Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Silent Creed (Ryder Creed #2) by Alex Kava

Most of them were asleep in their beds when the ground gave way. . . .
When Ryder Creed responds to a devastating mudslide in North Carolina, he knows the difference between finding survivors and the dead—is time. Heedless of the dangers, Creed and his best search-and-rescue dog Bolo frantically wade through the chaos of twisted tree limbs, crumbled cement, and unrecognizable debris, when a second slide catches up with Ryder. And he is buried alive.
Bolo makes it out, though, and leads the heroic rescue of his master. What they get when they pull Ryder out from the mud is much more than they bargained for. The secrets in the mud around Creed run deep, pointing to a possible serial killer and unexpectedly dredging up painful, hushed-up pieces of Creed’s own past.
The mysteries unearthed will bring Ryder Creed face-to-face with his past loyalties, deeply embedded survivor’s guilt, and a powerful figure from his past. He’ll have to rely on his dogs if he wants to make it through alive.  

A book about a K-9 search and rescue team?  Sign me up!  Reading Silent Creed by Alex Kava seemed like a perfect way to spend a lazy Saturday.  Living vicariously through the hero, “seeing” the action from my couch, and falling in love with doggies is right in my wheelhouse.  Unfortunately, Silent Creed broke several of my reading commandments, so it was not as enjoyable as it might have been.
The broken commandments are as follows:
1.  In a second book, though shalt catch the reader up to what happened in the first book.
2.  Thou shalt not overpopulate your book with characters who serve a purpose for two pages and then show up thirty pages later—for two more pages of service.
3.  Thou shalt not give the hero more than one concussion in a 300 page book.
4.  Thou shalt make the natural disaster that prompts the release of the K-9 team believable.  It was a landslide.  That kept sliding.  That ripped people to pieces.  That buried buildings and moved them down mountains.  That kept sliding.  And slid some more. And then more.
5.  Though thou art allowed to put people in peril, try to vary the peril.  (Lots of buried alive!)

I really liked the parts with the trainer, Ryder Creed, and his dogs.  The insights into how training works and the demands placed upon these dogs was fascinating.  This year, a bill was passed that allowed military service dogs to return to the US for retirement.  (Previously, the dogs were considered “civilians” when they retired and were not eligible for government transport.  Costly, private transportation had to be arranged.)
         The secret government lab working on biological weapons and its compromise formed the bulk of the narrative, but honestly, I was way more interested in the dog.  When the killer was revealed, due to the bloated character field, I was not really sure exactly who he was.  Maybe that is my weakness as a reader, but I know that it tamped down my pleasure at reading.
         Silent Creed did not really have a solid “tie up all the loose strings” ending, so be sure to look for it.  If governmental conspiracies are your thing, you would probably enjoy Silent Creed.
         *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

In the new novel, Smoke by Catherine McKenzie, Elizabeth is used to fighting fires.  She has been working with wildfire management teams for a long time.  What she is not used to fighting for is peace at home.  Her life as an arson investigator has caused major problems at home:  the long hours, the preoccupation with work, and the close relationships with coworkers have taken a toll on her marriage.  Elizabeth and her husband are on the verge of divorce.  Her once close relationship with her close friend, Mindy, is in tatters.
         Elizabeth’s former friend, Mindy, is not faring much better.  She is struggling to find her place in the community.  Though she values her husband and children, she is having trouble negotiating a relationship with them.  When a deadly, out of control wildfire threatens the town, Mindy finds new purpose in trying to raise money for the elderly displaced man whose property contained the fire origin.

         The fire investigation reveals that the beginning of the fire is more suspect than originally thought.  When the inquiry reveals that local teens may be involved, it leads to Elizabeth and Mindy questioning their families as well as their relationships within the town.

         Though there is a mystery in Smoke, I would place the novel more firmly in the category of women’s’ fiction.  The bulk of the novel is really spent upon the relationships of the women to each other and to the members of their families.  I found the book to be well written with fleshed-out, believable characters.

         The plot, while involving, did not build much of a sense of anticipation for me, and though I was interested to know what actually happened, I did not feel compelled to find out.  Instead, I was more interested to know if the relationships of the women improved.
         Another aspect of the novel that is well done is the description of fire and its toll on communities.  It is clear that Catherine McKenzie knows what she is talking about when it comes to managing fire danger and its impact upon those first responders who try to save lives and property.

         Overall, Smoke was an enjoyable read and I learned a bit about the world of fire management as well.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater. She lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds. She likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps. She has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can’t be made, and promises that won’t be kept. Expertly plotted and reminiscent of Gone Girl and These Things Hidden, The Silent Wife ensnares the reader from page one and does not let go. 

The Silent Wife was not what I was expecting.  Compared to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, I was expecting a marriage gone wrong but with some psychological and thrilling components - plot twists and turns that would make my head spin.  However, I was pretty wrong.

Pretty much Jodi and Todd have been together forever.  However, middle age has set in and Todd has taken up with a younger woman.   I didn't like Todd at all because he felt entitled, that he could have his cake and eat it too.  He didn't see anything wrong with spending the afternoon with his fling and then going home and sleeping in his own bed and spending time with Jodi.  He didn't want anything to change.  But it does when his younger woman gets pregnant.

Jodi is very hard to read.  She spends her afternoons as a therapist and her time keeping their apartment in pristine condition and cooking up splendid gourmet meals for Todd.  She is very happy with her life and doesn't like things to change her schedule.  So this young fling and her baby are just a blip on her radar.  She continues like nothing is wrong and since she knows Todd, she knows it's a passing fling and that he will come back to her.  But it doesn't work out that Todd begins to feel pressure from many sources.

I didn't like any characters in The Silent Wife.  The story takes the reader into the past of Jodi and Todd, how they met and how their life has evolved.  Love and revenge can do many things to a person and Harrison throws in a few twists and turns to keep the reader guessing.  I enjoyed the storyline immensely, I just thought the writing was very dry.  Recommended for readers who enjoy mystery thrillers but on the dry side.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Wendy

Friday, September 25, 2015

Giveaway - Beaded Bookmark

Enter to win 1 of 2 Eat. Sleep. Read. Beaded Bookmarks! 

You must have a twitter account to enter. 

Hurry - this one won't last long!!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Eternal City by Paula Morris

Laura Martin is visiting Rome on a class trip, and she's entranced by the majestic Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon. . . . Everything in this city seems magical.

That is, until the magic seems to turn very dark.

Suddenly, statues of Cupid and ancient works of art come to life before her eyes. Earthquakes rumble and a cloud of ash forms in the sky. A dark-eyed boy with wings on his heels appears and gives her a message. Laura soon realizes she is at the center of a brewing battle -- a battle between the gods and goddesses, one that will shake modern-day Rome to its core.

Only she and her group of friends can truly unravel the mystery behind what is happening. As tensions mount and secret identities are revealed, Laura must rely on her own inner strength to face up to what may be a fight for her life.

Acclaimed author Paula Morris brings the ancient world to vivid life in this unstoppable tale of friendship, love, and the power of the past.

The main thing I liked about The Eternal City was the setting. I've always dreamed of going to Rome so it was a special treat for me to live vicariously through this story. I actually don't know a lot about Roman mythology even though I am a huge fan of mythology in fiction, but luckily I didn't really feel like it was a big deal to know exactly who was who since it was mostly explained in the story. The writing had a simplicity to it that helped me not feel too overwhelmed during all the craziness in the city and the constant battles. 

I understand that this book is aimed more toward a young audience so I tried to keep that in mind but I still think there could have been a little more romance. I appreciated that the romance that was there developed slowly and wasn't  wham bam instant love. But I really didn't feel the chemistry either so that was a bit disappointing. I actually would've liked the story much more if there was maybe a love connection between the main character and Mercury but that didn't even seem an option here. The story behind the gems and the link to Minerva was a nice touch and something I would have liked to see more thoroughly explored.  

Lastly the characters really didn't seem all that likable until close to the end but I did find them interesting enough if there was to ever be a sequel or spin off I'd like to see where they end up ( although I'm pretty sure this one will remain a standalone ). All in all I did like the book I just didn't love it. It is a quick read and would probably be entertaining to those who enjoy YA novels based on mythology. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. April

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow

The Girl in the Torch by Robert Sharenow is a lovely piece of historical fiction that will introduce middle grade readers to a fascinating period in history.  I particularly loved that it touched on some history that many children are not familiar with, and it showed the interaction of cultures that has made America great.
         At the turn of the century, many immigrants are sailing to America in search of a better life.  After the tragic death of her father, Sarah is excited to be traveling with her mother to New York.  When she arrives, she is devastated by another loss and told that she cannot stay.  She makes a split-second decision that leads her to the small island that houses the Statue of Liberty.

         Posing as a tourist during the day and eluding the watchman by night, Sarah survives by eating from the trash and hiding in trees.  When she makes the decision to perform a kindness to someone in physical danger, her world suddenly opens up, and she becomes a member of the wider community.  

         This wider community represents the fuller sense of what it means to live in America.  The hope of the Statue of Liberty meets the grit of every day life.  Sarah learns that honesty, courage, and friendship—the values that her mother taught her—will serve her well in her new country.

         This book has so much to offer young readers.  The chapters are very short and perfect for middle grade readers.  The protagonist, Sarah, is someone to root for.  While there are some examples of violence and bigotry, they are presented in a way that would be understandable for a young reader.  Many cultures in this novel coexist and we learn a little about each one.  

         Finally, the character of Maryk, the night watchman, and his tragic past was so poignant and moving.  His gradual softening and care for Sarah was truly lovely to read.
         I cannot recommend The Girl in the Torch highly enough.  It will have a place in my classroom library for many years to come.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Friday, September 18, 2015

Secret Brother (The Diaries #3) by V.C. Andrews

  I have been reading V.C. Andrews’ books since I was thirteen, and I stole them from my mother.  I loaned them to all of my friends, and they came back in tatters.  Flowers in the Attic was my gateway book to the grown-up reading world. This meant that I was super excited to read Secret Brother—an all-new sequel to Flowers in the Attic.  I was left ultimately disappointed, but hopeful that the next book in the series (and surely there will be one!) will be much more exciting.
         Secret Brother starts with the Arnold family.  Clara Sue and her brother, Willie, live with their father on a lovely estate, surrounded by other lovely estates.  Her parents and grandmother have died, and the small little family has banded together, along with their faithful servants.  When a tragedy claims the life of Clara Sue’s brother, it is her grandfather who behaves uncharacteristically.  Another little boy, dumped at the hospital and in a coma, needs help.  To help alleviate his grief, the grandfather decides to take care of the little boy.
         Clara Sue wants no part of this plan and deeply resents her grandfather for what she sees as an attempt to replace her barely cold brother.  In some ways, she was right.  The grandfather gave the speechless boy the toys of his dead grandson, as well as his name.  It was pretty creepy. But Clara Sue was a serious brat through most of the book.  If you took every sentence that was written about her unhappiness about the “poisoned boy”, it would cover at least 100 pages.  It slowed down the book, since essentially, she was just whining.
         The rest of the novel revolves around Clara Sue’s burgeoning dating relationship.  Will she remain true to the values she has been taught or will a fast-talking classmate sway her?  Will her resentment at her family result in wayward behavior?
         Any true Flowers in the Attic fan will know who the poisoned boy is pretty quickly, so there was no mystery there.  In truth, this book felt like a set-up for the next book, which I am sure will pick up since the boy is now alert and awake.  It would be great to see the intersection of more Flowers in the Attic characters with Secret Brother ones. 
         The novel was mostly slow, but if you are a true fan, you will read it to get ready for the next book!
*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina