Thursday, August 29, 2019

Book Review: WONTON TERROR
TITLE: Wonton Terror
PUB DATE: 8/27/2019
PUB: St. Martin's Press
SERIES: Noodle Shop Delicious Mystery Series
GENRE: Cozy Mystery, Mystery, Fiction


SYNOPSIS: Amateur sleuth Lana Lee returns for another charming cozy Noodle Shop Mystery in Vivien Chien's Wonton Terror...
The Asian community is kicking off summer with the return of its popular Cleveland Night Market festivities, and Lana Lee is excited to represent the Ho-Lee Noodle House booth with her favorite chef, Peter Huang. Lana is confident that the evening marks the beginning of a great season to come. Not only is she looking forward to the warm temperatures, but her birthday is only weeks away, her handsome boyfriend, Detective Adam Trudeau, is planning a romantic get-away. Life couldn't be better.
But before she can get too accustomed to the idea of a carefree summer, an explosion involving a nearby food truck, Wonton on Wheels, kills one of the proprietors and injures several others in the nearby vicinity.
When the authorities discover that this was no accident, the family members of the dead man become the number-one suspects in a front-page murder story. Lana and her best friend, Megan Riley, fall back into detective mode. But as they uncover family secrets of abuse and angry costumers, Lana's own family drama raises its head. Will Lana be able to juggle everything the universe is throwing at her, or has she jumped from the frying pan to the fire?
  


THOUGHTS: "Wonton Terror" by Vivien Chien is the 4th book of the Noodle Shop Delicious Mystery Series. Lana Lee has so much to look forward to. An opening night at the highly anticipated Asian Night Market, and a Birthday Getaway week-end planned by Lana's handsome boyfriend Adam Trudeau. The Ho Lee Noodle Shop is getting ready for an amazing turnout at the night market in Cleveland with Lana's favorite chef Peter Huang. However, a new local food truck, Wonton on Wheels blows up with the business owner getting killed inside and many others injured during the explosion. Authorities soon find out that this was no accident and a murder may have been intended for the proprietor. Lana gets drawn in to this and becomes the amateur sleuth to help solve this exciting murder mystery.
I absolutely loved this cozy mystery. I have not read any of the three prior books from this series and will be picking them up as I am now a fan of Vivien Chen and the entire cast of characters in this series. Lana Lee is such a lovable character. This was a fun and enjoyable read with enough twists and turns in this murder plot mystery. This surely kept me on my toes. There is a warning trigger for spousal abuse but was handled beautifully by Chien. I am a huge fan of this series and highly recommend all the others.
Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and the author for the advanced ebook copy in exchange for my honest and objective opinion.


Rating: 5/5


AUTHOR: VIVIEN CHIEN


Vivien Chien first started writing simple stories about adventures with her classmates when she was in elementary school. As she grew up, her love of books and the written word increased, leading to the attempt of her first novel at age 16. After many struggled beginnings and several different genres, she found her passion in the mystery world.

When she's not writing, she can be found frolicking in the bookstore or searching for her next bowl of noodles. She has a soft spot for doughnuts, a healthy love for coffee, and an extreme need to participate in random acts of crafting.

She currently lives in Cleveland where she is hard at work on the fifth book in her Noodle Shop series, and writes side-by-side with her toy fox terrier.


Monday, August 26, 2019

Book Review: The Rabbit Effect
TITLE: The Rabbit Effect
GENRE: Non-fiction; Medical
AUTHOR: Dr. Kelli Harding
PUB DATE: 08/27/2019
Publisher: Atria Books (Simon & Schuster)


Synopsis: Discover an eye-opening and provocative new way to look at our health based on the latest groundbreaking discoveries in the science of compassion, kindness, and human connection.

For all of its rigor and science, medicine is full of stories—mysteries—that doctors and research cannot explain. Patients who are biologically healthy, but feel ill. Patients who are biologically ill, but feel healthy. What if these health mysteries could teach us something about what really makes us sick—and how to be healthy?

When Columbia University doctor Kelli Harding began her clinical practice, she never intended to explore the invisible factors behind our health. But then there were the rabbits. In 1978, a seemingly straightforward experiment designed to establish the relationship between high blood cholesterol and heart health in rabbits discovered that kindness—in the form of a particularly nurturing post-doc who pet and spoke to the lab rabbits as she fed them—made the difference between a heart attack and a healthy heart.

As Dr. Kelli Harding reveals in this eye-opening book, the rabbits were just the beginning of a much larger story. Groundbreaking new research shows that love, friendship, community, life’s purpose, and our environment can have a greater impact on our health than anything that happens in the doctor’s office. For instance, chronic loneliness can be as unhealthy as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day; napping regularly can decrease one’s risk of heart disease; and people with purpose are less likely to get sick. Through provocative storytelling and compelling research, Harding presents a new model for you to take charge of your health.

At once paradigm-shifting and empowering, The Rabbit Effect shares a radical new way to think about health, wellness, and how we live.



THOUGHTS: "The Rabbit Effect" by Dr. Kelli Harding is an amazing read. As a health care professional, I often wondered what helps people improve their lives to becoming better, and also how the mindset of positivity and caring really do affect the healing process. I have always known that in the United States, spending on health care is the highest in the world. Despite the billions of dollars spent on health care expense, our health is still among the lowest in the world. Additionally, life expectancy also continues to drop.
I love how the book explains through very interesting stories and anecdotes. It goes over some of the things that is shown to prove how to live healthier through love, kindness, friendship and community rather than medicines and medical procedures. The book also highlights a Tool Kit and examples of how to improve your health (like a checklist) to ensure you apply in your daily life. I loved that data is presented in a way that is not intimidating but enriches the information that is provided. This book really opened my eyes to the definition of health and what being healthy in body, mind and spirit truly means.
I recommend this book whole heartedly to my fellow health professionals and to anyone wishing to live a healthier and happier life by living with a purpose, through compassion, kindness and human connection. I would pick up this book for an eye opening read that is full of amazing information. A must read for anyone.



Rating: 5/5





Thursday, August 22, 2019

Book Review: LAST ONES LEFT ALIVE

AUTHOR: Sarah Davis-Goff
GENRE: Sci-Fi, Fiction, Dystopian, Horror
PUB DATE: 8/27/2019
PUBLISHER: FLATIRON BOOKS
SYNOPSIS: LAST ONES LEFT ALIVE is the story of Orpen, a young woman who must walk on foot across a ravaged Ireland in the desperate hope of saving herself, and her guardian Maeve, from the zombie-like menace known as the skrake.
Growing up on a tiny island off the coast of a post-apocalyptic Ireland, Orpen's life has revolved around physical training and necessity. After Mam died, it's the only way she and her guardian Maeve have survived the ravenous skrake (zombies) who roam the wilds of the ravaged countryside, looking for prey.
When Maeve is bitten and infected, Orpen knows what she should do - sink a knife into her eye socket, and quickly. Instead, she tries to save Maeve, and following rumours of a distant city on the mainland, guarded by fierce banshees, she sets off, pushing Maeve in a wheelbarrow and accompanied by their little dog, Danger. It is a journey on which Orpen will need to fight repeatedly for her life, drawing on all of her training and instincts. In the course of it, she will learn more about the Emergency that destroyed her homeland, and the mythical Phoenix City - and discover a starting truth about her own identity.

THOUGHTS: "Last Ones Left Alive" by Sarah Davis-Goff is a story about a post apocalyptic Ireland where the fight to survive and endure means to live another day.
From the first line of this novel, I knew I was hooked. The story alternates from current to the past on how Orpen, the protagonist, was raised in an island called Slanbeg off the coast of Ireland by her mother and her mother’s partner Maeve. Orpen was trained how to fight and survive against what Davis-Goff calls the zombies or “skrakes”. Once bitten, your fate will be met with demise. The novel opens with Orpen pushing a wheelbarrow with Maeve and her dog by her side to find help and other survivors.
I love anything Zombie and I knew I would be a fan of this. I love that women are strong and resilient, and the story is told to understand the human relationships and survival.
Thank you to NetGalley and Flatiron book for the ARC ebook copy of this wonderful story.
RATING: 4/5


BOOK REVIEW


TITLE: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

AUTHOR: Abbi Waxman

GENRE: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, Women's Fiction, Chick Lit

PUB DATE: July 9, 2019



SYNOPSIS:



The setting is in the quaint Larchmont Village of Los Angeles where Nina’s whole life revolves around. She has a great job in a bookstore, bragging rights as a trivia champion, a planner aficionado detailing her planned day to day life, and a cat named Phil. Life is almost perfect when suddenly a lawyer contacts her about a father she never knew existed, suddenly dies and with a possible inheritance of not just financial matter but also family all living close by! How does an introvert living and absorbed in her fictional life deal with a new extensive family of step siblings, nieces, nephews and more!


THOUGHTS:




Once I started reading this, I could not put it down!! First of all, the setting of the story is in Los Angeles but in a quaint neighborhood of Larchmont Village - I am literally there at least once a week for the best NY style pizza, Jenni’s artisanal Ice Cream, cute shops, vintage stores, the one of the Rite Aids left in town and of course the oldest independent bookstore in Los Angeles, Chevalier. Waxman made LA feel like a small town in a community with its struggling Indie bookstore, week-end farmer’s market and community events. In the book, when Tom said “It’s a small world”, Nina responded “ No, it’s a big world but Larchmont is a small community” where people know and care for each other. As many who would read this who are lover of books, you would be able to relate and love Nina’s life! I mean, wouldn’t we all want to work in a bookstore and have the time for all the bookclubs? In this book, you will be immersed in Nina’s life completely and deeply; how she enjoys the isolation with nose deep in a book reading for hours, to her detailed journaling of her life, and her budding love life. Abbi Waxman is a genius and can transform even the most mundane interactions of our daily lives into something engrossing and captivating, while injecting humor along the way. What a fun and light read that we all need in our lives. I would pre-order this now in anticipation of the release date.




RATING:

5/5
Book Review: SMOKESCREEN
Pub Date: July 30, 2019
Synopsis: Eve Duncan Series #25 - Eve Duncan, forensic sculptor, journeys to Africa to help families torn apart by a violent attack deep in the jungle--but she may be putting herself in more danger than she knows. Jill Cassidy, a journalist, asks Eve Duncan's help to go to Africa. Half the villagers--many of them children--have been killed in a horrific attack by guerilla soldiers and the bodies burned beyond recognition. Now, the families desperately need Eve's help to get closure and begin to heal. But when Eve arrives in the remote jungle, she begins to suspect that Jill's plea may have been a cover story for something deeper. Eve finds herself stranded in an unstable country where violence threatens to break out again at any moment and with only her own instincts to rely on if she hopes to get home to her family alive . . .



Thoughts: I am so thankful and fortunate to receive this book as an Advanced Reader Copy from NetGalley and Grand Central Pub in exchange for an objective review of Smokescreen by Iris Johansen. This is the first time I have read any books from Iris Johansen and I absolutely loved this as my first book. This is book 25 of a series. This is an amazingly well written book with a very well crafted story line that quite relates to what is happening in the war torn area of the Congo.
The characters in this series and the supporting casts are phenomenally well written and exciting to read. This story follows the main character Eve Duncan who was called to Africa by journalist Jill Cassidy to reconstruct the skulls of murdered school children. The massacre is from a terrorist attack and Eve’s job as a forensic sculptor helps the family gain closure from this. Nothing is simple and something suspicious finds Eve in a dangerous situation.
This was such a fast-paced read for me that I truly enjoyed so much that I am going to pick up the rest of the series.  I cannot get enough of Eve and the rest of the characters like Joe and Jed Novak. I am now a fan of this series.
5/5
Author: Iris Johansen


Iris Johansen is a New York Times bestselling author. She began her writing after her children left home for college. She first achieved success in the early 1980s writing category romances. In 1991, Johansen began writing suspense historical romance novels, starting with the publication of The Wind Dancer. In 1996 Johansen switched genres, turning to crime fiction, with which she has had great success.

She lives in Georgia and is married. Her son, Roy Johansen, is an Edgar Award-winning screenwriter and novelist. Her daughter, Tamara, serves as her research assistant.

IRIS JOHANSEN is The New York Times bestselling author of Night and Day, Hide Away, Shadow Play, Your Next Breath, The Perfect Witness, Live to See Tomorrow, Silencing Eve, Hunting Eve, Taking Eve, Sleep No More, What Doesn't Kill You, Bonnie, Quinn, Eve, Chasing The Night, Eight Days to Live, Blood Game, Deadlock, Dark Summer, Pandora's Daughter, Quicksand, Killer Dreams, On The Run, and more. And with her son, Roy Johansen, she has coauthored Night Watch, The Naked Eye, Sight Unseen, Close Your Eyes, Shadow Zone, Storm Cycle, and Silent Thunder.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Book Review: Things You Save in a Fire




Pub Date: 8/13/2019
Publisher: St. Martin's Press


Synopsis: Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she's seen her fair share of them, and she's excellent at dealing with other people's tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to uproot her life and move to Boston, it's an emergency of a kind Cassie never anticipated.
The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie's old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren't exactly thrilled to have a "lady" on the crew, even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the handsome rookie, who doesn't seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can't think about that. Because she doesn't fall in love. And because of the advice her old captain gave her: don't date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping...but will she jeopardize her place in a career where she's worked so hard to be taken seriously?
Katherine Center's Things You Save in a Fire is a heartfelt, affecting novel about life, love, and the true meaning of courage.


Thoughts: This is a deep and emotionally charged, poignant story about Cassie - an extraordinary and celebrated firefighter and a paramedic who is at the top of her battalion in Austin, Texas. A plead comes from her estranged mother, who happened to have left her and her father 10 years prior and of all days - during her 16th birthday. Her mother is asking her to move her so-called perfect life in Texas to Massachusetts, due to her declining health. A series of incidents, which stem from her underlying issues of trauma and fear of abandonment, forces the move to Massachusetts.
Center creates and delivers a believable world with the right terminologies using pinpoint precision that is only privee to firefighters and paramedics; such as the scenarios, the medical devices, treatments, and even the procedures and day to day life in the fire house. Because of that, as a medical personnel, it did not muddy the story and I was able to focus on the deeper issues that this novel is trying to convey. Additionally, this novel has its serious moments, but also the laugh out loud scenarios that I know have really happened. It is fast paced and I got through this read in one day. The characters Center introduced are all so lovable and great - from Cassie to her mother, to the chiefs and firefighters.
Cassie is a strong woman who was broken down and tested in so many ways, only to prove that to be a stronger person, you may have to lose everything and decide to do what is morally right, even though it may not be the easiest route. This story taught me to believe again, and not lose hope and faith completely in people. And that forgiveness is stronger than revenge. You will enjoy this book very much!
Thank you NetGalley, Author Katherine Center and St. Martin's Press for an ARC Electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.


Author:
Katherine Center
Katherine Center is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away, the upcoming Things You Save in a Fire (August 2019), and five other bittersweet comic novels. Six Foot Pictures is currently adapting her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, into a feature film starring Josh Duhamel, Leslie Bibb, and Nora Dunn. Katherine has been compared to both Nora Ephron and Jane Austen, and the Dallas Morning News calls her stories, “satisfying in the most soul-nourishing way.” Katherine recently gave a TEDx talk on how stories teach us empathy, and her work has appeared in USA Today, InStyle, Redbook, People, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Real Simple, Southern Living, and InTouch, among others. Katherine lives in her hometown of Houston, Texas, with her fun husband, two sweet kids, and fluffy-but-fierce dog.

Book Review: The Whisper Man

PUB Date: 08/20/2018
Publisher: Celadon Books

Synopsis: In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.
After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town. Featherbank.
But the town has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed "The Whisper Man," for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Thoughts: When I first picked up the Whisper Man I had no idea about the book except for the cover. The cover and title sure scared me and I have put off reading this in fear my imagination can get the best of me. I was wrong and this was not the case at all; not because I am wearing my big girl pants, but the story is actually a poignant dark mystery, and a well written British crime drama and a suspenseful thriller.
Tom Kennedy and his son Jake move to Featherbank after his wife’s sudden death, to get a fresh start. However, death follows them by Tom discovering the body of an unsolved murder of a child in their new home, and a recent child abduction and murder in their new town.
I loved this book very much. Once I started, there was no putting this down. This book is the best cure for anyone in a reading slump! It had the right amount of mystery, suspense and hair raising moments. Alex North’s writing is brilliant. The characters all had depth and complexity that is interweaved into the story with no loose ends. It is also a story about how a family navigates loss weather death or separation and how love and family are the ties that bind.

Rating: 5/5
Author:
Alex North was born in Leeds, England, where he now lives with his wife and son. The Whisper Man was inspired by North's own little boy, who mentioned one day that he was playing with "the boy in the floor." Alex North is a British crime writer who has previously published under another name.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Book Review
Review: HOPE FOR TOMORROW by Michelle DeBruin

Logan is a preacher who leaves his congregation to move back home after hearing of his father’s sudden death to care for the farm, his mother Sandy, and sister Tillie who are in pain and are grieving over this tremendous loss. To help with their financial troubles, they accept Karen, a teacher from Chicago, who will be boarding in their home to teach in the country school. This is a page turner, as I really enjoyed reading about how these characters overcome adversaries in their everyday life and how they navigate their situations of dealing with grief, predicaments, friendship, community, and possible even love.

DeBruin expertly presents the setting during the early 1900’s that adds to the beauty of the setting of this book. The expertly researched descriptions of the clothing they wear, to the mundane everyday life of washing clothes and ironing, to cooking and baking those oh so delicious cherry pies really added to the enjoyment of this book.

I absolutely loved reading Hope for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin for its heartwarming story of a family dealing hardship and the struggles of a sudden loss in 1910 Iowa. The story beautifully unfolds on how even the hardest of all circumstances may be overcome through hope and trust in God.



5/5
Michelle De Bruin is a worship leader and spiritual services provider. She lives in Iowa with her husband and two teenage sons. A romantic at heart, Michelle is always looking for glimpses of God’s love through the window of a good story.



Thank you for the ecopy of this book provided by JustReadTours in exchange for an honest review

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Book Review: Necessary People




SYNOPSIS: Story about Stella and Violet who are best friends who met in college. Stella is beautiful, privileged, reckless and loves the spotlight. Violet stays behind the scenes as the ever reliable best friend to Stella who can be counted on to clean up the mess, but also enjoys the perks of being Stella's friend. Violet lands a job in cable news in NYC, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer all through her own hard-work and determination. But everything is jeopardized when Stella, envious of Violet's new life, uses her connections, beauty, and charisma to get hired at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce and taking all the credit.

THOUGHTS: I loved this story and how it drew me in. The relationship between Stella and Violet and how Pitoniak creates this world really pulled me in and I finished this in a few hours not relenting to put the book down. The layers of the characters as it's slowly revealed is complex and brilliantly presented. I loved the novel for its intriguing story line of the privileged and connected life versus hard-work and self-made determination, the rich and the poor, and seeing who will triumph is what kept me going and why I loved it.




AUTHOR: Anna Pitoniak

Anna is the author of Necessary People published May 2019, and The Futures, which was named a best book of 2017 by theSkimm and Refinery29.

Anna worked for many years in book publishing, most recently as a Senior Editor at Random House. She graduated from Yale, where she majored in English and was an editor at the Yale Daily News. She grew up in Whistler, British Columbia, and now lives in New York City.