Review: The Reckoning by John Grisham

It’s been a very long time since I’d read a John Grisham novel. His stories used to be a staple of my TBR list but then for some reason they dropped off my radar. Too many books, too little time I guess. The description of this one greatly intrigued me, though…

It starts with a murder, seemingly pointless. When Pete Banning, a local war hero and town icon, murders a local preacher the town is shocked. Loyalties are divided as the trial nears and eventually concludes. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems. But there are secrets that Pete is not willing to tell, even if those secrets save his life.

Lots of pros and a few cons with this one for me. It’s a great story, full of fascinating characters. And it’s historical fiction set in the WWII era which is one of my favorite genres. Grisham is a master story teller, weaving a story so deep and complex that you just feel yourself being drawn in. There were a few “not so positives” for me. The wartime scenes were more drawn out and detailed than I would have liked, and I didn’t feel they added much to the primary story. And a couple of unanswered questions at the end which always bugs me. Still, this one was a strong four stars for me.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Reckoning

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Fardig

Solid, cute, cozy mystery with a dead guy, an amateur sleuth, an ex-fiancé, an ex-boyfriend, a potential boyfriend, and a couple of cops. Oh – and a coffee shop! I’m going to admit, I often choose books based on their covers, and I chose this one for the coffee. #yesidid

The protagonist Juliet is likable and genuine. I liked that I could envision her expressions and feel her exasperation. The police officers and a few other secondary characters were a little bit one dimensional to me, but I didn’t mind, as I was busy trying to solve the mystery before they did. I liked Juliet’s best friend Pete, also. He’s a sturdy, reliable dude – and every cozy mystery needs a Pete.

Fardig did a nice job weaving a creative, fresh mystery with just enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I was onto the perp before Juliet was, but it still took me a good while to do it, and I had fun from beginning to end.

-calliope

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Review: Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber 

Sometimes predictable is just the thing you need, especially when it’s painted with the brush of faith and hope. Macomber is an expert in helping her characters gain faith in humanity and hope for themselves – even when it seems impossible. 

Any Dream Will Do is the motto of Shay’s new friend — the one who will help Shay save herself from the pit of despair she needs to step out of. But Shay hasn’t believed in dreams in so long, that’s a tough order to fill. 

I enjoyed this quick read centered around redemption and loving others. I’m not sure the story was quite realistic – there were some hokey parts where I suspended my disbelief – but it certainly was hopeful. And although only a small part of the book focused on romance, Macomber wrote a lovely happily ever after. 

-calliope

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Review: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

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A friend…a very good one.  Someone who knows you better than you know yourself.  Someone you can turn to in your darkest hour, to help you pick up the pieces.  What can be better?  Leah considers herself lucky to have such a person in Emmy.  She’s been there for her through it all, even after all the time they were out of touch.

And now, Emmy is willing to give up everything and start over for Leah.  Everything begins to unravel, however, when a local girl turns up beaten and left for dead.  And then Emmy goes missing.  Exactly when did Leah see her last, anyway?  As Leah digs deeper and deeper, she realizes that maybe she didn’t really know Emmy that well after all.

This is the perfect follow-up to Miranda’s last novel, All the Missing Girls.  It has just the right mix of intrigue, mystery, whodunit-ness to keep you guessing.  And even if you put pieces of the story together before the halfway mark, as did I, the last 30% is sure to take you for a ride.  That alone is enough of a reason to grab this one!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  The Perfect Stranger

Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

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There are those books that, while good enough to keep you reading, aren’t necessarily in the “can’t put it down until I finish it” category.  And as voracious readers, we understand that.  Not every story can be a page turner of epic proportions.  That’s what I was thinking as I worked my way through the first half of this one.  But then, oh boy.

The loss of a child is unimaginable for most of us, thankfully.  So it’s impossible to truly understand how we might react.  Would you find the strength to go on?  Or would you curl up in a ball and simply wither away?  Jacob’s mother is faced with just this dilemma when his young life is tragically ended on a rainy street.  To make matters worse, the driver just keeps on going.  Justice is not served, she’s left without a child and a purpose, and a killer runs free.  So she leaves town, presumably hoping for a fresh start elsewhere.

The detectives on the case, however, can’t let it go.  Lead after lead is exhausted, and still they plow on, hoping for that big break.  And finally it comes.  But it’s not what they expected.  Actually, it’s not what anyone expected.  And this is where I’ll stop.

Told in differing viewpoints alternating between past and present, this story is unforgettable.  Seems like a simple detective novel at first, but ends up being so much more.  So much more that I did not move from my couch as I raced through the last half.  Get it, read it, and enjoy!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  I Let You Go

Review: The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

  
Criminal Nick Fox and FBI agent Kate O’Hare can’t be beat. They’ve got banter, brains, and brawn. In this installment of the Fox and O’Hare series, the duo saves lives, makes a date with the Hawaiian owner of the Shave Ice shack, travels around the world more than a few times, takes down bad guys with aplomb, and manages to scam one of the biggest scammers in the casino industry.  

I was ready for a fast-paced full-on adventure, and I certainly got one. Reading The Scam was like watching an action movie – in a good way. When the bad guys seemed to have the upper hand, I was on the edge of my seat. When Kate’s dad joined in the scam, I was grinning about the terrific father-daughter relationship. And when Nick whispered sweet nothings … Well, I laughed … and then it warmed my heart. 

The Scam isn’t realistic, but it’s fun, fast, and fabulous. 

-calliope

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Review: The Bullet by Mary Louise Kelly

41GV+5TmsBL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Sometimes you just know. You pick up a book, look at the cover, read the blurb on the back. And you decide it sounds pretty good so you give it a chance. And then you start reading it. Within the first few pages, you know you’ve found something good. These little gems don’t come along very often, but this one by Mary Louise Kelly was just that kind of book for me.

Caroline Cashion has a happy, successful life. She makes her living as a college professor. She can’t believe how lucky she is to actually get paid for doing what she loves. Although single, she’s very satisfied with her life. She also enjoys a close relationship with her family, eating dinner with her parents several times a week. The only dark spot in her cheery little world is a nagging pain in her wrist. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, surely, as she spends her days hunched over her computer typing away. But a semi-routine doctor’s visit turns up something both ominous and puzzling. Caroline has been walking around with a bullet lodged at the base of her skull. Ominous because, well, it’s a bullet at the base of her skull. And puzzling because, well, she’s certain that she’s never been shot. As she seeks to find out the truth, she uncovers family secrets that have been buried for several decades. And she garners the attention of those who would rather those secrets not come to light.

This book was an incredible read for me. The plot is original and intriguing, and I couldn’t put it down. The author weaves a story full of twists and turns leaving the reader desperate to find out what’s going to happen next. The only thing that kept this from being a five star book for me was a twist towards the end that stretched the limits of character credibility for me. Still, an excellent story!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:The Bullet