Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Book Review: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

Release Date: April 18, 2017
Publisher: sourcebooks
Format: ebook
Pages: 399 pages
Genre:  biography / Military
Buy: Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis:


The incredible true story of the women who fought America's Undark danger

The Curies' newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these "shining girls" are the luckiest alive — until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women's cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America's early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Review:


This was a fascinating if depressing tale of something I had no knowledge of.  Hundreds of young women were dead, dying or wasting away due to radium poisoning.  Everyone thought it was safe and the factories where these women worked paid well and at first didn't realize the danger they were putting these young women in. But as usual corporate greed takes over despite workers health or needs.

This is another dark spot in our history that is finally shining its light into the public. This book acknowledges these women's sacrifice and bravery in fighting back against a system that was stacked against them. With fraudulent doctors, revised safety reports and just a blatant disregard for the safety of these women they fought back against the corporations they trusted and a government that disregarded their plight.

I was impressed by the strength of these women and their families.  They were tenacious and though the odds were stacked against them they found a way to endure.  We have monuments for so many moments in history and these women surely deserve some recognition.






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Monday, February 26, 2018

Audio Book Review: Girl in the Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Release Date: February 26, 2016
Publisher: Highbridge Books
Format: Audio
Length: 11 hours 49 minutes
Narrator: Antonia Beamish
Genre:   Mystery/
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Newly single mom Beth has one constant, gnawing worry: that her dreamy eight-year-old daughter, Carmel, who has a tendency to wander off, will one day go missing.

And then one day, it happens: On a Saturday morning thick with fog, Beth takes Carmel to a local outdoor festival, they get separated in the crowd, and Carmel is gone.

Shattered, Beth sets herself on the grim and lonely mission to find her daughter, keeping on relentlessly even as the authorities tell her that Carmel may be gone for good.

Carmel, meanwhile, is on a strange and harrowing journey of her own—to a totally unexpected place that requires her to live by her wits, while trying desperately to keep in her head, at all times, a vision of her mother …

Review:

A case of a child snatched away from her mother, a preacher who believes she is the key to help the faithful heal and a mother whose whole life is shattered and she has to try to pick up the pieces. Kate Hamer's debut novel is well done despite being a bit stagnant in the middle. Written in alternating chapters from Beth and Carmels point of view, we see how the separation affects them both.  Beth does her best to hold herself together but finds herself constantly looking, and then slowly trying to piece her life back together despite the big gaping hole.

Carmel thinking her mom is dead and the man who took her is her grandfather finds herself traveling the small towns in America with a preacher who believes she can heal the sick and faithful. Carmel has always been a bit of a dreamy child and sometimes can see threads of light in people, but can she really heal the sick?

Overall this book was good, as I mentioned I felt the book dragged a bit in the middle but it picked up again in the end and the ending was satisfying even if it felt a bit rushed. There were some interesting connections made from Beth's mother between Carmel and her grandmother which really made you think. I think Beth's grief was well written and felt very authentic. The narrator was wonderful at changing accents, and really capturing the emotion of the characters.






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Friday, February 23, 2018

ARC Book Review: Coffin, Scarcely Used (A Flaxborough Mystery) by Colin Watson

Release Date: February 22, 2018
Publisher: Farrago
Format: ebook
Pages: 160 pages
Genre:  British Mystery
Buy: Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis:

In the respectable seaside town of Flaxborough, the equally respectable councillor Harold Carobleat is laid to rest. Cause of death: pneumonia.

But he is scarcely cold in his coffin before Detective Inspector Purbright, affable and annoyingly polite, must turn out again to examine the death of Carobleat’s neighbour, Marcus Gwill, former prop. of the local rag, the Citizen. This time it looks like foul play, unless a surfeit of marshmallows had led the late and rather unlamented Mr Gwill to commit suicide by electrocution. (‘Power without responsibility’, murmurs Purbright.)

How were the dead men connected, both to each other and to a small but select band of other town worthies? Purbright becomes intrigued by a stream of advertisements Gwill was putting in the Citizen, for some very oddly named antique items…


Review:

Originally published in 1958 these are being re-released. This is a well crafted British mystery, and while its a bit dated it still holds its own.  Detective Purbright and Love keep you moving along in this mystery while they slowly uncover the details of murder in the sleepy little town of Flaxborough.

The characters are well done, and the tale has a bit of whimsy to it as well as interesting detective work.  I read so many modern tales that its interesting to see how things were done with out the forensics we rely so much on today.

I'm glad they decided to republish them, its interesting to read how so many things have changed yet remain the same. This is an interesting witty mystery that will have you smirking and turning pages.





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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Audio Book Review: Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Release Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Hatchette Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 7 hours 30 minutes
Narrator: Daniel Weyman
Genre:  Gothic Mystery
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

When Fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in Barcelona, no one knows his whereabouts for seven days and seven nights.

His story begins when he meets the strange Marina while he's exploring an old quarter of the city. She leads Oscar to a cemetery, where they watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the last Sunday of each month. At exactly ten o'clock in the morning, a woman shrouded in a black velvet cloak descends from her carriage to place a single rose on an unmarked grave.

When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her, they begin a journey that transports them to a forgotten postwar Barcelona--a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons--an reveals a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.

Review:

I fell in love with this author after reading Shadow of the Wind - this book has a similar feel.  A creepy mystery. It all starts one day when 15 year old Oscar stumbles upon a house he thinks is empty only to stumble upon Hermon and his daughter Marina and an even deeper mystery surrounding a disfigured opera singer and a man who built prosthetic limbs.

As with most of Zafon's books this one is very atmospheric, you can feel the fog as it rolls through the night, hear the hoof beats of the horses, and feel the soft coat of Marina's cat. A masterful storyteller Zafon transports us to Barcelona, and a creepy tale about first love, loss, and letting go.

Scary, sad and beautiful this book doesn't disappoint. Daniel Wyman really does this book justice with his reading. He brings you even deeper into the story with his hypnotic voice.





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Monday, February 19, 2018

Audio Book Review: Asa: A marked Man Novel (Book 6) by Jay Crownover

Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 9 hours 18 minutes
Narrator: Christian Fox, Harper Kendall
Genre:  Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn't change its spots, and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn't want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it's easy to hit bottom when it's the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner's life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends, she's trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can't stop thinking about the sexy Southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs, but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career, and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.
A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong...but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

Review:


Asa has finally cleaned up his act but doesn't believe he won't slip up and go back to his wicked ways. Royal has the body of a pin up model but is a cop and she has a thing for the smooth talking southern bartender Asa, she just has to convince him that dating a cop isn't a bad idea. Asa is filled with self loathing and feels like anything bad that happens to him at this point in his life is what he deserves for the way he spent his early days.

While they are part of the Marked family neither Asa or Royal are inked or pierced like the rest.  This is an entertaining hot romance that shows 2nd chances aren't always a bad thing.





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Friday, February 16, 2018

Audio Book Review: Rowdy: A Marked Man Novel (Book 5) by Jay Crownover

Release Date: October 21, 2014
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 10 hours 28 minutes
Narrator: Alexandra Marcuse, Cody Hammersmith
Genre:  Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

After the only girl he ever loved told him that he would never be enough, Rowdy St. James knocked the Texas dust off his boots and set out to live up to his nickname. A good ol' boy looking for good times and good friends, Rowdy refuses to take anything too seriously, especially when it comes to the opposite sex. Burned by love once, he isn't going to let himself trust a woman again. But that's before his new coworker arrives, a ghost from the past who's suddenly making him question every lesson he's ever learned.

Salem Cruz grew up in a house with too many rules and too little fun - a world of unhappiness she couldn't wait to forget. But one nice thing from childhood has stayed with her: the memory of the sweet, blue-eyed boy next door who'd been head over heels in love with her little sister.
Now fate and an old friend have brought her and Rowdy together, and Salem is determined to show him that once upon a time he picked the wrong sister. A mission that is working perfectly - until the one person that ties them together appears, threatening to tear them apart for good.

Review:


Rowdy is the next to learn that you can't outrun your past.  Nash's father took a bunch of misfit guys, trained them to be tattoo artists and also liked to play with their lives.  Just before he died he told Nash to hire smokin hot Salem Cruz to work in the new shop he had set to open. When Rowdy walks into the new shop he runs smack into his past in the shapely form of Salem, the next door neighbor who's sister broke his heart when he was a teenager.

Smoking hot sex, intriguing plot, and complicated relationships.  While this one felt a little different than the other 4 in this series it was still good. It also set up the romance for the next book in this series between Asa and Royal.






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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Audio Book Review: Nash: A Marked Man Novel (Book 4) by Jay Crownover

Release Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 10 hours 04 minutes
Narrator: Paula Costello, Ted Branson
Genre:  Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Saint Ford has worked hard to achieve her childhood dream of becoming a nurse. Focused on her work and devoted to her patients, there's no room for love. She doesn't need a guy making waves in her calm, serene life - especially when he's the unforgettable hottie who nearly destroyed her in high school. Dark, brooding Nash Donovan might not remember her or the terrible pain he caused. But he turned her world upside down...and now he's trying to do it again.

Saint has no idea that Nash isn't the cocky player he once was. Uncovering a devastating family secret has rocked his world, and now he's struggling to figure out his future. He can't be distracted by the pretty nurse he seems to meet everywhere. Still, he can't ignore the sparks that fly between them - or how she seems so desperate to get away from him. But the funny, sweet, and drop-dead gorgeous Saint is far too amazing to give up on - especially since she's the only thing in his life that seems to make sense.

When Nash discovers the truth about their past, he realizes he may have lost her heart before he could even fight for it. Now, Saint has to decide: Is Nash worth risking herself for all over again?

Review:


Nash is the rock of his group of friends.  He is the one who holds everyone together.  He is devastated by finding his Uncle Phil passed out on the floor of his cabin only to discover that Phil has been hiding stage 4 lung cancer from him and another big secret that is sure to rock his world.  Saint works as a nurse in the ER and ran into Nash when he came to help his friend Rome out when he got beat up by a bunch of bikers.  Nash remembers Saint from high school as the pretty girl who was way out of his league, but Saint has a different version.  Saint believes that Nash betrayed her, at a high school party, never found her attractive and was a bully.

Can these two find a way to put the past behind them and come together? Will Saint ever trust Nash not to betray her for the first pretty piece of ass that walks by? A rough time in middle and high school can often leave people scarred and broken, just like Nash and Saint.  Only when we let go of the past and start living in the present can we really break free of the pain.

Once again hot sexy tattooed and pierced men will leave you breathless and wanting.  Well done.




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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Book Review: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown

Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Random House
Format: ebook
Pages: 208 pages
Genre:  self help
Buy: Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis:

Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.”

Review:

I have not read any of Brene Brown's other books and I really liked this one.  Remaining true to yourself is not always easy in a world that tries to pigeon hole us into categories.  We are conditioned to try to assimilate but is that really belonging?

If people only like you because you are like them are they really friends? In this politically divided country that seems to get more divisive every day its hard to remain true to yourself but also value other peoples opinions. Uncomfortable situations are usually avoided because we don't like to be uncomfortable but if we embrace these differences and listen to what people of opposing positions have to say we may actually learn something and create a real connection. Its not always easy to stand by your values and today behind the anonymity of our screens its easy to get into nasty arguments over things most of us know very little about but feel the need to weigh in on.

There are so many great moments in this book that I may have to go through it again.  I found so many aha moments that it took me much longer to get through this than it normally does.




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Friday, February 9, 2018

Audio Book Review: Rome: A Marked Man Novel (Book 3) by Jay Crownover

Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 9 hours 55 minutes
Narrator: William Sharpe, Alicia Neil
Genre: Fiction / Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Sometimes the wrong choice can be just right . . .

Fun and fearless, Cora Lewis knows how to keep her tattooed "bad boy" friends at the Marked in line. But beneath all that flash and sass is a broken heart. Cora won't let herself get burned again. She's waiting to fall in love with the perfect man—a baggage-free, drama-free guy ready for commitment. Then she meets Rome Archer.

Rome Archer is as far from perfect as a man can be. He's stubborn, rigid, and bossy. And he's returned from his final tour of duty more than a little broken. Rome's used to filling many roles: big brother, doting son, supersoldier—but none of those fit anymore. Now he's just a man trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life while keeping the dark demons of war and loss at bay. He would have been glad to suffer through it alone, until Cora comes sweeping into his life and becomes a blinding flash of color in a sea of gray.Perfect may not be in the cards, but perfectly imperfect could just last forever . . .

Review:


Suffering from PTSD and feeling betrayed by his brother Remy and his parents for keeping a deep secret about Remy's sexuality,  and his other brother Rule blissfully tied to his soul mate, Rome is plagued by demons of letting people down, of not being there for them.  Cora is short sassy and doesnt take shit from any of the big, tattooed, pierced men in her life. When Rome and his dark brooding energy rumbles into town and brings his murky rage with him to suck the life out of everything Cora won't stand for it.  Calling him Captain No Fun she quickly twists the giant with the broken heart around her finger and gives him a place to call home.

Another wildly sexy ride from Jay Crownover.




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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Audio Book Review: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Release Date: June 26, 2014
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 10 hours 01 minutes
Narrator: Cassandra Cambell
Genre: Fiction / Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet....

So begins the story in this exquisite debut novel about a Chinese American family living in a small town in 1970s Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother's bright blue eyes and her father's jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue - in Marilyn's case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James' case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia's older brother, Nathan, is certain the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it's the youngest of the family, Hannah, who observes far more than anyone realizes - and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

Review:

We know from the very beginning that Lydia is dead...the question is why and how. Through flashbacks we learn about her mother Marilyn, her father James and what it means to be different in a world that expects you to look like everyone else.  Her father is fighting demons from when he is a child, the only Chinese child in the class, how he longed to fit in, Marilyn had been in college when she met James, focused on being a doctor but instead got married and dropped out of school.  Each of them hides a deep pain that guides their actions, their selfish drive to mold their children in to what each of them wished they had been.

Lydia grows up to be the peacemaker, the person who tries so hard to hold her parents together and keep the family happy.  She always puts her parents wants and needs above her own, until she can't anymore. Nath is ignored or put down for not being the son James thinks he should be. Hannah, is just ignored and yearns for attention.

This is a well written book that describes the pain of being different, how parents often force their own wants and needs and expectations on their children instead of seeing them for who they really are and the anxiety of just being a teen. The narrator did a good job of portraying each character and bringing the story to life.





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Monday, February 5, 2018

ARC Review: The Darkest Night by Tara Thomas

Release Date: February 27, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: ebook
Pages: 432 pages
Genre:  Romance
Buy: Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis:

SHE THOUGHT SHE’D LOST HIM FOREVER
Tilly Brock has learned—the hard way—how to take care of herself. Once a pillar of Charleston society, her family lost everything in the wake of a shocking scandal. And then Tilly lost the only boy she ever loved.

BUT NOW THAT HE’S BACK IN HER LIFE
Keaton Benedict is Charleston’s most notorious bachelor. But in spite of all his advantages—the money, the women, the family name—he longs for more: the heart of the young woman he still can’t forget.

THE DANGER HAS JUST BEGUN…
When Keaton re-enters Tilly’s life, after all these years, she is torn between feelings of doubt and desire. Can they put the past behind them and learn to love again? Tilly is willing to try. But Keaton is afraid that a vengeful enemy is watching—and waiting to destroy them. Can the rekindled flame of their love defeat the deadliest rival and light their way forward in the darkest night?

Review:

I really wanted to like this book, it had an interesting plot but the characters weren't very well developed.  I was really looking forward to the reunion between Tilly and Keaton and their discovery of their relationship but it happened way to fast for me.  I think there was just too much going on for the plot to make sense.

There was the dangerous figure who is out to get the Benedicts for some unknown reason.  The small girl with the colored hair who works for him and has been groomed to hate the Benedict boys but finds there might be more to them and can't follow through on her orders, and then there is Elise the ex-best friend of Tilly who is from a wealthy family and has her sights set on marrying Keaton.  And if she doesn't get her way she quickly resorts to black mail and it goes down hill from there.

There was just no sexual tension or obstacles to climb, it all just felt like too much.  The book ends on a cliff hanger but I can see where it's headed and how the young girl fits into the story line. I'm just not sure the book held my interest enough to care.




Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review. 

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Audio Book Review: Jet: A Marked Man Novel (Book 2) by Jay Crownover

Release Date: November 19, 2013
Publisher: Harper Audio
Format: Audio
Length: 10 hours 08 minutes
Narrator: Callie Dalton, Cal Wembly
Genre: Fiction / Romance
Buy: Audible | Kindle | Paperback

Synopsis: 

With his tight leather pants and a sharp edge that makes him dangerous, Jet Keller is every girl's rock and roll fantasy. But Ayden Cross is done walking on the wild side with bad boys. She doesn't want to give in to the heat she sees in Jet's dark, haunted eyes. She's afraid of getting burned from the sparks of their spontaneous combustion, even as his touch sets her on fire.

Jet can't resist the Southern Belle with mile-long legs in cowboy boots who defies his every expectation. Yet the closer he feels to Ayden, the less he seems to know her. While he is tempted to get under her skin and undo her in every way, he knows firsthand what happens to two people with very different ideas about relationships.

Will the blaze burn into an enduring love...or will it consume their dreams and turn them to ashes?


Review:

Get your fan out because this is another smoldering romance with gorgeous tattooed, pierced men. Jet is a rock star who can't resist Ayden Cross the southern girl who lives across the hall from him. He turned her down once and has regretted it ever since. When Ayden moved to Denver from Kentucky she left behind a piece of her...the wild girl who falls for boys like Jet.  She is determined to be proper and find a man who is everything she thinks she should want but it isn't working because Jet has her hot under the collar.

While not quite as fluid as the first book in this series it is still a hot romance with familiar character and an interesting story line.  You can never out run where you came from, the past always has a way of sneaking up on you.





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