Category: Book Review

Book Review: “The Sister” by Louise Jensen

Book Review: “The Sister” by Louise Jensen

If you’re in the mood for a really twisted psychological thriller, “The Sister” perfectly fits the bill. What starts out as a mistake turns into a plot to destroy. Grace is a gentle and loving pre-school teacher whose life was turned upside down by the recent death of her best friend Charlie. Depression consumes her for many months but now she is back at work and beginning to face life again. Charlie never knew who her father was and Grace wants to find the man to help her bring closure to her own grief. When she is contacted by Anna, who claims to be Charlie’s step-sister, they have an instant connection, so much so that Grace moves Anna into her home where she lives with her long-time boyfriend Dan. But Anna may not be all that she seems and Grace soon finds herself in mortal danger.

Grace is such a great character. I took me no time at all to relate to her and the tragedy she has faced. She so wants to close the circle of Charlie’s life that she gets swept away by Anna’s presence. But it’s her determination that will keep her pushing forward and enable her to see through the subterfuge. Anna, on the other hand, I was suspicious of from the first moment I met her. She’s that person that you’re not sure why but you just don’t feel right about them. Adding flavor to the drama is Charlie’s alcoholic mother Lexie who Grace just can’t abandon no matter how nasty she gets. I also really enjoyed the style of this author’s writing. It is well-crafted and keeps pulling you in, anxious to find out what happens next. “The Sister” is a great choice in the psychological thriller genre.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review: “Madame Presidentess” by Nicole Evelina

Book Review: “Madame Presidentess” by Nicole Evelina

It’s election season 2016 and as we look to the possibility of electing a female president for the first time, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to read this book, “Madame Presidentess”, about the first woman to run for president in this country. That’s right! Hilary Clinton is not the first woman to RUN for president. That honor belongs to Victoria Woodhull who was a candidate for election in 1872 as an independent. Mrs. Woodhull, sometimes referred to as “Queen Victoria” turns out to be a fascinating character. She did not have an idyllic childhood and certainly did not come from money, but she was passionate about rights for women and never let anybody tell her she couldn’t do something because of her gender. Victoria was the daughter of a con-man who was mean and abusive to his children, but she was determined to have something better. On her way to becoming a presidential candidate she was also the first woman to own a Wall Street brokerage firm. Her naysayers along the way were vicious in their attacks and more than one friend turned against her but she never stopped believing in her cause.

If you’ve been following me for a while you know that I occasionally enjoy exploring the lesser known corners of history. This book is no exception. I found the life of Victoria Woodhull to be fascinating and the author has done an excellent job in telling it. I have to say that I’ve never really given too much thought to the feminist movement before the 20th century and this book really opened my eyes to the work that was being done by women starting in the 2nd century of this country. Victoria Woodhull and her fellow suffragists didn’t get to see all the fruits of their labor during their lifetimes but I suspect that they look down with pride at what has been accomplished with the groundwork they laid. While the reader may not agree with everything she espoused (do any of us ever agree 100% with another person’s views), she is nevertheless a hero of the women’s movement in the United States and should be remembered as such. I highly recommend this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: TWO THUMBS-UP!!

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Book Review: “Constant Guests” by Patricia Nedelea

Book Review: “Constant Guests” by Patricia Nedelea

Isa has just found out that her parents are not really her parents. Her birth mother has been in a coma for 20 years and has woken up, only to die just as Isa sees her for the first time. Then Isa is attacked in the hospital bathroom by an unknown assailant. When she discovers a picture hidden in her mother’s watch she can no longer resist the urge to find out everything she can about this mysterious woman. Her quest will take her all over Europe, to big cities and small towns, and put her life in danger. Along the way she will uncover deeply guarded secrets and her strength will be tested again and again.

This is a fast-paced book with lots of twists and turns. Isa and Mark are well developed characters, but Isa is not the most likeable person. She’s brash and harsh and doesn’t trust easily but as her story unfolds her personality begins to make sense. Mark, on the other hand, is very likeable. He defends Isa from the first moment he sees her and before the journey is over will put his life on the line for her. I think this book will appeal to young adults but history lovers may also enjoy this book because of the historical context of the story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review: “Social Engineer” by Ian Sutherland

Book Review: “Social Engineer” by Ian Sutherland

How safe is your intellectual property? Maybe not as a safe as it should be. Brody Taylor is a hacker and social engineer, and he’s the go-to guy if your security needs to be tested. Brody is currently investigating at a pharma company that is on the verge of a breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatment. He also recently met Melanie, an animal rights activist. Will his investigation interfere with his relationship? Can a man who makes a living telling lies even have a relationship?

This is the first story in the Brody Taylor series which draws the reader into the world of cyber-security. This is a short story, at about 60 pages, so there is not a lot of character development but what I saw of Brody made him a very likeable character. I think there is a lot to be explored in this genre and I look forward to reading more in this series. I think readers who enjoy cyber stories and those who enjoy mysteries can all find something to like in this series. The internet is here to stay and what better way to enjoy it than in the pages of a good book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review: “All These Perfect Strangers” by Aoife Clifford

Book Review: “All These Perfect Strangers” by Aoife Clifford

A powerful debut from a bright new voice in fiction! Penelope Sheppard leaves her small hometown in Australia to attend University. She sees this as an opportunity to escape her past and start a new life. Six months later three of her new friends are dead and her past is coming back to haunt her. Forced to return home, she must now recount her story to a therapist and the police. Will Pen be able to move forward with a new life or will the series of tragic life events continue?

This is a thoroughly enjoyable book. A little dark at times, but compelling nonetheless. In Pen, the author has created a character that is engaging and likeable. There were moments when I felt sorry for her and all the tragedy she had experienced, and there were times when I just wanted to shake some sense into her. It was this love/hate that kept me involved in the story. The narrative moves back and forth between what is happening at college and what happened while she was in high school so you have to get to the end to know the whole story. I think this book will be especially appealing to young adults but if you like psychological stories you will also find this book enjoyable. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it ended. I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Thank you to NetGalley and Alibi for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: “The Hotel Westend” by Ashley Lynch-Harris

Book Review: “The Hotel Westend” by Ashley Lynch-Harris

A great new entry in the cozy mystery genre! Elsie and Frances Maitland are sisters who love to solve puzzles. Frances is the adventurous one who likes to take chances, while Elsie is usually reserved and lets her sister take the lead. Prior to the start of the story, Frances is in a jet-ski accident which leaves her disabled. She also makes her living writing mystery stories. As the story opens, Elsie has decided to go rock-climbing in her sister’s place, but when she takes a wrong turn she ends up at the Hotel Westend. Several other guests are arriving on the same day, all of whom were staying there 20 years ago when a murder was committed. In the middle of the night, all the guests are awakened by the sound of a crying baby. When the dust settles, two people are dead and everyone is a suspect.

I loved the tone of this mystery which is reminiscent of Agatha Christie. The author has assembled and engaging cast of characters, from the elderly priest to the town gossip, and everything in between. Elsie is adorable as the reluctant yet persistent investigator. There are hints of more great things to come from the Maitland sisters and I look forward to seeing more from this author. This is a great book for lovers of cozy, Christie-style mysteries.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review:  “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Book Review: “A Charleston Yankee” by Michael Mercurio

Goodreads blurb:
Amid the turbulent 1960s arises an intriguing tale of love, betrayal, and death in the ever-historic Charleston, South Carolina. As marine maverick Mike Romano steps off the naval base, he has no inkling of what civilian life has in store for him. After retrieving his wife from his hometown of New York City, he launches a new career as an insurance salesman, with a fire for putting the past behind him and achieving great success.

But Mike quickly finds himself hawking burial insurance and collecting weekly premiums in a predominately black ghetto. This isn’t what he had envisioned, but the exposure ignites a different kind of internal flame—one that is quiet but strong. It gets him involved in a political group intent on positive social change, which introduces him to a fascinating, wealthy, older woman with high political ambitions who sets her sights on him. As his involvement in the civil rights movement intensifies, so does the groundswell against the Vietnam War. Tensions rise along with racial hostility, murders, bombings, and burnings, and Mike soon realizes that America is no longer the country he once swore to defend.

Experience these historical and iconic events, through the life of one passionate man in search of personal fulfillment and public justice.

My thoughts:
I found this story to be a fascinating look at a critical time in our nation’s history. Not having grown up in the south, I have to say I was rather blissfully unaware of the issues of racism and prejudice in our country until as an adult I went to school in Tennessee. I found Mike to be very effective at delineating the issues when he and his wife faced them. Since he was from New York, and in the beginning of the story, new to Charleston, I think he was able to see the broader picture and how the mindset of segregation in the South was holding back the forward movement of the country. I also think that given what our country is going through now, it is nice to be reminded of the progress that we have made and the struggle we went through to get this far. The author did a great job not only with presenting the themes of the story, but also of describing Charleston as it was at the time, from the sweeping mansions to the tenements, the reader gets a view of the whole of the city. I would recommend this book to any reader of fiction and lovers of a good story.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review: “Ink and Bone” by Lisa Unger

Book Review: “Ink and Bone” by Lisa Unger

Goodreads blurb:
Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery is rarely alone. Visited by people whom others can’t see and haunted by prophetic dreams, she has never been able to control or understand the things that happen to her. When Finley’s abilities start to become too strong for her to handle – and even the roar of her motorcycle or another dazzling tattoo can’t drown out the voices – she turns to the only person she knows who can help her: her grandmother Eloise Montgomery, a renowned psychic living in The Hollows, New York.

Merri Gleason is a woman at the end of her tether after a ten-month-long search for her missing daughter, Abbey. With almost every hope exhausted, she resorts to hiring Jones Cooper, a detective who sometimes works with psychic Eloise Montgomery. Merri’s not a believer, but she’s just desperate enough to go down that road, praying that she’s not too late. Time, she knows, is running out.

As a harsh white winter moves into The Hollows, Finley and Eloise are drawn into the investigation, which proves to have much more at stake than even the fate of a missing girl. As Finley digs deeper into the town and its endless layers, she is forced to examine the past, even as she tries to look into the future. Only one thing is clear: The Hollows gets what it wants, no matter what.

My thoughts:
Looking for a paranormal thriller? Then this book is for you. Lisa Unger has created a wonderful cast of characters her, both real and spirit. With lots of plot twists and surprises mixed in, this book just can’t be put down I liked how the story is told not just by Finley but by the parents of the missing girl. The narrative moves back and forth between the two, gradually bringing them together at the conclusion. Finley is a very complex character and the author reveals her to the reader over the course of the story as she works through her relationships and as she begins to understand how her gift works and how to control it. I also enjoyed how some of the spirits become actual characters in the story, not just apparitions or visions, but as real to Finley as the human characters she interacts with. I think this book would be enjoyable to paranormal readers but also to those who enjoy thrillers. There is something here for a broad range of readers.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Book Review: “By Helen’s Hand” by Amalia Carosella

Book Review: “By Helen’s Hand” by Amalia Carosella

The Greek demigod Helen comes to life under the skillful craftsmanship of Amalia Carosella. This book is the second in the author’s series about Helen of Sparta. “By Helen’s Hand” picks up Helen’s story at the point where she has been rescued by her brothers from the city of Athens. While in Athens she had married Theseus and become queen of that city. Helen is still determined to choose her own fate instead of letting the gods dictate her destiny. She convinces her father to host a series of competitions for the men who wish to marry her. It is Helen’s hope that the winner will be anybody other than Menelaus, but the gods intervene again and she finds herself in a loveless marriage, desperately hoping that Theseus will return from Hades to rescue her. Will Helen be able to thwart the will of the gods, or will her nightmares, full of violence and destruction, come true?

I really enjoyed how the author brought the myth of Helen to life. She gave her a depth of character and conviction that the myths, in their brevity, can never convey. The story itself has lots of surprises and twists thrown in to keep the reader guessing, until the end, what the final outcome will be. This is the first book by this author that I have read but I will definitely be looking for more from her. This book is an obvious choice for lovers of Greek mythology but I think any reader who enjoys intrigue and drama in an historical setting will find lots to like in this book.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Review: “Victoria Crossing” by Michael Wallace

Review: “Victoria Crossing” by Michael Wallace

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction

“Victoria Crossing” is the story of Victoria MacPherson, a young Irishwoman who emigrates to the U.S. during the potato famine. After losing all of her family, she embarks solo on the arduous journey across the sea. On the way she meets Maeve, whose mother has died on the ship. Maeve is traveling on the hope that her brother will meet her in New York. When the promised brother is not there the girls are forced to make their own way in a city that is openly discriminatory against its Irish immigrants. But Victoria is driven to succeed in spite of all her setbacks. After being robbed of what little money she had on her arrival, the girls find themselves in a rat-infested tenement, but they quickly pick up sewing jobs and Victoria soon has dreams of owning her own shop. Along the way the make friends and enemies, who deliberately try to destroy them, and learn the ways of business. When Maeve’s brother finally appears the girls are encouraged, but tragedy soon strikes. Will this determined girl be able to start over and achieve her dream? Or, will the city beat her down?

I really enjoyed this story. I especially like the way the author was able to point up not only the difficulties and discrimination that the Irish faced when arriving in the U.S., but the conflict within the Irish community between the Catholics and the Protestants. Victoria and Maeve are very well developed as characters in the story. After reading the story I felt like I had a greater understanding of the impact of the famine and the political conflicts on the rank and file of the Irish citizenry. I also really enjoyed the author’s portrayal of the city of New York at the time. The rapid growth it was experiencing made for many opportunities for success but there was also treachery lurking not too far beneath the surface which made for very satisfying dramatic moments. Overall, this is a very enjoyable read especially for lovers of historical fiction.

Alinefromabook’s rating: THUMBS-UP!

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Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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