Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book Review: Six Years by Harlan Coben

Six years have passed since Jake Sanders watched Natalie, the love of his life, marry another man. Six years of hiding a broken heart by throwing himself into his career as a college professor. Six years of keeping his promise to leave Natalie alone, and six years of tortured dreams of her life with her new husband, Todd.

But six years haven’t come close to extinguishing his feelings, and when Jake comes across Todd’s obituary, he can’t keep himself away from the funeral. There he gets the glimpse of Todd’s wife he’s hoping for . . . but she is not Natalie. Whoever the mourning widow is, she’s been married to Todd for more than a decade, and with that fact everything Jake thought he knew about the best time of his life—a time he has never gotten over—is turned completely inside out.

As Jake searches for the truth, his picture-perfect memories of Natalie begin to unravel. Mutual friends of the couple either can’t be found or don’t remember Jake. No one has seen Natalie in years. Jake’s search for the woman who broke his heart—and who lied to him—soon puts his very life at risk as it dawns on him that the man he has become may be based on carefully constructed fiction. (Goodreads)

I have not read all of Harlan Coben's books but the ones that I have have all been outstanding. Maybe it's because I don't overdo myself with one author or maybe it's because he is a kick ass writer. I'm just darn glad I signed on to review this one. I have signed on to review maybe 3 books this year because I'm just plain sick of the obligatory must-review-by-this-time mantra. My life just doesn't support that and I get plain cranky. But Harlan Coben?! I had to say yes.

I've said this before, Coben is the master of having the extraordinary happen to the ordinary. You can relate to his stories, his characters. I pray to goodness that none of his jacked up plots would ever happen to me, however.

His plots are fast paced and full of twists. His characters are fleshed out enough that you feel invested in them yet you don't get their whole entire back story. Every thing you get has a purpose. Just enough info to lure you in and try to figure it all out.

Six Years is a stand alone thriller and one that I was a tad bit terrified at at times. I even texted my fellow mystery loving friend, Cheryl, that she must read it as I was curled up in my bed late one night spooked.

There are a few story lines I enjoy in thrillers. First, the "I Forgot My Memory and I don't know who I am" plot and the "This really happened. Why don't you believe me?!"plot.  They both drive me nuts but I like it. It's suspenseful and aggravating and I just want it all to be solved!

Six Years had the "This really happened. Why don't you believe me?!!!" plot line. Nobody believes Natalie really existed. He can't find any trace of her. People he KNOWS he met in the past suddenly don't remember him. Places he went with her don't exist anymore. It's creepy and I loved it.

Kudos to Coben for delivering another thrilling tale. If you are new to his books, I would start with Tell No One but this one is good too! That one blew me away and got me hooked.

Author Website:
Harlan Coben

A-Z Mystery Author Challenge

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Audio Review: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

The majestic and haunting beauty of the Italian Alps is the setting of the first meeting of Enza, a practical beauty, and Ciro, a strapping mountain boy, who meet as teenagers, despite growing up in villages just a few miles apart. At the turn of the last century, when Ciro catches the local priest in a scandal, he is banished from his village and sent to hide in America as an apprentice to a shoemaker in Little Italy. Without explanation, he leaves a bereft Enza behind. Soon, Enza's family faces disaster and she, too, is forced to go to America with her father to secure their future.

Unbeknownst to one another, they both build fledgling lives in America, Ciro masters shoemaking and Enza takes a factory job in Hoboken until fate intervenes and reunites them. But it is too late: Ciro has volunteered to serve in World War I and Enza, determined to forge a life without him, begins her impressive career as a seamstress at the Metropolitan Opera House that will sweep her into the glamorous salons of Manhattan and into the life of the international singing sensation, Enrico Caruso. 

From the stately mansions of Carnegie Hill, to the cobblestone streets of Little Italy, over the perilous cliffs of northern Italy, to the white-capped lakes of northern Minnesota, these star-crossed lovers meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. 

Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker's Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.

This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker's Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come. (Goodreads)

I started this audio book right after I finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I knew I would need a favorite author of mine to pull me out of the spell of that story. The Shoemaker's Wife has now left a void of its own. I had an ARC of this from some time ago and started reading it but never finished. Who knows why? Too many books going? Too busy? Whatever. I am so glad the story came to me in any way shape or form. It was absolutely splendid. I have not read any of Trigiani's Big Stone books just her Valentine novels about an Italian-American family. Oh how beautiful a story she tells. Her Italian roots comes across so vividly in The Shoemaker's Wife as it did in her Valentine novels.

I just melted when she would describe the mountains of Northern Italy or the gnocchi the family made or the Opera music that was played. It was all so vivid and enticing. Annabella Sciorra begins the narration as Enza. The second part of the audio is narrated by Adriana Trigiani herself as Ciro. Both have vastly different voices and though I loved Sciorra instantly, it took me some time to like Trigiani's voice. After a few discs, I grew to appreciate her voice and could really tell she was incredibly close to the characters she created.

Ciro and Enza's love story is one I wish I could relive. Fortunate at times and heartbreaking at others, their story is real and relatable. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves history and romance.

This would be a great pick for any book club.

Author Website:
Adriana Trigiani

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review: The Mothers by Jennifer Gilmore

Jesse and Ramon are a happy, loving couple but after years trying to get pregnant they turn to adoption, relieved to think that once they navigate the bureaucratic path to parenthood they will finally be able to bring a child into their family. But nothing prepared them for the labyrinthine process—for the many training sessions and approvals, for the ocean of advice, for the birthmothers who would contact them but not choose them, for the women who would call claiming that they had chosen Jesse and Ramon but weren’t really pregnant. All the while, husband and wife grapple with notions of race, class, culture, and changing family dynamics as they navigate the difficult, absurd, and often heart-breaking terrain of domestic open adoption (Goodreads)

 This book was brought to my attention last fall as one I would really love. The rep who had me in my mind was correct! I did really enjoy this one. It was right up my alley. It was indeed a character driven story of Jesse and Ramon and their quest to create a family. With my own quest for having a second child, I identified in the couple's views on the what ifs of adoption. Though my husband and I have not explored it as heavily as Jesse and Ramon, the questions that arise when you are venturing down this road are heavy and endless, it seems. 

Their story is laid out in a somewhat scattered way, going back and forth in time to when the couple met, to their childhoods, to their own experiences with their own mothers, to their current experiences with meeting other couples seeking adoption. At times it leaves the reader feeling a bit vacant when trying to grasp the emotions of the characters but most often, the author ties it all in.

The overall feel of the book was sad but hopeful. I enjoyed it in the sense that I looked forward to getting back to it and caring about the fate of the characters. It's not a light read, though moments of humor are sprinkled in. You find that the couple are good people and you ultimately want them to succeed and find the family they crave. 

Another layer to the book is the question of motherhood. What is a mother? What makes a mother good? Jesse and Ramon's mothers are vastly different and they explore where they came from and assess how they will be as parents.

Overall, I recommend this for fans of fiction with a familial drama plot line. It's well written, intense at times but hopeful overall. 

Author Website: Jennifer Gilmore
Release Date: April 2013
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, March 7, 2013

DNF Review: Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner

This is my family:  Vanished without a trace…

Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by friends and family.  A perfect life.

This is what I know:  Pain has a flavor…

When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer.  The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind.  No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive.  Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.

This is what I fear:  The worst is yet to come…

Tessa knows better than anyone that even the most perfect fa├žades can hide the darkest secrets.  Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices.  Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family?  And how far would such a person be willing to go? 

This is the truth:  Love, safety, family…it is all touch and go. (Goodreads)

I was extremely excited about this one when I received it but it didn't hit me like her others did.

I didn't care for the family so I guess I wasn't really interested in what happened to them. That sounds harsh but I am a character gal. I need to feel some investment in them to care.

I did like Tessa's character so I'd be willing to give another book with her a shot. I've got nothing against Lisa Gardner's writing. She knows how to whip it all together and dish out plenty of twists. This one was no exception. 

I ended up getting about 3/4 of the way through it and lost interest. For fans of Gardner, you get what you get. It is another suspense filled tale. Maybe you will like the characters a bit more!

Author Website
Lisa Gardner

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child