Format: Hardcover

#BookReview
Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran

#BookReview Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle MoranTitle: Mata Hari's Last Dance

Author: Michelle Moran

Published by: Touchstone on July 19, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 272

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the international bestselling author of Rebel Queen and Nefertiti comes a captivating novel about the infamous Mata Hari, exotic dancer, adored courtesan, and, possibly, relentless spy.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.


Review:

This is a fascinating and engaging story about the life of Mata Hari, the famous dancer, courtesan, who was tried and convicted by the French for being a double agent during WWI, and was subsequently executed for treason by firing squad in 1917.

It is told in first-person narration, and it takes us through a life filled with abandonment, abuse, poverty, riches, love, loss, and wartime.

Mata Hari lived in a time when respectable woman were meant to be demure and obedient and she was certainly nothing of the sort. She appeared to be extremely independent and passionate, but one wonders if this was simply a facade for loneliness and naiveté.

I have to admit that I knew very little about Mata Hari when I started this book, and I found her story to be extremely captivating and intriguing.  It certainly leaves you questioning whether she was truly a spy or whether she merely got caught up in all the glitz and glamour and, ultimately, chose the wrong paramours.

The writing is poetic and the story flows effortlessly from page to page. 

I really enjoyed this story and I highly recommend it.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon CanadaChapters/Indigo

 

 

About Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran is the international bestselling author of seven historical novels. A native of southern California, she attended Pomona College, then earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher she used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her experiences as a volunteer on archaeological digs that inspired her to write historical fiction.

In 2012 Michelle was married in India, inspiring her seventh book, Rebel Queen, which is set in the East. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, and archaeology. She is also fascinated by archaeogenetics, particularly since her children's heritages are so mixed. But above all these things Michelle is passionate about reading and can often be found with her nose in a good book. A frequent traveler, she currently resides with her husband, son, and daughter in the US. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

#BookReview
The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews
@mkayandrews

#BookReview The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews @mkayandrewsTitle: The Weekenders

Author: Mary Kay Andrews

Published by: St. Martin's Press on May 17, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Women's Fiction

Pages: 464

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Some people stay all summer long on the idyllic island of Belle Isle, North Carolina. Others come only for the weekends-and the mix between the regulars and “the weekenders” can sometimes make the sparks fly. Riley Griggs has a season of good times with friends and family ahead of her on Belle Isle when things take an unexpected turn. While waiting for her husband to arrive on the ferry one Friday afternoon, Riley is confronted by a process server who thrusts papers into her hand. And her husband is nowhere to be found.

So she turns to her island friends for help and support, but it turns out that each of them has their own secrets, and the clock is ticking as the mystery deepens…in a murderous way. Cocktail parties aside, Riley must find a way to investigate the secrets of Belle Island, the husband she might not really know, and the summer that could change everything.

Told with Mary Kay Andrews’ trademark blend of humor and warmth, and with characters and a setting that you can’t help but fall for, The Weekenders is the perfect summer escape.


Review:

Engaging, mysterious, and romantic.

This is an intriguing story full of deception, secrets, adultery, murder, and love.

The characters are multilayered, introspective, and a good mix of those you love and those you love to hate. The prose is clear and precise. And the plot is full of suspense, romance and a multitude of twists and turns that will keep you captivated until the very end.

This really is a perfect summer read that will have you not only contemplating the idea of revenge and retribution, but will also have you dreaming of beaches, wharfs, and sea salt air.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

About Mary Kay Andrews

Mary Kay Andrews is the pen name of American writer Kathy Hogan Trocheck, based in Atlanta, who has authored a number of best-selling books under the Andrews pen name since 2002.

Trochek graduated from the University of Georgia with a journalism degree in 1976. She worked as a reporter at a number of papers, and spent 11 years as a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution before leaving to write fiction full-time in 1991. She published ten mystery novels under her own name between 1992 and 2000, and switched to the Andrews pen name in 2002 to author Savannah Blues, which marked a change in her style to more Southern-flavored themes.

#BookReview
Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

#BookReview Vinegar Girl by Anne TylerTitle: Vinegar Girl

Author: Anne Tyler

Published by: Hogarth on June 21, 2016

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 237

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

The third book in the Hogarth Shakespeare series, a major global initiative the Guardian calls “The great rewriting project of the 21st century” 
Shakespeare’s controversial comedy “The Taming of the Shrew” sees wilful, independent Katherina transformed into a willing, obedient wife to Petruchio. It is one of Shakespeare’s most re-visited plays, with adaptations including “Kiss Me Kate,” and “10 Things I Hate About You.” 
Anne Tyler’s delightful “Vinegar Girl” features Kate, a socially awkward young woman, adored by the preschool children she teaches but misunderstood by her peers. Her father is a scientific genius, but not so great on emotions. About to lose his (equally genius, equally socially inept) research assistant, Pyotr Cherbakov, because of visa problems, and desperate to save the project that is his life’s work, he comes up with a plan: Kate will marry Pyotr who will then be able to stay in the country and finish the project. The plan sounds perfect, except for one small hitch: Kate.”


Review:

This is an interesting, humorous take on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

It is a quick, easy read full of dry wit, eccentric characters, and oddball situations.

The main character, Kate, is lovable, direct, and asocial. And the supporting characters are unique, zany, and vivid.

I think, overall, Anne Tyler has done a really good job at taking a true classic, and re-telling it in a fresh, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny way, with beautiful writing and remarkable description.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

#BookReview
The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich & Lee Goldberg

#BookReview The Pursuit by Janet Evanovich & Lee GoldbergTitle: The Pursuit

Author: Janet Evanovich

Series: Fox and O’Hare #5

Published by: Bantam on February 28, 2017

Genres: Romantic Suspense

Pages: 352

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

Synopsis:

Janet Evanovich, author of the blockbuster Stephanie Plum novels, and Lee Goldberg, writer for the Monk television show, team up once again for the fifth book in their rollicking, New York Times bestselling Fox and O’Hare series!

Nicolas Fox, international con man, thief, and one of the top ten fugitives on the FBI’s most-wanted list, has been kidnapped from a beachfront retreat in Hawaii. What the kidnapper doesn’t know is that Nick Fox has been secretly working for the FBI. It isn’t long before Nick’s covert partner, Special Agent Kate O’Hare, is in hot pursuit of the crook who stole her con man.

The trail leads to Belgium, France, and Italy, and pits Nick and Kate against their deadliest adversary yet: Dragan Kovic, an ex–Serbian military officer. He’s plotting a crime that will net him billions . . . and cost thousands of American lives.

Nick and Kate have to mount the most daring, risky, and audacious con they’ve ever attempted to save a major U.S. city from a catastrophe of epic proportions. Luckily they have the help of an eccentric out-of-work actor, a bandit who does his best work in the sewers, and Kate’s dad, Jake. The pressure’s on for Nick and Kate to make this work—even if they have to lay their lives on the line.


Review:

Highly Entertaining, action packed, and laugh-out-loud funny!

This is the fifth novel in the Fox and O’Hare series, and once again the extraordinary cast of quirky, eccentric, and unique characters are back.

The writing is easy, charming, and fun. And the plot is jam-packed full of bizarre escapades, impressive cons, witty banter, a touch of romance, and imaginative villains.

This novel really is a riot from start to finish. And I can’t wait to read the next book in the series to find out what kind of hijinks Kate and Nick will get up to next.

 

#BookReview
Landline by Rainbow Rowell

#BookReview Landline by Rainbow RowellTitle: Landline

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published by: St. Martin's Press on July 8, 2014

Genres: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 310

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?


Review:

Heartwarming, interesting, and thought-provoking.

For me what resonated throughout this novel is the idea that a successful marriage does not occur just from finding the right mate, but rather from being the right mate.

The main character, Georgie, in the beginning is quite self indulged, overworked, and oblivious. She takes a lot for granted and forgets to appreciate all she has. And throughout the story as the plot develops, she undergoes a form of introspection to recognize what is truly important in life and that some things are worth fighting for.

The story is well written. And the plot uses a past/present style to give insight and depth into the relationship between the characters and also to highlight their individual drives, wants and motivations.

Overall, it is an engaging, easy read, that is certainly a nice way to spend an afternoon

 

#BookReview
The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight

#BookReview The Outliers by Kimberly McCreightTitle: The Outliers

Author: Kimberly McCreight

Series: The Outliers #1

Published by: HarperCollins on May 3, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 336

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 7/10

 

Synopsis:

It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help.

Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.

This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice: she has to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.

But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?


Review:

I was really excited to read this novel as I have previously read Kimberly McCreight’s other two novels, Reconstructing Amelia and Where They Found Her, and really enjoyed them.

This story, for me, started off really well, in fact it was positively creepy. The plot was interesting, mysterious, and suspenseful. And all the twists and turns had me on the edge of my seat and totally engrossed.

However, the second half of the book seemed a little less intriguing. The plot lost a little momentum, became a bit disjointed, and felt slightly unrealistic.

Overall, though, I think it’s a good story. The writing is strong. And the characters are complex, flawed, and determined. 

This book is certainly unique and interesting, and I think it is definitely worth a read.

 

#BookReview
Don’t You Cry by Mary Kubica

#BookReview Don’t You Cry by Mary KubicaTitle: Don't You Cry

Author: Mary Kubica

Published by: MIRA on May 17, 2016

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 320

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl, Mary Kubica returns with an electrifying and addictive tale of deceit and obsession 

In downtown Chicago, a young woman named Esther Vaughan disappears from her apartment without a trace. A haunting letter addressed to My Dearest is found among her possessions, leaving her friend and roommate Quinn Collins to wonder where Esther is and whether or not she’s the person Quinn thought she knew. 

Meanwhile, in a small Michigan harbor town an hour outside Chicago, a mysterious woman appears in the quiet coffee shop where eighteen-year-old Alex Gallo works as a dishwasher. He is immediately drawn to her charm and beauty, but what starts as an innocent crush quickly spirals into something far more dark and sinister than he ever expected.  

As Quinn searches for answers about Esther, and Alex is drawn further under Pearl’s spell, master of suspense Mary Kubica takes readers on a taut and twisted thrill ride that builds to a stunning conclusion and shows that no matter how fast and far we run, the past always catches up with us in the end.


Review:

This is a dark, intelligent, psychological thriller that will have you asking yourself, “How well do we really know someone?”

The story is told from two different perspectives. One is that of Quinn, a young woman living in Chicago whose roommate, Esther, has gone missing. And the other is that of Alex, an 18-year-old boy living in a small town 70-miles outside of Chicago who recently noticed a strange woman wandering around the town. These two characters have never met and you are left to puzzle how and when their two paths will collide throughout the novel.

The characters are multi-layered, complex and empathetic. The story is skillfully written. And the multiple plots will have you pondering each and every twist and turn.

This story is not full of action or extremely suspenseful. However, the slow build will keep you enthralled and captivated until the very end.

I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it

 

#BookReview
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave @chriscleave

#BookReview Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave @chriscleaveTitle: Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Author: Chris Cleave

Published by: Simon & Schuster on May 3, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 418

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Little Bee, a spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London.

It’s 1939 and Mary, a young socialite, is determined to shock her blueblood political family by volunteering for the war effort. She is assigned as a teacher to children who were evacuated from London and have been rejected by the countryside because they are infirm, mentally disabled, or—like Mary’s favorite student, Zachary—have colored skin.

Tom, an education administrator, is distraught when his best friend, Alastair, enlists. Alastair, an art restorer, has always seemed far removed from the violent life to which he has now condemned himself. But Tom finds distraction in Mary, first as her employer and then as their relationship quickly develops in the emotionally charged times. When Mary meets Alastair, the three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and—while war escalates and bombs begin falling around them—further into a new world unlike any they’ve ever known.

A sweeping epic with the kind of unforgettable characters, cultural insights, and indelible scenes that made Little Bee so incredible, Chris Cleave’s latest novel explores the disenfranchised, the bereaved, the elite, the embattled. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, and incredible courage.


Review:

This is a remarkable story that is incredibly insightful, and deeply moving.

The story is set in wartime London, and is told from two perspectives. Mary, a young woman of privilege and class, who decides to help and continues to help with war efforts, even when it seems like she is battling societal ideologies as much as the enemy itself.  And Alastair, an art restorer turned officer, who continues to fight for his country, even when all seems bleak and his resilience, strength, and memories of home are all that keep him moving forward.

This is story about war, loss, injustice, love, courage, and survival.

The writing is precise and poetic. The characters are sympathetic, valiant and real. The descriptive prose is stunning. And the dry wit of the dialogue keeps the story buoyant, above the darkness, and allows you to be impacted but not sunk.

Perhaps Kipling’s iconic words say it best, “lest we forget.” 

This story will resonate with you long after the final page has been turned. And I have a feeling it won’t be long before it is on book club lists everywhere. 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

For more information on Chris Cleave, visit his website at: chriscleave.com

or follow him on Twitter at: @chriscleave

 

#BookReview
Lost and Gone Forever by Alex Grecian

#BookReview Lost and Gone Forever by Alex GrecianTitle: Lost and Gone Forever

Author: Alex Grecian

Series: Scotland Yard's Murder Squad #5

Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons on May 17, 2016

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 375

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

Synopsis:

Many changes have happened to the Murder Squad. Rash actions have cost Sergeant Nevil Hammersmith his job, and in response he has set up his own private detective agency. Inspector Walter Day has been missing for a year, and no one knows where he is—though there is a strong suspicion that Saucy Jack has him. Hammersmith has made finding Day his primary case, and he has company—a pair of bounty hunters, a man and a woman. It is only gradually that he has come to realize that they are not what they seem . . .


Review:

This novel is thrilling and suspenseful.

Once again, Alex Grecian has created a gripping historical mystery in the dark, gritty streets of Victorian London in this fifth book in the Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad series.

The plot is interesting. The depiction of nineteenth century London is spot on. And all the usual cast of characters are back, flaws and all, for another round against the evils that humanity can spawn.

It is, truly, a great page turner and you don’t want to miss it.

If you haven’t read the other books in the series, I would suggest you read at least books #1, 3, and 4, although it’s not necessary, to truly appreciate the continuing storyline and character development.

 

#BookReview
Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline
@LisaScottoline

#BookReview Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline @LisaScottolineTitle: Most Wanted

Author: Lisa Scottoline

Published by: St. Martin's Press on April 12, 2016

Genres: Mystery/Thriller

Pages: 438

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 6.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Lisa Scottoline delivers another searing, powerful blockbuster novel that explores hot-button issues within the framework of an intricately plotted thriller. When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well. Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor – the biological father of the child she is carrying. Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth. Most Wanted is sure to be Lisa Scottoline’s most discussed, bestselling novel yet.


Review:

I really don’t like to give bad reviews, as I can only imagine how hard it is to be a writer and how much effort goes into every book they write. However, saying that, I was little disappointed in this one.

This story has a great premise, a little suspense, a bit of mystery, and some interesting moral and ethical dilemmas.

Overall though, I found the plot slow and slightly unrealistic, and the characterization seemed somewhat flat and unbelievable.

I have read several really good Lisa Scottoline books in the past, such as Every Fifteen Minutes, and I look forward to reading her next release, but this one wasn’t one of her best.

 

 

About Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is The New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 30 novels, including her #1 bestselling, AFTER ANNA. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter Francesca Serritella for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Chick Wit” which is a witty and fun take on life from a woman’s perspective. These stories, along with many other never-before-published stories, have been collected in a New York Times bestselling series of humorous memoirs including their most recent, I Need A Lifeguard Everywhere But The Pool. Lisa reviews popular fiction and non-fiction, and her reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa has served as President of Mystery Writers of America. Lisa graduated magna cum laude in three years from the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.A. degree in English, and her concentration was Contemporary American Fiction, taught by Philip Roth and others. She graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she taught a course she developed, "Justice and Fiction." Lisa is a regular and much sought after speaker at library and corporate events. Lisa has over 30 million copies of her books in print and is published in over 35 countries. She lives in the Philadelphia area with an array of disobedient pets, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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