Category: Diane’s Favorites
In the Bookish Life of Nina Hill, Nina is a book lover, a list manic, a cat owner, an introvert, and a nerdy trivia player. Nina is also me! (if I was a Millennial of course).
Nina loves her quiet, well-ordered life working in a bookstore, serving her cat Phil, playing on a pub trivia team, and above all losing herself in books. When she finds herself with a new large extended family after her unknown father’s death, her world threatens to teeter into disorder (or what OCD’ish Nina calls chaos).
While that is the plot in a nutshell, the heart’s blood of the Bookish Life of Nina Hill is Nina herself. All “bookworms” like myself will feel an immediate kinship to Nina. She’s adorable! While outwardly an introvert, Nina’s thoughts are full of snarky side eyes at the people surrounding her and pop/literary references like a book-reading Bart Simpson. Even with her love of her second favorite 19th century novel, Pride and Prejudice, Nina still is of the current century. She is a member of many clubs that sound like they came straight out of the nerdy section of the Meetup app.
Anyone who is female and likes to read will see themselves in Nina and truly enjoy this book. How can a reader not love a book that starts out with a quote from Sally Brown from Peanuts waxing poetic about library cards! It is highly recommended. I loved it and didn’t want it to end. 5 stars!
While I received an advanced review copy from Berkley Books and Edelweiss+ in exchange for my honest review, I also bought it on audio. The narrator, Emily Rankin, is exceptional and improved this already great book. I wish I could give it an extra star in audible form.
Posted in Audiobooks, Diane's Favorites, Humor, Literary Fiction, New Books, Romance, Women's Fiction Tagged with: Jul 9 2019
You are racing on a bicycle in the Tour de France. It’s your first race as a professional earning 50 euros a week (or almost $57 American). Not enough to support this expensive sport but enough to enter the race. If you win the yellow jersey (first place) in even one of the twenty-one stages of the race, you will get some sweet endorsement deals. Unfortunately, you are a domestique destined to help others win but never win yourself. When a series of mishaps befall some of the top racers, the French police ask you to help with their inquiries from within. You agree. What you find will rock your world…
I don’t follow professional cycling and have only occasionally watched it during the Olympics. So I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Black Jersey. In addition to determining the saboteur, it was exciting to feel a part of the races riding first person as Frenchman Marc, the domestique of American Steve both with team Fonar. The author effortlessly weaves the racing into the mystery and the mystery into the racing. The road and the mystery are extremely twisty. The suspects are many. The conclusion was unexpected even though all the clues were in place.
Black Jersey is highly recommended for thriller readers. 5 stars!
26Thanks to Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jun 25 2019
Richard Pryce is killed with an expensive wine bottle. The killer writes 182 in green paint on the wall. Those are not the most extraordinary points in The Sentence is Death.
Anthony Horowitz, the fictional writer, written by the real Anthony Horowitz, the author of this book, is working with freelance Detective Daniel Hawthorne again. Horowitz does have a contractual obligation for two more books of 80,000 words each. His attitude is to get the book done so he can go back to working on (the real British television show) Foyle’s War.
Back to the murder. Pryce is a celebrity divorce lawyer working on a 10 million pound settlement. His client’s soon-to-be ex-wife, Akira Anno, threatens to kill Pryce with a wine bottle loudly in a restaurant. Awkward for her when he is found dead by the same method less than 24 hours later.
The Sentence is Murder is another riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma from bestselling author Anthony Horowitz. All I can say is don’t piss the real Mr. Horowitz off. He can obviously plot a murder that no one will solve.
I went into this book looking for the most unlikely suspect who had opportunity. However, I failed to identify the murderer before either Hawthorne or fictional Horowitz. There are really three mysteries here. I feel slightly better because I was able to solve the two smaller ones. For anyone who enjoys mysteries especially golden age or older stories, you can’t go wrong picking this book up. It has no spoilers for the first in the series so they can be read in any order. Highly recommended with a rating of 5 stars! I can’t wait for the third in the planned trilogy.
Thanks to Harper Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: May 28 2019, series
It’s time for Jane Hawk to finally get some payback for her husband’s death and so much more in Night Window.
The Techno-Arcadians have chased former FBI Agent Jane Hawk through four books already. Jane is trying to bring to light a massive conspiracy of billionaires. The Arcadians inserted a nanobot into Jane’s husband’s brain. When activated, he was forced to kill himself. In previous books, the nanobots were used to create both assassins and sex slaves.
Protecting her young son Travis is Jane’s highest priority as well proving her husband’s innocence. However, Jane’s ultimate goal is to expose the Arcadian’s evil plan to the public. This time she has some help from a former colleague, computer hacker Vikram.
I have been lucky enough to acquire the entire Jane Hawk series as Advanced Reader Copies. While Night Window can be read as a standalone, it is rather like reading the last chapter in a book. You would be cheating yourself out of a suspenseful ride. The conclusion is definitely worth the wait.
The author’s writing style is not for everyone. Mr. Koontz has never met an adjective he didn’t like. While effective in horror, it feels rather out of place in a thriller. It does rather slow down the pace. However, the use of such detailed imagery intensifies the atmosphere and allows a closer connection with the series’ characters. The plot, over the entire series, is engaging enough to compel the reader through each book.
Overall, an excellent conclusion to an outstanding series. 5 stars! Now, please Mr. Koontz, write another excellent paranormal thriller like Watchers.
Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Jane Hawk, May 14 2019, series
“Poker has its own moral universe. Lying is called bluffing. Deception is the norm.”—from the new humorous revenge thriller Bluff
Maud is convinced that her parent’s financial advisor, Burt, stole all their money. However, she cannot get anyone to believe her.
Broke, Maud plays online poker. Skilled at the game, she wins. When the online casinos are shuttered by the government, Maud turns to live games. Throughout it all, she continues to nurse her grudge with Burt.
One morning, she walks into the Four Seasons and shoots Burt. Luckily for Burt, he is able to shield himself with his lunch companion, and longtime friend, Sun. While Sun is in the ICU, his secrets begin to unravel leading to a domino effect on his entire social circle.
Structured like poker itself, Bluff manages to surprise at every turn. Plus it has many moves like tournament poker. Honestly, if you love thrillers where the motive is cunningly plotted revenge, you will love this tale as much as I do. 5 stars!
Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Apr 2 2019, Poker
Another awesome entry in the Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren series. Both D.D. and Flora Dane have a past connection to a new murder case in Never Tell.
Evie is happily married to Conrad and four months pregnant with their first child. Coming home after work, she finds Conrad shot dead in his study. Something on his laptop disturbs her so much that she calmly picks up the murder weapon and shoots the computer twelve times. The police find her holding the gun and arrest her for murder.
Evie was D.D.’s first murder case sixteen years earlier. Evie had shot her father. Her only comment, “It was an accident. An unfortunate accident.” Evie was not charged.
Flora Dane, now working as D.D.’s confidential informant, recognizes the victim, Conrad, from her days with her abductor, Jacob. What secrets are hiding behind Evie’s and Conrad’s seemingly normal facade?
Never Tell is another gripping thriller by Lisa Gardner. Told from the viewpoint of Evie, D.D., and Flora, Flora’s sections were the ones I was racing toward. Flora describes more of what happened to her during her abduction. In addition, Flora shows almost a human side in this book, which is nice to see.
While this book is a highly recommended thriller, I would suggest strongly to read Find Her, where Flora Dane’s story is initially told, before reading this one. It will increase your understanding of Flora’s story (plus it’s a great book on its own). With that sole caveat, Never Tell is highly recommended to all thriller lovers. You won’t be disappointed! 5 stars!
Thanks to Dutton Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: family drama, Mar 26 2019, series
The victim, a 24-year-old law student and part-time bartender, is A Beautiful Corpse in the second entry in the Harper McClain series.
Harper is a newspaper crime reporter working the night shift. She is covering a murder in the tourist area of Savannah when she thinks the victim looks familiar. Harper had just seen the victim, Naomi, a couple of hours earlier working in The Library Bar.
The police have three suspects:
- Naomi’s boyfriend, who has a criminal record and no alibi
- Her stalker, the District Attorney’s son, with a solid alibi
- Naomi’s boss, who had a run in with another young female employee two years ago and has no alibi.
Harper is investigating for her newspaper but she also disagrees with the person the police suspect. As she investigates, she is also battling a stalker who may or may not want to help her with the case.
Even though this is the second book in this series, it can be read as a stand-alone. When you begin A Beautiful Corpse make sure you have enough time to finish it in one sitting. I literally couldn’t put it down. I was reading it on my Kindle and I bought the audiobook so I could listen to it on my drive to and from work. That’s how addicting this book was. I loved the innovative point-of-view of an investigative reporter doing basically police procedures because the police don’t or won’t. Harper is a great character and I was extremely invested in her success both with the case, her job and her love life. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 5 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Mar 12 2019, series
Silent Patient is a spellbinding whipsaw of a thrill ride where you won’t see the end coming!
Alicia kills her husband who she appeared to be head-over-heels in love with. She is arrested, tried, found guilty and taken to a mental health facility. Throughout the ordeal, Alicia refuses to discuss her motive or to talk at all for six years.
Her therapist, Theo, tries to break through Alicia’s silence. His story is told within the Silent Patient. Alicia’s diary entries are also provided. I enjoyed Alicia’s viewpoint the best. However, the shocking ending is the best part of this tale. This psychological thriller is highly recommended for domestic thriller fans. 5 stars!
Thanks to Celadon Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: Feb 5 2019, mental illness
Tear It Down is a rip-roaring adventure into the underbelly of Memphis with Peter Ash’s haunted military veteran taking down drug dealers with the help of his friends and girlfriend, June.
Peter gets antsy when he stays at home too much so June sends him to her friend, Wanda, in Tennessee whose house has been vandalized. While there, he gets involved with drug gangs, bandits and hidden treasure.
I can’t believe I have never heard of this series before and this is book four. Even though I received a copy from Edelweis+, I couldn’t stop reading it to drive to work so I bought the audiobook! The audiobook narrator uses his skills with accents to great effect, which makes it easy to tell the characters apart (even in heavy traffic). It made my hour long commute fly by.
Tear It Down is fantastic with both a great plot and great characters. This series is highly recommended for Jack Reacher fans as Peter is even more of a loose cannon. 5 stars!
Thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Jan 15 2019, ptsd, series
With a masterful plot, unique characters and a pitch-perfect rural setting, there is nothing in The Boy that I didn’t love.
A woman awakens to a ghastly sound coming from 7-year-old son’s room. Racing to his room, she finds him stabbed multiple time and the killer next turns the knife on her. Fearing for her safety, she runs bloody and wounded to her neighbors for help.
Annie and Nick, married detectives in rural Partout Parish Louisiana, are assigned the case. If only they could stop the new grandstanding Sheriff, Kelvin Dutrow, from trying to “modernize” the detectives’ methods. When a second child disappears, panic runs high as the detectives race to see if the two cases are connected.
The plotting is done with such precision that the reader sees none of the machinery and can sit back and enjoy the twist-filled ride. The rural Louisiana setting seems like a character all by itself and the characters in The Boy are one of its greatest charms. There is hot-headed Cajun Nick’s frequent switches into French patois. There is level-headed Annie who tries to reel her husband in.
You rarely find a book with both good characters and fine plotting. I loved The Boy. 5 stars!
Thanks to Dutton Books for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Dec 31 2018, Police procedural
Humor and digs fly when two sisters attempt to win a beauty pageant with an Accidental Beauty Queen.
Charlotte is resigned to never being the pretty sister. Her sister, Ginny, has followed in their mother’s footsteps in the pageant world. Charlotte followed in their father’s footsteps by being a reader and a primary school librarian. There is no need for bedazzling, hair extensions or even makeup in Charlotte’s world.
When Ginny invites Charlotte to share her hotel room during the Miss American Treasure contest in Orlando Florida, Charlotte is overjoyed for the chance to visit the Harry Potter theme park. However, the second evening, Ginny has an allergic reaction that swells her face threefold. Ginny convinces Charlotte to pretend to be her in the prelims because the two sisters are (wait for it…) identical twins.
The author does a great job making light of the easy comparison to Miss Congeniality. The makeover scenes are hilarious. When an attractive man sees the real Charlotte under all the glam, things get all Pride and Prejudicey. It is a great mashup—both literary and chick lit at the same time. The Accidental Beauty Queen is highly recommended to anyone looking for a fun happy story. 5 stars!
Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Humor Tagged with: Chick lit, Dec 4 2018
Have you ever wondered about the engine under the hood of your favorite movie or television show? If so, Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is a comprehensive resource you need to read.
Beginning with the screenplay, this book has a chapter about each part of the movie making process. Other chapters focus on acting, production design, cinematography, editing, sound/music and directing. There is also a short chapter about documentaries in the appendix.
Each of the chapters offer an in-depth look at the work of the providers of the skill. The author defines some industry terms. There are fascinating stories from the past. Who knew the first time the title of production designer was used was for Gone with the Wind? Names of actors and movies are given as both good and bad examples of the skill being studied. Finally, at the end of each chapter is a list of recommended movies to watch to see the craft at its highest level.
Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies is enchanting. It’s perfect for movie fans who want to see the multiple skills necessary to make a great movie. I loved it! 5 stars.
Thanks to Basic Books and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Non-fiction Tagged with: movies, Nov 6 2018
Innovative plotting and world building fill the 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.
What would make the replay of a day over and over immeasurably worse? How about also waking up as different people each time you fell asleep?
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a clever blend of fantasy and Agatha Christie. Not only does our first person narrator have to figure out how and why he keeps jumping from one person to another repeating the same day. He also must solve a murder that appears to be a suicide, while also racing against several other jumpers to win his freedom from the endless repetition. There are also mysterious players outside the action who may be friend or foe.
The mystery of Evelyn Hardcastle is relatively easy for armchair detectives to solve. However, the mystery of how and why the actions replay is more of a puzzler. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is recommended for amateur detective fans jaded by reading too many similar books. It is stunningly original though the middle dragged for me a bit. Still 4 1/2 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, and NetGalley for an advance copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: fantasy, Sep 18 2018
A blizzard traps 9 guests, the owner and his son in this homage to And Then There Were None mixed with a bit of the Shining. The guests in An Unwanted Guest include:
- Gwen Delaney in corporate public relations despite having a journalism degree and
- Her college buddy, Riley Shuter, who suffers from PTSD from her work as an embedded journalist in Afghanistan
- David Paley, New York criminal defense lawyer visiting alone
- Ian Beeton, businessman staying with
- Lauren Day, his girlfriend
- Beverly Sullivan, working on her marriage to
- Henry, who doesn’t love Beverly anymore
- Dana Hart, drop-dead gorgeous fiancée to
- Matthew Hutchinson, heir to a large New England fortune
- Bradley, clerk and son of
- James Harwood, the hotel’s owner and chef
- Candice White, an author writing her next book
The Unwanted Guest is an excellent traditional mystery but with many twists and turns. Excellent misdirection and red herrings makes the conclusion rate up there with some of Dame Agatha’s finest. Perfect for armchair detectives up for a challenge. 5 stars! I can’t recommend this book highly enough! I loved it!
Thanks to the publisher, Pamela Dorman Books, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Aug 7 2018
Da Vinci Code + World War Z + Jurassic Park divided by the Bible = Maze Master.
The LucentB virus is 100% deadly and is moving outward from France. Anna enlists the help of Christian professor, Martin, to find “Marham-i-Isa, the legendary healing ointment created by Jesus to heal the sick and raise the dead”—perhaps the only hope for humanity. While searching the Middle East for the ointment, Anna is also looking for her former mentor, the famed geneticist Hakari. In a parallel plot, Hakari is being driven mad by visions of shapes and his belief that he is the second coming of Christ. Wars break out as the virus spreads and nations look desperately for a cure. On battlefields, huge “angels of light” are spotted. Have the end times prophesied by the Bible arrived? Or is it something inherited in our Denisovan pre-historic genes that started the virus and the rest is pure human folly?
I loved the Da Vinci Code back in the day but I adore this book even more! It has the genre mashup that I like so much. It’s apocalyptic and scientific. With its factual underpinnings, it could actually happen. The setting and characterization are well done. It moves at a lightning pace. Overall, it is highly recommended for thriller readers. Open-minded fans of horror, science fiction and Christian fiction might also enjoy it. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, St Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for granting my wish for an advanced copy.
Posted in Christian, Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Mystery & Thrillers, Science Fiction Tagged with: apocalypse, Jul 17 2018
“The world never ran out of monsters.” Earl Marcus is back fighting them In the Valley of the Devil.
In the rural Georgia mountain countryside, a new preacher has arrived. Jeb Walsh is running for the Senate, pushing his book and preaching his version of hate and intolerence at his town square rally. In the meantime, racist graffiti is turning up all over town. A rumor about Old Nathaniel, a hooded racist killer, has resurfaced after several African-Americans are reported missing.
Earl has recovered from the incidents in Heaven’s Crooked Finger (see my review). He is now a private detective. When his African-American Atlanta police officer girlfriend, Mary, is kidnapped, Earl pulls out all the stops to find her.
In the Valley of the Devil really lives up to the thriller label. It is an exhilarating pulse-pounding ride to the finish. Highly recommended but I cannot overemphasize the need to read Heaven’s Crooked Finger first. Events in the first book continue to impact the characters in this book plus there are major spoilers in here. Luckily, both the first book and this one are excellent and earn 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: Jul 10 2018, series, Southern Gothic