Thursday, August 18, 2011

Heat Wave by Nancy Thayer

Heat WaveView a preview of this book online

Quoted from GoodReads;
"Unerringly perceptive, superbly written, every page packed with the warmth and compassionate wisdom that have become Nancy Thayer’s trademark, Heat Wave tells the moving story of a woman who, after her seemingly perfect life unravels, must find the strength to live and love again.
Making the startling discovery that her family finances are in dire straits is only the latest shock endured by Carley Winsted after her husband’s sudden death from a heart attack. Resisting her in-laws’ well-meaning overtures to take in Carley and her two daughters, the young widow instead devises a plan to keep her family in their beloved home, a grand historic house on the island of Nantucket.
The solution is right at Carley’s front door: transforming her expensive, expansive house into a bed-and-breakfast. Not everyone, however, thinks this plan prudent or quite respectable—especially not Carley’s mother-in-law. Further complicating a myriad of challenges, a friend forces Carley to keep a secret that, if revealed, will undo families and friendships.
When her late husband’s former law partner keeps showing up at the most unexpected times, Carley must cope with an array of mixed feelings. And then, during a late-summer heat wave, the lives of Carley and her friends and family will be forever changed in entirely unexpected ways.
Lyrical, emotional, dramatic, and ultimately wonderfully uplifting, Nancy Thayer’s latest novel is compelling from its first page to its last.

This novel started out with an interesting  story about a woman who loses her husband and then has to pick up the pieces of her life and go on.  I liked the basic idea of the novel and I even enjoyed the first third of this book.  It was a nice change from the crime novels I had been reading recently.  

The last two thirds of the book were less enjoyable.  The plot seemed to drag and sometimes the motivation of the characters was not clear.    Carley, the main character did not appear to go through the grief process after her husbands' death.  She moved from one situation into the next without a lot of reflection and it made her character appear flat.  As a reader, I just didn't care about her as much as I might have if her personality was more developed. 

The last part of the book was the hardest for me to believe.  I was really disappointed by the plot.  I did finish reading it, but found myself distracted by my own disbelief as the plot became   more and more "soap opera-ish".   

I finished this book feeling a little  sad that it didn't live up to my initial expectations.  I also felt a little insulted by the predictability of the plot.  I expect much more  from a novel.  I want to feel something as I read.  I want to care about the characters.  I want to be challenged by the plot, either emotionally or mentally.  I want to be sad that the story is coming to end end.  In this case, I felt sad, but only because  the story did not live up to my expectations.  Heatwave should have been a bittersweet tale about life and love and families.  Instead, it just left me with the bitter.

Thanks to GoodReads for the opportunity to read and review this book.

Iron House by John Hart

Iron House

From Goodreads: "An old man is dying.

When the old man is dead they will come for him.
And they will come for her, to make him hurt.
John Hart has written three New York Times bestsellers and won an unprecedented two back-to-back Edgar Awards. His books have been called “masterful” (Jeffery Deaver) and “gripping” (People) with “Grisham-style intrigue and Turow-style brooding” (The New York Times). Now he delivers his fourth novel—a gut-wrenching, heart-stopping thriller no reader will soon forget.
At the Iron Mountain Home for Boys, there was nothing but time. Time to burn and time to kill, time for two young orphans to learn that life isn’t won without a fight. Julian survives only because his older brother, Michael, is fearless and fiercely protective. When tensions boil over and a boy is brutally killed, there is only one sacrifice left for Michael to make: He flees the orphanage and takes the blame with him.
For two decades, Michael has been an enforcer in New York’s world of organized crime, a prince of the streets so widely feared he rarely has to kill anymore. But the life he’s fought to build unravels when he meets Elena, a beautiful innocent who teaches him the meaning and power of love. He wants a fresh start with her, the chance to start a family like the one he and Julian never had. But someone else is holding the strings. And escape is not that easy. . . .
The mob boss who gave Michael his blessing to begin anew is dying, and his son is intent on making Michael pay for his betrayal. Determined to protect the ones he loves, Michael spirits Elena—who knows nothing of his past crimes, or the peril he’s laid at her door— back to North Carolina, to the place he was born and the brother he lost so long ago. There, he will encounter a whole new level of danger, a thicket of deceit and violence that leads inexorably to the one place he’s been running from his whole life: Iron House."

This is one of the best books I have read this summer!  It has a little something for every reader....  Romance, politics, mystery, an unpredictable plot line , suspense and lots of murder (warning: some scenes are very graphic)!  It has well written, interesting characters and did I mention an unpredictable plot?

Just when I was sure I had it all figured out, John Hart would throw me a curve ball and I would have to start all over.  I love to try to second guess the author and while I like the fact that I can figure out the whole plot before  the ending of the book, I REALLY enjoy being stumped! 

I addition to the exciting plot, this is a story about the importance of family, the scars that remain from an unstable childhood and the struggle to overcome the past.

It takes extraordinary skill to write a likable hero that is a professional killer who doesn't have remorse for the murders he has committed.  Hart managed this and more!  Michael is the James Bond of mafia hit men. You will fall for this bad boy with the tortured past.

Hart also captivates his audience with the character of Julian, Michael's mentally ill younger brother.  My only critisim is that Julian's illness  is described as schizophrenia, when in fact it is more likely another diagnosis.  I won't go into detail here because it is an essential part of the plot line.  I would have omitted any attempt to actually label Julian's illness, I found the error to be a distraction.

Overall, Iron House is a refreshing change of pace with an exciting original story.  It is so well written that reading it was effortless!  This book is on the top of my  "Must read list for 2011"!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Losing Addison by Marty Beaudet

Losing Addison

From the book cover
Les McCubbin is an ordinary guy, but he doesn’t think much of himself. “I’m dull, mercurial, and often morose. Always Les,” he tells us. But he is passionate about his fraternal twin brother Addison who, he says, “is everything I’m not: tall, blond, athletic, outgoing.”

Despite the psychic bond the brothers share with one another, Addison comes and goes as he pleases, in and out of Les’s life, often leaving a trail of trouble for his brother to clean up. His final act upon the stage, however, leaves both lives changed forever

 I owe Marty Beaudet an apology! This slim little book got lost in the "to read pile" and I came across it as I was trying to organize. I have had this book for some time. Sorry for the delay in the review, Marty! 

Losing Addison is a wonderful novella. It is well written and a fast read. I finished it in a few hours, which was good. Had it been any longer, I would not have done anything else until I finished it!

This is a psychological thriller. It has some surprises along the way. Some that you might see coming and others that are more unexpected. It was totally different than I was expecting, which is in my opinion part of what makes a good thriller!

I would love to read some more by Marty Beaudet!
Thank You to Marty and GoodReads for the opportunity to read and review this book

The Wraith

The Wraith

"Itching for freedom, Linus leaves home and moves into a trailer park with some of his friends. There they are free to live as carefree wastrels. But it is not what Linus expects. His best friend Rex abruptly vanishes, his roommate John begins to surround himself with criminals and his job at the local gas station becomes increasingly unstable. At the same time Linus is haunted by his neighbor Clyde, an elderly security guard who seems to appear at any place and anytime, often spending all evening at the window watching them and peering into their lives."

This book was not what I expected.  Unfortunately, that was a bad thing in this case.    The title suggested a paranormal tale. defines the word, "wraith" as " an apparition of a living person supposed to portend his death" or "a visible spirit".  I love the title and the cover art.  It was just a bit old fashioned and gave it a spooky feel right from the start.
I really wanted to like this book.  I put it on the top of my "to read" pile because it was mailed to me directly by the author.  Normally, books are mailed out by the publisher.  I really respect the efforts that authors make over and above what the publisher is doing to promote their book.  After writing my review and reading the reviews from others, it appears you either love this book or you don't.  I didn't.
The first two thirds of the book involve a detailed description of the life and times of Linus.  He spends most of his time drunk, stoned or both.  The rest of the time he is planning to get drunk or stoned.  A lot of time is given to sarcastic, immature conversations with his friends.  The 'wraith", Clyde, makes an occasional appearance in this part of the book, but he appears to be a lonely little man who entertains himself by spying on Linus and his friends as they proceed to get stoned. 
In the  last third of the book Clyde pops up in various locations during Linus's daily routine.  Clyde does nothing overtly scary or otherworldly.  This set Linus off on a paranoid, sleep deprived mission to follow Clyde.  He does this for days.   Again, this journey is described in minute detail.   The book ends suddenly with many issues left unresolved.  It appears as if the author got bored with his own story and decided to end it.  There just isn't much of a story here.
I think, with some work,  that this could be an interesting story.  The writing is good.  It is easy to read and very descriptive.   It has a nice flow to it.  It needs a lot of cutting and a better ending.  Tie up those loose ends! Such as what happened to Rex, who has the money and why did Linus move from the trailer into a basement apartment?  What is the purpose of the job at the shoe store?  Make this more clear to your reader, instead of appearing as random, unnecessary details.  Give the characters some more dimension, instead of just appearing to be stoned teenagers looking for the next party.
I'd skip this book for now, but I would definitely read a second effort by this author.  With a pen name like Goodloe Byron, how could you not give him a second chance?
Thanks to Goodloe and GoodReads  for the opportunity to read and review this book.