Sunday, November 30, 2014


Us by David Nicholls

"I said I think our marriage has run its course. Douglas, I think I want to leave you".

Douglas Petersen is fifty-four years old. Son Albie leaves soon for college. The trials and tribulations of an enduring marriage are a distant memory. Long-awaited freedom to pursue hopes and dreams is a reality. Maybe that's why wife Connie's harsh, stinging words in the middle of the night are so upsetting. It's not supposed to be like this, not after all these years.

Douglas is a serious, straight-laced biochemist who somehow attracted the vibrant, spirited Connie twenty-five years ago. The novel examines the early romance between these characters, alternating chapters between past and present with a languid easy-going style. It sets the tone for the blossoming romance between two oddly matched people who manage to stay together despite their differences. He's never really connected to the creative, artistic Albie, always feeling like the outsider looking in on mother and son. Yet he is unwilling to forsake his family on a whim. Determined to fight and win, Douglas agrees to embark on an adventurous vacation with his fractured family, unsure what the future holds. It's one last attempt to resurrect a relationship hanging by a thread.

The "Grand Tour" planned for so long as a family vacation to exotic European locales, becomes the vehicle Douglas needs to win back the heart of a woman who probably was out of his league from the very beginning.  The escapades are amusing and thoroughly entertaining. A particularly harrowing experience in Amsterdam finally shows Douglas in a new light, one that surprises even himself. Is it too little too late?

From the same author who wrote  the successful One Day, Nicholls has an uncanny ability to tell a heartfelt story of a man who never quite believes he deserves success and happiness. In the end, the answers are quite clear. Emotions run high as you will laugh at the humor and cry at the pain of knowing when it's time to let go.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Murder at the Brightwell

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

It's classy, charming and reminiscent of  the esteemed Agatha Christie. Perhaps you faithfully watched Jessica Fletcher solve perplexing crimes on the ever popular television series Murder She Wrote in the 1980s. Readers who fit into either category may find just what they've been looking for in this new mystery novel. No violence or gore in this one; just glamour, elegance, and fun.

It's 1932 in England and young, sophisticated Amory Ames arrives at the fashionable Brightwell Hotel on the arms of her former fiance, Gilmore Trent. Scandalous? Most definitely. She left him five years ago to marry dashing Milo Ames, an irresistible rogue in every sense of the word. Milo's frequent absences has strained their marriage to the breaking point. Gil arrives one day to ask for Amory's help in breaking up his sister Emmeline's romance to scoundrel Rupert Howe who are vacationing at the picturesque seaside hotel. Amory is more than willing to take a chance on this adventure with her past love. It may be just what she needs......

Upon arrival at the hotel, Amory and Gil meet an array of wealthy guests, all with their own little secrets. When Rupert is found murdered at the base of a cliff, Gil becomes the prime suspect. Determined to clear his name, Amory begins silently snooping into the affairs of fellow guests, joined by Milo who makes an unexpected appearance at the hotel. What are his motives? Jealously or something far more sinister? What begins as an innocent vacation in a luxurious locale, turns out to be very dangerous indeed.

Sit back and enjoy an engaging mystery far different than a gruesome suspense thriller. Feel and taste the salty ocean breezes, picture lovely socialites dressed in their finest attire, and envision the romance and mystique of a splendid, extravagant setting. Then add an unsolved murder. I imagine we'll be reading more in the years to come from Ashley Weaver and her dynamic duo of Amory and Milo Ames.

With the holidays rapidly approaching, I hope you'll have some time to relax and read. Many of the selections on my blog can be found at your local library, often in the "Lucky Day", "Hot Picks", or "Quick Pick" sections.

A Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crooked River

Crooked River by Valerie Geary

It can't be real. Sisters Sam and Ollie McAlister stare at the bloated flesh, the bulging black eyes, the mass of dark hair swirling in the murky waters of Crooked River. But it is real, this hideous sight before their eyes, and as they try in vain to lift the tangled body to shore, the corpse breaks loose and travels downstream. Horrified, they watch as it slips away.

There was a time when the sisters lived an ordinary, contented existence in Eugene,Oregon, even though their father, Bear, an eccentric beekeeper, no longer lived with them.  He simply traveled in and out of their lives. All of that changed when their beloved mother died of a heart attack on the Fourth of July. That's the day Ollie stopped talking. Bear reappears to move his daughters to rural Terrebone where he lives in a teepee surrounded by nature and his beloved bees. At fifteen, Sam is old enough to live in the wilderness with him at times, but Ollie stays with Zeb and Franny, an older couple who live nearby. They love the girls as if they were their own, but like many of the local townspeople, have an uneasy feeling about this elusive man called Bear.

Eventually, the dead body surfaces. Circumstantial evidence points to Bear's involvement. He can't explain his whereabouts and the fresh, bloody scratches on his face. When the dead woman's satchel is found hidden in the teepee, Bear is arrested.for murder, vehemently claiming his innocence. It's up to his daughters to prove it. Yet in their hearts, they're  not quite sure.

The determined sisters set out to clear their father's name while overwhelming obstacles stand in the way. Ollie still doesn't speak, but incessant thoughts about the murder continue to fill her mind. She must make Sam see the light, see the danger that lurks in their midst. Helping her is The Shimmering, the spirits that appeared after her mother's funeral. They hiss and moan; misty, swirling shadows surrounded by colorful hues. They are relentless. Ollie must save them all from the real killer, but if she speaks, she fears they will never leave, so she listens and follows, praying they will lead her to the truth and save her troubled family.

There seems to be an abundance at this time of debut novels from talented first-time authors. Valerie Geary falls into this category.  Part psychological thriller, part ghost story, the tale lets your imagination run wild with expertly written descriptive passages. It's all about good versus evil, hidden secrets too vile to conceive, and the unbreakable bond between sisters.

Adventurous and entertaining, give this one a try.....