Category: New Books

Buried
July 16th, 2019 by diane92345

FBI Agent Sayer Altair is leading a headline-grabbing serial killer case in Buried.

Max Cho is hiking with his FBI human remains detection dog, Kona, when she frantically signals a dead body is nearby. While investigating, Max falls into a cave littered with old bones.

The FBI is facing a Congressional hearing after a serial killer is found among their staff. FBI Assistant Director Janice Holt is testifying as are many of her staff. She calls on Agent, and neuroscientist, Altair from medical leave to head the cave of bones’ investigation with Max, Dana the forensic scientist, Ezra the computer specialist, and Piper a park ranger as her entire team.

When two recently dead bodies are found, with a link to another missing woman, the case goes from cold to red-hot. What is the connection between the old bones and the new bodies? Can Altair and her team find the missing woman in time?

I enjoyed the complexity of the plot. There are multiple threads entangled here—some from Caged, the previous book in the series, and some new. Only some get completely resolved by the conclusion foreshadowing another book in this series.

I didn’t read the other book in this series and had no problem following the character’s histories and the plot. Buried is an outstanding mix of Scarpetta and Hannibal Lector. I also learned a bunch about psychopaths. You can take the test online that Altair gives her research subjects, if you wish. Overall, a great read for thriller and especially serial killer fans. 4 stars!

16Thanks to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Unsolved Mysteries of World War II
July 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Unsolved Mysteries of World War II include missing treasures, murders, and bombs.

What group was responsible for the bombing at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York? How did Glenn Miller die? What happened to all the missing treasure of those victimized during World War II? Was the aircraft of Leslie Howard, “Ashley, oh Ashley” from Gone with the Wind, shot out of the sky because of his agent’s resemblance to Winston Churchill?

This book has many intriguing questions, some conspiracy theories, some contemporary responses but no definitive answers. This absence of answers is frustrating. I believe with some more research in fewer topics, the author could have suggested his own solution to these mysteries rather than letting them hang there in the air. Because of the lack of conclusions, I have to give Unsolved Mysteries of World War II only 3 stars. It is effective only if you are willing to spend additional time researching so you can draw your own conclusions.

Thanks to Arcturus Publishing and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Bad Axe County
July 15th, 2019 by diane92345

Heidi is a former Dairy Beauty Queen and the Bad Axe County, Wisconsin interim Sheriff. Her County has a heroin problem and hosts frequent stag parties in the backwoods. Heidi is trying to break up the old boy network of corruption within the Sheriff’s department. In addition, she attempts solving the murder of her parents fifteen years ago.

I wanted Bad Axe County to grab me by the throat and compel me to read quickly to its end. However, I didn’t even feel the novel’s hand tentatively reaching out to me. I just used 33 words to say what can be said in two: It’s boring. Nothing happens in the first 20% but getting the players together. Endless backstories make the plot move s-l-o-w-l-y. I also didn’t like the black and white characterizations. Calling drug addicts zombies when you are their sheriff seems excessively judgmental.

I can’t recommend this slow-moving thriller. While I loved Heidi’s personality especially her spunk, I don’t believe the pacing was correct for a thriller. 2 stars.

Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with:

Truth or Die
July 14th, 2019 by diane92345

In Truth or Die, Detective Sergeant Imogen and her partner (and friend with benefits), DS Adrian are investigating a professor’s death. The philosophy professor’s head was bashed in with a glass paperweight. Their sleuthing uncovers an awful truth playing out at the university.

Both Imogen and Adrian are getting over recent relationships when this tale begins. While there is a mystery and some police procedures described, this seemed more an excuse to show Imogen and Adrian’s relationship moving forward rather than the other way round. There were also a lot of character names to juggle. I found myself frequently backtracking to determine who the character was that was speaking. I believe my problem was that I was trying to read this as a standalone. It would be much easier if I had the previous four books experience with many of the characters.

If you have read the previous books in this series and don’t mind some romance, frequent gore, and occasional twists in your police procedurals, you will already know whether you will enjoy Truth or Die or not. However, if you haven’t read the other books (at least the last one, The Promise), I think you will be as confused as I was while reading this one. I can only give my own review of course, so 3 stars for this character-driven thriller.

Thanks to Avon Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Bookish Life of Nina Hill
July 13th, 2019 by diane92345

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:

Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day
July 12th, 2019 by diane92345

I was cautiously hopeful that Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day would contain more than just how to prioritize your To Do list. Luckily, it has many more tips and tricks to manage your time and achieve your goals in life. Many that I have never heard of before.

The book briefly covers to do lists, prioritization, and the SMART goal-planning method so it is suitable for beginners. However, it goes further to focus on your long-term goals and using mindfulness to determine the time-sucks in your day. It also gives specific strategies to make your time more productive in specific situations including meetings, community projects, home cleaning, and meal preparation. The author also names apps, books, websites, and physical goods that may help you in your time management journey.

There really is something for everyone in Time Management in 20 Minutes a Day. I enjoyed it so much, and believe it is so useful, that I volunteered to talk about it in our bi-weekly staff meeting at work. Truly an excellent time management resource and I read a lot of them as an acknowledged To Do List Fanatic. 5 stars!

Thanks to Althea Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Dead Girl in 2A
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Jake is slowly losing his memories. Is it mental illness or early-onset Alzheimer’s disease?

On a plane trip to Denver, he meets the Dead Girl in 2A and she seems familiar. The girl, Clara, says the same about Jake. It won’t matter much longer because Clara is going to Colorado to kill herself.

After losing Clara in the airport, Jake desperately tries to discover his connection to her. What he discovers is mind-blowing!

The Dead Girl in 2A is a thriller but its subject is sci-fi horror. A rogue medical experiment gone awry is a great topic for a thriller that hasn’t been used since Robin Cook’s books in the 1980s. The characters seem real and it is easy to empathize with them. This would make a great Netflix series along the lines of Stranger Things. Most thriller readers will enjoy it. However, if you have suicidal thoughts, you should avoid it as it glorifies suicide a bit. 4 stars!

Thanks to Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: ,

Stories You Tell
July 11th, 2019 by diane92345

Roxane is a complex, underworked private investigator trying to save her brother from a murder charge in the Stories You Tell.

When her brother Andrew calls Roxane in the middle of the night, she comes running. Andrew is worried about former co-worker and one-time (or maybe two time) lover, Addison. Addison arrived at his house earlier bloody and incoherent. She then ran off before he could get the whole story. Work has been slow for PI Roxane so she agrees to check on the girl.

Roxane discovers Addison really is missing and she worked at the nightclub across the street from Andrew’s home. When Addison’s father reports her missing, Andrew is the police’s number one suspect. Roxane decides she must solve the crime to prevent Andrew from being indicted for murder.

Stories You Tell is a character-driven police procedural where the winter setting in Ohio almost feels like a character too. Roxane’s relationships are the heart of the book with lover Catherine, ex-lover Tom who was also her dead policeman father’s partner, and her brother Andrew. There are many mysteries to solve within this book but the clues are carefully hidden making it a fun tale for armchair detectives.

Overall, the book received 4 stars from me. I’m looking forward to reading the earlier,  and subsequent, books in this series.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: , ,

Sign of the Cross
July 10th, 2019 by diane92345

Sign of the Cross is a tense religious actioner that is perfect for fans of the DaVinci Code.

Cal Donovan, a Harvard professor of religion and archaeology, is called by the Pope to investigate an Italian priest’s stigmata. The stigmata is bleeding at the points where the nails entered Jesus to crucify him. Another group is also looking for the priest hoping to make a horrible weapon that promises to start the apocalypse.

It is hard not to compare Sign of the Cross to the Dan Brown books. The hero, Cal, has the same job. The reason for the task is religious. However, the DaVinci Code’s quest is both more complex and more interesting. But I’ve already read the DaVinci Code multiple times and I wasn’t very thrilled with the later books from Dan Brown. To be fair, this is a good book. The hero, the priest, the Nazis and neo-Nazis villains are mostly believable. The prose and pacing are fine. I would totally read another book by this author. However, this one was a bit too derivative for me. 3 stars!

Thanks to Black Thorn Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Best Lies
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

“The Best Lies are at least half true, she said, like it’s just a matter of mixing paint, two different colors swirling together until no one can tell where the truth ends and the lie begins, a new color emerging.”

Remy is seventeen and has issues. Her family is constantly fighting with divorce looking increasingly likely. Worse, her best friend Elise, always a prankster, has shot and killed Remy’s boyfriend, Jack. Elise claims it was an accident, but was it?

Best Lies is a good young adult thriller about families, friendships, and love. It has the usual young adult over-the-top’ness. Despite the DRAMA of living at seventeen depicted here, Remy, Elise, and Jack always seemed like real with real motives behind their actions. The only negative was the excessive smoking done by the two girls, which may send the wrong message to teen readers. Still a solid 3 star read!

Thanks to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, New Books, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: ,

Storm Rising
July 9th, 2019 by diane92345

There is a Storm Rising in the Middle East that may indicate the End Times have arrived.

Iskra, aka Viorica, is a trained assassin tasked with retrieving an ancient text called the Book of Wars in Israel. So is ex-SEAL Leif and his team provided by the US government. Both need to work together to seize it from Rutger Hermanns, a ruthless German businessman and part-time archaeologist, who has snatched it from Israeli scientists.

The Book of Wars has some lethal secrets best kept away from foreign powers. The book is mentioned in the Bible as being prophetic by sharing information about future wars.

Storm Rising is a typical military thriller. It has an American team of misfits from various nations and religions. There is the usual romance, mysterious back stories, and good-natured joshing of fellow team members. The initial opposition is by a lone assassin, who must get the book to save her life after one too many screw-ups in the past. However, it soon becomes apparent that Leif may have to team with Iskra to prevent the German villain from using the book for his nefarious plan.

Storm Rising is about the fight between Christians and Muslims leading into Armageddon. Muslims are clearly the enemy. Jews aren’t even mentioned. Therefore, this book is recommended only for secular and Christian readers.

The plot was good but there is not much originality here. The characters are the best part. You definitely want the heroes to win. Plus the combat scenes were intense and set the reader right in the middle of the fight. Unfortunately, there are an overwhelming number of characters plus a cliffhanger ending, which I detest. It still earns 3.5 stars! It will be even higher if you are a fan of military or action thrillers.

Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Children, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

English Grammar
July 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Filled with common writing issues, English Grammar is a fun (yes, actually fun!) way to correct your grammar, punctuation, and word use.

Quick! What is the easiest way to determine whether to use “further” or “farther” and “affect” or “effect”? If you said for the first pair, farther refers to distance, you would be correct! For the second choice, if you said affect is a verb and effect is a noun, you would match what I thought before reading this book. But you would be wrong! Both can be used as nouns or verbs. It depends on usage. Affect is a noun when writing about the flat affect of someone’s face. Effect is a verb when you mean to make happen. You can effect change in your grammar if you read this book. If you wonder how I could be writing a review of a grammar book and start a sentence with “But”, you need to read the author’s section on the changing face of English grammar. Starting a sentence with a conjunction is fully acceptable everywhere but in an English composition class. Just a side note on my side note, does anyone else hear the Conjunction Junction song in their head every time they read or hear the word “conjunction”? They really should bring back the Schoolhouse Rock cartoons.

The author uses clear explanations and examples to explain grammar and punctuation rules. There is even a quiz afterwards for the more complex ideas. There is also a section about the differences between English (from England) and American English. For example, theatre is the English (from England) spelling but theater is the American English spelling. However, just to confuse everyone, Americans use the British spelling when trying to sound refined. Also, Shakespeare used the American spelling. English grammar differences are nothing but inconsistent. Thanks Noah Webster, who the author blames for trying to un-French the English language in An American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828.

If you read through my review all the way to this paragraph, you will probably enjoy English Grammar (the book—not necessarily the subject). It is an excellent reference that is short and to the point. And it entertains while it is teaching you something most writers, reviewers, and basically humans, need to use daily. 4 stars!

Thanks to Zephyros Press and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Kindle Unlimited, New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: ,

Alpha and Omega
July 8th, 2019 by diane92345

Alpha and Omega is the most thought-provoking thriller I’ve read this year.

A dirty bomb carried by a suicide bomber destroys the Tel Aviv bus station in Israel. An American talk show personality is on site and gets the aftermath on tape. Israelis are understandably upset. They decide to flout the long standing agreement with the Muslims by beginning an archeological dig under the Temple Mount. What they find will stun the world. What happens later will affirm God’s power over mankind. But which religion is the “correct” one?

Alpha and Omega is an awesome book. It ties Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious theory together with Middle Eastern politics and history. Readers are guaranteed to learn something new by reading this book. However, it can also be read strictly as a thriller. Will the Muslims or Jewish people win the battle over the Temple Mount? There are two love stories here too.

I can’t recommend Alpha and Omega highly enough. I loved it! Even if you are staunchly religious, this book will treat your views with respect. I liked it much better than the Left Behind series. 5 stars!

Thanks to Del Rey Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in Christian, Mystery & Thrillers, New Books Tagged with: ,

Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 4
July 6th, 2019 by diane92345

With 29 stories, 624 pages, and a recommended reading list, the Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 4 is definitely worth its $13.99 cost.

This collection includes the gamut of subgenres within the field. Hard science, soft space opera, spacemen, aliens, and robots populate these pages. I’m positive that each reader will love, like, and hate each of the stories but no two readers’ rating will be identical. They will also find some new authors to read along the journey. Most of tales can be read during a single fifteen minute break time. 4 stars!

Thanks to Night Shade and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Science Fiction Tagged with: ,

Healthy Habits Suck
July 5th, 2019 by diane92345

“The majority of North Americans eat too much processed food, don’t sleep enough, drink too much, and are overweight.” Why? Because Healthy Habits Suck!

Healthy behavior goes against our caveman instincts to rest, avoid pain, seek pleasure, and live in the now. To override those instincts, you must find more pros or reduce the cons of a healthy behavior like exercising. You may never experience a runner’s high but the bragging rights of running a marathon may be enough of a pro in your eyes to encourage running 10 miles before work each morning.

The goal you set has to be within your control. Sometimes, despite eating low calorie food, you just can’t lose weight. You’ve reached a plateau. So you give up and indulge in a chocolate sundae. This happens because your goal shouldn’t be “losing weight” because your body controls that. Instead, you should make “eating more fruit and vegetables” or “eating fast food only once per week” your goal because that is totally within your control.

Healthy Habits Suck uses well-researched psychological methods to allow you to motivate yourself to reach your goals. The author suggests working on only one goal at a time and reading just one chapter per week. The ideas in each of the nine chapters require some introspection so that timeframe seems reasonable. The book also has a website with a 22-page workbook used within the chapters plus three short audio files.

There is a lot to like about this book. It approaches healthy goals in new ways. This is not just another book with a diet and recipes. It digs into the underlying motivation or stagnation of our actions. It might be the way to achieve truly long-term healthier living. 4 stars!

Thanks to New Harbinger and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

Succeed with Social Media
July 4th, 2019 by diane92345

If you have a product or service that you wish to sell, you must know how to Succeed with Social Media.

Here are some tips from the book:

  1. Use the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time not selling your product but instead provide information about your product’s subject area. The example in the book was providing an overview of the artist, Matisse, when your product was your own artwork. The remaining 20% can be used for selling your own items.
  2. Use free programs like Hootsuite and TweetDeck to see all your social media in one dashboard. This also allows you to see where your customers are really coming from and what their demographics are.

The book clearly focuses on Facebook as the main platform and videos as the method to become viral.  While that is true, that may not be your goal. You might just want to sell your widgets without spending a lot of time trying to become viral. The author understands that thought and even states that the reader should spend some time determining their supply before trying to pump up demand. You don’t want to have the Shark Tank effect of massive advertising that turns customers away when the items quickly sell out.

There is an excellent section near the end focusing on how to know your customer and how much it costs to acquire a new one. This information is useful when making pricing decisions for your product since that cost must be factored in. It is also needed to decide which social media platform is best if you decide to buy ads.

This is definitely a beginner-level book, which might be okay if that is where you are now. At the end, the author recommends books for further reading that go into individual aspects more deeply. He follows his own 80/20 rule and only mentions one book by him out of fourteen. For a short overview of how social media works and how to make it work for you, Succeed with Social Media is a good choice. 3 stars!

Thanks to Allworth and Edelweiss+ for a copy in exchange for my honest review.

Posted in New Books, Non-fiction Tagged with: , , ,