Sunday, November 13, 2022

Alessandra Harris' latest book - Last Place Seen

Last Place Seen is Alessandra Harris' 3rd novel.  I really enjoyed her 1st one, Blaming the Wind, which I read back in 2016.  Somehow I missed her 2nd, Everything She lost, in 2018 (I WILL get to it!).  But I was able to get the 3rd one, thanks to Alessandra.  And I enjoyed this one too.  She combines mystery and drama with family dynamics with social justice issues with tightly woven stories.  Here is the storyline:

In the aftermath of her husband's life-altering mistake, Tiana Williams grapples with lingering resentment while working full-time and raising their toddler. But when Jay becomes a person of interest in the kidnapping of ten-year-old Zoe Miller, Tiana is torn between trusting her husband and believing the growing pile of evidence.  After she gets dragged further into the mystery and discovers her connection to the missing girl, the shaky ground beneath her crumbles.

With the odds stacked against him, Jay does everything in his power to prove his innocence.  Racing against the clock, he must uncover the truth about Zoe's kidnapping before he loses everything he loves - including his freedom.

During a sweltering heat wave and a raging California wildfire, Tiana and Jay will stop at nothing to find Zoe, even if it means tearing apart their marriage and risking their own lives in the process.

If this sounds like a book you will have trouble putting down, then you are correct.  Plus, it happens to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area, which, for many of you (including myself), will feel right at home.

Get your hands (or ears) around Last Place Seen.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Sweet Spot, by Amy Poeppel

Well, I have good news, bad news, and good news.  First the good news - The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel is terrific.  Now the bad news - it's not available until February 14, 2023.  And, finally, the good news again - you can preorder it now!  Bottom line?  Get your copy on Valentine's Day next year and put it at the top of your TBR pile.  

Lots of books have a few protagonists and a bunch of secondary supporters.  The Sweet Spot has a whole variety of central characters, and she makes us care about each and every one.  They range from a young baby all the way up to a grandmother, with lots in between.  I think it's an extraordinary feat to be able to focus on multiple people and have the reading audience connect with each and every one.  Well done, Amy!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Jim Ciardella's The Dealer

Jim Ciardella's The Dealer is a fascinating book.  Now I admit that I am particularly interested in the subject matter because it's about the Ferrari of Los Gatos car dealership, which was in operation for nearly 20 years in the mid-70s to the mid-90s.  Why am I so interested?  Because I know the owner of that dealership, Brian Burnett, as well as his ex-wife, Tina.  And his kids went to the same school as my kids, in similar grades. But besides all that, Brian's dealership was the biggest in North America! And Jim tells us why.  He tells us about the celebrities that bought cars there.  He tells us about trips to Italy, with other dealers, to meet with, and get wined and dined by, Enzo Ferrari himself.  He tells us all about the ups and downs of owning a Ferrari dealership.  You don't have to be from Los Gatos to appreciate and enjoy this book.  Believe me.  It's just flat-out interesting reading. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

2 Short Reviews

Next month, Ellen Marie Wiseman will be Zooming in to the RBC.  Here is the book and my short review:

The Lost Girls of Willowbrook, by Ellen Marie Wiseman:

Leave it to Ellen Marie Wiseman to give us an historical fiction that I'm sure very few, if any, of us have heard about. And let me tell you that in her usual manner she makes us feel what went on at Willowbrook State School on Staten Island. In her latest, The Lost Girls of Willowbrook, we learn about the incredible abuses that so many children suffered at this institution from the late 1940s until the late 1980s. Through the central character, Sage, whose twin sister, Rosemary, was admitted a number of years earlier, we learn exactly how the residents were treated. At times it's difficult reading. But that's exactly what makes an historical fiction so affecting. And, believe me, you won't be able to put this one down. Ellen Marie Wiseman has struck again! Pick up a copy...quickly.

I also have a review of Kimberly Belle's latest, The Personal Assistant.  She is not currently scheduled to Zoom in to the RBC.  But she has come once before, and I will try to schedule her for this book.  Plus, she was kind enough to send me an ARC.

It's always a treat to read Kimberly's books (I started with The Marriage Lie, still one of my favorite books). And The Personal Assistant is no exception. This is a book that centers on a woman who has become a very popular influencer (is that redundant?)...and, of course, what goes wrong. There are a whole bunch of twists and turns, and I challenge any of you who think you can always figure out what's going to happen to do that with TPA. It's impossible. Nobody really is who she/he seems to be. 
Get a hold of this book, people. You will definitely be glad you did.

Monday, May 30, 2022

More Books Read in 2022

In my last post, which was more than 3 months ago, I said I hoped to actually write some reviews.  Well, it's not happening with this post.  So I am going to do what I did back in February and list the books I've read, along with the ratings, in the order I read them.  Here we go:

The Magnolia Palace - Fiona Davis - 3.75 (my 1st, but not my last, Davis) 
Dark Obsessions - Marie Sutro - 3.25 (book 2 in the series - lots of tense moments)
Until We Meet - Camille de Maio - 4.0 (my 1st one in 2022)
Better to Trust - Heather Frimmer - 3.25 (recommended to me - solid)
Home Front - Kristin Hannah - 4.0 (2 out of the last 3! - see what I meant from my last post?)
The Sweet Life - Suzanne Woods Fisher - 3.5 (a fun novel about opening up an ice cream shop)
The Authenticity Project - Clare Pooley - 3.75 (very unique concept that definitely worked)
The Bride Wore Constant White - Shelley Adina - 3.0 (all of her books are entertaining)

People, keep in mind that anything 3.0 or higher is a good read. Whatever my own quirky reasons are for the ratings I give, it does not reflect on the author.  In my opinion, if I rate a book 3.0+, then it's well worth reading.  You can also go on Goodreads and see what the average rating is for these books.  For example, Marie Sutro's Dark Obsessions has a cumulative rating of 4.44/5 (I've always gone with the 4 scale). That is super high.

See you down the road for my next blog post.


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Books Read so far in 2022

Okay, this is totally pathetic.  I think I have good excuses for not writing any posts.  But does anybody really care what my excuses are?  More to the point, does anybody care that I haven't written any posts?!  Well, I'm not going to start now.  However, I am going to post what I've read with some ratings.  Let me preface the list by saying that I have read some good books so far this year.  But nothing has been above a 3.5/4.  I'm sure that will change; especially since I had 15 books at 3.75 or higher in 2021...and 6 of them were 4.0 or higher (1-4.0+ and 1-4.25)!

Here they are:

The Secret of Snow - Viola Shipman - 3.5 (a 4.25/4 for The Clover Girls!)
He Gets That from Me - Jacqueline Friedland - 3.5 (our RBC author in February)
The Match - Harlen Coben - 3.25 (a little low for a Coben)
The Last House on the Street - Diane Chamberlain - 3.5 (always good - 3.5 is on the low end for her)
Unforgettable in Love - Jennifer Skully/Bella Andre - 3.25 (book 7 - I like them all)
Slay the Dragon - William McGinnis - 2.75 (interesting look at China)
Surviving the Second Tier - M.K. Lever - 2.75 (unique premise)

That's it, folks.  I hope to write some real reviews down the road.  But, unfortunately, I can't make any promises.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

New Authors in 2021

Good news - this is my LAST post about 2021.  Here is a list of new authors for me this past year:

Kevin Schewe
Catherine Ryan Hyde
Susan Wiggs
Helen Fisher
Susan Meissner
Alison Littman
Andrea Dunlop
Bob Boylan
Sejal Badani
Alex Michaelides
Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Colin Whitehead
Eric Kasum & Michael N. Smith
Sanjay Prasad
Ed Duncan
Jaime Lynn Hendricks
Martha Hall Kelly
Sam Subity
Scott A. Shay
Christopher Taunton
Amy Mason Doan
Tasha Alexander
Stephanie Dray
Gail Tsukiyama
Beverly Jenkins
Alka Joshi
Maryles Casto
Lucy Leonelli

28 out of 61 - 46% 

3.5s and up for 2021

Here is the list of books that are 3.5 and up for 2021, IMHO:

4.25 - 
The Clover Girls - Viola Shipman (yes, I know that 4.0 is supposed to be my highest rating)

4.0+ -
The Rose Code - Kate Quinn (see the 4.25 above)

4.0 - 
Three Words for Good-Bye - Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Peeps - Erin Gordon
The Women of Chateau Lafayette - Stephanie Dray
The Pilot's Daughter - Meredith Jaeger

3.75 -
The Lost and Found Bookshop - Susan Wiggs
The Four Winds - Kristin Hannah
The Storyteller's Secret - Sejal Badani
Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly
The Forest of Vanishing Stars - Kristin Harmel
The Samurai's Garden - Gail Tsukiyama
What the Lady Wants - Renee Rosen
The Other Einstein - Marie Benedict
A Year in the Life - Lucy Leonelli

3.625 -
The Younger Wife - Sally Hepworth (yes, I know that this is an odd rating)

3.5 -
Posing Naked - Betty Auchard
Have You Seen Luis Vellez? - Catherine Ryan Hyde
Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah
Faye, Faraway - Helen Fisher
The Nature of Fragile Things - Susan Meissner
We Came Here to Forget - Andrea Dunlop
How to Save a Life - Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
The People We Keep - Allison Larkin
The World Played Chess - Robert Dugoni
The Henna Artist - Alka Joshi
Heard It in a Love Song - Tracey Garvis Graves
Shattered - C. Lee McKenzie

I've got 2 other 3.5s that I read for my job as a professional reviewer for a publicist.  The reason I am listing these separately is that they are not novels.  One is inspirational, and the other is historical:

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom - Bob Boylan
100 of the Worst Ideas in History - Michael Smith & Eric Kasum

Get reading, people!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Books in 2021

Here is the list of books read for 2021.  Coincidentally I read the same number of books in 2021 that I read in 2020 - 61.  My page count is lower, though.  I went from 20,500 to approx. 19,000.  No complaints here.  And...voila:

Posing Naked - Betty Auchard - 3.5

Bad Love Beyond - Kevin Schewe - 3.0

Have You Seen Luis Velez? - Catherine Ryan Hyde - 3.5

The Lost and Found Bookshop - Susan Wiggs - 3.75

Before She Disappeared - Lisa Gardner - 3.25

Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah - 3.5

Faye, Faraway - Helen Fisher - 3.5

The Nature of Fragile Things - Susan Meissner - 3.5

Radio Underground - Alison Littman - 3.0

We Came Here to Forget - Andrea Dunlop - 3.5

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom - Bob Boylan - 3.5

Retirement:  Your New Adventure! - Bob Boylan - 3.0

The Four Winds - Kristin Hannah - 3.75

Win - Harlan Coben - 3.0

The Fellowship of the Flames - A.R. Silverberry

How to Save a Life - Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke - 3.5

The Storyteller’s Secret - Sejal Badani - 3.75

Transcendant Kingdom - Yaa Gyasi - 2.75

The Silent Patient - Alex Michaelides - 3.25

Heads You Win - Jeffrey Archer - 3.25

Three Words for Goodbye - Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb - 4.0

The People We Keep - Allison Larkin - 3.5 

The Nickel Boys - Colin Whitehead - 2.75

Peeps - Erin Gordon - 4.0

100 Worst Ideas In History - Eric Kasum & Michael N. Smith - 3.5

The Rose Code - Kate Quinn - 4.0+

Resetting Healthcare - Sanjay Prasad - 3.25

Pigeon-Blood Red - Ed Duncan - 2.5

Finding Tessa - Jaime Lynn Hendricks - 3.25

Lilac Girls - Martha Hall Kelly - 3.75

Bad Love Medicine - Kevin Schewe - 3.0

The Last Shadow Warrior - Sam Subity - 3.25

The Unwilling - John Hart - 3.25

Conspiracy U - Scott A. Shay

The Tear of Tybaleth - A.R. Silverberry - 3.0

The Forest of Vanishing Stars - Kristin Harmel - 3.75

A Summer Classic, The Bew White Story - Christopher Taunton - 2.75

Dreaming in Provence - Jennifer Skully - 3.25

Lady Sunshine - Amy Mason Doan - 3.0

In the Shadow of Vesuvius - Tasha Alexander - 3.0

The Women of Chateau Lafayette - Stephanie Dray - 4.0

The Samurai’s Garden - Gail Tsukiyama - 3.75

What the Lady Wants - Renee Rosen - 3.75

In the Event of Contact - Ethel Rohan - 2.5

The Clover Girls - Viola Shipman - 4.25

Women of the Silk - Gail Tsukiyama - 3.0

Wishing in Rome - Jennifer Skully

The Taming of Jessi Rose - Beverly Jenkins - 3.25

The Other Einstein - Marie Benedict - 3.75

Last Call - Sheldon Siegel

The World Played Chess - Robert Dugoni - 3.5

The Younger Wife - Sally Hepworth - 3.625

The Wickett Sisters - Stephen Houser

Shadow House - A.R. Silverberry

The Henna Artist - Alka Goshi - 3.5

Heard it in a Love Song - Tracey Garvis Graves - 3.5

Shattered - C. Lee McKenzie - 3.5

The Answer to His Prayers - Ellen Kirshman - 3.0

A Hole in the Clouds - Maryles Casto - 3.25

A Year in the Life - Lucy Leonelli - 3.75

The Pilot’s Daughter - Meredith Jaeger - 4.0

61 books