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Book review debut novel fiction humorous fiction reading Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

My book club’s choice for September was “Lessons in Chemistry,” the debut novel by Bonnie Garmus. This book is a GMA book club pick and is coming to Apple TV in 2023.

Elizabeth Zott wants to do one thing-perform her research at Hastings Research Institute. The problem is, it’s the late 1950s-early 1960s and she is a woman.

When she meets Calvin Evans, a Nobel-prize nominated, grudge-holder at Hastings true chemistry results. They even adopt a dog, “Six-Thirty.”

Things really heat up for Elizabeth when she finds herself not only a single mother to her daughter, “Mad,” but also the reluctant star of the cooking show “Supper at Six.” Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) has everyone talking, and, some not in a good way. Because Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook, she’s capacitating change.

A funny plot with quirky, well-developed, supporting characters and lots of chemistry. Garmus brings in some serious themes and grief, but the overall plot of the story – you can’t keep Elizabeth Zott or any determined woman down resonates and stays with the reader. This is an easy read. Kudos to Bonnie Garmus for writing this book.

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Book review YA mystery

Read and Review (R&R) – The Memory of Cotton by Ann K. Howley

Fifteen-year-old Shelby’s life has spiraled out of control since her little brother died and her parents divorced. She fights at school, lashes out at her mother, and can’t find a way to pull herself out of her self-centered vortex of anger, fear, and grief. When Shelby inadvertently finds her great grandfather’s Ku Klux Klan robe and a cryptic message embroidered in a family quilt, Shelby and her conflicted, gay, best friend Darrin drive traumatized Grandma to her hometown in North Carolina to help her make amends with the past.

“The Memory of Cotton” by Ann K. Howley is a heartfelt YA novel about relationships and coming to terms with your past-no matter how painful it might be. Sometimes we must go back and revisit the hurt in order to move on. Ann Howley’s debut novel explores friendship, family dynamics, loss, and love. It is filled with vivid descriptions, a tightly written plot, and characters you definitely want to read more of.

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Book review fiction reading

Read and Review (R&R) – The Seven Husband’s of Evelyn Hugo

This month’s read for my book club is “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo,” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Has anyone else read this book?

A fictitious story about a Hollywood icon’s life and loves during her rise to stardom from the 1950s through her glamorous career and marriages. Evelyn Hugo is ready to tell her story to the world. She picks Monique Grant, an unknown journalist who cannot believe she is being given this opportunity. The actress is adamant that she wants to tell the story of her true self, her move to LA in the 50s, the glamorous and not-so-glamorous parts of her career, and her marriages. As Evelyn’s story comes to an end, and Monique learns everything she needs to write the actress’s biography, it becomes clear why she was chosen for the job and the truth changes Monique’s world forever.

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Book review humorous fiction mystery reading

Read and Review (R&R) – 4 Sleuths & A Bachelorette

I was very excited when I won this book in a giveaway from Traci Andrighetti. It was written by her and three other USA Today Bestselling Authors – Leslie Langtry Arlene McFarlane, and Diana Orgain.

Each author incorporated their protagonists (Merry Wrath, Valentine Beaumont, Franki Amato, and Kate Connolly) from their books into creating this joint effort to make “A Killer Foursome Mystery.”

It’s the worst bachelorette party ever – Babette Lang’s bachelorette party – and Babette is MIA.

When one of the guests drops dead, the four women sleuths join forces to solve the mystery.

The list of suspects includes a wannabe hand-model bartender, a chain-smoking talent agent, the bride-to-be’s cheapskate boss, the drunk fiancé and his crazed sisters.

This book was a fun read filled with laugh-out-loud humor. The styles of the authors blended well together, there were lots of red herrings, and plot twists.

Next up for this foursome – 4 Sleuths and a Burlesque Dancer.

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Book review crime fiction mystery suspense thriller

Read and Review (R&R) – “Playing Nice” by JP Delaney

This month my book club selected “Playing Nice,” by J.P. Delaney

This well-written story is told in dual points of view – Pete and his partner, Maddie.

I found this book to be a very gripping, emotional page-turner and the short chapters made this 400 page book an easy read.

What if you found out that your family isn’t yours at all?

Pete Riley answers the door one morning and lets in a parent’s worst nightmare. On his doorstep is Miles Lambert, a stranger who breaks the devastating news that Pete and his partner, Maddie’s son, Theo, isn’t actually their son – he is the Miles and Lucy Lamberts’ – switched at birth by an understaffed hospital while their real son was sent home with Miles and Lucy. When the four adults decide to try an amicable agreement to share the children, things quickly unravel. What secrets lie beneath the surface of these two families?

Buckle up for a suspenseful domestic/psychological thriller which stirs up ethical questions – What is in the best interest of the child? Nature verses Nurture? How far would you go to protect your family?

My only wish concerning this story is while the characters were well-developed, relatable and flawed, I would have liked to read more than a sprinkling on Pete and Maddie’s biological son, David. Everything centered on Theo, the rambunctious two-year-old biological son of Miles and Lucy, who doesn’t display any signs of learning setbacks from his premature birth.

If you read “Playing Nice,” be prepared for a roller-coaster ride of suspense!

Categories
Book review crime fiction mystery reading

Read and Review (R&R) – Fatal Reunion by Annette Dashofy

Zoe and Pete are back! The latest Zoe Chambers Mystery, Fatal Reunion, is packed with action and plot twists that will keep you turning pages and wanting more Zoe and Pete when the book is done!

It’s Zoe’s 20th high school reunion and a lot of former classmates are back in town. When a young girl is found brutally murdered, the resemblances to the Monongahela Serial Killer case that was assumed closed years ago when Zoe and her best friend, Rose were seniors in high school is brought to the forefront of Zoe’s mind. In the capacity of the County Coroner, Zoe is in the middle of the investigation and the closer she and Pete get to solving the murder, the more personal the case becomes.

Dashofy’s characters are so well developed.  Her experience as a paramedic and her research into law enforcement, and the coroner’s office shine through in her writing.

Another complex, suspenseful mystery by Annette Dashofy.

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Book review inspiration reading Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) – The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

A good friend of mine recommended, “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.” It is South Fayette Library’s community read this month. I decided to read it, and I am glad I did. This book warmed my heart.

A sweet story about second chances.

Recently retired, Harold Fry has lived a life full of missed connections and poorly communicated emotions, but that is about to change when he receives a letter from a former co‑worker, Queeney Hennessy.

A quiet man in his later years, Harold cannot find the words to express to Queenie how he feels when he reads the letter. Queenie has cancer and it is terminal. Harold jots down a few quick words of encouragement on her cancer illness and impending death and heads to the mailbox to mail it. He gets to the first box and cannot bring himself to put the letter in the mail, so he walks on to the second, and the third. Before Harold knows it, he is making a pilgrimage 600 miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed dressed in trousers, a shirt, tie, and yachting shoes, with no maps and no cell phone. Harold believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live. Determined that his walk will somehow restore Queenie to health, he walks on. In doing so, he becomes a beacon of hope to people who are struggling with their own lives and problems.

This story was written in 2012 but the principles remain a true testament to the human spirit.

As Harold walks, he meets people who help him understand and restore his faith. He phones the care home where Queenie is being taken care of and tells them to tell her to have faith and stay alive until he arrives from his 600 mile walk.

Back at home, Harold has left behind his wife, Maureen, who is filled with worry that Harold is leaving her. She talks to her son, David and her neighbor who has experienced his own loss of his wife.

This unforgettable novel provides insight into the thoughts and feelings we all have in our hearts.

Written by Rachel Joyce this was her debut novel and she was awarded the “New Writer of the Year” award by the National Book Awards. It is well-written and allows plenty of food for thought.

Harold Fry manages to prove that you’re never too old to start fresh and make a change.

Categories
Book review fiction mystery reading suspense Uncategorized

Read & Review (R&R) – “Dead Man’s Leap” by Tina de Bellegarde

It’s another intriguing and suspense-filled, character-driven mystery for Agatha Award nominee, Tina de Bellegarde. In her latest mystery, “Dead Man’s Leap,” the flood waters are washing away more than material possessions. In the tiny town of Batavia-on-Hudson, relationships are put to the test, a dead body, bones and long-buried secrets from the past all threaten to alter the quaint village life.

This is the author’s 2nd book of her series “Batavia -on Hudson Mystery,” and while it is not necessary to read her first book “Winter Witness,” it is helpful as you are familiar with the characters.

Her main character, Bianca St. Denis is teaming up again with Sheriff Mike Riley to solve the mystery. De Bellegarde vividly sets the scene, beautifully portrays love and loss and writes characters that jump off the page and into her reader’s hearts. I am looking forward to reading the next Bativa-on-Hudson Mystery.

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Book review crime fiction mystery psychological thriller reading suspense thriller Uncategorized

Read and Review (R&R) “Survive the Night” by Riley Sager

Riley Sager weaves a masterful tale of psychological suspense.

When Charlie’s parents are killed in a car accident, she turns to movies as a way of escaping real life. At college, Charlie becomes best friends with Maddy. But, one horrific night changes everything. Maddy has been killed by the “Campus Killer.” A serial killer who has killed three times before. Charlie can’t get over Maddy’s death and decides to leave campus before Thanksgiving accepting a ride from a male stranger who she meets at the ride-share board. As their ride ensues, Charlie begins to doubt the sincerity of the man. Could he be the campus killer or is her mistrust a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

This book takes place in the 1990’s, when pay phones were the only way to check in with someone or call for help. No cell phones, no texting. The premise of a girl getting into a car with a stranger and things going wrong is nothing new and Sager presents it with a road trip story that is filled with twisted, unbelievable characters. To Riley Sager’s credit, I couldn’t put it down. It kept me on the edge of my seat with tension, intense emotion, and danger around every turn. I had to find out – would the campus killer be revealed? What would happen to Charlie?

Categories
Book review crime fiction history mystery reading suspense

Read and Review (R&R) – “The Lessons We Learn”

“The Lessons We Learn” by Liz Milliron

Betty Ahern – the bold, risk-taking PI with moxie, wit, and heart!

It’s March 1943, and Betty Ahern is back and taking on a case that is very personal. When Betty’s best friend, Lee is jailed for the murder of his father, Betty must prove his innocence and get justice for her friend.

Betty and Homicide Detective Sam McKinnon team up and together they investigate Blackie Thomas, a numbers and illegal gambling boss, and the men and women who do his bidding. Tracking down Buffalo’s seedy and corrupt characters is a challenge, but Betty is determined and will stop at nothing to question them in brave Betty style so she can solve the case before Lee’s court plea date.

“The Lessons We Learn” is story three in Liz Milliron’s Homefront Mystery Series. Milliron immerses you into the time period and holds you there. Her characters jump off the page – some into your heart, and some into the river.

A page-turner filled with mystery and history.