Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson
Fiction , Mystery / July 31, 2017

As I read the first few chapters of Before I Go to Sleep I began to get the impression that for me, this felt like an old school horror story, or as if the classic TV show the Twilight Zone had been transfered to print. The story is one of Christine Lucas, a woman with amnesia, and Ben, her husband, and finally Dr. Nash, who is secretly helping Christine, even as he studies her case. I was drawn into the story and kept picking up the book to read what would happen next.  I felt Christine’s emotional struggle, ups and downs, and also her suspicions and justifications.  As a character, Christine is just so vulnerable.  Imagine waking every day with no idea who or where you are?  This is a fantastic debut novel, one that I had no idea about. Apparently it’s even been made into a movie! Who knew! Definitely a novel I recommend.

The Play of Death by Oliver Potzsch
Fiction / July 28, 2017

Have you ever liked the characters in a book more than the plot? Don’t get me wrong, The Play of Death has a lot going on, many twists and turns, but I just love the characters so much. Jakob Kusil, a big, scary, hulk of a man, is the town hangman and executioner. Magdalena is his oldest daughter. Simon, a doctor of sorts, fell in love with her back at the series beginning and had to get permission to marry out of his class so they could be together. The author does such a wonderful job with these unlikely heros. He develops them so well, it’s like they are people down the street, although the street would be in Europe in 1670. This installment springs from Magalena and Simon’s oldest child Peter heading to school in a nearby town, where someone is willing to educate the hangman’s bright grandson. It’s at this moment, when we are just meeting Peter’s new teacher, that we learn of a horrible murder that has just taken place.  And so a mystery begins. Like I said, each character is well rounded and although they have faults, like Jakob killing people for a living, the reader still finds a way to like them and care for their…

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Fiction / July 26, 2017

The Forgetting Time is the story of Noah, a troubled child, and Janie, his single mother, who is trying to deal with him. One of his most extreme behaviors is his refusal to bathe. But in addition to this odd behavior, Noah seems to know things he shouldn’t know. And he constantly asks for his “real” mother. This is the set up for a voyage of discovery that leads Janie to suspect Noah has memories of a past life.  Crazy right? Whether or not you believe in past lives this book is really a story of a mother’s love and what lengths she will go to for her child. I found it worth reading because the story felt new, unique, and heartfelt.

Highland Master by Hannah Howell
Historical Fiction , Romance / July 23, 2017

Blue eyes, five o’clock shadow, and body armor. The male cover model of Highland Master caught my eye the other day and I decided to allow myself this guilty pleasure. This is a standard historical romance, with a meeting between the widow Lady Triona and Sir Brett, followed by attraction, trouble, and sex. For me it ran a little long and was a bit overdone on two parts: one-Lady Triona’s doubts about running of her estate and two: Sir Brett’s resistance to Triona. But, overall, it was a fun read, and hey: blue eyes, five o’clock shadow, and body armor!! Did I mention that?

Summer at Rose Island by Holly Martin
Advance Reading Copy , Romance / July 16, 2017

Summer at Rose Island is a sweet romance, appropriate for most readers, as it has only a few loves scenes, and those are less graphic than a lot of romance novels. Darcy Davenport has moved to White Cliff Bay and sparks fly between her and lighthouse owner Riley, an American.  The plot is unique and there are some funny moments, especially during the town festival when Darcy finds herself involved in some quirky situations.  I didn’t find this a compelling read, but it’s sweet heroine was refreshing and likeable. Sidenote: This was an Advance Reading Copy

Dig If You Will The Picture by Ben Greenman
Non-Fiction / July 11, 2017

I knew I had to read this book. I shelved it one day in May, but instead of filing it by number, I set it as a face out to get it more attention. The artwork on the cover is eye catching and I live in an area of the country that is familiar with Prince.  After Prince’s tragic death there has been a lot of interest in his work.  I mainly see his music CDs coming and going.  But I wanted to know more about the man behind the music.  This book digs into his rise to fame and his music genius. I learned more about the music scene in Minneapolis and how Prince had control of much of it. I have to say the reading was sometimes difficult for me. I am used to fiction and this book digs deep into topics Prince wrote about in his music; things like sex, sexuality, and religion. Not a light read for me. As I read I waited for an answers about Prince’s death. The author discusses the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office autopsy report that determined Prince died from an accidental overdose of Fentanyl, a synthetic opiod a hundred times more powerful than morphine.  People close to…

RoomHate by Penelope Ward
Audio Book , Fiction / July 8, 2017

I like to listen to audiobooks as I use my elliptical. It is a great way to pass the time when you are tired of reruns on TV. RoomHate by Penelope Ward was my latest choice. My library has an app called Hoopla that allows audio lending and that’s where I found this. I had no idea what it was about, but the narrator’s voice passed the initial “listen test” so I gave it a chance. (Yes, I have stopped audiobooks if I can’t stand the voice of the narrator.)  The story is about Amelia and Justin, two childhood friends who parted ways only to be thrown together as adults when they jointly inherit a house. The dialogue is cute, the flashbacks to Amelia and Justin as children are wonderful, and there is a baby! I mean who doesn’t like a baby? Apparently Justin, as this is one of the conflicts between the two main characters. Amelia is a mother to Bea, and Justin isn’t sure he wants to be a parent (although he does actually like Bea.) I enjoyed listening to this but I think that’s because I wasn’t expecting more than an entertainment. I will plan on looking for more by this author because my elliptical awaits!

The Chosen by J.R. Ward
Fiction , Paranormal Romance / July 7, 2017

The Chosen is the latest novel in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world. The title refers to Layla, a “Chosen” and the story is mainly about her and her love interest Xcor. Ward’s writing style is to weave a couple story lines into a single book, leaving most to continue into another book. In addition to the main love story, the author highlights Tohr and V, two brothers who’s stories don’t seem exactly tidy, which is probably why they appear here.  I’ll admit I have been waiting for the author to write about Layla and Xcor because I really couldn’t imagine how a “Happily Ever After” would occur for these two. And as Ward writes these books as romance novels, a HEA is usually in the cards. So Layla has given birth to twins and the biological father is Qhuinn. Blay, Qhuinn’s partner, is also considered a father to the twins. It’s when Qhuinn discovers that Layla is secretly seeing Xcor, enemy of the BDB, that everything falls apart.  For me, I felt that the author delves into love and loyalty in this book. Love for a child, a family, a brotherhood. Loyalty to an idea, a group, a moral compass. These are tough issues. Who knows how we will react when faced with…

Devoted by JC Harroway
Advance Reading Copy , Romance / July 3, 2017

I spent the weekend reading Devoted, romance novel by JC Harroway.  It is the story of Tyler and Mallory, two people each dealing with loss in their own way.  The circle of their lives intersected in the tiniest way years ago and now they have met again as adults. Tyler is a movie director and Mallory is the manger of her sister, a rising star for Tyler’s latest project. But can two people find love in the middle of grief, guilt, and obligation? It’s hard. The novel progresses through ups and downs, some anger, and miscommunication. It also has some very hot sex scenes.  I felt the theme of loss and love was handled well, and the characters of  both Mallory and her sister take steps to grow and learn in the novel.  In contrast to what was well handled is what I felt didn’t always work: like some of the main character’s interactions and dialogue. For me these didn’t always ring quite true. For example I remember one time Mallory’s “inner dialogue” called Tyler an assh*!@.  It somehow seemed too harsh, too extreme; after all Mallory is portrayed as vintage, unique, and to me, at the time in the novel, these two hardly knew each other.  To wrap up,…

Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw / Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Childrens , Fiction / July 3, 2017

Each day I spend time in the children’s picture books.  It’s so fun to walk among all the bins and let my eyes wander over the artwork. Recently I picked up Won Ton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw/Eugene Yelchin. I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only is the artwork lovely but the book is written in a pattern called senryu. Senryu is similar to the Japanese poetry called haiku. For those who aren’t familiar haiku, it contains 3 unrhymed lines containing a pattern of 5-7-5 syllables respectively. Usually haiku is about nature, whereas senryu is about human nature (or cat nature!)  I immediately checked out the book as I am fascinated by haiku.  So to start, the story is told like a poem in 3 senryu sentences on each page. And it is so cute! Won Ton is a cat living the good life with his boy, until one day when his life is disrupted by a puppy joining the family.  As we follow along we see how Won Ton deals with the change. Will he and the puppy be friends? Read this sweet story to your kids to find out. Not only will you be treated to a good life lesson, but your eyes will enjoy the artwork, and you will learn about a form of poetry from half way…