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.