrown out the window and two of them  must redefine what love really is. 

by Thelma Adams

A smart and witty debut, Playdate is a family drama set against looming Santa Ana winds, which threaten a utopian Southern California community.  Inside a well-manicured home, Belle is a sharp-tongued tween, who is mortified by her dad, Lance, a former weatherman turned stay-at-home dad who practices yoga.  Darlene is a classic workaholic, but with her hours neatly penciled in, she has little patience for the needs of her husband and daughter.

Managing their own suburban paradise is Alec, a womanizing businessman and financial backer -- and sometimes more -- behind Darlene's burgeoning empire.  His wife, Wren, is an eager yogi ready to lay down the mat for a quick session with Lance.  When the fires reach the confines of this seemingly blissful neighborhood, passions and true desires are brought to the surface.  What happens next door, beyond the hedges, in the romper room and executive office -- it's all as combustible as a quick brush fire on a windy day.

The Goodbye Man
by Chad Barton

"As more people filled the packed church, Jack was forced to move down the wall toward the front, until he was very near the altar.  From that vantage point, he could see the young mother's face.

He found himself staring at her, unable to look away.  He didn't know why.  Perhaps it was the terrible sadness in her face.  He watched her intently as she clutched a little brown teddy bear and a picture of her daughter, who now lay only feet away in a small casket.  The size of it made him wince.  Jack felt the anger rise within him."

At sixty years old, Jack Steele has long since retired from putting criminals -- especially those that hurt children -- in prison.  Following his retirement from law enforcement, he built a successful multimillion-dollar company, allowing him financial freedom in his golden years.  Following the unexpected loss of his wife, Sarah, however, he withdraws into himself.  He becomes a loner whose only companion is his German shepherd dog.

Sick of a court system that lets monsters out of prison to torture and kill again and again, he decides there is only one way to stop them.  Using his own resources, his credentials as a retired police officer, and his .380 Walther, he and his dog begin to hunt -- bringing justice to those whom the system cannot control.

The Immortal Rules
by Julie Kagawa

In a future world, vampires reign.

Humans are blood cattle.

And one girl will search for the key to save humanity.

An unforgettable new series from the bestselling author of the Iron Fey.

My vampire creator told me this: "Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being.  The question is not if it will happen, but when.  Do you understand?"

I didn't then, not really.


The Orchid House
by Lucinda Riley

Spanning from the 1930s to the present day, from the Wharton Park estate in England to Thailand, this sweeping novel tells the tale of a concert pianist and the aristocratic Crawford family, whose shocking secrets are revealed, leading to devastating consequences.

As a child, concert pianist Julia Forrester spent many idyllic hours in the hothouse of Wharton Park, the grand estate where her grandfather tended exotic orchids.  Years later, while struggling with overwhelming grief over the death of her husband and young child, she returns to this tranquil place.  There she reunites with Kit Crawford, heir to the estate and her possible salvation.

When they discover an old diary, Julia seeks out her grandmother to learn the truth behind a love affair that almost destroyed the estate.  Their search takes them back to the 1940s when Harry, a former heir to Wharton Park, married his young society bride, Olivia, on the eve of World War II.  When the two lovers are cruelly separated, the impact will be felt for generations to come.

This atmospheric story alternates between the magical world of Wharton Park and Thailand during World War II.  Filled with twists and turns, passions and lies, and ultimately redemption, The Orchid House is a beautiful, romantic, and poignant novel.

Norah: The Making of an Irish-American Woman in 19th-Century New York
by Cynthia G. Neale

This is the story of Norah McCabe, who along with thousands of Irish immigrants, comes to New York with her family in the mid-1800s having escaped the potato famine that killed over a million people in their native land.  Defenseless and poor, they arrived in New York City to try and create a better life.  The McCabe's determined, imaginative and hopeful daughter Norah begins to rebuild her life in America.  Her story is one of desperation, cruelty, and ultimately hope and survival.  The novel chronicles her struggles with the issues of abolitionism and feminism.  Determined that her appearance be equal to the women around her, Norah worked hard and feverishly to become their equal.  The author's research found that Irish women far exceeded other female ethnic groups in education and economics.  "They climbed up in the world come hell or high water!  They paraded down Fifth Avenue dressed in Paris fineries bought from the money they saved (still sending money back to Ireland), and aristocratic Protestant ladies were incensed that the Irish maids looked just like them," says Neale.

As the Crow Flies
by Craig Johnson

Embarking on his eighth adventure, Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire has a more important matter on his mind than cowboys and criminals.  His daughter, Cady, is getting married to the brother of his undersheriff, Victoria Moretti.  Walt and old friend Henry Standing Bear are the de facto wedding planners and fear Cady's wrath when the wedding locale arrangements go up in smoke two weeks before the big event.

The pair set out to find a new site for the nuptials on the Cheyenne Reservation, but their scouting expedition ends in horror as they witness a young Crow woman plummet from Painted Warrior's majestic cliffs.  It's not Walt's turf, but the newly appointed tribal police chief and Iraqi war veteran, the beautiful Lolo Long, shanghais him into helping with the investigation.  Walt is stretched thin as he mentors Lolo, attempts to catch the bad guys, and performs the role of father of the bride.

The Paris Directive
by Gerald Jay

Two former French intelligence officials hire a ruthlessly effective hit man to kill an American industrialist vacationing in the Dordogne.  Things do not go as planned. . .

Klaus Reiner easily locates his target in the small village of Taziac, but the hit is marred by complications and collateral damage.  Enter Inspector Paul Mazarelle, formerly of Paris but now living in Taziac, charged with bringing his experience and record of success in the capital to bear on the gruesome quadruple homicide at the height of tourist season.

Both Mazarelle's investigation and Reiner's job are complicated when Molly, a New York City district attorney and daughter of two of the victims, arrives to identify the bodies and begins asking questions.  All evidence points to Ali Sedak, a local Algerian handyman, but Mazarelle and Molly have doubts, and Reiner must return to Taziac to ensure they see things as he arranged them, or keep quiet.  Little does anyone in the picturesque French countryside know just how politically charged this crime is; its global ramifications, stemming from the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, could overshadow everything.

Tailored in crisp prose and possessing all the luxury refinements of the best international intrigue, Jay's novel chills, excites, and engrosses, pitting a smooth, calculating villain against an earthy, sympathetic Frenchman whose twilight career is suddenly heating up.

Woodrose Mountain
by RaeAnne Thayne

Evie Blanchard was at the top of her field in the city of angels.  But when an emotional year forces her to walk away from her job as an occupational therapist, she moves from Los Angeles to Hope's Crossing seeking a quieter life.  So the last thing she needs is to get involved with the handsome, arrogant Brodie Thorne and his injured daughter, Taryn.

A self-made man and single dad, Brodie will do anything to get Taryn the rehabilitation she needs. . . even if it means convincing Evie to move in with them.  And despite her vow to keep an emotional distance, Evie can't help but be moved by Taryn's spirit, or Brodie's determination to win her help -- and her heart.  With laughter, courage and more than a little help from the kindhearted people of Hope's Crossing, Taryn may get the healing she deserves -- and Evie and Brodie might just find a love they never knew could exist. 

Just Down the Road
by Jodi Thomas

Harmony, Texas, is a place where dreams are born.  As the townspeople face unexpected endings and new beginnings, they also come face-to-face with themselves -- and with what's most important in life. . .

When Tinch Turner lost his wife, he gave up on living.  Now he spends his nights brooding, boozing, and brawling.  When one of his escapades lands him in the ER, he finds himself staring up at the beautiful new doctor in town. For the first time in years, he feels a spark, but Addison Spencer wants nothing to do with the unruly rancher -- or any man for that matter.  She's only going to be Harmony for four months, long enough for the trouble she left behind to settle down.  But then a vulnerable little boy barrels into both their lives, forcing them out of the past -- and into a future where love is just down the road. . .

In the meantime, as Reagan Truman grieves for her beloved uncle, she finds comfort in the makeshift family she's made in Harmony -- and a new baby, the first in the Wright Funeral Home in forty-five years, proving that life does go on. . .

Waterproof: A Novel of the Johnstown Flood
by JR Coopey

Fifty years after an earthen dam broke and sent a thirty foot wall of raging destruction down on the city of Johnstown, PA, Pamela McRae looks back on the tragedy with new perspective.

This fast-moving retrospective propels the reader along, much as did the flood itself.

When the Johnstown flood hit, it wiped out Pam's fondest hopes, taking her fiancé and her brother's lives and her mother's sanity, and within a year her father walked away leaving his daughter -- now the sole support of her mother -- to cope with poverty and loneliness.

The arrival of Katya, a poor Hungarian girl, running away from an arranged marriage, finally gives Pam the chance she needs to get back into the world.  Katya can care for her mother, and Pam can go to work for the Johnstown Clarion as a society reporter.

Then Davy Hughes, Pam's fiancĂ© before the flood, reappears, but instead of being the answer to her prayers, he further complicates her life.  Someone is seeking revenge on the owners of the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club, the millionaires who owned the failed dam.  And Pam is afraid Davy has something to do with it.

What books came home to you this week?


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