Professional Reader 80% 25 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Angels Burning -Review

Angels Burning    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Tawni O'Dell
Published January 2016 by Gallery Books

Finished 12.29.16

Dove has gone from a poor orphan girl raised by her grandmother  to being chief of police in a small PA backwater.  Her estranged brother has shown up with a nine year old son no one knew about.  Dove is an attractive fifty, and her self-deprecating  humor kept me laughing, while at the same time  a very gruesome murder has occurred which Dove and the state police  are investigating.

I stand I front of my bathroom mirror examining my Morning Old Face, or OMF as I've come to think of it. It's a syndrome I've identified that occurs when I first wake up and my face looks much older than it is.  My color  is bad.  I have dark circles under my eyes.  My cheeks sag.  The lines on my forehead pop out.  Later in the day I improve, but until then....   ... Sound familiar?

She is very friendly with one of the state policemen, if you get my drift.  She can't  help but seek his approval  at each turn of her investigation; but still we're  privy to her internal  conversations, which are so entertaining:

"You need to decide if you're a law enforcement officer or a glorified babysitter who ignores  the rules and does whatever the hell she wants," he told me roughly.  When he put it that way, I kind of preferred the second option.

All is not fun and games of course.  There are some very loathsome  characters within the family of the murdered girl, all who kept me guessing about what could possibly happen next.  A really enjoyable  read.  I also loved her Back Roads many years ago  and I  wager her other books are worth checking out too.  Any recommendations?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Everything You Want Me to Be - Review

Everything You Want Me to Be     🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Mindy Mijia
Published January 3 2017 by Atria/Emily Bestler Books

Finished 12/24/2016

4.5 stars

Hattie is a high school senior who wants to be a Broadway  actress after she graduates.  She doesn't  feel like she belongs in her small hometown of Pine Valley, Minnesota.  There, she can't be her literary, sophisticated, mature self (you know, prom is just so "high school"), so she is already an actress, playing the parts that everyone wants her to be until she can make her escape  --  best friend, confidante, football player's girlfriend, devoted daughter  -- but she is none of these really.  Perhaps she can only be herself in a chat room she frequents discussing books, which turns into much more. Hattie acts; that what she does best.  And then gets herself murdered.  She really is dead, yet her spirit survives as the sheriff, Del, tries to figure out who did it.

Hattie, Del, and Peter, Hattie's English teacher, give us alternating points of view, before and after the murder.  The author did a great job portraying the inner workings  of these characters as well as with building the tension up to the climax.  You might think you have the ending all figured out, but just wait, and guess again.  

An ARC from NetGalley  and the publisher.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Wright Brothers - Review

The Wright Brothers     🌟🌟🌟🌟
by David McCullough
Published  May 5 2015 by Simon & Schuster

Finished  12.20.2016

"On July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong, another American born and raised in Southwestern Ohio, stepped onto the moon, he carried with him, in tribute to the Wright Brothers, a small swatch of the muslin from a wing of their 1903 Flyer."

This was a very thorough bio of Orville and Wilbur, read by the author, the incomparable David McCullough.  Their story is already well known if you studied them at all in school, but McCullough was able to add some dimension to the brothers and to their family  members and those who had any effect on them in their years in business.  I'm  not a big fan of bios or non-fiction, so this was a bit dry in parts; but it made me realize what great, honest men they were, how hard they worked for all they achieved, and how well-deserved that 1969 tribute to them on the moon was.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Sleepwalker: A Novel - Review

The Sleepwalker: A Novel      🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Chris Bohjalian
Published January  10 2017 by Doubleday

Finished 12.19.16

I've  pretty much decided that Chris Bohjalian could write about the making of a jet engine and make it interesting enough for me to come back for more.  Here he gives us a lesson in sleepwalking and other sleep disorders.  Some I  already knew about; some I did not, such as how sleepwalking can be passed  down from one generation to  the next.  

And there he goes again with his female points of view, always done so well.  It  really is remarkable.  

Annalee, a mother of two girls, has gone missing during a night when her husband was out of town. She has a history of sleepwalking and leaving the house, so it is presumed that got her into some predicament.  There are multiple mysteries to be solved:  What happened to the woman  and where did she end up?  Will the two daughters start sleepwalking now too as a result of this event?  And who is the mysterious state cop who knows more about Annalee than her family does  and is showing an interest in the older daughter?

 The various mysteries had me guessing and nail biting until the very end.  A great  book I  would highly recommend.  My thanks to NetGalley  and the publisher.  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Roanoke Girls - Review

The Roanoke Girls    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Amy Engel
Published March 2017 by Crown Publishers

Finished 12/17/16, ARC from LibraryThing

Most families have some secret or secrets they'd rather not have revealed because of the possible embarrassment; but for most, if those secrets were to come out, it wouldn't be the end of the world, just slightly, temporarily uncomfortable.  Like your Uncle Fred was a closet alcoholic or your Grandmother had a baby out of wedlock prior to meeting your Grandfather.  Common enough, innocent enough secrets  that ultimately wouldn't change your love for those relatives.  But some families have devastating secrets  that, even though everyone knows should be revealed to stop the madness, are still held only in the close family circle  and are explained away, ignored, rather than their revelation change the lives of those affected forever.

Here we have the latter of those kinds of secrets.  I haven't noticed any reviews yet that spill it, and I  won't do so either.  I think it's  best not to know prior to reading this  because then you might not want to read it at all. I know that  would have been the case with me.  The secret dribbles out very early in the book so then there's still time  to decide whether to continue.  I  chose to read on, somewhat reluctantly, because by then the story had me in its clutches.  There was no turning back.

Wonderfully unique characters, most detestable, but to know their histories  is to understand them (for the most part).  I only hope no part of what the author wrote is autobiographical, other than having grandparents  in Kansas.   It's a disturbing and rough read.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Siracusa - Review

Siracusa    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Delia Ephron
Published July 12 2016 by Blue Rider Express

Finished 11/23/16

Looking back now, reading this was similar to reading a Patricia Highsmith novel.  Two couples and a very weird child take a trip to Siracusa and nothing will ever be the same again.  Love triangles, naughty desires,  sophisticated and rich prose--all here.  Personally, I quite enjoyed the story  as each character and their quirks are revealed, even though I  couldn't relate to any of them.  Sort of liked Lizzy, though, starting from the point early on when she said she didn't go in for using hand sanitizers.  Me neither!  They don't remove dust and dirt and are just plain gross.  Lizzy, thank you, it needed to be said!

But that has not much to do with the plot of course.  Not much can be said about that without ruining all the small reveals that lead up to the BIG reveal.  The ending and what all the adults decided to do about the big little problem is just crazy.  I highly recommend.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Fredrik Backman
Published November 1 2016 by Atria  Books

Finished November 20, 2016

Wow.  Can that be my entire review, please?  Just wow?  I have known Alzheimer's  and it isn't pretty.  But this little novella is simple and beautiful, simply beautiful.  This short book gets a short review  with short words.  Wow.

Thank you, NetGalley and Atria  Books for approving me to review this.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Everybody's Fool - Review

Everybody's Fool
by Richard Russo
Published  May 3, 2016, by Knopf

Finished 11/1/16

3.5 stars

Wow, 18 1/2 hours of audio is a long book.  And some of it is a rehash of the first book, Nobody's  Fool, so the mind wanders.  If it wasn't for the mix of every day, ordinary characters  and the outright crazy bunch that inhabit North Bath, there would be nothing special about the book.  My favorite remains Sully, a gruff old guy, getting up in years now and not exactly healthy, but compared to everyone else in town, he's heroic, iconic, and angelic. I kept wanting more of him!

Mark Brammall again flawlessly narrates the audio.  

I Liked My Life - Review

I Liked My Life    🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Abby Fabiaschi
Expected Publication January 31 2017 by St. Martin's  Press

Finished 11/19/16

"If we could learn to learn from pain, even as it grasps us...." is a quote from a real poem mentioned in the book, so it's allowed in this review of a  galley copy. And it so aptly forecasts the theme of the book -- how a teenage girl can grow while grieving over her mother's suicide.

Maddy is a ghost, stuck  in transition or purgatory, following her fatal leap off a building.  Her daughter Eve and husband Brady are picking up the pieces, not always successfully; so Maddy feels she is there to give them an occasional  gentle nudge in the right direction.  For Brady, she already has the perfect successor wife  picked  out because  that's  what  he is needing most, in her opinion.  For Eve, getting happiness back is the ticket, in Maddy's  opinion.  Maddy discovers she can turn a repeated mantra into action on the part of these mortals on earth, and uses her power quite effectively.

Making it more difficult for Eve and Brady was that Maddy didn't  leave  a note; she left a To Do list.  She left nary a clue as to WHY she might kill herself.   What Maddie did leave for those who survived her were wonderful memories, a wealth of wisdom, and words to live by. 
"...Love, compassion, and forgiveness are capacities you have to actively engage because experiences will strip you of them if you aren't careful."
There is so much sage advice offered here, I wonder what the author could possibly have leftover for her next book; but God I  hope there is another!

The book is humorous while being achingly sad.  From heartwarming to heartbreaking. You will go  from smiles to tears in a heartbeat.  As a teenager, the author lost a good friend  in an accident, which makes the motivation behind the novel even more touching.  

4.5 stars   Very impressed with this debut AND that  20% of all proceeds from it will go to support women's and children's charities around the globe.  A thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Little Deaths - Review

Little Deaths    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Emma Flint
Expected Publication January 17 2017 by Hachette Books

Finished 11/6/16

The story is a heartbreaking one. A single mother of two wakes up to find her kids are gone and no clue what happened to them, that is until both turn up dead at different times.  Ruth has had so many men in her life and has been drinking so much, it's possible she can't think clearly and can't trust anyone.  She is thought guilty based on her attractive appearance, her aloofness to other housewives, her occupation as a cocktail waitress, her reputation for bringing men home.  Poor example of a mother maybe but didn't she love those kids with all her being?   

One of the men interested in her is a rookie newspaper reporter who can't let the story go until he finds that one incredible clue that will help prove Ruth's  innocence.  He uncovers police shenanigans and a possible ex-boyfriend who could have done it.  He will do anything to help her.  The book starts with Ruth in prison, so how's that going to come about?

This was just a bit of a slow  starter for me but gets pretty intense  during the investigation and trial.  Then there's a Holy Sh!* ending I  for one did not see coming.  An excellent debut.  I was given an ARC copy by a friend.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Fire Child - Review

The Fire Child  🌟🌟🌟🌟
by S. K. Tremaine
Published  June 16 2016 by Harper Collins UK

Finished  11/1/16

I loved the setting of this story from the start, which  is Cornwall, near the old abandoned copper mines of the past--Wheal Rose, Wheal Chance, and dozens in ruins, yet ever present....  I was constantly reminded of Poldark. 

Rachel has just married into  a wealthy family, a widower  with a small  son and elderly mother.  There in the huge family manor house  with a name (Carnhallow) are  constant reminders of Wife #1, the beautiful Nina who died too young in an accident.  Rachel is left to wander the rooms and the grounds while husband David spends every week lawyering in London.... Shades of Rebecca? 

OK, I'm hooked!  However... it's  not as simple as all that. There are also -- thank God I read this around Halloween -- shades of The Twilight Zone.

The 8 year old son Jamie has taken his mother's  death hard.  Rachel is challenged to make life normal again for the little fella.   But maybe his world cannot  be exactly  normal.   His mind seems  preoccupied, and Rachel witnesses him  talking to apparitions and dreaming of events yet to happen.  Who is he talking to when by himself?  What does he know about the night of his Mummy's  accident?  

A great start and a decent ending, but some of the middle  felt like it was coming completely apart, plummeting into uncharted territory. It kept me guessing. A big Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) - Review

The Trespasser   💛💛💛💛💛
by Tana French
Published October 4 2016 by Viking

Finished 10/29/16

Tana French, I love everything you do!  5 magnificent stars, this may be my favorite of hers yet.  From the get go, the  setting and the mood are in evidence.  This author's descriptive writing is unsurpassed, in my opinion.  I wanted to provide some sample quotes here but to illustrate the full impact of her pages would require several long paragraphs.  And I don't think my words alone can do this book justice.

Antoinette Conway is the only woman on the Murder Squad and still somewhat of a rookie besides, so she and her equally young partner Steve feel like they're under constant scrutiny to prove their worth as detectives (Ds).  Conway is guarded, introspective, and on edge,  ready to explode, while Steve is a "chirpy little bollix."  They play off each other like seasoned pros. They're handed a case that the other Ds say is a slam dunk, but their senses tell them something is off and someone wants this solved a little too quickly.  

Much of the plot progresses via the smart dialogue, and like no one else, French gives us not just their words but also every little eye twitter, mouth twitch, and nervous jitter so that we feel like we are there seeing the action, feeling the tension, and not just reading it.  I was on the edge of my seat throughout, with a few laugh out loud moments to lighten the load at times.  In the end, there is no one  else in the same league as French. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Woman on the Orient Express -Review

"The Woman on the Orient Express"    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
Published September 20, 2016, by Lake Union Publishing

Finished  10/24/16

Of all the films made from Agatha Christie books, Murder on the Orient Express has always been my favorite. In the back of my mind ever since, I have wondered about the train, The Orient Express, as it seemed like an amazing way to see and experience life and history all at once.

This book offered me the next best thing, plus a fictional account of a time Ms. Christie traveled on the train following her divorce in 1928. I just loved this book and learned so much! Agatha meets many interesting and diverse people, some real, some fictional, and her life is changed from making the trip. It culminated in traveling from Baghdad to an archeological dig in Ur, where a good portion of the story takes place. A little bit of history, women's fiction, love, friendship, and adventure in the desert all rolled up into one.

The train, like life, must go on until it reaches it's destination. You might not always like what you see out the window, but if you pull down the blind you will miss the beauty as well as the ugliness. 

An ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The House at the Edge of Night - Review

The House at the Edge of Night     🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Catherine  Banner
Published  July 12 2016 by Random  House

Finished 10/23/16

Some will think me odd, but this is my favorite book cover this year! I think it's  just gorgeous.

It turned out to be quite an enjoyable saga, and kudos to the audio narrator for making it so.  Eduardo  Ballerini's  pacing and inflections  often reminded me of Louise Penny's expert reader, the late Ralph Cosham, but with the occasional Italiano thrown in instead  of French.  So it made me want to sit back in a comfy  chair  with some vino or Limoncello and just enjoy.

This is the story of five generations  of the Esposito family on a mythical island near Sicily. From WWI to present day, we fall in love with each member  of the family.  The house is first acquired by Amadeo  and remodeled  into a bar, a business venture which holds the family together for generations.  The island itself undergoes  major transformations, from its old fashioned ways into modernity as each generation matures and brings in automobiles, refrigeration, computers, modern banking, and the problems each carries. The bar keepers evolve as well, and I really liked Amadeo's daughter Maria Grazia most of all (sorry if misspelled; I haven't seen it written).

I  did like the earlier years better than the modern ones, and that could be partly due to  the length of the saga.  In general, a book this long needs some mystery  or plot  twists to hold my interest.    But it's  not an exciting story, rather it's  pretty docile, like the island.  I could probably do well to listen to the last hour again since I found my mind wandering so much.  But life's too short and other books beckon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Risen - Review

The Risen    🌟🌟🌟🌟 4.5 stars
by Ron Rash
Published September 6 2016 by Harper Luxe

Finished 10/20/16

A tale of two brothers, bewitched, bothered, and beguiled one coming-of-age summer  by a beautiful girl who likes to think she's a mermaid.  But she's something else.  One brother catches on; one stays under her spell.  One brother goes on to become a successful surgeon; the other a drunk.  Any correlation?  Ultimately,  what happened  that summer altered their lives  forever.

 It's an evocative tale you will want to, and can, read straight through.  Rash  ensnares you with his words and then mixes things up a bit at the  end in ways unexpected but then, oh of course, so shrewd.  Sparse, yet impactful.  What isn't  said says so much.  I am in awe. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Golden Son: A Novel - Review

The Golden Son: A Novel   🌟🌟🌟
by Shilpa Somaya Gowda
Published October 20th 2015 by HarperAvenue

Finished 10.15.16

This is one of those books you sort of get swept up in, with its quiet brand of storytelling about a culture very different from my own.  The audio narration was excellent with the variation in voices extremely well done. 

Anil is the oldest son in an Indian family, expected to do great things with his life; and he goes to Houston to learn to become a doctor.  Long hours in the hospital, falling in love with an American, a stuttering problem, never feeling like he quite fits in.  After many years, though, he feels the same way whenever he goes back home. 
Leena  was his childhood friend to whom he always felt a special connection.  Her story in India highlights why dowries have been outlawed in India (I hadn't  known that before)  and how despicably women are treated in their culture (this I have heard, unfortunately).  Not all women, but those unlucky to have been poorly matched can be treated like dogs and can lose everything.  There is  always something to learn, something to gain, when reading about other cultures, and that's  what makes it so enjoyable.

Some parts were difficult but overall a really good story.  3.5 stars.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Nest - Review

The Nest    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Christine D'Aprix  Sweeney  
Published March 22, 2016 by Ecco  

Finished 10/7/2016

3.5 stars would be more like it.

I didn't  find this book annoying  like many did, but Leo certainly falls under that description.  I enjoyed the many  subjects covered here, as I thought it would be strictly about adult children whining about not getting the full inheritance they'd been expecting.  Which was thanks  to Leo.  I could name a few other unfortunate things that happened to other members of the cast, also thanks to Leo. 

Overall I found it well written and intelligent.   A bit disappointed in the ending, though, thanks to Leo!

The Things We Wish Were True - Review

The Things We Wish Were True  🌟🌟🌟
by Mary Beth Mayhew Whalen
Published 9.1.16 by Lake Union Publishing

Finished 10.7.16

And yet, Jencey understood, there were the things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true. She was learning that there was usually a great distance between the two.

If you can get past the unusual names of the main characters, you might be able to enjoy this story:  Bryte (is it pronounced like Bright  or like Britt?), Cutter, Jencey, Pilar, Zara, and Zell, with a lifejacket thrown in by way of Everett, Lance and Cailey.  I've never understood it when authors settle on such names; are they trying to be unique, or to just confuse the reader?

I did, eventually, get past that, and I did enjoy the story pretty much. The author  experienced something at her neighborhood  pool one summer and wanted to share how it united the whole community with a common goal, a dream if you  will.   She did a good job here, giving us some memorable characters and a title that makes you stop occasionally to ponder how it relates to each one.  My heart was with little Cailey  throughout, and her relationship with Zell was very special.  That's  what this book is about after all-- relationships, the secrets we keep, and the things we wish were true but about which we need to GET REAL.

I won a Kindle version from goodreads first reads.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cruel Beautiful World - Review

Cruel Beautiful World   🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Caroline Leavitt
To be published Oct 4, 2016, by Algonquin Books

Finished  10/1/2016

 If you read the blurb and  think this is about a 16 year old girl who runs off with her 30 something teacher, you would be only half right. True, Lucy Gold leaves her sister Charlotte and "Mom" Iris in a quandary wondering where she could be, and yes, most of the story  revolves around Lucy's lonely, sheltered existence in the aftermath.  But the offshoots into the backgrounds of the few other characters are handled with ease as well.  Iris is lonely but content  enough with her life when she gets the call asking if she'll raise the two little girls she didn't know existed.  Charlotte is happy to put herself second to her little sister's needs, until she can no longer do so.  Patrick has his own sadness but seems a good man.  In that time of the Sharon Tate murders, Kent State, and communes, there are so many layers to the story. It all culminates with a few story lines left open ended, and a happy ending for my favorite character, who will remain nameless  to avoid spoilers.

Thanks to LT Early  Reviewers for my copy.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Summer That Melted Everything - Review

The Summer That Melted Everything     🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Tiffany McDaniel
Published by St. Martin's  Press

Finished  9/30/16

If someone has gone through hell,  does that make him the devil? 
It's 1984 in the small town of Breathed, Ohio, where "The bright bright stars could not save the dark dark sky."  Sal  comes to town after Autopsy Bliss places an ad inviting  the devil to show himself in Breathed. Sal appears, as nothing but a young black boy wanting some ice cream, a kid wise beyond his years who emits heat and sweat like a furnace, during that hot, sweltering summer.  Sal says he is indeed the devil and is answering the newspaper ad.
Slowly his story and that of the  Bliss family who takes him in are peeled back; and if bad luck and tragedy don't follow Sal, they seem to envelope many others who conclude that Sal is to blame for it all.

The writing was marvelous (a genuine marvel) and unusual,  as was Mark Bramhall's  narration (that man is everywhere!).  The phraseology and the story left me breathless in so many ways: sighing at the beauty the words formed, gasping at the twists, and the ending was a real punch in the gut--it knocked the wind out of me.  I really wonder if this has anything to do with how the author arrived at the fictional town's  name of Breathed.  I have no more to say, just read it.  This book and this author will go far, in my opinion. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Small Great Things - Review

Small Great Things     🌟🌟🌟🌟
By Jodi Picoult
Expected Publish Date 10/11/16 by Ballantine/Penguin Random  House  

Finished 9/24/16

I used to read everything Jodi Picoult offered up, and she was one of my favorite fiction writers.  I have other favorites now, but she can still get under my skin and into my head like the best of them.  Always timely, always controversial, her subjects are tackled with aplomb and proficiency.  

Now she's spun a tale of racial prejudice.  She knew how difficult this would be for a white privileged woman such as herself, and she was aware that she wous be setting many tongues a-wagging, from all peespectives.  She has woven a very complex story from three sides: 

  • Turk, a white supremicist.  Oh, he doesn't hate black people, he just thinks whites are so much better, so he says.  His newborn son dies shortly after a routine procedure, and he manages to bring a suit against the only black nurse in the hospital.
  • Ruth, the nurse, a widowed mother who must seek defense for her actions.
  • Kennedy, the public defender who takes on the case, who thought she knew herself and what's  what in the world, but learns so much more from Ruth.  Her feelings about racism I'm sure mimicked the author's and were quite evocative.  

At first, the Turk chapters made me so angry, I couldn't even read them.  I thought the descriptions of his hate-filled world  so appalling, I didn't want to think about it.  So I skimmed.  (Hiding head in sand.)  The later chapters, though, managed to hold my attention MUCH better.  Not that I liked him or his life or his story more than Ruth's or Kennedy's, but the resolution of his story was sort of genius.  Like Ms. Picoult.  Hell, like this book!

I strongly recommend.  Could make for quite a highly-charged book club discussion. A big thanks to NetGalley and to Ballantine/Penguin Random House for an Advanced Readers Copy.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd: A Flavia de Luce Novel (Flavia de Luce #8) - Review

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd: A Flavia de Luce Novel (Flavia de Luce #8) 🌟🌟🌟

Expected to be  Published 9/20/16 by Bantam
Finished 9/5/16

- I fear  our world  is  changing, Miss Flavia, and not necessarily  for  the  better.

Wise old Dogger utters these prophetic words  to Flavia  in the first  chapter, after she's  come home  from boarding school  to no reception, her pet chicken gone, and her father in hospital  with a bad case of pneumonia, no visitors allowed.   But for our Flavia, now twelve and shaken up by it all,  life goes on as usual mostly.  She's  pretty free to roam the countryside on her own, and one day discovers  a dead body while on an errand.  She performs her own investigation of the premises before calling in the authorities, and from then on is consumed in the case.  The case was rather complicated, but not for Flavia.  As usual, she seems to know all the  right  places to go and people to see, moreso than the official  investigator.

As I write this, it occurs to me that one could  write virtually the same blurb and the same review  for  every  one of these books (Flavia  discovers  a body,  Flavia  rides  her bike Clara through all  sorts  of weather sorting out clues, Flavia solves the case).  They certainly do follow  a pattern.  Yet the pattern never gets old!  It's  like visiting an old friend.  This time our friend is growing up, like it or not.

Many  thanks  to NetGalley  and the publisher.

Glory Over Everything: Beyond The Kitchen House - Review

Glory Over Everything:  Beyond  The  Kitchen  House  🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Kathleen Grissom
Published by Simon & Schuster

Finished 9/5/16

Thank  you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for an egalley.  I chose to listen to a finished audio copy.

Jamie Pike from The Kitchen House is now James Burton, wealthy silversmith and artist of Philadelphia.  I  think I liked this more than the original, even though I've given them both 4 stars.  There are some wonderful characters  that we get to know, and James, although very well formed  and sympathetic, was probably my least  favorite, when compared to the truly great (and not as well formed) Robert, Pan, Addy, and Sukie.  I greatly appreciated the ease in following the chapters (each told us what year it was and whose point of view was up).  Gradually I  was completely absorbed and taken by the story, which had some sad moments and heartbreak, some close calls, death as well as new life, and with the Underground Railroad perhaps some hope for the future.

I think the author could very well continue the story even more, but it sounds like that's  not in the cards, which is sadly our loss.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter - Review

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter 🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Tom Franklin
Published by William Morris

Finished 9/14/16

M, i, crooked letter, crooked letter, i, crooked letter,  crooked letter,  i, humpback, humpback, i.
That spells Mississippi if you're  from the South, so they say. Not sure if I ever heard the humpback version before.  The Mississippians in this book are probably not much like most folks you know, with highly dysfunctional families, a mean or absent father in every one, kids that are oppressed and depressed. Then we have snakes in mailboxes, preteens playing with guns, in a town where blacks are in the majority and whites the minority.  Larry Ott, suspected in a girl's disappearance in his teenage years but never charged, grows up lonely and ostracized in their little town.  Silas was his friend at one time, but not since he moved away and came back as the Constable. Now Larry is friendless --and alone since his mother moved  into a nursing home.

Did I mention guns?  Guns everywhere, like the kudzu strangling the forest and everything in it.  To these people, "Gun control means hitting where you  aim."

This was a slow starter for me; took me a while to get used to the odd words used and the slow build up, and to the awfulness of Larry's father  and Cindy's  step-father.  Larry is a bit of a nerd who needs to grow on you.  Silas made some poor choices but was redeemed in my eyes.  The current-day mystery I figured out in no time; the other one I did not.  By the end it was unputdownable  (stole that word from someone, sorry).  Really good read!