Monday, November 5, 2018

G1052 Book Review of Lullaby Road by James Anderson

Name of Book: Lullaby Road

Author: James Anderson

ISBN: 978-1-101-90654-5

Publisher: Crown

Part of a Series: Never Open Desert Diner is a prequel

Type of book: Utah. Highway 117, mysteries, secrets, desert rats, truck driver, thriller, intriguing background, mysterious family members

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Ben Jones, protagonist of the glowingly reviewed Never-Open Desert Diner, returns in a devastatingly powerful literary crime novel about parenthood, loss, and the desert in winter.

Winter has come to Highway 117, a remote road through the Utah desert trafficked only by oddballs, fugitives, and those looking to escape the world. So when local truck driver Ben Jones finds an abandoned, mute Hispanic child at a lonely gas station along his route, far from any semblance of proper civilization, he knows something has gone terribly awry. With the help of his eccentric neighbors, Ben sets out to help the kid and learn the truth. In the process he makes new friends and loses old ones, finds himself in mortal danger, and uncovers buried secrets far more painful than he could have imagined.

Characters:

Main character includes Ben Jones, a half Native-American half Jewish truck driver who seems to be either picking up pieces or else seems to shut off from the world due to a tragedy alluded to in the previous book. He simply wants to survive and seems to not be interested in his customers' secret lives, often rejecting information that could help reader put facts together. He is a survivor, resourceful and closed off as well as loyal and someone whose scars run too deep. Other memorable characters include a preacher on the run who is carrying a cross across the desert, then other numerable desert rats and different visitors who make a stop in Ben's life then they are on their way.

Theme:

One never knows the path they will end up at

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative from Ben Jones' point of view. While the characters were quirky and memorable, as well as the setting, there is something that seemed to lack in the book or something that didn't really grab me. I'm really not sure how to explain. Maybe its because I wanted to know more about Ben's background, especially the half-Native American half-Jewish and how he ended up the way he did. I also wonder why I didn't feel tense at tense moments and why the story had a dreamy sort of quality when in fact there are a lot of moments that would classify it as a mystery/thriller. Basically also, the whole action takes place in several days.

Author Information:
(From the book)

James Anderson was born in Seattle, Washington, and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He is a graduate of Reed College and received his MFA  in creative writing from Pine Manor College. His first novel was THE NEVER OPEN DESERT DINER. His short fiction, essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many magazines, including The Bloomsbury Review, New Letters. Solstice magazine and others. He currently divides his time between Colorado and Oregon.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
IndieBound ~ Books-a-Million
Add to Goodreads
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook
Opinion:

Here are some elements I really enjoyed reading when it comes to LULLABY ROAD by James Anderson. One is the intimate knowledge of the highway 117 and lives of Desert Rats that live in there. There is flair for memorable characterization, and I think its one of the first times that I actually read a book that takes place in Utah. I also enjoyed the setting and getting to know Ben Jones, a half Jewish half Native American truck driver as well as people who surround him. What I didn't enjoy is the fact that Ben doesn't seem to be interessted in getting to know the residents that he delivers goods for, and I also wasn't aware that this book is a sequel to NEVER OPEN DESERT DINER, which is referenced a lot in this story. From reading LULLABY ROAD by James Anderson, I imagine that this is not a stand-alone book. 

This is for iRead Book Tours

BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

Oct 22 - Bound 4 Escape - review / giveaway
Oct 23 - Olio by Marilyn - review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 25 - Cheryl's Book Nook - review / giveaway
Oct 26 - Locks, Hooks and Books - review / giveaway
Oct 29 - JBronder Book Reviews - review
Oct 29 - A Mama's Corner of the World - review / giveaway
Oct 31 - Truly Trendy - review
Oct 31 - Corinne Rodrigues - review / author interview /giveaway
Nov 1 - Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus - review / giveaway
Nov 1 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / giveaway
Nov 2 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Nov 2 - Books for Books - review
Nov 2 - Jessica Cassidy - review / giveaway
​​TBD - Writers N Authors - review / giveaway
TBD - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review / giveaway
TBD - Rainy Day Reviews - review / author interview / giveaway
3 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G1053 Book Review of Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr

Name of Book: Murder by Perfection

Author: Lauren Carr

ISBN: 97891718620230

Publisher: Acorn publishing

Part of a Series: Thorny Rose Mystery

Type of book: Perfection, marriage, mystery, navy, cooking, relationships, hidden secrets, dark side of organ exchange, family secrets, addiction, nothing is at it seems

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Beware! Perfection has a dark side!

Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica expected for her date night was a couple's gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford--the embodiment of feminine perfection.

When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford's flawless life to discover that perfection has a very sinister dark side.

Characters:

Main characters include Jessica and Murphy as well as their family and siblings. I was pretty happy to see Joshua Thornton back in the novel and was glad to meet Murphy's twin brother J.J. There is also Tristan, Jessica's younger brother and yes, the dogs. Jessica is the resourceful and beautiful young woman who desires to attain a PhD degree and seems to be a complete opposite of her husband Murphy. Murphy is very interesting in that he is in the Navy as well as in special forces and cares deeply for eating healthy (vegan) and doing yoga. Joshua and J.J are best described as determined and loyal to their family. Tristan, despite him teasing Jessica constantly is also there for her during tough times.

Theme:

Perfection is a state of mind, it takes a village to save a family member and solve the crime

Plot:

The story is in third person narrative primarily from Jessica's point of view, although Murphy's father, Joshua and his twin brother J.J also make an appearance. (I do wonder if J.J might be getting his own spin-off series.) The struggles of marriage and of one partner going to school are realistic in my opinion because with college its more of survival and tryign to get through the day rather than focusing on the house. Let's hope that I will see more of my favorite couple soon in another book.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Buy the Book:
Amazon
Add to Goodreads
Meet the Author:

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement retirees to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

​Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram
​​​
Opinion:

Wow, 2018 will definitely be remembered by me as "Lauren Carr" year because by the end of the year, I should have reviewed four of her books, MURDER BY PERFECTION is both third in the series and third I have read and finished this year. Just like her previous books, this is an addictive and enjoyable read that is far more than just its label of mystery. There is focus on family, romance, and on being there for one another. Really makes me regret that I hadn't read the previous seventeen novels... I do wish that I could have spent more time with Natalie Stepford (Reference to Stepford Wives, I assume?) aside from just one night, and I also liked the message, that there is no such thing as perfection.  Really top notch storytelling and mystery solving.


This is for iRead Book Tours

BOOK and AUDIOBOOK TOUR SCHEDULE:

Oct 8 - Working Mommy Journal - review / giveaway
Oct 8 - Hall Ways Blog - audiobook review
Oct 8 - TFaulc Book Reviews - book spotlight
Oct 9 - Rockin' Book Reviews - review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 9 - Kristin's Novel Cafe - audiobook review
Oct 10 - Bound 4 Escape - audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 10 - The Autistic Gamer - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 11 - Locks, Hooks and Books - audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 11 - Seaside Book Nook - audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 12 - fundinmental - review / giveaway
Oct 12 - Read and Review - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 15 - The World As I See It - audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 15 - Laura's Interests - audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 16 - Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 17 - StoreyBook Reviews - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Oct 17 - Dab of Darkness Book Reviews - audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 18 - Books for Books - review
Oct 18 - Truly Trendy - review
Oct 19 - Stormy Vixen's Book Reviews - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 19 - Two Points of Interest - review / giveaway
Oct 22 - T's Stuff - audiobook review / author interview / giveaway
Oct 22 - Cheryl's Book Nook - audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 23 - Mystery Suspense Reviews - audiobook review / giveaway
Oct 24 - Jaquo Lifestyle Magazine - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 24 - #redhead.with.book - book spotlight / giveaway
Oct 25 - Writers and Authors - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Oct 26 - Pause for Tales - review / guest post
Oct 26 - Nighttime Reading Center - review / giveaway
Oct 29 - Olio by Marilyn - review / giveaway
Oct 30 - JBronder Book Reviews - audiobook review / guest post / giveaway
Oct 30 - Library of Clean Reads - review / giveaway
Oct 30 - FUONLYKNEW - review / giveaway
Oct 31 - My Reading Journeys - review / giveaway
Nov 1 - books are love - review / author interview
Nov 2 - Jessica Cassidy - review / giveaway
Nov 2 - Rocksprings Crafts - review / author interview / giveaway
TBD - Svetlana's Reads and Views - review
TBD - Writers N Authors - audiobook review / author interview / giveaway4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

G1062 Book Review of The Splendor before the dark by Margaret George

Name of Book: The Splendor Before the Dark

Author: Margaret George

ISBN: 978-0-399-58461-9

Publisher: Berkley

Part of a Series: The Confessions of Young Nero is the prequel

Type of book: 64-68 ME, The great Roman fire, politics, marriage, survival, artist, glory, building, Emperor Nero, royalty, losing control,

Year it was published: 2018

Summary:

Ascending to the throne was only the beginning... Now Margaret George, the author of The Confessions of Young Nero, weaves a web of politics and passion, as ancient Rome's most infamous emperor cements his place in history.

With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire, ushering in an unprecedented era of artistic and cultural splendor. Although he has yet to produce an heir, his power is unquestioned.

But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero's complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace--and the politicians...

For better or worse, Nero knows that his fate is now tied to Rome's--and he vows to rebuild it as a city that will stun the world. But there are those who find his rampant quest for glory dangerous. Throughout the empire, false friends and spies conspire against him, not understanding what drives him to undertake the impossible.

Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world had ever known.

Characters:

There are a lot of characters, but the main ones would be Nero, his beautiful wife Poppaea, as well as Acte and Poppaea's male servant that looks way too much like her. Nero gained a lot of complexity as well as notoriety in the last half of the tale; it seems that the best he is remembered for are the last four years rather than years that come before them. In this book he seems to be far more ruthless and far more desperate to make a mark on the world rather, and he no longer seems to be like his old self from THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO. The events that he had to struggle and survive through are far more lethal than that of his mother, so I cannot blame him for changing and trying to hold on to his old self of curiosity and artist. Each character is seen from Nero's point of view and just like Nero, we are often surprised by the betrayals and being blindsided by them. Poppaea and others are also drawn well, although we see them from Nero's point of view. Poppaea is a clever and resourceful woman who seems to have made quite an impression on Nero's heart and its obvious that they loved one another greatly. Acte is also resourceful and clever and a bit naive.

Theme:

Don't trust what one reads

Plot:

The story is in first person narrative, primarily from Nero's point of view, although from time to time Acte and Locusta also make an appearance, much more so than in the first book. I honestly wish I could have read this book right after her first one, THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO, so that way I can witness the changes that Nero undergoes through as the life he knows has slipped away from his grasp. Unlike the first book which covers his childhood to the year prior to the fire. THE SPLENDOR BEFORE THE DARK, (a very apt title if one is to mask me,) only covers four years, but they are quite a roller-coaster ride and not once will the reader be bored, although I assume that many might find Nero's actions frustrating, especially the lack of political acumen in a lot of cases.

Author Information:
(From the book)

Margaret George, who lives in Madison Wisconsin, comes from a Southern basckground and has traveled extensively. After reading numerous novels that viewed Henry VIII through the eyes of his enemies and victims, she became determined to let Henry speak for himself, and it took fifteen years, about three hundred books of background reading, three visits to England to see every extant building associated with Henry, and five handwritten drafts for her to answer the question: what was Henry really like?

She is also the author of two other highly acclaimed novels, Mary Queen of Soctland and the Isle and The Memoirs of Cleopatra.

Opinion:

It's rare to discover a book where my heart seems to break on every page, but it seems that THE SPLENDOR BEFORE THE DARK does a good job. I have previously taken Roman Empire class and we did study times from Julius Caesar up to 6th century and time of Justinian and his infamous wife Theodora. All I recall was that Nero was the more salacious and bad emperor, at least as Suetonius paints him. A lesson I have learned as a historian is to question the source and the how and whys. Just like with its predecessor, THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO, Margaret George dared to go back to the last four years of Nero's life and reign and she dared to sketch out a heartbreaking tale of a man who wanted to be good but is only remembered for the bad. She de-mythologizes the man behind the costume and knowing what was to come for Nero makes it a heart breaking read. Nero isn't painted as a complete saint but he is not completely a bad guy. without conscience. In my opinion, this book is better than the first one, and in a rare instance, can be read as a stand-alone tale. And yes, sometime next year, MEMOIRS OF CLEOPATRA as well as the tale of Mary Queen of Scots, will definitely be on my to-read list.

This was given to me for a review

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Coming Attractions for November 2018...

Wow, only two months away from the end of 2018...can't believe it myself. In October I began to read ALVAR THE KINGMAKER by Annie Whitehead, and yes, it's a beautiful book. The last G-d knows how many years, I tend to accrue some patterns that I tend to repeat in my book reading: my first pattern, as I recall, was reading a tragic fantasy tale of a vampire elf named Jander Sunstar by Christie Golden; then THE FOREIGN STUDENT by Susan Choi as well as NORTH CHINESE LOVER by Marguerite Duras. Last month, around the same time, I read and reviewed TO BE A QUEEN by Annie Whitehead. Wonder if anyone else has these types of book habits.

Book Spotlights and Tours

The Splendor Before the Dark by Margaret George (November 5th 2018)

The Consultant by Tj O'Connor (November 13th, 2018)

Crimes past by Lauren Carr (November 27th, 2018)

Planned Reads:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Tamara Jenkins Reid

The Last Outlaws: The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and teh Sundance Kid by Thom Hatch

The Blessing of a Skinned Knee: Using Jewish Teachings to Raise Self-Reliant Children by Wendy Mogel

A Different Mirror; A History of Multicultural America by Ronald Takaki

Amnesia Nights by Quinton Skinner

A Knife in the Fog by Bradley Harper

The End of Loneliness by  Benedict Wells

For Fresh Fiction:

The Abbot's Tale by Conn Iggulden

Lady be Good by Amber Brock

The Way of Beauty by Camille di Maio

The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

Crimson Lake by Candice Fox

The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown 

November 2018

LULLABY ROAD BY JAMES ANDERSON
SR: October 3rd, 2018
FR: November 1st, 2018
A House Divided-Pearl S Buck
SR: March 11th, 2016
FR: N/A
Crimes Past- Lauren Carr
SR: November 9th, 2018
FR:
The light house keeper's daughter-Hazel Gaynor
SR: November 4th, 2018
FR:
Only killers and thieves by Paul howarth
SR: October 9th, 2018
FR: November 13th, 2018
From Across the Room-Gina L Mulligan
SR: November 1st, 2018
FR:
THE consultant- TJ O'Connor
SR: October 23rd, 2018
FR:
Amnesia nights- QUINTON SKINNER
SR: November 13th, 2018
FR:
This life or the next-DEMIAN VITANZA
SR: October 25th, 2018
FR: November 4th, 2018
Alvar the kingmaker by Annie Whitehead
SR: October 13th, 2018
FR: November 10th, 2018

Nonfiction:
Tree of Souls-Howard Schwartz
SR: February 10th, 2014
FR: N/A
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