Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Heart of the Home by Gwen Kirkwood

Avril Gray and Dean Scott have been friends since childhood and are thinking about a life together someday. Avril's mother, Ruth, is dying and Avril wonders who will look after her younger half-brothers, Craig and Callum. In addition, Dean's mother, Grizel, disapproves of Avril, and Dean himself worries that he doesn't have anything to offer Avril, especially since her father is a doctor and she has a university degree. Will Avril and Dean be able to overcome the obstacles between them and marry? In this third book in the series (after Dreams of Home and A Home of Our Own), Kirkwood moves into the mid 1960's with her gentle read. While I enjoyed the story,  I miss getting the points of view of some of the characters who featured prominently in the earlier novels, like Megan and Steven. Still featuring the characters as they move through life would give the series added depth.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

Famous taxidermist Leon Gott has been murdered in his home and has three marks on his chest and both sides of his face.  The cuts make Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles believe that they might be dealing with some sort of ritual killing. Could the death be connected with the disappearance of Gott's son, Elliot, six years ago on a safari in Botswana or was Leon Gott killed by an animal rights activist?  Rizzoli and Isles will immerse themselves in DNA analysis and forensics in order to find who's responsible.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Through the train window each morning, Rachel sees a couple she has named "Jason and Jess." She imagines that they have the perfect relationship, but they don't. Megan (Jess) is floundering career-wise and is having an affair. When Megan goes missing, Rachel insinuates her way into Scott's (Jason's) life and the police investigation. Yet Rachel has problems of her own. She is an unemployed alcoholic who drinks so much she can't remember where's she's been or what's she done. One of her blackouts happened on the night that Megan disappeared. It turns out that Megan and Scott live down the street from Rachel's ex-husband, Tom and his new wife, Anna. Rachel just can't leave Scott and Anna alone, especially since it was Anna that was partly responsible for the breakup of her marriage. Unreliable, dislikable characters and a possible violent crime highlight this suspenseful tale--a good read-alike for Gone Girl.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Home of Our Own by Gwen Kirkwood

It's 1951 and life is good for Steven and Meg Caraford and their young son, Samuel. Their farm, Schoirhead, is prospering and they have the love and support of their families. Their only worry is that they are secretly farming an elderly neighbors' land in order to help them out, and they hope the authorities don't discover that fact. Steven's mother has also taken in a lodger named Ruth, whose daughter, Avril, was born after Ruth was raped by Steven's nasty half-brother, Fred. Fred has emigrated to Canada, but Ruth still lives in fear of him. In A Home of Our Own, the reader follows the Carafords, their families and friends through their everyday lives in rural southern Scotland over several years. The book is second in the series after Dreams of Home and is a cozy enjoyable read.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Favorite Books of 2014

Two first novels and three books with an emphasis on interpersonal relationships comprise the list of the books I most enjoyed last year.

In alphabetical order by author:

Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrews

I adore some books by Andrews and I don't even finish others because the characters, story, or setting are bland. However, Save the Date combines entertaining characters along with lots of details on flowers and wedding planning to make an engaging read.

California by Edan Lepucki

Lepucki's dystopian novel was a real page turner for me. Her portrait of Cal's and Frida's marriage and fight for survival when they discover they are having a baby was interesting.

A Good Year for the Roses by Gil McNeil

Descriptions of English gardens, a crazy parrot, a rundown old house, and delightful characters--what's not to love?

Owen's Daughter by Jo-Ann Mapson

Mapson's depictions of life in the Southwest and family relationships shine in this novel.

The Girl With a Clock for a Heart by Peter Swanson

Swanson made himself known as a writer to watch and love with this suspenseful, noirish tale.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Five by Ursula Archer

Detective Inspector Beatrice Kaspary and her partner, Florin Wenninger, find themselves at the mercy of a serial killer when they are given the case of a murdered woman who has GPS coordinates tattooed on her feet. It is the first step in a journey that has the two deciphering clues, unearthing body parts via geocaching and attempting to get one step ahead of the killer so they can prevent more deaths.  Five, while set in Salzburg, Austria, is reminiscent of mysteries by Scandinavian authors, such as Sara Blaedel, Mons Kallentoft, and Helene Tursten.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Her by Harriet Lane

Emma, pregnant with her second child, is feeling isolated and overwhelmed with her daily life as a stay-at-home mom to 2 1/2 year old, Christopher. She's an easy mark for Nina, who knows Emma from when they were younger, although Emma doesn't remember her. Nina has great disdain for Emma and blames her for something that happened in the past. Slowly, Nina starts exacting revenge in the littlest ways, but the reader fears for Emma and her family, who have no idea that Nina wants to destroy them.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Twenty-something Louisa Clark decides to take on the job of care assistant to quadriplegic Will Traynor, because her parents rely on her income. Will, though, is distant and angry about his life, and Louisa is finding it hard to work with him. Slowly, Louisa breaks down the barrier between them and she finds herself really liking Will. When Louisa discovers that Will is going to Switzerland in six months to end his own life, she is very upset. Louisa decides that she will use this time to take Will on adventures, hoping to get him to believe that his life is worth living. Will Louisa succeed, or will she have to let Will go?