Lying Next to Me @Gregg_Olsen

 

Murder monday with textcover159593-mediumNo matter what you see, no matter what you’ve heard, assume nothingD5KO2IEUUAIQIwJOne of my favorite quotes is “believe nothing that you hear or see, even salt looks like sugar.” I thought of that quote often while reading Gregg Olsen’s latest thriller, Lying Next to Me. Absolutely nothing was what it appeared to be  – nothing.

Adam and his wife Sophie, along with their 3 year old daughter, have rented a cabin on a lake. Next to them is another couple, Kristin and Connor Moss and on the other side, a grandmother with her grandkids. On the second day of the trip, Adam takes his daughter out in a row boat to go crabbing. While on the water, he sees someone abduct Sophie who is sitting on the shore. An elderly walker also sees Sophie being abducted. The grandmother and her grandkids arrive home to see Adam and his daughter frantically rowing toward shore and calls 9-1-1. The Moss’ couple. sees and hears nothing. But what really happened that morning. What did anyone truly see or hear? They all experienced the same thing, right? Right!?

Admittedly, I adore Gregg Olsen. I’ve read everything he has written, including his true crime novels. When it comes to crime – real or fiction – I think no one does it better. Lying in Wait is a tense, stay-awake-to-finish thriller that had me hooked from the very first line. While I suspected who might have done it – but wait – there’s no way they could have done it – it was a locked room mystery and too many variables and too many unsolved questions as to why. Until the answers were there before us in the end and then … just WOW. This is a suspense novel that makes you really hate everyone while at the same time hoping that at least one of the bad guys isn’t as awful as you think they might be. There is a child involved, surely someone is good. They have to be! In the end, I sat staring at my Kindle and wondering about what I had just read while knowing that is exactly how I like my thrillers! Leave me in awe. Leave me in wonder. Leave me speechless and Lying in Wait absolutely did just that!

Obviously I highly recommend #LyinginWait to anyone who enjoys a great crime novel. I also encourage you read Olsen’s other work. It’s all fantastic. Lying in Wait will be available May 21 at amazon

Thank you to #Netgalley, #Thomas&MercerPublishing and #GreggOlsen for my copy of Lying in Wait.

#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! 

9780143133698_18b52
amazon
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

 

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.

iuAMAZON/ BARNESNOBLE

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!

The Dream Peddler #Martine Fournier Watson #PublicationDay

It is Publication Day for the exquisitely written debut novel, The Dream Peddler by Martine Fournier Watson.

40908546amazonRobert Owens is peddler of a product that is rare and quite valuable: dreams. He travels from town to town, mixing his elixirs individually for each client at their request, fulfilling their unique desires. Some dream to remember the past, some to see the future and others to relive a present day joy. Evie’s request, however, is unusual. She has a pain so intense that she believes only Robert can and his elixirs can cure. As they meet over the elixir exchange, they form a friendship, a bond, but that bond is tested as the town’s residents begin to turn on Robert. After all, too much of a good thing is never really good for a small town, is it?

I found The Dream Peddler to be one of the most unique, remarkable stories that I have read in a very long time. There is a wide cast of characters, each with their own hidden desires, faults and goodness. However, Evie and Robert clearly stand out as the main focus and their complexity is brilliantly written throughout. While the dreams themselves appear to have a touch of magical realism to them, I felt that the story was more of a parable or fable, a story within the story, with a lesson for us all. We wish, we dream, we have hopes and with those desires come consequences. Do we dare to dream them anyway despite knowing the risk?

I was hesitant to give this a full 5 stars solely due to the fact that the book is complete perfection until the end where it wobbles a just a bit. It is still, however, highly recommended across all genres and one of the best books I’ve read in 2019.

Martine Fournier Watson is originally from Montreal, Canada, where she earned her master’s degree in art history after a year in Chicago as a Fulbright scholar. She currently lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. The Dream Peddler is her first novel.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, @MFournierWatson and @PenguinBooks for my copy of #TheDreamPeddler

Have you read The Dream Peddler? What are you thoughts about it? About dreams coming with risks and consequences. Let me know, I’d like to hear from you!

 

#MurderousMondays: The Thin Edge #PeggyTownsend

Murder monday with text

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!!

 

 

 

The Editor #Steven Rowley

Fridays are generally set aside for fabulous fiction here at Macsbooks and The Editor by Steven Rowley, author of the amazing book, Lily and the Octopus, certainly fits that description! 9780525537960_5fcef
amazon
James is a writer living in New York with his boyfriend, struggling to make ends meet and hoping for his first big break. His publisher calls informing him that his editor requests a meeting with him, which scares him senseless enough; but, when he discovers that his editor is Jackie Kennedy Onassis he is speechless. As Ms. Onassis continues to work with James through rewrites and deeper explorations into his novel and his own personal relationships, James realizes that his editor is, indeed, the perfect one to help him grow as a person and as a writer.

To say that I have a love affair with the Kennedys is an understatement, There are few, if any, books written by or about this family that I haven’t read. When I saw that this was a historical fiction book featuring Kennedy-Onassis in her final years as an editor, I literally jumped at the chance to read it. It did not disappoint in the least. As with Lily and the Octopus, Rowley has created a story that illustrates how even the most flawed characters can be lovable and redemptive. He weaves this story around an amazingly famous person but manages to place her in a tale that makes her human and real. To do this with someone like Kennedy-Onassis truly is astounding and my hat is off to Rowley for this alone. Most importantly, however, the core of The Editor is based on familial relationships; the struggle between a son and his mother. This is the story that is worth reading and it is here in which lies all of the beauty and the charm of this novel.

The Editor will available on April 2 and I highly recommend it.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, @StevenRowley and @PutnamBooks for my copy of #TheEditor

A Perfect Cornish Summer @PhillipaAshley

The skies are blue, the birds are singing and daffodils are blooming – finally it is spring in the Midwestern US which can only mean one thing! I’m ready for SUMMER! What better way to prepare for summer sunshine than to sail off to the Cornish coast. Well, at least in my imagination! It is A Perfect Cornish Summer thanks to Phillipa Ashley’s brilliant new cosy.

Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival

cover150376-medium
amazon
One summer, while Sam and her friends are thinking of their small town’s financial woes and also making plans to attend a festival in a nearby town, it occurs to Sam, who has money troubles of her own, that a festival is exactly what her own town of Porthmellow needs. It’s also what Sam needs in her own life to keep her from thinking about her dismal, rather lonely life. Now it is twenty years later and the festival that Sam and her friends started is a region success and about to celebrate that twentieth anniversary! The only problem is that the nationally renown chef that they had booked has cancelled and the newly booked chef is someone from Sam’s past that she never wanted or hoped to see again. Between the feeling of dread at that prospect and the sabotaging occurring all around the village, Sam is worried that the festival may not make to year twenty-one.

I adore Cornwall and talk about it so often that my own family just assumed it was a town nearby on Lake Michigan – I honestly kid you not. If there is a book written about Cornwall, set in Cornwall, featuring someone from Cornwall, you can bet I’m going to read it. A Perfect Cornish Summer did not disappoint me in the least with its small, twisty streets, community togetherness, sly humor and, of course, unpredictable stormy coastal weather! There are multiple story lines but each are relevant and well placed; they  tie in nicely with one another and, I suspect, serve as an introduction to the key players who will be integral to subsequent books in the series. There also are multiple sub-plots which are not so much mysteries as they are mysterious subterfuge. This is a cosy read, it’s not going to be an edge-of-your-seat dark thriller, nor should it be. It’s the story of a woman, her family, her friends and her community and how they all work together to help one another succeed, despite hard feelings, past differences and even different tastes in music. Phillipa Ashley is a gifted story-teller and she has done a beautiful job of creating a tale that will envelope you in its summer warmth. Now, how quickly can I get to Cornwall from the middle of the US!? 

Thank you to #Netgalley, #PhillipaAshley and @AvonBooksUK for my advanced copy of this delight book. You will find it on sale April 25th. 

 

Keeping Lucy #TGreenwood

Keeping Lucy is the first T Greenwood novel that I have read and it is one that grabbed me, pulled me in and still will not let me go. It is heart breaking and heartwarming, historical and timely all at once. It’s a book that I highly recommend.

41150385
amazon
Keeping Lucy begins with Ginny Richardson giving birth to her daughter, Lucy, who is born with Down Syndrome, known as ” a mongoloid” at that time. Ginny’s husband and father in law make the decision to put Lucy in a state-run facility called Willowridge where she will be cared for until she dies. Those are their words. For several days, Ginny is given “twilight,” the drug most women were given during that time to forget the pains of childbirth and her loss. Remember, natural childbirth was not in vogue at this time. When my own daughter died in-vitro, I was given “twilight” so that I would “forget” everything. Trust me, you don’t forget. Your body remembers everything and your mind desperately tries to fill in the pieces that it was forced to black out. This drug is horrific. I cannot believe and entire generation of women were routinely given this drug. For two years Ginny is forced by her husband and her father in law to pretend her daughter did not exist until her best friend brings her news articles about the horrors that have been uncovered at Willowridge: children lying in their own feces, roaches in the food, children malnourished and far worse. Ginny and her friend, Marsha, decide – finally – to go to Willowridge only to discover that, while she can visit Lucy, her parental rights have been terminated by her husband. Ginny takes matters into her own hands at this point and a battle for Lucy’s survival ensues.

I actually loved Keeping Lucy for multiple reasons and many of those reasons are the very ones for which other readers are disparaging the book. First, Keeping Lucy is based on an actual place called Willowbrook. You can read more about it HERE. It was so horrific that legislation was passed in the late 70s that allegedly altered the way that we in the US care for the “disabled.” I use the word allegedly because I grew up in the south near a facility aptly called the Conway Human Development Center. It was a place of filth and horror where people with mental and physical disabilities were sent just like Lucy was sent in this story. It still exists in one of the poorest states in the US and the residents are not developing anything other than bedsores and diseases. It’s a disgrace. If you doubt that, then you can read this article from today’s news.   Nothing has changed. Nothing. Books like Keeping Lucy are necessary to educate readers about these horrors then as well as now.

Furthermore, every time I read a book set in the late 60s and early 70s and that book is historically accurate regarding the plight of women, I am utterly amazed at the number of female reviewers who write scathing reviews about the passivity of the female protagonist. Here’s a reminder for you strong women of today. My daughter and I purchased a home two years ago, We literally had to jump through hoops in the state of Indiana to get a bank to approve a home loan to two women without a male co-signer! This is the 21st century. Until 1978, it was legal to fire a woman from her job if she got pregnant. An abortion was not legal until 1973 – and in some states in the southern US it still is not regardless of what you might think otherwise. Until 1977, you could be fired for reporting sexual harassment in the work place, a woman could not apply for a credit card on her own without a male co-signer until 1974,  and could not refuse to have sex with her husband under any circumstances until the mid 1970s. Are you beginning to get a picture here ladies!? Ginny was not passive. She was living her life according the law of the land. While most others were guaranteed rights in 1965 and 1966, women were not granted any rights, other than the right to vote, until the mid to late 70s and we still obviously are fighting for the right to decide what is best for our own bodies! In Keeping Lucy, Ginny literally had no rights. Furthermore, everyone smoked!! They smoked in restaurants, they smoked in their cars, they smoked in stores, they smoked when pregnant and they smoked around kids! My doctor, whom I adored, smoked every time I visited – in his doctor’s office! I don’t know where you were in the 50s, 60s and 70s but there were advertisements for cigarettes extolling the benefits of nicotine! You are looking at the behavior of these women through your 21st century glasses and missing some very valuable lessons that we all need see and learn. Primarily this – nothing has changed!! We have politicians and religious leaders who want babies born at all cost. These children are then put in institutions like the Human Development Center and no one ever considers the toll that it places on the women who have given birth. No one EVER thinks about the women – period – much less these poor children!

So, with all of that said, please read Keeping Lucy without blinders, with an open mind and with the idea that there is more here than two women on a joy ride across the south. This book is available for pre-order now.

Thank you very much #Netgalley, @tgwood505 and #StMartinsPress for my advanced copy of #KeepingLucy.

 

 

Sunday’s Mini-Reviews: Stanley the Walrus and Aya and Papaya Meet the BIG little Creatures

When I was young all the way through high school, Sunday afternoons were a time set aside specifically for reading and listening to music on the stereo. Yes, I know, I’m that old. 😉 While my parents listened to “cowboy western” songs, my neighbors only listened to classical music. Needless to say, I spent a lot of time in my neighbor’s study reading and enjoying the classics, both books and music. With that in mind, I thought Sunday’s would be good time to share reviews of children’s books. I adore children’s and middle school aged books. It was during this time I that developed my love of reading (and music) and I can only hope that some of the books I share here will do the same for others.

AYA and PAPAYA and the BIG little CREATURES

You may recall that I shared a review about Aya and Papaya last week. You can read that REVIEW HERE. Now Aya and her little doll, Papaya are back, along with her neighbor, Sammy and his doll, Bamboo. It is warming up and outside and they want to explore in the play-castle at the far end of the garden. However, in order to get there, they have go all the way through the garden! That means they have to be brave enough to go past all of the wiggly, creeping, crawly things that live there! Of course, soon the kids learn that all of these creatures are necessary to make the garden healthy and to grow and soon they are on their way to play along with all of their new flying, crawling, creeping friends.
51WlTHjUp+LamazonI adore Aya and her insatiable curiosity about the world. More importantly, I love the illustrators who design for this series!! The colors are vivid and bold and absolutely perfect for children for whom this book is targeted. I cannot get enough of this duo and I’m quite sure that your pre-school aged kids will feel the same way! I highly recommend #AyaandPapayaandtheBiglittleCreatures   This book is available now through @TroubadorPub who provided my copy to me. Thank you!!

STANLEY the WALRUS

Poooorrrr Stanley!!! Stanley the Walrus has a bit of a problem; he stinks. Yep. Stanley doesn’t like to brush his tusks and over time, well, his breath has become rather stinky. YUCK!! But Stanley has fallen in love with Stella and he will do whatever it takes to win Stella’s love – including …brushing his TUSKS!

cover158547-mediumThis was a super cute book that had a very hypnotic, sing-song rhythm to it with each phrase ending in “brush your tusk.” While I grew bored rather quickly with the sheer number of words that rhymed with tusks (I had NO idea!) the children I was reading it to, ages 2 and 4, were mesmerized by the illustrations and the delightful rhyme. Obviously it hit the target audience perfectly! I had such a difficult time getting my own kiddos to brush their teeth when they were small and I suspect that Stanley and Stella would be a great help in that area. If you keep this book geared to the younger pre-school ages, then it should a great addition to your library.

Thank you to #Netgalley for both of these books and to #KoboWritingLife for my copy of #StanleytheWalrus by Sherri Funk and Dave Watland

 

The Good Detective

I should tell you that once I picked up The Good Detective that it was so gripping and thrilling that I could not put it down until I finished it. I should tell you, but I can’t. The fact is that I started this book twice, two months apart, and each time I read the first chapter, got so incensed that I put the book down and didn’t finish it. But there was something about the blurb that kept pulling at me, reeling me back in; something that kept saying “read it, c’mon, you know you want to.” So, on the third try I vowed to get past the second chapter regardless of how angry I became. You know what happened, right? I didn’t put the book down until I completely finished the book! I stayed up all night long and finished reading it. I cannot believe how stupid I was to think I wouldn’t absolutely love this book – because I absolutely LOVED this book!!

51Bg7iOP81L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_amazonThe Good Detective is P.T. Marsh, a “rising star” in a southern Georgia police department, at least he was until his wife and young son drowned in an accident that either was or might not have been a horrible accident. For over a year, P.T. has been a semi-functioning drunk. While in a bar, more like a strip club, he promises a dancer that he will have a talk with her abusive boyfriend. His “talk” actually means that PT beats the crap out of the guy after which he goes home to drink the remainder of his night away. Imagine his surprise when PT is called out the next morning to a murder scene and it is the boyfriend who is murder victim. This is the part that made me so angry. I have no tolerance for police brutality even when the person on the receiving end is a Neo-Nazi scumbag. However, all of this takes place on just a few pages at the very beginning of the book and the remainder of the book is incredibly fascinating! Read on…..

The death of the scumbag leads PT and his partner to the lynching site of a young African American boy. As they begin to search for the boy’s killer – since the best witness and/or suspect is now dead thanks to possibly PT- they begin to uncover something very sinister in their small rural, Georgia town, something that has been happening for centuries and it is dark and conspiratorial, and dangerous and of the very worst sort of nightmare that you can possibly imagine. I wouldn’t even attempt to perceive such atrocities except that I lived in the south and my father was from rural Georgia so I know that this horror does exist and that is what made this book so terrible and fascinating all at the same time. It was like watching a train derailing. I didn’t want to know, didn’t want to see the travesty that was unfolding but I couldn’t stop either.

McMahon has created characters on both sides of the fence that are perfectly conceptualized. They are not pretty, they are not good, they have flaws and some are so awful you won’t want them in your room, not even on your pages. I’m not sure you can create characters like this unless you have encountered them at some point in your lifetime. There were times that this read like something out of the 1930s or 40s, but then I remembered that there are parts of the rural south that still are very much like this. Who am kidding? There are places like this all over the US, not just the south. That’s what is so disturbing. This is happening everywhere, not just in small towns or in a particular region. In the end, there was a small amount of justice and a bit of redemption for PT as well. I can only hope that we will find this type of redemption for America soon. The quote below summed up the ending of book as well as my feelings for my history with the southern US:

There’s no place I’d rather travel than in the South…Even with our history, when I’m at Publix buying groceries, I see interracial couples. Lots of us. So as much as we struggle here with race, in some ways our struggle is closer to the surface and I hold out hope that this means it’s easier to fix. 

I know this was a bit of a rambling review. This was a very emotional book for me. The one thing I can say is that I highly recommend it and hope that you will read it, even it takes you a time or two to get started.

I owe much appreciation to #Edelweiss, @PutnamBooks, #JohnMcMahon and @PenguinPublishingGroup for my advanced copy of #TheGoodDetective