Alice’s Island #DanielSanchezArévalo

A happily married woman’s perfect life shatters when her husband turns up dead hundreds of miles away from where he should have been. Suddenly she discovers that there was a part of him about which she knew nothing at all.

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I’ve never read anything by this author from Spain before reading this novel but already want to read everything he has to offer!  Alice’s Island was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it would be the run-of-the-mill cheating husband, husband dies, wife finds out, oh no oh no, boring read and instead it is more domestic drama where, yes, the husband had secrets and dies but the wife and her two children are the primary focus as they are searching for answers, putting their lives back together, coming to grips with the reality of their new situation. This is a very character driven novel and Arevalo does a marvelous job creating intriguing, multi-dimensional characters that will fascinate and hold you captive throughout. I highly recommend Alice’s Island for those who like suspense over thrillers, slow burning, character driven novels.

Thank you to #IAWR for my copy of #AlicesIsland

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#MurderousMonday on a Wednesday #TheScholar

Murder monday with textYes, I know. It really has been that kind of week here at Macsbooks. I’m not sure what the attraction to the Midwest is right now but there are a LOT of travelers visiting the fair state of Indiana. If you’re ever this way, please do stop by The Wisteria House. I truly thought I had these posts ready to go without me, but sadly, I’m just not that coordinated and on top of things. Luckily for my guests, I AM on top of clean rooms and delightful breakfasts :)Whew! 

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The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan is the second book in a series featuring DS Cormac Reilly. As usual, I had not read the first book (I have now) before beginning this one and did not once feel lost or confused.

DS Reilly has been assigned to cold cases until the night his girlfriend frantically calls him. She has found a young woman in the street, the victim of an apparent hit and run. The dead girl is carrying an ID of Carline Darcy, heir apparent to Darcy Therapeutics, Ireland’s most successful pharmaceutical company and the company for whom Reilly’s girlfriend, Emma, is conducting research on the first successful artificial kidney. Reilly is certain that Emma cannot be involved so he takes the case, but as it continues to unfold, doubts into Emma’s innocence start to rise, complicating their relationship and eroding his reputation at work.

The Scholar is a multi-layered mystery with heaps of suspense and fabulous, complex characters. McTiernan is a marvelous writer who capably molds her characters into realistic people that often remind us of those we see every day. Never does she cross the line into hyperbole or drive Reilly into a farce of what a DS should be. He is flawed, but not the typical drunk, broken, woe-is-me copper who has become the stand-by for far too many police novels. Instead, he has real flaws like we all do. He makes mistakes like we all do and that creates a character who is far more relatable to the reader.

This is not a “fast paced thriller” but rather a well-done suspenseful mystery and when I say “well-done” I mean superb. I highly recommend both The Scholar which is due for publication in the US in May and The Ruin, which you can find at your local bookstore or library.

Many thanks to #Edelweiss, @DervlaMcTiernan and @Penguinbooks for my copy of #TheScholar

 

We Never Told #DianaAltman

There are stories relating to women that are as timeless as time itself. As advanced as society may become, there are issues that women and their children deal with that seem never to change. We Never Told is one such tale.

41646617amazonWe Never Told revolves around a Hollywood socialite, Violet, and her two daughters, Sonya and Joan. Violet lives the epitome of the luxurious lifestyle of the “rich and famous,” cycling through husbands, attending parties, living a life of style and glamour until Sonya is fourteen years old. That summer, her mother tells her two daughters that she has to go away for treatment of a tumor. She leaves the girls in the care of the housekeeper and makes them swear to tell no-one, not even their father who has visitation rights. Even after the housekeeper has a heart attack and leaves the girls alone, they tell no one for months on end. They simply endure and care for themselves. It becomes a secret that lives between them – thus the title for this book. They never told a soul. After their mother’s death years later, the daughter’s finally realize what had actually happened to their mother. We, of course, do not learn this until the end of the book – although I’m quite sure most astute readers can guess. It isn’t the end result that is important to the story,  it the is the story itself. And that is where the beauty lies with We Never Told.

It doesn’t matter where families live, in New York, California or Mississippi. It doesn’t matter if it is 1790, 1990, or 2019, there still are things that certain things that families keep secret, certain actions that are not talked about from teenage pregnancy to drug use to mental illness. If you scratch past the surface in every family, you will find a secret that family is hiding. Families also are a sum total of all of their parts, no child is raised in a vacuum – from parents to grandparents. aunts, cousins, school teachers or coaches – we all are a result of the influences of those around us. That is the beautiful lesson of We Never Told. Altman weaves together an incredible story of women, children, families, care-takers, the world in the late 20th century and that of today and makes each aspect of her story completely relevant to now. While of the book takes place in the 20th century, it isn’t historical fiction, but a timely read for today’s generation. It is one that I highly recommend.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #SheWritesPress and #DianaAltman for my advanced copy of #WeNeverTold. It will be on sale June 11, 2019.

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America #MattKracht

It’s SPRING and if you live above the equator that means that the weather should be getting warmer and the dumb birds are hopping around and making their usual incessant noise and pooping on your cars and waking you at ungodly hours. I say “should’ because it is supposed to snow across most of North America this week and dumb because, hello? Who wakes up before the sun rises on purpose!?! 🙂  Yes, I love birds. I adore them. I feed them and attract them and I really do have a backyard wildlife habitat. Like the book, The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America, I’m just being cheeky.

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Matt Kracht has written a very funny, tongue in cheek guide to some of the most common birds found in North America. He has humorously renamed them so that we might easily remember them. For example, there is the White Breasted Butt Nugget, the Western Meadow Jerk or, simply, the damn crows. He tends to feel about crows the same way I do. The entire page is filled with Caw, Caw, Caw, Caw, Caw….. Yes, that really is all that you need to know about the damn crow, isn’t it?

iu0UIMXQJMKracht also accompanies each delightful paragraph of information with his own personal illustrations. Okay, some are better than others depending on how well he likes the bird. I won’t even show you the illustration of the crow which resembles something a two year old with a black marker might draw in a fit of rage. Again, very aptly done when considering the caw-caw-caw of the crow. Most, however, are beautifully rendered as you can see below:
black capped prickadeeDespite the irreverence, the information throughout the book, the details, the drawings – with a few noted exceptions – the maps, and the highlights are very informative. If I were teaching children about birds…. okay, well, there is some mild cursing but aside from that, I can assure you that kids definitely would remember these birds better than they would a regular field guide. Absolutely! I know that I will! It also makes for a terrific coffee table book and conversation piece. Guests have adored it! I adore it! I haven’t laughed this hard or this much in a very long time!!

Thank you to #netgalley, #ChronicleBooks and @MattKracht for my copy of #TheFieldGuidetoDumbBirdsofNorthAmerica and to Christopher @Plucked From the Stacks for recommending this book to his readers. Also, if you’ve never seen The Big Year  starring Jack Black and Steve Martin, also about birding, I highly recommend it. It is one hilarious movie!

#MurderousMondays: The Thin Edge #PeggyTownsend

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It’s Murderous Monday here at Macsbooks and I am very excited about the book I have to share with you today! The Thin Edge is by a new-to-me author Peggy Townsend and it held me riveted to my seat from beginning to end! What a surprise and a treat!

Aloe Snow is a fallen from grace crime reporter in Bay area who is attempting to pick up the pieces and begin writing again as an independent reporter. She has acquired a rather interesting group of friends, a gay couple who own a bar and a trio of former (?) anarchists who gather around to discuss their glory days and guide young minds toward higher intellectual thinking. When of the trio’s son is found to be the likely suspect in a murder case, he asks Aloe to investigate further to prove his son’s innocence. What Aloe discovers could prove far more dangerous than any story she has followed before.

There are multiple story lines within The Thin Edge. There is the primary case of the murder itself which should prove straight forward but is anything but. The victim was married to a quadriplegic who was a former interrogator for US Special Intelligence Services. His care giver has a somewhat surprising past of his own and the victim has a myriad of secrets that are uncovered in layers. In addition, through her work, Corrine, the victim, came in contact with some of the city’s worst criminals and any one of them could have been her killer. As Aloe traces some of them down, she stumbles across a vigilante cult that is a dangerous as it is fascinating. To say that there is a ton of action and thrills in this book is a vast understatement. However, Townsend does a remarkable job at keeping everyone straight, fleshing out the characters, even the secondary ones, so that the reader never gets lost or confused. You will be invested in each one throughout and the conclusion will stun you. While I might have figured out the who, the how and why was astounding!! This was a top-notch psychological murder thriller with heavy emphasis on the psychology! I absolutely loved it!! I also should add that, while this is the second in the Aloe Snow series, I had no idea that it was a follow up until the end. It works very well as a stand alone. Of course, I adored this one so much that I’ve already got my hands on Townsend’s first book, See Her Run, and will have a review for you on that one soon. Have a marvelous week everyone!

So much thanks to #Netgalley, @peggytownsend and #Thomas&Mercer for my advanced copy of #TheThinEdge.

What about you? What murderous delights have you read this week? Let me know! Here is a link to The Literary Potpourri and their post for this Monday’s edition of their Murderous Monday. Be sure to check it out! It’s great!!

 

 

 

Cold Waters: Normal Alabama 1 #DebbieHerbert

Wow! To say that I like Southern Noir is an understatement and when it done well, it knocks my socks off. Cold Waters, my Amazon First Reads selection for March knocked it out of the park and into the parking lot beyond. This is one amazing chilling, twisty, dark book!
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amazonWhen Violet was 14 years old, tragedy struck in the town of Normal, Alabama and the town blamed Violet for its loss. A young girl vanished without a trace, the last person to see her was Violet, who was found wandering in the forest where the two often explored and went skinny dipping in the murky lake that ran through town. After being declared psychologically unwell, in a fugue state, Violet was sent to the state mental hospital. Now she has returned to Normal, in more ways than one, to claim her meager inheritance left to her by her mother, and to help her sister care for her father. But the town has not forgotten that fateful day and nothing in Normal is quite normal at all.

As Violet attempts to recall the tragic events surrounding the night that her best friend died, it appears that someone is making sure she is unable to do so even it means she loses what little hold she has on her fragile thread of sanity. The characters that surround Violet, generally, are the most vile characters I’ve run across in literature in a long while; but, they are as realistic as I have encountered as well. I felt as if I knew each and every one of them. They are the people who border on sociopathy, and some who are outright psychopaths, who go out of their way to ensure that others fail, whose only goal is make sure that they come out on top. And then there are those who think they are doing the “right” thing when, in fact, everything they do worsens Violet’s situation more. It is a sad thing to think that the state mental hospital might have been safest place for Violet to spend a decade of her life but with friends and family like hers, it is the truth.

I honestly thought that this was going to be a paranormal book when I selected it. The confusion with any book set in the “deep south,” is that it often is difficult to separate the south’s folk tales, folklore and superstition from magical realism. What they believe in is so culturally engrained into the fabric of their existence that it is who they are without question, without their realization. The superstition in Cold Waters felt like home to me. It created a darker and more believable atmosphere for the book and for me, as a reader, because it is what I know and what I lived for the majority of my life. While this is a book about murder and solving a historic crime, ultimately it is about this poor young woman finally having the opportunity to gain strength and opportunity to stand on her own two feet with the realization that she is not any less normal than the rest of us. Cold Waters is a book I highly recommend for those who enjoy multiple genres from suspense and mystery to women’s literature to noir and southern fiction.

 

 

#SundayMorningForKids featuring The Saga of Baby Divine! by Bette Midler

Whoo hoo!!!  I’ve been waiting all week for Sunday to come around again so we could celebrate Sunday Morning for Kids and share our favorite kids books!!

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Today is my daughter’s birthday – HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOLLY – so I thought I would share one of her favorite books published the year she was born. Omgosh, that’s make both us very YOUNG!!!  🙂   The Divine Ms. M was extremely popular, well she still is, but she was the rage that year and she wrote a children’s book that reflected her outrageous personality, a book that she wished had been around for girls like her when she was a wee one. After reading The Saga of Baby Divine, I totally understood what she meant!!

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When the Divines have a baby she isn’t quite like the rest of the babies they’ve known or seen. The first thing they realize is that their baby comes with high heels and a grand curl of red hair on her head. But the greatest shock for the poor Divines is their child could already say one word and that word was “MORE!” The poor Divines did not have clue  what to do with their unusual child. But lurking around were three very smart chicks who knew how to care for the marvelous Baby Divine! They whisked her away on moonbeams and shadows and taught her about laughter and joy. They teach her about singing and dancing and fun and made sure that she knew about MORE! But the best gift they gave her, which lasted her whole life through, was this:

“Make sure that your life is a Rare Entertainment! It doesn’t take anything drastic,  You needn’t be gorgeous or wealthy or smart – just very enthusiastic!”

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If I read this book once, I had to have read it a thousand times over the years to each of my kids. The tongue-twisting rhymes are marvelous, the illustrations will leave you breathless and there’s even songs to sing throughout! It truly is a book made to order for those kids who love to shine.

Over the years, I’ve watched this book’s popularity rise and fall. Right now there are those, like my daughter, who are scrambling to find it for their own kids because they loved this book so much. There also are those who never really read it who assume it is about greed, material possessions and hubris. It is not. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Midler grew up an overweight, large nosed, curly red-headed Jewish girl who teased her unmercifully every day of her life. She dreamed of flying away at night to a land where she was divine, funny, brilliant, love and accepted. That is what we all want. Every single child who lives wants to be loved. Throughout their lives kids will be told to sit, stand, put their hands by their side, fit in, blend in, don’t stand out, follow the crowd. Sometimes, rarely, there are those who do not! They soar, they shine, they jump, they sing, they glow and they want MORE!!!! Molly grew up to be a climate negotiator for the US State Department and a key author of the Paris Agreement.  She was a homeschooled girl who was told she never would get accepted into the big league universities because she was homeschooled but she asked for MORE.  I say this because books matter. Reading books that encourage your kids to excel, matters. Letting their imagination grow off of the charts matters. Allow them to ride into the night on moonbeams and always want MORE! Who ever achieved anything in life wanting LESS?

You can find a used copy of The Saga of Baby Divine on Amazon. I hope you’ll give it a read. Now, what are you reading this week? Have you found a delightful new kids book that has captured your imagination? Share it with us….