Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Girl Unknown (Book Review)

Title: Girl Unknown
Author: Karen Perry
Publication: Henry Holt & Co., hardcover, 2018
Genre: Suspense

Plot: David and Caroline Connolly are an ordinary couple in Dublin with two children when their lives suddenly go wrong. One minute, David is expecting a big promotion at the university where he has taught history for many years and Caroline is doing well in a new job covering for someone on maternity leave. It's true there has been a slight rift in their marriage but they agreed not to let their children, teen Robbie and 11-year-old Holly, know anything was wrong as they work past it. Then everything changes when David is approached by a lovely blonde student who says he is her father. It is unclear exactly what Zoe wants but her every existence is an immediate threat to the Connolly family . . .

Audience: Fans of psychological suspense; authors such as Clare Mackintosh, S. J. Watson, and Emma Healey

Quote: "Explores emotional danger with relentless, surgical accuracy," bestselling author Tana French

My Impressions: This was a fast paced novel full of believable (if unlikable) characters and told in alternating chapters from David's and from Caroline's points of view. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the author is really a male/female team. I was reminded, however, of something my sister said recently when I had recommended a book to her - that she really doesn't enjoy reading novels where the characters do such stupid things. There were certainly a number of poor choices made by a variety of characters. David is not a very nice guy but even he does not deserve the downward spiral Zoe brings in her wake to his family. While some aspects of the story were predictable (and I wished for more of a sense of place for Dublin) there were enough twists and surprises to keep me entertained - and the light on until the wee hours.
Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews below:

Tuesday, February 6th: Tina Says…
Thursday, February 8th: Write – Read – Life
Friday, February 9th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, February 12th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile
Wednesday, February 14th: Instagram: @ACaffeinatedBibliophile
Friday, February 16th: Into the Hall of Books
Friday, February 16th: Not in Jersey
Tuesday, February 20th: Novel Gossip
Wednesday, February 21st: Sweet Southern Home
Thursday, February 22nd: What Is That Book About
Monday, February 26th: Helen’s Book Blog
Tuesday, February 27th: Instagram: @hollyslittlebookreviews
Thursday, March 1st: Dreams, Etc.
Friday, March 2nd: A Bookworm’s World
Monday, March 5th: The Ludic Reader

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Look for Her (Book Review)

Title: Look for Her
Author: Emily Winslow
Publication: William Morrow, paperback, 2018
Genre: Suspense
Setting: Cambridge, England, and environs
Plot: Lilling might seem like an idyllic English village, but it’s home to a dark history. In 1976, a teenage girl named Annalise Wood disappeared, and though her body was later discovered, the culprit was never found. Decades later, Annalise maintains a perverse kind of celebrity, and is still the focus of grief, speculation, and for one young woman, a disturbing, escalating jealousy.

When DNA linked to the Annalise murder unexpectedly surfaces, cold case detective Morris Keene and his former partner, Chloe Frohmann, hope to finally bring closure to this traumatized community. But the new evidence instead undoes the case’s only certainty: the buried body that had long ago been confidently identified as Annalise may be someone else entirely, and instead of answers, the investigators face only new puzzles.

from the Church of Our Lady
and the English Martyrs
Whose body was unearthed all those years ago, and what happened to the real Annalise? Is someone interfering with the investigation? And is there a link to a present-day drowning with eerie connections? With piercing insight and shocking twists, Emily Winslow explores the dark side of sensationalized crime in this creepy psychological thriller.

Audience: Fans of suspense; authors such as Megan Abbott, Ruth Ware, and Mary Kubica

My Impressions: This book was my introduction to detective duo, Morris Keene and Chloe Frohmann; although it started off slow, I liked them and wanted to read more about them. It is the fourth in a series but worked fairly well as a standalone although there has been a rift between the two former partners that clearly took place in an earlier book. However, there is a lot more going on in Look for Her than a police procedural. The story centers on the long-ago disappearance of a young girl and right from the beginning we learn that people still remember Annalise and are haunted by her. Even the therapist has a connection to Annalise, although she is primarily still grieving for the husband she lost four years ago when she isn’t worried about her adult children and failing to appreciate her new husband. I especially liked the glimpses of student life as experienced by the two Cambridge undergraduates. Although some of the plot was improbable, most of the time it was sufficiently fast paced that I was too puzzled to object, and I liked the way the author wove the strands together, eventually tying up the loose ends (except one – why Henry married Hannah-Claire).
Look for Her is set in Cambridge, England, just as I am planning a trip there, which was an unexpected bonus. In fact, my mother just mentioned she wanted to visit the Church of Our Lady and the English Martyrs (above), and Winslow sets a funeral there (I wondered why the character was Catholic; if there was significance, I missed it). Even more coincidentally my middle sister checked this book out of the library and was reading it the same time I was! This does happen to us occasionally but usually when we are both waiting for a new book by a favorite author. Like me, she did not realize we would be starting mid-series. Although I found this book intriguing, I think my recommendation would be to go back and start with the first book, The Whole World.
Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews below:

Wednesday, February 14th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, February 15th: Novel Gossip
Friday, February 16th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Tuesday, February 20th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, February 21st: Instagram: @hollyslittlebookreviews
Thursday, February 22nd: Dreams, Etc.
Thursday, February 22nd: Jessicamap Reviews
Monday, February 26th: The Ludic Reader
Tuesday, February 27th: Rockin’ and Reviewing
Wednesday, February 28th: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Thursday, March 1st: Thoughts On This ‘n That

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Piece of the World (Book Review)

Title: A Piece of the World
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Publication: William Morrow, Trade Paperback, 2018 (originally published 2017)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Plot: From the New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world is her family farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. The only daughter in a family of sons, Christina is tied to her home by health and circumstance, and seems destined for a small life. Instead, she becomes Andrew Wyeth’s first great inspiration, and the subject of one of the best-known paintings of the twentieth century, Christina’s World.

As she did in Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction to vividly reimagine a real moment in history. A Piece of the World is a powerful story of the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, her complicated relationship to her family and inheritance, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

Audience: Fans of historical fiction, books set in New England; those who look at a painting and wonder about the people in it.

My Impressions: This is the third book by Kline I have read, and by far the best; I was completely captivated from beginning to end, and couldn’t wait to recommend it to my younger sister (can there be greater praise?). The author answers questions the rest of us had never gotten around to articulating but yes, now we realize we too wanted to know more about Christina and her world. Kline creates quiet characters whose personalities are larger than life as their strength is revealed.

The story moves back and forth from the past to the then-present in a way that is logical instead of jarring, as the author reveals family conflict and secrets. Christina’s story is sad and painful, and Cushing, Maine is not really the kind of place one wants to visit, but when she leaves briefly it is startling to realize she has never been farther from home than one ill-omened medical visit to Rockland. Fortunately, a kind train conductor makes sure that Christina and her brother get the most out of their first train trip when they travel to see a friend in Boston. There are many little details that show how difficult life was in rural Maine and that Christina was separated from the world not simply by a mysterious illness that crippled her but also physical isolation and parents who actively prevented her from expanding her horizons.  In Orphan Train, I much preferred the historical story to the present but here the timeline is all in the past, albeit at various times during Christina's life.

Purchase Links: Harper Collins Barnes & Noble Amazon IndieBound
Other: This paperback edition includes a color reproduction of Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World, along with a Q&A with bestselling author Kristin Hannah that would be suitable for book groups, also a bonus short story, “Stranded in Ice” about Christina’s unpleasant father.

Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes.  You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews below:
Thursday, February 1st: Dwell in Possibility
Monday, February 5th: Instagram: @a_tad_bit_bookish
Wednesday, February 7th: BookNAround
Friday, February 9th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, February 12th: Openly Bookish
Wednesday, February 14th: Life By Kristen
Thursday, February 15th: Man of La Book
Monday, February 19th: Book by Book
Tuesday, February 20th: Rockin’ and Reviewing
Wednesday, February 21st: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Friday, February 23rd: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Sunday, February 25th: Instagram: @lavieestbooks
Monday, February 26th: Time 2 Read
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 Caryn, The Book Whisperer