Category Archives: Book Review

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

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48-year-old Dabney Beech is Nantucket.

Ask anyone.

Everyone knows her friendly smile and her involvement in anything Nantucket.  Dabney also has had a lifelong gift for matchmaking.  She can see when people are right for each other and with 42 happy couples all saying Dabney knows a good match when she sees it… its hard to argue the facts.

The only relationship that Dabney can not seem to get right is her own.  Meeting Clendenin “Clen” Hughes back when she was in school was the highlight of her life and when she let him so… she thought she was doing what was right for both of them. Yet 27 years later when Clen walks back into her life, Dabney feels all those feelings come surging back as though they had never left.  Trouble is Dabney is married to a wonderful man, who while he does not make her heart beat fast like Clen does, would do just about anything to save his marriage to the woman he truly loves.

Torn between what is right.. and what is true… Dabney struggles to make the right decisions, all the while her world is falling apart around her.  When her health seems to be battling against her, and she is missing an alarming amount of time from work for a variety of reasons – Dabney has to decide is making this one last match is worth all the trouble it will cause… even if it is her most desired wish.

 

 

There is just something summery sweet about an Elin Hilderbrand book.  Almost like biting into a perfectly ripe peach.  ~Sheila

 

The Matchmaker is a book I have been excited about.  Gorgeous cover, and the promise of a good Hildebrand storyline made me anxious to get started on this one.  While there was a lot to like about The Matchmaker (sunny days, Nantucket, romance, I want to be Dabney’s friend…) I actually found a bit in this one that I did not enjoy.

Dabney is OVERLY described in the beginning of the book as being adored by everyone…. in several ways in long drawn out descriptions it is very clearly made that Dabney is beloved. There is also a long drawn out decision to open an email or not… reading the title over and over again. It felt a bit forced and I started to think of the beginning of the book as “word fill”… just putting in as many words as you can to stretch it out.    Between that and the description of Clen’s eyes as being “weak tea colored” – that exact description being mentioned three times that I counted… it honestly was almost a deal breaker for me.  The whole perfect matchmaking story was a bit over the top and the only character that was described well and felt real was Dabney herself.

I am not sure what happened here with this book as normally Elin Hilderbrand has delightful engaging stories.  It took quite a while for me to get into this read and for a while I even considered calling it a DNF and moving on.

If, like me, you do hang in there and finish the book the story does redeem itself a bit but I am not sure enough to have me recommend it.

I would be interested in hearing other thoughts from those of you who finished this book as I am surprised by how disjointed I found it to be.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 10, 2014)

 

 

California by Edan Lepucki (hmmmm….)

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It’s been two long hard years since the world as it was broke into this food scarce fend for yourself type shell of what it once was.  The land of abundance is no more.

For Cal and Frida, life is quiet in the wilderness they have created a home within.  They have a garden, and a house, and a water source near by.  Admittedly it is a lonely world but it is what they have and for the most part they feel secure.

When Frida discovers she is pregnant she feels strongly that they must look for others.  While Cal is uncertain of this move, he understands his wife’s fears and together they go off to search for other people.  When they come across a community that is heavily guarded they are allowed inside, at least for a while to see if they will be accepted.  The community is full of surprises – some personal, and some frightening such as the fact that there are no children there.  As Cal and Frida cautiously look for answers they do not know who they can trust.  Is this the best the world now has to offer?  Were they better off alone where they were, or was that too only a temporary feeling of safety?

 

 

When I first heard about CALIFORNIA it sounded like a book for me.  I love a good dystopian novel and I was excited to dig into this one.

CALIFORNIA had a very slow start for me.  It honestly could have been partially due to the changes going on in my life at the time of starting to read this one, but I found it slow-moving and not gripping enough to hold me to it.  I picked it up, read a few pages and put it down off and on for weeks.  When it finally started moving (about 100 pages in) then I became engaged in what was happening.

The book was good… very good in some ways, but as I progressed to the ending I knew that all the different plot lines that had been opened up could not possibly be closed within this one book.  My biggest disappointment is I felt at the end it just…

ended.

Not a cliffhanger… but more like it ended like a chapter ends.  There should be more but there was not.

I had a lot of questions left and felt there was a lot more that needed to happen to bring this story line to full and satisfying conclusion.  No where that I have looked do I see that there are plans to make this into a trilogy or that there will be a sequel even.  For now.. I am under the impression that was it and if that is the case… I am left unfulfilled.

Little Lies by Heather Gudenkauf

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Social Worker Ellen Moore is awaken from her warm deep sleep to take a call that brought her full attention to the true cold dark world that surrounded her. A woman’s body was found in the park next to the statue of Leto, the Goddess of Motherhood.  More disturbing, the woman’s 4-year-old son was next to his dead mother, cold and alone.  Much like a case that took place thirteen years earlier with another mother, and another child in the same spot.  Ellen leaves the warmth of her husband’s side and quietly walks by each of her three children’s rooms to go to the scene of the crime.

Ellen’s job is to take care of the child, but she can not help but wonder what the connections are to the past.  You never know when you are playing it safe, or when you may find yourself confronted by a killer who knows you are getting a little too close to the truth for comfort.

 

 

I recently read and reviewed Heather Gudenkauf’s book Little Mercies which also is about protagonist Ellen Moore and a case involving child endangerment.  I enjoyed that book very much and was interested in this novella prequel with the main characters that I had enjoyed so much previously.

While I enjoyed the case and the story line, I was reminded once again why I do not usually engage in these prequels.  They place too much in the pages too fast, which I understand is the way it needs to be in a 400 page novella.  I think this would have made a wonderful full size book, there was plenty of good content to make it so.

If you enjoy Heather Gudenkauf’s writing and do not mind the occasional short story with great characters, this would be a book I would recommend.  Powerful storyline, just a little quick on the wrap up for me.

 

 

  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 5/1/2014
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400

 

LETHAL by Sandra Brown

LETHAL Sandra Brown, Sheila DeChantal, Book JOurney

 

Honor Gillette is a young widower of a Police Officer.  She now lives alone with her 4-year-old daughter trying hard to provide a stable life for them both.  When a man is found laying in their yard apparently harmed Honor goes to help him only to discover that he is the man flashed across the tv screen that the police are looking for the murder of 7 people, Lee Coburn.

Lee takes Honor and her daughter hostage in their own home, promising if they cooperate he will not hurt them.  Honor has no choice but to do as he says. As the days unfold Honor realizes that Coburn is much more than what the media is saying… in fact as Honor is about to learn – nothing is as it seems and who to trust, including those closest to her becomes the burning question.

How do you run away from the very people who days earlier would have been the ones you would run to?

 

 

 

I read this book as part of our June book exchange for book club.  This is the book that I picked out of the pile of wrapped books.  I had attempted Sandra Brown a few years back thinking I would like her writing style but struggled and had not finished the book, or picked her up since.  This was going to be another attempt.

 

LETHAL was an ok read.  From the moment Honor finds Coburn in her yard and takes her hostage I started having a little Labor Day by Joyce Maynard feeling.  Both books had single mom’s and a single child, both books the woman was taken hostage…. While in many ways the books are not alike, there was just enough there to make me feel like I had been here before.

The storyline felt a bit over the top, however I did find the book to be interesting enough to keep me going to find out what was going to happen.  When I shared my thoughts with my book club in July about this book I called it a steamier version of Labor Day.  In the end I preferred Lee Coburn’s character over Henry in Labor Day.  Coburn was someone I could cheer on…. Henry… not so much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf (Summer Reading and Book Club Worthy!)

Little Mercies, Heather Gudenkauf, Book JOurney, Social work, Sheila DeChantal

Social Worker Ellen Moore is used to seeing the worst side of the human race.  It has been her job to protect the children of her community and it is a job she does well while also managing her busy family life with a husband and children of her own.

One blistering hot day while trying to help a family in need, one moment of distraction, one slip while trying to do too much at the sale time, Ellen’s world comes tumbling down around her putting her on the other side of her world in the craziest of ways.  Suddenly life is speeding by as a blur as events unfold and her careless actions could cause the life of one of her own.

 

In another story line, ten year old Jenny Briard lives moment to moment.  Since her mother disappeared one day she has lived with her abusive father and lives moment to moment wondering where she will be sleeping that night and if there will be food.  When Jenny takes to the streets in search of where she believes her mother may have gone, her life becomes entangled with Ellen’s.

Ellen can not explain the appearance of this wayward child who has wormed her way into her life but she does not have time to deal with that in the midst of her own turmoil.  Jenny certainly does not want a social worker looking to closely at her and fears being sent back to the man she is trying to escape.  What neither Ellen or Jenny knows is that the timing of their encounter is right on time.

 

 

 

I simply adore Heather Gudenkauf’s writing.  She writes true feeling life stories that could be anything you would see in your local newspapers.  Tragedy.  Justice.  Truth.

When this book was offered for me to read I was super excited to have a chance to dig into another of these amazing stories.  I had no idea that once I opened the book, I was not going to put it down until I closed the last satisfying page.  (*note that during this reading there is some awkward making of lunch with one hand while my other held the book open)  ;)

Interesting, fast paced, heart pumping action, what unfolds in this story line is truly something you can imagine really happening.  Heather Gudenkauf’s Little Mercies grabbed me and made for gush worthy summer reading.

 

 

  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harlequin MIRA (June 24, 2014)

 

 

Book clubs – this book would make for an amazing discussion.   Download the Book Club Kit (PDF)

 

I have a giveaway going for a package of Heather Gudenkauf’s books.  Please comment on that post for an entry and receive a bonus entry for commenting on this one as well.  I will announce the winner of the package on Friday July 18th.

The Three by Sarah Lotz (Hoo Baby!))

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Forcing the world into a fearful silence, four planes around the world crash almost simultaneously in Japan, Florida, Portugal, and South Africa.  Our of these flights there are only three survivors each from a different flight and each are children.  A Pastor of a church that one of the congregation was on the Japan flight and died, feels that these children are a sign from God of the coming Apocalypse, referring to them as the four horseman and saying that there is a fourth child but he or she has yet to be discovered.  As the children are given to surviving family members things become stranger and stranger and these children do no seem to be themselves.  But if not themselves…

then who…or what are they?

 

 

The Three is the type of book that captures my attention right away.  Fantastic book cover, a title that makes you want to know more and a synopsis of “WHOA”. ~ Sheila

 

Not only is The Three a fast paced novel that will grab you right from the start but the format is also brilliant and refreshing.  Written in corresponding letters, phone conversations, blog posts, internet discussions and texts, Page by page The Three unfolds a thrilling tale that will hold you all the way through to the chilling end.

A brilliant first book by author Sarah Lotz.  I for one will be watching for more from her.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English

 

The Beekeeper’s Lament by Hannah Nordhaus

Beekeepers Lament, Hannah Nordhaus, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

The Beekeeper’s Lament follows John Miller, a multi generational bee keeper who moves his over 10,000 hives around the US to farmers who need the pollination that only the honey bee can provide.  Beekeeping, as one can imagine, is a lot of work and not for the faint of heart.  John will be stung frequently, deal with mites, weather, semi trucks loaded with bees turning over on highways, theft, and the CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) epidemic that came about in 2004 and still is as mysterious today.

Miller moves onward with a sense of humor, a gift at writing, and a desire to help feed America despite all the obstacles.

 

 

 

Why did I want to read this book?  I am fascinated by bees.  I have a friend who raises honey bees and occasionally I get to go and help her out and I enjoy learning about the bees and all they can do!

 

I really enjoyed reading The Beekeepers Lament.  The fascinating things that honey bees provide (beside the obvious honey) by providing pollination to flowers, berries, fruit, and the big one… almond trees.

Author Hannah Nordhaus follows John Miller through all the steps to bee keeping.  She writes of the communications between herself and John between visits.  John likes email.  And jokes.  And Author Hannah Nordhaus writes as I would hope if I were writing about something similar, that I would write.

This book would be appealing to those who enjoy foodie books, fans of nature, and of course the fascination of bees.  I learned so much by reading this and found every page to be filled with fascinating (and occasionally funny) information.

 

 

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (May 24, 2011)

 

 

 

 

The Young World by Chris Weitz – AWESOMELY GUSH WORTHY!

The Young World, Chris Weitz, Book Journey, YA, Sheila DeChantal

Expect big things from this amazing book… I don’t think this is the last we will hear from Chris Weitz ~Sheila

 

It has been two very long years since the mysterious virus had wiped out all children and adults leaving only the teens to try to  survive in this new unsteady world.  In New York as the teenagers have battled for food and space it seems as though it has turned into a city of tribes; each protecting their own.

Jefferson and Donna are part of the Washington Square Tribe.  Jefferson the leader by default, and Donna the teenage in-house “doctor”, are finding it harder and harder to come by supplies and food to keep their group going.  It is no secret that a tribe without the proper supplies is a weak tribe, and a weak tribe may as well be a dead tribe.

When a member of the group nicknamed “Brainbox” for his skills at coming up with ideas to create electricity and more believes he may have an idea of what has caused virus and may be able to reverse what has happened to the world if he could just look at a book that is in the library way across town, Jefferson, Donna, and another tribe-mate Peter, all join in the cause.  Something has to be done before they too die…

but what dangers lie out beyond the sanctuary of their area?  And what truths are trying to be protected at any cost?

 

 

Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens.

After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.

- See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/chris-weitz/the-young-world/9780316226295/#desc

I first picked up a glimpse of this book at the Book Expo in May.  I seen it in the women’s bathroom.
he Young World, Chris Weitz, Book Journey

Nicely played Little Brown… Nicely played.

This (above) was the advertising in the women’s bathroom at the expo.  I seen it.. and went to the Little Brown booth immediately (I did not pass go, did not collect $200) and requested an advanced copy of it.

I am so glad I did.

This book is not released until July 29th and normally I would not review a book this far ahead of release date…

but…

I want to get you as EXCITED about this one as I am.  I want YOU to be aware of what is coming that is super awesome sauce so you can put it on your radar and know that if you enjoy YA Dystopian fiction with the more than likely potential of being a movie as well, then hang on… you are in for a treat.

I LOVED the layout of The Young World.  Set in New York in the futuristic pit of a world.  The protagonists are diverse and engaging.  I enjoyed the concept of the different tribes made up of teens.  Each had their own skill sets that they embraced – some were for good…. some – not so much.

The Young World is a great ride and do not pass on this first book of The Young World Trilogy (don’t groan – the book is fast paced and engaging and you will not want to wait!)

Fun Fact: 

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Chris Weitz is the director of Twilight: New Moon, About a Boy, The Golden Compass, Antz and American Pie. His most recent film is A Better Life, which was nominated for an Academy Award. THE YOUNG WORLD is his first novel. – See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/authors/chris-weitz-teen/#about

Chris Weitz is the director of twilight, New Moon, About A Boy, The Golden Compass, ANTZ, and American Pie.  His most recent film is A Better Life, which has been nominated for an Academy Award.  The Young World is his first novel.

So now that I have GUSHED all over this review… here is a list compliments of Hachette Book Group – as to where you can plan to purchase this book:

Where to buy!

  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Imprint: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • Release Date:  July 29, 2014
  •  

    Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens.

    After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
    The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.

    - See more at: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/chris-weitz/the-young-world/9780316226295/#desc

    That Night by Chevy Stevens

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    Toni Murphy was your typical 18 year old teenage girl.  She quarreled with her parents, had drama at school, and had the boy the in turn had her heart; Ryan.  By far the worst of it – were the group of girls at school who were set on making Toni’s life a living hell.  (Think mean girls on steroids).  As the girls became meaner, and bolder, Toni’s life begins to unravel, and when they become friends with her younger, innocent sister Nicole… the battle really begins.

    One night at a party that Toni, Ryan, and Nicole are attending, Nicole turns up dead.  Her body found in a nearby lake with appearances of a struggle.  As Toni and Ryan were the last to see Nicole, the two teens are pinned for the murder.

    Now at 34, Toni is released on parole with the knowledge that she in never to be in contact with Ryan again who also should be released around that same time.  As Toni makes her way back to her home town to try to piece together what is left of her life, clues start coming together to what really happened…

    That Night.

     

     

    It is no secret that I adore Chevy Stevens.  When I listened to Still Missing on audio I was floored at how engaged I became with her well written story of a missing girl.  Since then I have eagerly awaited each release of her books.

    That Night was a twisted read that hits hard on the hot topic of bullying.  The girls in the book made Toni’s life unbearable and I could not imagine being in her shoes.  As you will find out if read the book, things are not much easier for her in prison; it’s just a different level of mean girls.

    There were aspects of this book I really enjoyed – and some not so much.  Toni is not an easy protagonist to like, but you will find yourself rooting for her anyway.  In the end author Chevy Stevens breaks through with another “WHOA.” from me.  Just when you think you have it all figured out.. you will discover that you know nothing… NOTHING, about That Night.

     

     

    Thank you to St. Martin’s Press Publicity for sending me a

    copy of this book for an honest review.

     

     

     

    FACE OFF – Authors face off their protagonists against each other! Edited by David Baldacci

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    Ever wonder what your favorite thriller authors are doing between books?  They are imaging how their protagonists would stand up to the likes of other thriller writer protagonists… ;)  ~Sheila

     

    Imagine if the protagonists from your favorite thriller writers teamed up to work together (or not).  What level could you take a storyline?

    What if Dennis Lehane’s Patrick Kenvie ran into Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch while apparently on a stake out for the same man?

    Or John Sanford’s Lucas Davenport finds himself in the vicinity of Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme?

    Or Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is hanging out with Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller?

    And add-on a total of 22 characters facing off in 11 short stories, collaborated by the two authors to make each short story.  And, (I think this is fun) each story starts out with a page or two blurb of how the authors worked together to create a short yet engaging thriller story in about 20 pages or less.

     

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    I have to say, I loved the idea of this book, and then actually reading it made me love it more.  This is one of those remarkable ideas of bringing authors together with their protagonists for a big party!  Always the fan of Dennis Lehane I rad his story that was created with Michael Connelly first and loved the quick paced thriller with a humorous edge to it.

     

    Bosch looked over Patrick. “You like baseball Patrick?”

    “Big time.  Why?”

    “You’re the first guy I have seen in this town not wearing a sox hat.”

    Patrick pulled off his hat and considered the front of it as he ran a hand through his hair.  “Imagine that.  I didn’t even look when I left the house.”

    “Is that a rule or something around here?  You’ve all got to represent Red Sox Nation or something?”

    “It’s not a rule per se, more like a guideline.”

     

    Fans of thrillers this book is a must.

    Each author has donated his or her story and all of the proceeds from the book go to fund ITW (International Thriller Writers), which charges no dues to its members.

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