Glass House (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montreal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

In Glass Houses, her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.

Review –

I love this series,The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series, because of the  group of close knit quirky characters and the quaint village of Three Pines where they reside. Within the characters there is a baker, a painter, a book seller, a B&B owner, a bistro owner,  an old, no holds barred poet and Armand Gamache, now chief of the Sûreté du Québec.

There is a murder in the village caused in part by the emergence of a Black Robed Figure (the conscience) stalking someone in the hamlet.  But did the dark thing come for a villager or for one of their guests? The appearance of the black thing coincides with the visit of four out-of-town guests. They are friends from the Université de Montréal who meet for a yearly reunion at the B&B in Three Pines, usually in August but this year it happens to be November first.

All of this is being related by CI Gamache, on the  witness stand in a horribly hot Summer, explaining how over the course of a few days the masked man grew into a fixture on the village green and morphed slowly into an omen.

Conscience is an overarching theme in Penny’s latest Gamache novel, seeping into the courtroom narrative as Gamache grapples with an enemy much larger than the dark thing, a war on drugs and two separate drug cartels, he took on as the new Chief Superintendent. His victory depends on the outcome, and the path, of this murder trial.

While certain installments in Penny’s bestselling series take Gamache and his team to the far reaches of Québec, others build their tension not with a chase but instead in the act of keeping still—this is one such book. The tension has never been greater, and Gamache has sat for months waiting, and waiting, to act, with Conscience watching close by.

Fantastic story and on the edge of the  seat suspense  and a lot of tears when I feared that a favorite character might have met their end in  gun battle that occurred in the bistro. Thankfully, at the end of the book the character in still in critical condition in the hospital with brain damage but I have every faith in the author, Louise Penney, that she will bring this character back to us in the next installment of this series, which comes out in August of this year.

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The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Book Description:

Published: March 8, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

Review –

I both read and listened to this book and found the dual experience very interesting.

I loved this book for several reasons :

  1. The friends were all outcasts and didn’t really let it affect them, especially Lydia.
  2. The sarcastic humor, mainly from Lydia.
  3. The small town setting in the South .
  4. The affection the friends felt for one another, either shown or not.
  5. The thread of enduring friendship that runs throughout the book.
  6. The tear-jerking sadness of losing a friend.
  7. The courage of Dill to finally take steps to change his life.
  8. Lydia and Dill having a relationship and then going to college miles from each other and having the courage to do so.

Are you seeming the pervading theme of the storyline: Courage!   Even Travis, who dies too soon, and caused me to use numerous Kleenex, had the courage to get outside his comfort zone with Amelia.

Though this book is classified as Young Adult I think it needs to be read by everyone.

Five stars!

 

 

 

It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: May 16, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.

How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Review –

What a roller coaster ride! My head is still spinning from all the twists and turns this book took to relate the journey of three girls who meet their Freshman year at college and became roommates and friends/enemies for the next 20 plus years.

One girl gets way with murder and one girl is later murdered and you don’t find out the killer until THE VERY END.

Loved it. Highly recommend it!

Five stars!!!

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

Review –

This page turning mystery is about the circumstances relating to a missing sixteen  year old girl who traveled to London with her best friend one year in the past. We start on the train where Ella, “the witness,” sees two teenage girls flirting with two men who were just released from prison. Her mothering nature kicks in and she thinks she should try to figure out who these girls are and warn their parents that they might be up to no good. She ignores that instinct and feels haunting regret the next day when the news reports one of those girls has disappeared. Each chapter of this story is told between the varying perspectives of Ella – the witness, Henry – the father of Anna, the missing girl, Sarah – the friend, Matthew – the private investigator, and occasional interludes by the “watcher.” The bulk of the book takes place around the one year anniversary of Anna’s disappearance when everyone is hoping with renewed interest Anna will be discovered.

Every chapter ended with a mini cliffhanger but they never really went anywhere. Not until the final minutes of the book/recording do we find out who the “watcher/killer” is. There are twists and turns but none that give anything away until the end.

It’s an okay mystery and it’s a fast read or listen. Give it a try if you life this genre.

 

 

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

Book Description:

Published: September 27, 2016

Format: Audio/Audible

When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and badly weakened, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of the Grisha world.

Review –

I truly find it hard to relate everything I feel about this book. The conclusion to this epic duology delivered in EVERY way possible. Crooked Kingdom enthralled and delighted, even while some of the content reduced me to tears. Kaz, Inej, Nina, Matthias, Jesper, and Wylan will forever be marked as one of my most beloved fictional crew.

 Crooked Kingdom is filled with character bonding, as well as interaction and development within the numerous friendships within the main group.

Even while the crew work seamlessly together, they remain distinct and unique individuals, driven forward by their own goals and personal backstory. The amount of character development in this book is phenomenal. By halfway through the book, I was fully invested in every single story – even for characters we previously did not see much of like Wylan.

Besides the characters bonding more as a unit and also as romantics pairs there is an arresting storyline, filled with cunning tricks and plot twists. Leigh Bardugo absolutely shines during her fight scenes, with the action becoming almost cinematic. The constantly turning wheels of Kaz Brekker’s mind is also equally formidable. We all love a story about an underdog, and watching Kaz scheme his way numerous setbacks had me on the edge of my seat, but the payoff is always so immensely satisfying.

Not all couples end up together-there is a death of a major player- I won’t say who but it was worthy of several Kleenex and I still can’t believe he’s gone.

I wish the author had Kaz pronounce his real feelings for Inej, instead he just holds her hand, without gloves. This may not sound like much to those who have not read Six of Crows, but it’s a major deal for Kaz Brekker!

The catch phrase of this series is NO MOUNERS, NO FUNERALS and we learn more about it in this book. This is what the author has to say about the quote:

“No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.”

Leigh Bardugo, Crooked Kingdom

Fantastic book, fantastic series!!!

 

 

 

Slow Burn (Driven #5) by K. Bromberg

Book Description:

Published: February 24, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

One Night. That’s all it was supposed to be.

Reeling from the sudden loss of her sister, Haddie Montgomery has sworn off relationships. All she wanted from Beckett Daniels was a sexy distraction to help her escape her pain for just a little while….There weren’t supposed to be any strings attached—so why can’t she shake the memory of that unforgettable night from her thoughts? Or the taste of his kiss from her lips?

No matter how hard Haddie tries to forget about him, Becks relentlessly tries to prove that she should start living for today. But she is determined to avoid romantic commitment, and she can always use her ex-boyfriend’s reappearance to help snuff out the slow burn within her that Becks has sparked….

Or will fate force her to realize that this kind of connection doesn’t come along very often and a chance at love is worth the risk?

Review –

Slow Burn can be read as a stand-alone; you do not have had to read the Driven Trilogy to understand it or enjoy it. (Although, I must admit, it’ll be even that more special if you do!)

The start of this book is super sexy with Hattie and Becks giving into their explosive chemistry on the night of Rylee and Colton’s wedding. Hattie makes sure Becks realizes that this is a one-time encounter and that they need to keep things simple after the night. (No Strings) What was a little bit irritating was that she then proceeded to tell and think the same thing for the next 5-6 chapters and pretty much through the first half of the book. It was kind of like, okay we get it you want things to stay simple, let’s not repeat it anymore; really and truly lets just not and please stop pushing Beck’s away.

Hattie is dealing with a lot and this might be some of her reason for not letting Becks in. She recently lost her sister from Breast Cancer and is feeling the loss from Rylee not being in her life full time now that she is married and living somewhere else; so pushing Becks away seems like the easiest thing for her to do, to protect herself from any further heartbreak. You can guess where this is going, and you would be right. It’s predictable but it is sooo good and you will be blown away.

Thankfully Becks isn’t willing to go away that easily; especially when he realizes that Haddie has the voodoo pussy, just like Rylee had the same thing to Colton.

Loved the book but gave it a three out of five stars because of all the unnecessary repetition.  Remember to have plenty of tissues handy when you get to the last third of the book.

 

 

 

 

Chase by K.R. Dwyer (aka Dean Koontz)

Book Description:

Published: June 10, 2014 (first published in 1972)

Format: Audio

Ben Chase is a war hero, but a reluctant one. He struggles with bitter memories and feels alienated from the culture to which he has returned. When he claims that a psychopath is stalking him, he has by then made such an outsider of himself that no one believes him. He must resurrect the repressed warrior within to save himself and a woman he comes to love. Heroes need monsters to slay, and they can always find them—within if not without.

Review –

I love Dean Koontz but he wrote this one very early in his career and under a different name so the plot was very predictable and it also failed to give me the shiver than I get from many of his works. The pacing of the story was good after the half way point and we see the character of Chase soften around the edges after having met Glenda.

This was far from a favorite but having rad it (listened to it) I can truly see how much Mr. Koontz has grown as a storyteller.

I’d only recommend this for die-hard Dean Koontz fans.

The Night Season (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #4) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: March 1, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

He captured the Beauty Killer, one of the most deranged serial killers in the country. Now, Portland police detective Archie Sheridan faces a different kind of killer – a brutal rain season that has flooded the Willamette River, claiming several lives. As water levels rise, so does the fear. Because some of the victims didn’t drown;they were murdered.

The first body contains a rare poison. Three others prove to be murders as well. And with each gruesome discovery the medical examiner uncovers, Archie begins to realize he has not escaped his nightmares, even with his deadliest enemy behind bars. The flood has washed up old skeletons from the past. And a ruthless new serial killer rules the night…

Review –

Archie is finally free, at least physically, of his former lover and crazed torturer, Gretchen Lowell, The Beauty Killer,who’s behind bars, Portland Detective Archie Sheridan vies with a slightly more mundane serial killer in Cain’s latest installment in the series.

This time the villain is a  largely unseen male menace. Accompanied by a nine-year-old boy who was stolen from his parents 18 months ago, this serial killer carries around small, blue-ringed octopuses in baggies,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus

subjects his victims to their poisonous bites and tosses the corpses in the river.

The killings begin after the discovery of a skeleton points back to the Vanport flood of 1948, which wiped out an entire public-housing project and claimed the lives of many residents who were tardily warned by authorities of the impending disaster. Sixty-two years later, with the overflowing Willamette River about to wreak havoc on Portland, two people close to the still-shaky Sheridan are touched by the octopus killer’s evil: Henry Sobol, a fellow cop, and Susan Ward, a hungry crime columnist with wild hair. 

The story is deftly handled, the suspense is plentiful and the author’s description of the gloomy atmosphere and Portland setting is superb. Gretchen fans will be pleased when she shows up at the end and with a glance tells us we haven’t seen the last of her.

Excellent read!!!

Twist (Dive Bar #2) by Kylie Scott

Book Description:

Published: April 11, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they’re emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets… apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Review –

Kylie Scott breathed new life into a plot centered around meeting online and mistaken identity and it had everything to do with Alex and Joe’s respective personalities. Joe is a classic good guy and he was very swoon-worthy. A guy other than Joe likely would not have tried so hard to make things up to Alex after she discovered he was the Eric she’d been emailing all along. While they slowly settle into friendship, it is clear they have a lot to learn from each other.

Whereas Joe says yes to everyone in his life, setting up more than a couple codependent relationships, Alex says no to everyone, functioning more like a hermit. We’re at our healthiest when we’re somewhere between those two extremes. Joe proposes Alex gets out of her comfort zone by saying yes to things and he’ll learn to set boundaries by saying no.

I love the humor the author combines with sexual chemistry/tension and for me it makes the story much more believable and enjoyable.

There are ups and down in their relationship and one twist that I didn’t see coming (I love when that happens) and Alex is hurt badly but it all works out in the end.  Can’t wait for the third installment of the Dive Bar series, Chaser, which comes out in April.

Five stars.

Devil’s Cut (The Bourbon Kings #3) by J.R. Ward

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing’s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

Review –

This was the last book I finished in 2017 but I wanted to review it so here goes.

In this, the last in The Bourbon Kings series, many things happen. Edward Bradford Baldwine, eldest of the Bradford family, awaits arraignment in Washington County Jail for the murder of his father, William. He’s losing any hope of pairing up with Sutton Smythe, the love of his life. Chantal Baldwine is plotting to leverage her pregnancy—by William—into a heftier settlement in her divorce from William’s son Jonathan Tulane. And the entire Bradford clan is grieving, less over William’s death than the loss of the millions that he embezzled.

Easterly, The Baldwine mansion and compound build high on a hill, could be lost because of the huge debt owed to many creditors and banks because of the greed of William.

We learn the true killer of William, Chantal loses her baby will Lizzie becomes pregnant , Gen tells Samuel T. that he is Amelia’s father and also tells her daughter about her father (this causes one heart moment) Edward is not a true Baldwine and we find out who his father is and he and Sutton have their hea. To sum it all up – the author successfully ties every thread of romance-tinged Kentucky drama into several sparkly bows. 

The Bourbon Kings is a fantastic series that I highly recommend.