Friday, October 30, 2015

See Me

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Colin Hancock is painfully aware that he's been given a second chance at life. His explosive, volatile temper has cost him dearly, both personally and professionally.  Estranged from parents that defended him years ago when he was a rebellious teenager, he realizes how much they sacrificed by coming to his rescue until they could take no more.  But now he's determined to turn his life around. He has an opportunity to redeem himself by going back to school and releasing his frustrations and anger in a less destructive way. The promise of prison isn't just an idle threat. Law enforcement is watching his every move.

Then one rainy night, he meets a striking, raven-haired beauty named Maria Sanchez on a deserted highway. The connection he feels after their first encounter continues in the days to follow. As their relationship grows, Colin learns that he isn't the only one with demons from the past. Maria is also struggling to forget and move on from a terrifying experience as an assistant district attorney in Charlotte, N.C. Yet she has the nagging feeling her nightmare is far from over.

Maria is starting over in  her hometown of Wilmington, surrounded by loving family and friends. Nevertheless, the panic attacks still surface every time she thinks of the menacing threats aimed at her by a disgruntled relative of the slain woman she represented. When it appears that this crazed individual is intent on carrying out his vendetta, Maria turns to Colin for his unconditional support. She finds herself drawn to this man who often frightens her with his unconventional ways, but at the same time, makes her feel safe and secure. Can he save her from the devious mind that is determined to destroy all that is precious to her?

Die-hard Nicholas Sparks fans will undoubtedly enjoy this latest release, all 482 pages. Others may be disappointed. In a dynamic move, Sparks deviates from his signature writing style to create a story that is bolder and less heartrending than his previous books. Suspense and mystery are added to romance.  Perhaps the author's personal life may have precipitated the challenge of writing a novel that enters new territory. In any case, the likability of these vulnerable, flawed characters in See Me will be up to the reader. Sparks still maintains his unheralded success as a gifted writer; this one could also become a motion picture.

"See me as I see you..." There's a new purpose and vision from best-selling Nicholas Sparks this time around.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine

The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

Author Alex Brunkhorst unveils her first novel with a flourish. She combines old Hollywood glamour with the innocence of pure, naive love. The result is a charming, captivating story that readers will savor long after the last page.

Reporter Thomas Cleary is a lucky man. After a controversial stint in Manhattan, he's landed a plum newspaper job at the L.A. Times. His first assignment is an interview with Lily Goldman, the daughter of deceased Joel Goldman, the legendary and formidable Hollywood mogul and studio head. The affable and humble Thomas is an immediate hit with the beautiful people, and he soon finds himself immersed in a world of opulence, wealth, and grandeur. Lily introduces him to the sultry, alluring actress Carole Partridge and her writer husband, the easy-going, Charles. He meets stars at every lavish, resplendent party he attends. When he shakes the hand of  David Duplaine, indisputably the hottest producer of box-office hits in Tinseltown, he is truly intimidated. Suddenly, he is thrown into a life that dreams are made of, and he finds himself relishing each and every moment.

Then Thomas makes a startling discovery one evening alone while visiting the secluded grounds of David's estate. A winsome, fascinating young beauty named Matilda apparently lives a lonely but privileged existence there. She's never ventured off the property in her twenty years of being alive. Shrouded in mystery, Thomas and Matilda form an extraordinary bond. After numerous clandestine meetings, the couple decide to escape the estate. Lily agrees to help. They travel to an abandoned home in Hawaii that once belonged to her father, the powerful Joel Goldman. While on this lush, tropical island, Thomas begins to see subtle changes in Matilda.; changes that make him question his devotion to her. Becoming more and more suspicious of Matilda's upbringing, Thomas begins his own investigation, unearthing clues left behind in the Hawaii home. He gradually uncovers startling lies and deceit about the young woman who has stolen his heart. Can they survive what he has discovered?

Refreshing and soothing. this novel takes a most unlikely scenario and turns it into a magical love story, one that you will enjoy watching unfold.

And you can write your own ending......


Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Murder House

The Murder House by James Patterson and David Ellis

It's known as the Murder House, this sprawling, Gothic mansion located at 7 Ocean Drive in the Hamptons. The locals walk by with curious stares and hushed whispers. Years ago, a crippling, uncontrollable fire killed the couple trapped inside, with no reasonable explanation for the blaze. The structure was rebuilt. Now an influential Hollywood producer and his mistress are found murdered in the same cursed location by the sea.

Detective Jenna Murphy is back in the Hamptons, working for her Uncle Langdon, the Chief of Police. It's a big change from her ill-fated law enforcement career in Manhattan. This latest
high-profile crime puts Jenna at the center of a complicated investigation in the land of luxury. As she delves deeper and deeper into the case, she realizes that the police may be accusing the wrong man of the crime. The brutality and horror of the past meets the present. Detective Murphy is getting far too close to unraveling the mystery.  She just may be the next unfortunate victim.

If you need a James Patterson "fix", put this one on reserve. The legendary writer and his partner have created a raw,  heart-pounding, suspense- thriller full of intrigue and uncertainty. So many possible suspects, you'll have lingering doubts about each and every one of them. His trademark easy-to-read chapters make this a wise choice if you are looking for a spicy read on a chilly October night by the fire.

Friday, October 2, 2015

In a Dark, Dark Wood

In a Dark, Dark Wood  by Ruth Ware

Lenora Shaw lies battered and badly bruised in a hospital bed, trying desperately to remember why she's there. She hears the whispers of the police outside her door. With a racing heart, Nora clutches the sheets in her sweaty, trembling hands. They think she's committed murder.

Lenora (some call her Lee, others Nora) is a reclusive crime writer who is quite content living alone. When the email arrives inviting her to attend the hen party for Clare Cavendish, she is taken aback. It's been ten years since she's seen Clare, her former best friend. Ten years in which she's been able to exist without anyone knowing about her secret. But now she's faced with a huge decision; regretfully decline or graciously accept the opportunity to celebrate the upcoming wedding of her once dear friend. She says yes. A weekend of horror is about to begin.

Flo is the effervescent hostess who welcomes five guests into her aunt's home, known as the Glass House. A massive structure of steel and glass, the home seems to beckon anyone fearless enough to enter, if they dare. Uneasy and intimidated, Nora and friend Nina, regret their decision as soon as they walk through the front door. From the beginning, there is an eerie feeling of bad things to come in the days ahead. The strange noises in the night, mysterious footprints in the snow, unexplained ouija board predictions, and an overall unsettling fear that something catastrophic is going to happen. Each guest anxious to leave. But it's not that easy leaving the Glass House as they are all about to learn. The hours tick by, until an explosive event takes place that no one could have imagined. Putting aside grief and terror, Nora must unveil who is plotting to make her look like a calculated murderer.

British writer Ruth Ware shines in her debut novel. Like Agatha Christie, Ware gives the reader all the elements for a great mystery, told with a modern day twist. The hen party (better known here as bachelorette) is an ideal setting to bring together a motley crew of characters harboring petty past grievances. Then add a bizarre house of glass in  the remote English countryside on a snowy, dreary weekend and you have the elements for a great whodunit. Parts are predictable, but the reader will enjoy being a detective and unraveling the puzzle. The author's distinctive descriptive passages add to the overall spookiness of the book; a wise choice as Halloween approaches. You might even hear your own strange noises in the night.

Actress Reese Witherspoon plans to develop Ware's book into a movie. Much like Gone Girl and
The Girl on the Train, It will be interesting to see how another compelling story translates onto the screen.