Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
Mystery , Women's Fiction / June 29, 2017

Into the Water is the latest novel by Paula Hawkins.  Like her previous best seller, The Girl on the Train, it is a blend of troubled relationships and murder.  The novel starts out fast with Jules Abbott being notified that she needs to return to her hometown as her sister Nel is dead. Seems like Jules would be crushed at this news, but no, she seems angry.  I feel that the relationship between the sisters is the main thread of the story, but honestly it is somewhat hard to tell as we switch into multiple points of view so often. I found this constant changing POV somewhat difficult, although it does serve the purpose of moving the story forward as the characters reveal more and more. As these revelations happened I remember thinking, “What the f@*k?”  Apparently the people in this town have very few good qualities.  Abuse, murder, rape, lies, it’s all there.  And I felt like I needed someone to be decent. In retrospect perhaps the character of Nickie (the dark sheep/town psychic)  gets somewhat close.  I imagine many people reading this book, a lot enjoying it. For me it was kind of like a car accident, I couldn’t look away, but I felt somewhat uncomfortable too.

The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King
Mystery / June 26, 2017

Looking for something to creep you out and make your skin crawl? The Bones of Paris will do just that. This is a mystery novel with a private detective named Harris Stuyvesant as the main character. It is Paris in 1929 and the culture is wild, free, and bohemian. It is in this setting that Stuyvesant is asked to take on a case of a missing American girl named Pip. Stuyvesant is an interesting character who is somewhat troubled, flawed, and therefore intriguing, but to me the missing Pip seems somewhat unlikeable. As readers we are introduced to many unique characters and unique settings. This plus the missing case of Pip makes for a suitable read for fans of  history and the macabre, but ultimately, although suitable, I am not sure it is memorable. Read it with this understanding and you’ll be fine.

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

I started reading The Fever Tree without really knowing anything about it, and I am so glad I did. This novel by Jennifer McVeigh is one of the most compelling stories I’ve read in a long time. Frances Irvine finds herself in terrible circumstances after the loss of her father. Her mother passed away when she was a child and there is really no one left who cares for her. On top of that her father has risked his fortune and lost everything in his last few days. Frances is forced to make choices. Will she go to be a house servant to an uncaring aunt or travel to South Africa and marry a man she cares nothing for? This book has so many layers of interest. Frances is young and naïve, but as a reader I sympathized with her. The author touches on life in England and how many women of the time found themselves at loose ends with little or no choices. It also delves into South Africa’s corrupt business of making money in the bloody diamond mines while caring nothing for the native workers.  Some characters in the book are racist and I must mention there are offensive words and sentiment in…

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
Fiction , Mystery / June 21, 2017

A mystery on a fancy boat. Sounds like fun? Right? Well, I thought it was fun. It seems that there is some debate as to whether or not this novel and Lo, the female protagonist of The Woman in Cabin 10,  are any good. So what if Lo is a bit unreliable? And maybe she does drink too much…. and proceed to forget things. Who’s perfect anyway? It is one of the ways the author creates atmosphere in the book if you ask me. I enjoyed the setting and found the plot twists mostly plausible. It is a good solid option for the casual reader.

The Best of H. P. Lovecraft : The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft
Fiction / June 19, 2017

A family member of mine recommended I read something by H. P. Lovecraft and so I finally sat down to read some of his short stories.  The one I focus on here is The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It is a creepy horror tale that has an in depth setting of a small town and a somewhat mysterious narrator as the main character. This character tells the reader of the government making a strange and secret investigation into the town of Innsmouth. And so begins a eerie tale of a town nobody goes near, a town where the inhabitants look different. The author writes in thick, thoughtful sentences that hint and tease and let the imagination run and rule rather than beat the reader over the head with gore.  It reminds me of classic works by Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, and Edgar Allen Poe.  Not an easy read by any means, H.P. Lovecraft’s tales are for readers who are willing to work their brain a bit, but reading this tale gave me a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.  I read The Shadow Over Innsmouth from a Random House printing with an introduction by Robert Bloch, apparently there are other cheap printings of his work around with typos that are disappointing…

Shadow’s Seduction by Kresley Cole (Immortal’s After Dark 17)
Paranormal Romance / June 19, 2017

Shadow’s Seduction was an impulse addition to my book queue that turned out to be a fun summer read. I like Paranormal Romance and Kresley Cole is one author I keep an eye on. Overall the story of Prince Mirceo and Caspion is everything a reader would expect from the author. Sexy, strong males (two of them!) involved in action, danger, sex, and an emotional battle of will they, won’t they, are they, aren’t they? A little shorter than her average novel, but still satisfying. We even got to hear from some familiar friends of the IAD world that made me want to go back and re-read one of my IAD favorites just because I remembered how much I liked it. Pick this one up if you like the genre and want to read a same-sex story.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I read this in the Young Adult version for a book club I am in and it proved to be a good read and even better discussion. Just so you know, this is a non-fiction book, but it reads more like fiction. It centers around a group of University of Washington crew members who travel to the 1936 German Olympics.  A lot of the story is moved forward through the eyes of Joe, a young crew member who was abandoned by his family around age 15.  Joe is big and tough, and he manages to somehow use both brains and muscle to go to college. His determination and grit are incredible.  Match him up with a group of similar boys and you have magic. So, in closing, if you are looking for a story that will inspire both young and old, this might be it.

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Fiction , Romance , Young Adult / June 11, 2017

The Sky Is Everywhere is the story of a girl named Lennie, who is grieving the tragic loss of her sister. It is sweet and sad at the same time, but also somewhat hopeful. Kind of like youth itself. The story progresses fast and is dotted with snippets of mysterious “notes” that help keep the reader engaged. Overall a satisfying read.

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies
Historical Fiction / June 10, 2017

The cover art of The Tea Planter’s Wife caught my eye one day, but it was the story that kept my interest.  Part love story, part mystery, part lesson on the secrets we keep, this novel covers it all, and then some.  Set on a tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) the reader is enveloped in the story of a young women who finds herself married to widower.  Elements of social customs and race make this book a well rounded, thoughtful read.

The Red: An Erotic Fantasy by Tiffany Reisz
Advance Reading Copy , Erotica , Fiction / June 10, 2017

Step to the line, then cross it. The Red, a work of erotic fantasy fiction, will take you, turn you, and flip you over. It is the story of Mona Lisa St James, who wants to save The Red, an art gallery, and Malcolm, who helps her. The story moves fast as Mona and Malcolm, and the reader, explore art, kinky sex, and mystery. The author’s writing gives us a likeable heroine, with natural dialogue, and exposure to some great works of art. Finally, the sex scenes are extra kinky, exactly the type of stuff readers of erotica will enjoy. Sidenote: This was an Advance Reading Copy