Category Archives: General Fiction & Literature

Advance Review- The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

The Escape Room

Title: The Escape Room

Genre: General Fiction/Thriller

Author: Megan Goldin

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, July 30, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 361

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie, and Sam are at the top of their game. They’ve mastered the art of the deal and celebrate their success in style—but a life of extreme luxury always comes at a cost.
Invited to participate in an escape room as a team-building exercise, the ferociously competitive co-workers crowd into the elevator of a high rise building, eager to prove themselves. But when the lights go off and the doors stay shut, it quickly becomes clear that this is no ordinary competition: they’re caught in a dangerous game of survival.
Trapped in the dark, the colleagues must put aside their bitter rivalries and work together to solve cryptic clues to break free. But as the game begins to reveal the team’s darkest secrets, they realize there’s a price to be paid for the terrible deeds they committed in their ruthless climb up the corporate ladder. As tempers fray, and the clues turn deadly, they must solve one final chilling puzzle: which one of them will kill in order to survive?

**
What a great premise; four despicable people, Jules, Sylvie, Sam and Vincent trapped in an elevator with a gun. That premise alone kept me turning pages. Introduce Sara Hall, their other work team member, in alternating chapters and this is a compelling read. But I became very frustrated with two characters seeming change in personality. I won’t go into detail because of spoilers. I also thought that the ending was too abrupt. There are some unanswered questions. I really feel that this could have been a great thriller but because of some missteps it turned out to be just “okay”.

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Release Day Review- Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald

Time after Time

Title: Time After Time

Genre: Historical Fantasy Love Story

Author: Lisa Grunwald

Publisher: Random House, June 11, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 416

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 3

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

On a clear December morning in 1937, at the famous gold clock in Grand Central Terminal, Joe Reynolds, a hardworking railroad man from Queens, meets a vibrant young woman who seems mysteriously out of place. Nora Lansing is a Manhattan socialite whose flapper clothing, pearl earrings, and talk of the Roaring Twenties don’t seem to match the bleak mood of Depression-era New York. Captivated by Nora from her first electric touch, Joe despairs when he tries to walk her home and she disappears. Finding her again—and again—will become the focus of his love and his life.

Nora, a fiercely independent aspiring artist, is shocked to find she’s somehow been trapped, her presence in the terminal governed by rules she cannot fathom. It isn’t until she meets Joe that she begins to understand the effect that time is having on her, and the possible connections to the workings of Grand Central and the solar phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge, when the sun rises or sets between the city’s skyscrapers, aligned perfectly with the streets below.

As thousands of visitors pass under the famous celestial blue ceiling each day, Joe and Nora create a life unlike any they could have imagined. With infinite love in a finite space, they take full advantage of the “Terminal City” within a city, dining at the Oyster Bar, visiting the Whispering Gallery, and making a home at the Biltmore Hotel. But when the construction of another landmark threatens their future, Nora and Joe are forced to test the limits of freedom and love.

Delving into Grand Central Terminal’s rich past, Lisa Grunwald crafts a masterful historical novel about a love affair that defies age, class, place, and even time.

**
A tremendous amount of research went into this novel. Ms. Grunwald
makes the reader feel the pulse and rhythm of the daily city within a city that is Grand Central Terminal. I was so impressed with the story of the terminal that I immediately upon finishing the book went to look up the history and photos of the terminal.

I originally thought this to be a time travel book but it is more of a fantasy. Nora died in a train crash at the terminal in 1925 but on a certain Manhattan solstice day she comes back to the terminal. She meets Joe who falls in love with her and the major plot of the book is how they can remain together. The reader must suspend disbelief in order to accept that a ghost can have a physical body and that the Biltmore Hotel doesn’t know who is sleeping in their rooms. Somehow Ms. Grunwald makes us believe all sorts of impossibilities.

I did enjoy this book, especially the history of the Terminal. The heroine/ghost was a bit flighty at times and I didn’t like her actions at the end. I couldn’t help but feel that Joe would have been so much better off without her. The fact that the author created such feelings in the reader is revealing that she is a true master of her craft.

**

Some Grand central Terminal photos of light beams that  play an important part in Nora’s travels between worlds  :

Grand Central Station light beam

Grand Central Station sunbeams

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Filed under Book review, Books, Books Historical Romance, Fantasy, General Fiction & Literature, Historical Fiction, Time Travel Novel

Advance Review- The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

The Wisdom of Sally red shoes

Title: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Ruth Hogan

Publisher: Crooked Lane Books, June 11, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 312

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 0

Description from Amazon.com:

They say friends make life worth living…

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha’s life was forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town’s swimming pool. Almost without her realizing it, her life has shuddered to a halt.

It’s only when Masha begins an unlikely friendship with the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice and a penchant for saying just what she means, that a new world of possibilities opens up: new friendships, new opportunities, and even a chance for new love. For the first time in years, Masha has the chance to start living again.

But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back…

Like her beloved debut, The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan’s second novel introduces a cast of wonderful characters, both ordinary and charmingly eccentric, who lead us through a moving exploration of the simple human connections that unite us all.

**
The writing is beautiful. The characterization is spot on. The story intriguing. But it was so depressing that even a light at the end of the tunnel didn’t lift the gray skies. If you like sad, heartwarming books, than this is definitely a good book and I did like it but I just couldn’t get past the gloom.

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General Fiction Review- The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

the 100 year old man who

Title: The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared

Genre: General Fiction

Author: Jonas Jonasson

Publisher: Hachette, Sept. 2012

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 402

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it’s not too late to start over . . .

After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he’s still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn’t interested (and he’d like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).

It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared has charmed readers across the world….

**
And it has charmed this reader also. the book starts out in the present day (actually around 2005) and as Allan’s adventures continue there are flashback chapters chronicling his life. He meets quirky side characters in the present-day as well as in the past. One thing is certain, Allan always manages to get out of dire predicaments with few consequences…except for the few times he landed in jail.

This is a very enjoyable book filled with humor and so very well written. If I have any complaint at all it is that some chapters were a bit too wordy, but only a bit. If you are looking for a feel good read then look no further than this gem.

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Release Day Review- The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner List

Title: The Dinner List
Genre: General Fiction/Magical Realism
Author: Rebecca Serle
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Flatiron Books, Sept. 11, 2018
Pages: 288
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 5-not too graphic
Violence rating: 4
Description from Amazon:

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Rebecca Serle contends with in her utterly captivating novel, THE DINNER LIST, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as One Day, and the life-changing romance of Me Before You.
When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.
**
A delightful premise that will have you naming your own 5 dinner guests. This is Sabrina’s dinner party on her birthday. She has invited her estranged father Robert, her significant other of 9 years, Tobias, her BFF, Jessica, Her college professor and Audrey Hepburn. They are all there for a reason. To help Sabrina put to rest the past and move on with her life.

This book is a compelling read and I could not put it down until I had finished the last page. It is a book about family, romance, and friends.   It is also about expectations and dashed hopes. It only gets a 4-star rating because I really can’t figure out why Audrey Hepburn is in the book in spite of Sabrina and her fathers’ enjoyment of her films. I recommend this book but have a box of tissues handy.

Deet’s Five: My Great Grandfathers, August and Frederick (German immigrants in the 19th century), Lisa Kleypas (favorite author), my Mom (because I miss her), Steve Martin (Every dinner party needs someone to tell a joke). I expect this list will change the more I think about it.

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Advance Review- Matchmaking For Beginners: A Novel by Maddie Dawson

Matchmaking for beginners

Title: Matchmaking For Beginners: a novel
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Romance
Author: Maddie Dawson
Source: Free from “Amazon First Reads” for Prime members, otherwise $4.99 on Kindle
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing, June 1, 2018
Pages: 378
Rating: 5
Sexy rating: 5 (behind closed doors)
Violence rating: 0
Description from Amazon:

Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.
When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.
And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

**
There is a bit of magic in the way Blix and Marnie can see auras and “sparkles” that lets them know what couples belong together and those that should get out of the relationship. Maneuvering those that should be together has been elderly Blix’s life work and now that she is at the end of her life she wants to pass on her “projects” to the only person she has ever met who is qualified for the task, Marnie. Reluctant Marnie finds that she is manipulated into a life that she didn’t expect.

Oh my! This is a gem of a book and an absolute delight to read. I was smiling most of the way through, unable to put it down and so sorry to see it end. If you are an Amazon Prime member you can read this book for free now. If you are not a Prime member, at $4.99 it is still a steal but you will have to wait for its release on June 1st. Don’t wait! Go ahead and preorder if you must, I’m guaranteeing one of your best reads of 2018.

 

 

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Advance Review- The Pisces by Melissa Broder

The Pisces

Title: The Pisces
Genre: General Literature/Fantasy
Author: Melissa Broder
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Hogarth, May 1, 2018
Pages: 288
Rating: 2
Sexy rating: 5
Violence rating: 4
Description from Amazon:

Lucy has been writing her dissertation on Sappho for nine years when she and her boyfriend break up in a dramatic flameout. After she bottoms out in Phoenix, her sister in Los Angeles insists Lucy dog-sit for the summer. Annika’s home is a gorgeous glass cube on Venice Beach, but Lucy can find little relief from her anxiety — not in the Greek chorus of women in her love addiction therapy group, not in her frequent Tinder excursions, not even in Dominic the foxhound’s easy affection.

Everything changes when Lucy becomes entranced by an eerily attractive swimmer while sitting alone on the beach rocks one night. But when Lucy learns the truth about his identity, their relationship, and Lucy’s understanding of what love should look like, take a very unexpected turn. A masterful blend of vivid realism and giddy fantasy, pairing hilarious frankness with pulse-racing eroticism, THE PISCES is a story about falling in obsessive love with a merman: a figure of Sirenic fantasy whose very existence pushes Lucy to question everything she thought she knew about love, lust, and meaning in the one life we have.

**
“Obsessive love”? I think it was more like obsessive lust. Okay, maybe some love but for the most part this is the story of a woman who went off the rails and searched for love in all the wrong places. The worst place was the ocean. That’s where she met the merman, Theo, whose siren call (his charm and attention to her) she could not resist.

I did not like this book and I think the reason is that I didn’t like any of the women and I did like Theo and he disappointed me. Besides, this is a very depressing book. I’m on a personal campaign to read books that are uplifting and the blurb led me to believe this would be one of those. Unfortunately it isn’t. The author is accomplished at turning a phrase but what comes across is someone who is very unhappy. This is just another man-bashing tirade. Not once did I find anything “hilarious”.

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Advance Review- Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Still Me

Title: Still Me: A Novel
Genre: General Fiction
Author: Jojo Moyes
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, Jan. 30, 2018
Pages: 400
Rating: 5
Sexy rating: 4
Violence rating: 0
Description from Amazon:

Louisa Clark arrives in New York ready to start a new life, confident that she can embrace this new adventure and keep her relationship with Ambulance Sam alive across several thousand miles. She is thrown into the world of the superrich Gopniks: Leonard and his much younger second wife, Agnes, and a never-ending array of household staff and hangers-on. Lou is determined to get the most out of the experience and throws herself into her job and New York life within this privileged world.

Before she knows what’s happening, Lou is mixing in New York high society, where she meets Joshua Ryan, a man who brings with him a whisper of her past. In Still Me, as Lou tries to keep the two sides of her world together, she finds herself carrying secrets–not all her own–that cause a catastrophic change in her circumstances. And when matters come to a head, she has to ask herself Who is Louisa Clark? And how do you reconcile a heart that lives in two places?

**

This is the third book in a series that started with Me Before You and then After You. Louisa is the heroine in all three books starting with her ill-fated romance with quadriplegic Will Treynor and then finding love with Sam the Ambulance man and in this book she throws herself into the NYC scene by taking a job as an assistant to a very wealthy NY socialite. She is finding it difficult to maintain her own identity when there are so many forces that seem to want her to reinvent herself. Through the ups and downs can her love affair with Sam survive?

Another page turner from Jojo Moyes. Louisa is every woman who has suffered tragedy and the determination to move forward. You will laugh and cry at the curves life throws at her but you will admire her fortitude. I highly recommend this standalone book but you will enjoy it more if you read the previous two books first.

 

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Heads Up- Audible limited time sale

Deal Audible

Go to http://audible.com  for a year’s worth of audio books on sale now and ending on the 28th of January.

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Filed under Audio books, Book review, Contemporary Romance, General Fiction & Literature, Gothic, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense, Thriller

Review: The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

Title: The Rules of Magic (The practical Magic Series)
Genre: General Fiction
Author: Alice Hoffman
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Oct. 2017
Pages: 384
Rating: 4
Sexy rating: 3
Violence rating: 2
Description from Amazon:
From beloved author Alice Hoffman comes the spellbinding prequel to her bestseller, Practical Magic.

Find your magic.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

**
I did not love this book as I had Hoffman’s first book, Practical Magic, and the movie by the same name. That said, this was still a page turning read. When you have magical powers there is adventure, mystery and problems. This is also a story of love. I look forward to more in this series.

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