Celticlady's Reading Room

I love books of any type, ebooks, print in a variety of genres. I review and have been since 2009...

Is it? Always the Husband!

It's Always the Husband - Michele Campbell
"Go ahead and jump, you know you want to."
 
Thus starts It's Always the Husband by Michele Campbell, a psychological thriller that had me from the first page. Jealousy, intrigue and murder but not really until later in the book does it all start to come together. Not a really fast paced story, but that is ok, because the reader is brought into each of the friends and their lives and relationships to each other, in college and in the present. 
 
Kate, the quintessential rich girl, having issues of her own. Her mother is not in the picture, she has a stepmother of whom she loathes. She has a rocky relationship with her father so she loves to party, drink and do drugs.
 
Aubrey, a poor girl who was able to get a full scholarship that enables her to go to an exclusive college. She immediately forms an attachment to Kate, maybe because there is some jealousy there and she wants Kate to like her. 
 
Jenny is a townie, who is a bit more standoffish and scholarly. She would rather study than party. 
 
The three roommates form a 20+ year bond, maybe not because they are great friends but because of circumstances and events that happen in their college years. 
 
The story is told with different voices in different chapters, in the present and in their college years. With a lot of mystery and drama,we learn alot about these three very different women and their lives after college. So getting back to the title, It's Always the Husband, or is it? This is a great debut novel and I look forward to reading more by this author! 

The Identicals

The Identicals: A Novel - Elin Hilderbrand
When it comes to special bonds, there is nothing like that between sisters.  There are times when you love her and don't know how you would live without her, but there are times when you want nothing to do with her and you feel like there isn't enough distance.  But the bond is unshakable.  You would go to the ends of the earth for her.
 
Sisters can be maddening, but the love shared is unlike any other.  
 
Having grown up with four sisters (yes, four!) - two of whom I physically lived with, I can speak from experience.  My closest sister, my Irish Twin, has been my confidante, my partner in crime, my best friend.  She's been my greatest champion and my biggest critic.  
 
I can only begin to imagine what life would have been like if we were identical twins.  
 
In The Identicals, the latest release from Elin Hilderbrand (a twin herself), this relationship is beautifully captured.  Through dynamic prose and engrossing dialogue, we are given a peek into what life is like with a twin.  Hildebrand chronicles a life of childhood games, fun and ease and then delves into adulthood where things get messy. 
 
Hilderbrand develops characters with ease and brilliance.  Each personality within the story has their own nuances and traits that define them.  Their descriptions are so detailed, without becoming monotonous, that you feel a part of the community.  Get to know the pie maker, the contractor, the rich old lady, the doctor, the bartender - and feel as if you've known them all for years.  And, at the core of the story, the twins - Harper and Tabitha. It is difficult to determine who the favorite is because they both become so lovable, for different reasons.  You'll find yourself siding with one, then the other, then back to the first, and so it goes.  But in the end, you'll wish they were both your sisters.  
 
Set in beautiful New England, a perfect backdrop for such a romantic story, Hilderbrand captures the landscape so easily, you'll think you're actually there.  You can hear the ferry boat running the eleven miles between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.  You can taste the clams and hear the Fourth of July Fireworks as if you are there on Lucy Vincent Beach.  You can feel the dense heat of a heavy East Coast Summer and want to dip your toes into the Atlantic Ocean to cool off. 
 
And through all of this, you learn one thing - life throws curve balls.  It can break the heart and mend it back together.  It can knock you down and give you the courage to get back up.  But I wouldn't want to do any of it without a sister to hold my hand, tease me and pull my hair, and love me like only a sister can.  This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will make you want to hug your sister and wish she were your twin. Because, after all is said and done, there is nothing like the bond of a sister.

 

The Measure of the Moon!

The Measure of the Moon - Lisa Preston
"If you ever say anything to anyone, they all die".
 
And just like that, Lisa Preston pulls her audience through the opening scene of this page-turner.  Immediately immersing us in the tale of the darkest and scariest night of Greer Donner's life, Measure of the Moon launches right into the heart of the story.
 
And then, with an unforeseen (and somewhat abrupt) turn, readers are introduced to a completely separate set of characters.  And so goes the story - Preston pulls characters in and out, with expert description and captivating dialogue.  It does seem, however, to get a bit confusing.  The reader is introduced to the Donner family first and then Paul and Gillian, a married couple living a few hours away.  Through them, the reader meets yet another family - the Istoks.  And through all this beautiful, haunting detail, there is a subtle nagging in the back of the reader's mind: Huh? 
 
Though gripping and written with enough detail to almost be able to hear ferryboats on the Seattle waterways, smell the rain and see the Needle off in the distance, it gets a little annoying that none of these stories seem to intertwine.  At least for me - I couldn't figure it out...until I figured it out. And once the connections become clear, it's easy to say that this is one of the best books I've read in a long time. 
 
Reminiscent of Gillian Flynn or Heather Gudenkauf in style, this suspense is a must-read. And I kind of hope you don't figure it out sooner than I did - half the fun is in not knowing...

Bone White

Bone White - Wendy Corsi Staub

"In Mundy’s Landing, bygone bloodshed has become a big business. During the rigorous winter of 1666, all but five colonists in the small Hudson Valley settlement died of starvation. Accused of unimaginable crimes, James and Elizabeth Mundy and their three children survived, but the couple were later accused of murder and executed."

 

Bone White is the third book in the Mundy's Landing Series and features many of the same characters including NYPD Detective Sullivan Leary, who solved the Sleeping Beauty Murders. All she wants is to be able to settle into this quaint community and leave behind the big city. Quiet is not what she gets when the elderly lady, Ora Abrams, that runs the town's museum decides that a skull in the museum will have answers as to who the skull belongs to, it is believed that it is the skull of a Mundy from 1666.

 

Emerson Mundy shows up from California to learn more about her descendants, her father killed himself and a note found by his body has Emerson wanting to find out more. Not long after she arrives in Mundy's Landing, a man is found hanging from a tree outside an inn, also with a note similiar to the one from Emerson's father. 

 

Out of all of the characters, I liked Ora as she is the one with all the knowledge and stories about the original founders of Mundy's Landing. The story actually has two different stories at the same time. The one from 1666 survivors from the Mundy family and the current one in 2017. 

 

I have been reading Wendy Corsi Staub's works for many years and it is always a treat. A taut murder mystery with enough twists to keep the reader interested. The writing is well done and enjoyable.

 
 

Another great story by B.A.Paris!

The Breakdown - B. A. Paris

Behind Closed Doors,also by B.A.Paris was my favorite book in 2016 and I read 150 books. I love psychological thrillers and I seem to be reading a lot of them lately. The Breakdown is going to be right up there with my favorite books.

Cass is on her way home on a blustery, rainy night. Her husband has asked her to not take the shortcut that Cass likes to take, but she disregards his concerns, what could happen right, she will just take her time. It is raining hard and it becomes increasingly difficult to see where she is going, but she keeps going. Ahead she sees the taillights of a car ahead. Should she stop and see if there is anything she can do if the person needs help. She is apprehensive though, as you never know who is in the car, it could be very dangerous. She pulls in front of the car, hoping that maybe if the person needs help, he or she can toot the horn or flash their lights. That does not happen so after a period of time, Cass leaves and makes her way home.

The next morning Cass finds out that there was a woman murdered on the street she was on and it turns out it is a woman that she knows slightly. Now the guilt sets in and she keeps thinking that there could have been something that she could have done, or if she would have stopped the woman would be alive. She doesn't tell anyone, even her best friend or her hubby, or the police. There is a reward and a hotline for anyone with any information that anyone might have. Cass does call the hotline and tells what she knows but doesn't give her name.

Aside from her knowledge and guilt she feels about the woman that was murdered, she finds that she is starting to forget things and is worried that she has early onset dementia, like her mother had. This is disconcerting to Cass because at times she feels like she is going crazy. So with the insistence of her doctor and husband she starts taking medication that may help this affliction. The story gets going pretty fast from there and there are a lot of twists and turns until the last page.

Like I said earlier, I love the books by Ms.Paris. Well written, good character development. Some might say that is starts out a bit slow, but that is good for a psychological thriller, kind of sets up the suspense for the reader! This could very well be another favorite for the year for me!

Abby's Journey - Steena Holmes
Abby's Journey, the sequel to Saving Abby, chronicles the story of the sacred child that Claire was determined to save, at the greatest cost of all.  Abby, born prematurely, suffers from a lung condition that stops her from living a "normal life".  Instead, under constant protection from her father, she's often either sick in the hospital, or being watched over by the anxiety-riddled father that once lost the love of his life and refuses to lose his daughter, too.  
 
This story, told from multiple points of view, carries on Claire's legacy and allows the reader to see inside the mind of each character.  Through letters written by Claire to her family, the reader is allowed, even further, into the mind and emotions of each of the characters.  
 
Though the stories each have a different tone, they are both filled with adventure.  While we get to see Europe through Claire's sad and grieving eyes in the first novel, we get to see it again through the naive and adventurous eyes of Abby as a young adult.  
 
So, as it was Claire's wish to be a mother, it is Abby's wish to know her mother.  And there is no love like that of a mother and daughter. Charming and romantic, heartbreaking and exciting, these stories are compelling and exceptionally written. 
 
 
 
 

Saving Abbey

Saving Abby - Steena Holmes

If you could have one wish, what would it be? Some of us would wish for health, happiness, for wealth, or any number of things.  For Claire Turner, children's book illustrator, it was to have a child.  She longed to be a mother.  More than anything in the world, she wished to have a child.

 
After years of trying, she and her husband, Josh, finally accept the fact that this wish - one they share - will never come true.  Heartbroken, lost and in grief, the couple decides to travel to Europe in hopes of coping with the loss of the one thing they'll never have.  
 
Steena Holmes tells the story of this perfect couple as they travel across the ocean to mourn and to heal.  Along their travels, they make friends, they work on their stories (books about an adventurous kid named Jack that they co-author) and they find peace and joy in each other.  
 
But then, with a twist of fate and an unexpected surprise, Claire returns home to find out she's pregnant.  Elated and shocked, the couple enjoys the first few months of the pregnancy with a joy that only Holmes can describe.  Until life unexpectedly steers them in another direction - Claire is sick.  She has a brain tumor.  And she has to decide whether she wants to seek treatment or have the baby, because it's one or the other. She cannot have both.
 
Holmes writes with such compassion and love that this book is definitely readable in one sitting.  The descriptions of places makes you feel like you're there - you can smell the sweetness of the Belgian waffles and feel the Italian breeze brushing your skin.  And she makes you fall in love with the characters and feel every emotion they feel.  

Saving Abbey

Saving Abby - Steena Holmes

If you could have one wish, what would it be? Some of us would wish for health, happiness, for wealth, or any number of things.  For Claire Turner, children's book illustrator, it was to have a child.  She longed to be a mother.  More than anything in the world, she wished to have a child.

 
After years of trying, she and her husband, Josh, finally accept the fact that this wish - one they share - will never come true.  Heartbroken, lost and in grief, the couple decides to travel to Europe in hopes of coping with the loss of the one thing they'll never have.  
 
Steena Holmes tells the story of this perfect couple as they travel across the ocean to mourn and to heal.  Along their travels, they make friends, they work on their stories (books about an adventurous kid named Jack that they co-author) and they find peace and joy in each other.  
 
But then, with a twist of fate and an unexpected surprise, Claire returns home to find out she's pregnant.  Elated and shocked, the couple enjoys the first few months of the pregnancy with a joy that only Holmes can describe.  Until life unexpectedly steers them in another direction - Claire is sick.  She has a brain tumor.  And she has to decide whether she wants to seek treatment or have the baby, because it's one or the other. She cannot have both.
 
Holmes writes with such compassion and love that this book is definitely readable in one sitting.  The descriptions of places makes you feel like you're there - you can smell the sweetness of the Belgian waffles and feel the Italian breeze brushing your skin.  And she makes you fall in love with the characters and feel every emotion they feel.  

Great thriller!

Remnants (Brandon Fisher FBI) - Carolyn Arnold
Carolyn Arnold is a very prolific author with numerous books in her Detective Madison Knight and Brandon Fisher FBI series. I have read a couple of the books and have enjoyed them. 
 
Remnants is book 6 in the Brandon Fisher series. A serial killer is out there and is dismembering the victims and parts are being found in  Little Ogeechee River in Savannah, Georgia. Brandon Fisher and his team are tasked with figuring out who the killer or killers are. The bodies are identified as men and when a torso turns up painted blue, the FBI are immersed into mythology of Mexico. They also turn up a phone that was thrown into the river and they think that they have their suspect. But it is not as simple as that. More body parts and clues lead them to more questions.
 
Most of the book is in the perspective of Brandon, but in other chapters we get a glimpse into the killer. A book that is character driven and a believable plot, you have to wonder if this was based on a real case. It is that real. The author conveys a talent for police procedural's and is able to keep the reader enthralled in the story. 
 
Like I said, this is the 6th book in the series, and the only one I have read in this series, but it can be read as a stand alone novel. I personally will be going back and reading more of this series. If you love a good police murder mystery, this is an author that you really need to take a look at. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a fast read for me.
 
 

The Killing Kind

The Fixer: The Killing Kind (The Fixer - Katerina Mills) (Volume 2) - Jill Amy Rosenblatt
Katerina Mills is a fixer. What is a fixer? Well if someone has a problem and are wealthy, Katerina gets assigned and can use the contacts she has to fix the problem, collect the money etc. Simple right? Well nothing is ever easy and simple and Katerina finds that out when she is assigned to several 'problems'. 
 
If it wasn't for the fact that she has some debt to pay off and as a college student, that can be difficult to do. So solving this problem like I said should be a breeze. The problem is she is involved in several different problems that seem to not go as planned. This novel is definitely character driven with a plot that is different than I have read before. At times a madcap journey with different characters, a cop who she has a non relationship with, another man that she really likes but doesn't want to get to close to and then there are the clients, and their exes. Among the many people there are men who are not very nice and will do whatever it takes to get what they want from Katerina.
 
I have only read this the third book in the series, I really want to read the first two now, but this series is definitely one that is a fast paced page turner. I did get confused at times in trying to keep up with Katerina, but that added to the excitement of the story. If you want a fun series to read, this is it.
 
 

I See You!

I See You - Clare Mackintosh

I thoroughly enjoyed I Let You Go, the author's previous book, so I knew I would love this one too. A plot that is scary and plausible in this day and age of computer technology and even the fact that the Dark Net is out there. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough, even the means to stalk someone and know every move that someone takes, from being at home to the route you take to work.

 

I felt that this story was character driven, as we got a glimpse into all of the people in the novel. From the protagonist to the bad guy. The plot, how creepy that you look in the paper and see yourself there and you know that you did not put it there. To me that was the scariest part. The story is not just about stalking but there are women being murdered too. How do you get the people around you to believe you when you tell them that you feel that you are being followed. Your family thinks you are overacting and the police don't believe you.

 

I liked this novel, it kept me wondering who was the bad guy, just when I figured it out, I was wrong. To me a book that keeps you guessing is a good one. At times the story lagged but not enough for it to be distracting. I really liked it and recommend it if you like a good thriller, especially an ending you don't expect!

 

 

Meal Prep

Meal Prep: Quick and Easy Meal Prep Recipes for Batch Cooking & Meal Planning (Meal Prep Recipe Book for Weight Loss 1) - Rosie Daniels

Watching what I eat has become more important the older I have gotten. I have been diabetic for quite a few years now and I had some heart issues last year, so it is vitally important for me to cook and eat healthy meals for hubby and I. The problem for cooking for two at times can be challenging, so at times cooking in batches and having ready made home made meals is important also.
Meal Prep starts out with why you should do meal prep, the benefits of, which is saving money and time, less waste of food, healthy eating, weight loss etc. There are ideas on storage, tips, and a recipe list. There are smoothie recipes, breakfast recipes, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes.
I like the detailed chapters describing various aspects to meal prep. There is a nice selection of recipes from oatmeal for breakfast, chicken for dinner and various snacks. There is a lot of information packed into this small book! I think this book will be beneficial to me and an aid for me in preparing healthy meals.
My review is voluntary.

Meal Prep

Meal Prep: Quick and Easy Meal Prep Recipes for Batch Cooking & Meal Planning (Meal Prep Recipe Book for Weight Loss 1) - Rosie Daniels

Watching what I eat has become more important the older I have gotten. I have been diabetic for quite a few years now and I had some heart issues last year, so it is vitally important for me to cook and eat healthy meals for hubby and I. The problem for cooking for two at times can be challenging, so at times cooking in batches and having ready made home made meals is important also.
Meal Prep starts out with why you should do meal prep, the benefits of, which is saving money and time, less waste of food, healthy eating, weight loss etc. There are ideas on storage, tips, and a recipe list. There are smoothie recipes, breakfast recipes, lunch, dinner, and snack recipes.
I like the detailed chapters describing various aspects to meal prep. There is a nice selection of recipes from oatmeal for breakfast, chicken for dinner and various snacks. There is a lot of information packed into this small book! I think this book will be beneficial to me and an aid for me in preparing healthy meals.

The Woods are Grimm

Grimm Woods - D. Melhoff

Grimm Woods started out pretty benign, a busload of kids and counselors on their way for a week at Camp Crownheart in the Michigan woods. Scott Mamer, a guy who needs a job, decides to take this one for the summer. Pretty easy gig for him he thinks. He meets the owner of the camp, Charlotte and the maintenance guy, Bruce along with the other counselors. The counselors all have their issues and reasons for wanting to be at the camp, some have been working at the camp for years. The kids are your typical camp goers, rich kids, underprivileged kids sent for some learning and fun activities.

 

We learn about Scott and his past and about a little girl named Desiree and what happened to her. The first night at camp there is a get together with all of the counselors at the lake. There is alcohol, drugs and sex which kind of surprises Scott, but he joins in. The first night, two of the counselors go missing and are found dead. That starts the murder spree that continues through the next few days and what a spree it is.

 

I found that the book started out a little slow, but I think that was to set the scene and timbre of the story. Then it took off and I had a hard time putting the book down. I have not read a horror story in a long time and this is definitely a readable story. Makes me glad that I never went to summer camp! The writing was easy to read and I came to really feel for the characters and I usually figure out who the bad guy is but I was not able to until the author lets the reader know. I really enjoyed the book!

Ashes

Ashes - Steven Manchester

Ashes is a story about the animosity and estrangement of two middle-aged brothers, Jason and Tom Prendergast. Jason is a correction's officer at a prison and Tom is a Professor. They have not seen each other in 15 years but are brought together, albeit reluctantly, by the death of their father. The letter they receive from the lawyer is that their father has already been cremated but their task is to travel across country to Seatle to spread the ashes. In order to find out what is in the letter that was left for them with the instructions, they need to follow their father's request. Thus starts the week long cross country trek to do what is required of them.

What follows is a testy trip, and we learn about what transpired and caused the estrangement between the brothers. Jason is divorced and is in the process of his daughter's wedding plans. Tom is unhappy in his marriage after he found that his wife cheated on him. We learn that Tom and Jason's father was extremely cruel to the boys and we get a glimpse into each brother's version of their young lives.

As with all of Mr.Manchester's books that I have read, you get pulled into the story rather quickly. With humor and a lot of bickering back and forth, anger on both parts as to what happened years ago. Is there a happy ever after? Well go get your own copy! I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Steven Manchester, and even if you haven't read anything by him, you can't go wrong!


Two Empresses

Two Empresses - Brandy Purdy
I have read all but one, her first, of Brandy Purdy's books. I am amazed at each one about the depth of the research that she puts into each book. With Two Empresses we learn the little-known story, at least to me, of two women and their remarkable lives.
 
Marie Josephe Rose Tascher de la Pagerie and Aimée du Buc de Rivéry are cousins and they live on the island of Martinique. The story opens with the girls getting up in the night to go see Euphemia David to have their fortunes told. What they learn is that they each will be a queen someday. Rose is desperate to get off the island and find her 'king'. Her wishes come true and she is sent to Paris to marry Alexandre de Beauharnais. Things don't turn out as she had hoped and after the birth of their two children, they are separated by court order.  Her husband is soon imprisoned as is she during the Reign of Terror. She is released from prison after Alexandre is executed and lives the best she can, becoming mistress to various men. She later meets Napolean Bonaparte and the rest is history.
 
Aimee on the other hand, after Rose left to go to Paris, she was sent to a French convent but her ship was, according to legend, captured by Barbary pirates, sold as a harem concubine, and was the same person as NakĊŸîdil Sultan, a Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of the Ottoman Empire. She was thrust into a world totally unknown to her and the life in a harem certainly was not what she would have liked. But adapt she did and became a favorite of the Sultan.
 
Whenever I read a novel by Brandy Purdy, I find myself totally immersed in the story and characters. Vivid descriptions of the era and even descriptions of clothing and decorations are told in such a way that you think that you are right in the story. That is what I love about historical fiction, is that the reader can be transported right into any story that Ms. Purdy tells. A consummate storyteller and attention to detail make reading the stories worthwhile. 
 
 

 

Currently reading

Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith
Elizabeth: Renaissance Prince by Lisa Hilton
Progress: 25/400pages