Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

The Widow by Fiona Barton

New American Library an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

Release Date: February 16, 2016

My Review (4 Stars: Liked It A Lot!)

In her debut novel, The Widow, the author, Fiona Barton, skillfully presents a detective story.

The case is that a two year old child goes missing from her front lawn.
Among the main characters are Bob Sparks (a detective),  Glen Taylor (a suspect who is linked to child pornography),  Jean Taylor (the suspect’s widow), and Kate Waters (a reporter ).  The case was not solved before the suspect died.  DI Sparks just can’t let go of this.  The main suspect is dead and the little girl has not been found.

I enjoyed the setting, which I believe is in the UK.  I think the characterizations might be slightly different than if set in America.  A small example might be that often characters have tea.  Here in America, I think it might be coffee.  John O’Connell in “The Best Recent Thrillers – Reviews Roundup“, from The Guardian might phrase this notion better.

“My one reservation is Jean’s odd voice, which feels too 1950s-prim – an upper-middle-class person’s slightly dated idea of how lower-middle-class people speak. But then, Glen and Jean are nothing if not strange, so perhaps that extends to their domestic idiolect.” – John O’Connell (“The Best Recent Thrillers – Reviews Roundup“, The Guardian)

However, I felt, the author’s writing style was very engaging.

The interesting and different slant on this story is that the focus is on the suspect’s widow.  Her life was complicated by her husband.  After her husband dies, her life is complicated by the investigators and the reporters.  The reporter, Kate Waters is successful with her  approach toward getting interviews.

This novel has been compared to Gone Girl.  While the widow is introspective as the wife was in Gone Girl, the novel did not have that sudden, surprising, gripping, twist that I was anticipating.

Continue reading “Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton”

Review: The Stranger by Harlan Coben


The Stranger by Harlan Coben

Dutton (est. 1852), Published by the Penguin Group, A Penguin Random House Company, 2015

My Review (3 Stars: Liked It!)

Author, Harlan Coben writes many catchy observations or short commentaries about mundane upper middle-class living and not so mundane events throughout The Stranger.  His writing is filled with one interesting sentence after the next.

The story is basically a mystery.  A stranger reveals a secret to Adam Price about his wife.  Soon after being confronted by Adam, his wife Corrine disappears leaving a text message, saying that she needs some time apart…just a few days.

Coben raises the question, How far will anyone go to protect their family?

Continue reading “Review: The Stranger by Harlan Coben”

Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Delacorte Press, 2014

From GoodReads

literary awards

Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee (2015)The Inky Awards Nominee for Silver Inky (2015)Bookworm Best Award for Best Fiction (2014)Goodreads Choice Award for Young Adult Fiction (2014)The Magnolia Award Nominee for 9-12 (2016)

My Review (5 Stars: Loved It!)

I can see why this is an award winning book.  Each chapter is more captivating than the previous one.

It is a short read.  I read it over the course of one day. Continue reading “Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart”

Review: The Last September by Nina de Gramont

The Last September by Nina de Gramont

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2015

My Review ( 5 Stars: Loved It!)

Author, Nina de Gramont expertly tugs the reader along in this suspenseful page turner.

In The Last September, the plot is not too complicated.  There are many references to Emily Dickinson, that I might not have completely understood.  However, overall it was an enjoyable read.

I loved the way the author portrayed the main character, Brett, and her total love for her husband, Charlie.  In the beginning of the novel we are told Charlie was murdered.   He was handsome, charming, and a free sprit.  He loved Brett.  They married and had a daughter together.  Brett doubted her husband loved her as much she loved him.

Brett met Charlie through his brother, Eli, her best friend in college, in Boulder, Colorado.  Eli had mental illness and was a problem at times.

The main part of the story takes place in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

This novel is a quick read (about 300 pages).  Once I started reading it, I did not want to put it down.

First Paragraph

“Because I am a student of literature, I will start my story on the day Charlie died.  In other words, I’m beginning in the middle.  In medias res, that’s the Latin term and though my specialty is American Renaissance poetry, I did have to study classics.  Homer, Dante, Milton.  They knew about the middle, how all of life revolves around a single moment in time.  Everything that comes before leads up to that moment.  Everything that comes afterward springs from that moment.”

Also by Nina de Gramont

Books For Adults

Of Cats and Men: Stories

Gossip of The Starlings

Books For Young Adults

Every Little Thing in the World

Meet Me at the River

The Boy I Love

She Reads

I would like to thank author, Nina De Gramont, the She Reads Organization and the publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill,  for providing me with this book, free of charge, for review.

The Last September by Nina De Gramont is one of She Reads’ Books of Fall.  Visit SheReads’ page to read more about their winter selections  @ The Books of Fall.

Disclosure of Material Connection:

I received this book free from the publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, as a member of the She Reads Network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt

and Readers Guide

Berkley Publishing Group an Imprint of Penguin Random House, 2015

Review (4 Stars: Liked it a lot!)

Estelle Paradise (27) is suffering from postpartum depression with psychosis.  One day she wakes up and her 7 month old daughter, Mia, is missing.  Every trace of Mia in the house is gone, including her clothes, diapers and toys.

Author, Alexandra Burt, takes us on a trip inside Estelle’s mind.  The story begins with Estelle waking up in the hospital after an induced coma.  She was found in her car, crashed down a deep ravine.  Estelle has brain trauma, amnesia and one of her ears is missing.  Mia is missing as well.

Slowly, after hard work, and being a suspect in the disappearance of her daughter, Estelle begins to unearth what happened.  Her account of her own feelings is compelling.  She wonders herself if she’s brought harm to her own daughter.

This story is an account of the roller-coaster ride Estelle has gone through and continues to go through as we learn what really happened to Mia.  Burt’s debut novel, Remember Mia, is indeed a page turner.

I’d like to thank Alexandra Burt and the Berkley Publishing Group for sending me this novel, free of charge, for review.

First Paragraph

“Mrs. Paradise?

A voice sounds out of nowhere.  My thoughts are sluggish, as if I’m running underwater.  I try and try but I’m not getting anywhere”


What Other Are Saying

“REMEBER MIA is a twisty, gripping read – beautifully written and impossible to putdown.” – Meg Gardiner, Edgar Award – winning author

About The Author

Alexandra Burt is a freelance translator.  Born in Europe, she moved to Texas twenty years ago.  While pursuing literary translations, she decide to tell her own stories.  After years of writing classes and gluttonous reading, her short fiction appeared in fiction journals and literary reviews.  She lives in Texas with her husband and daughter.  Remember Mia is her first novel.

Disclosure of Material Connection: 

I received this book (ARC) free from the publisher, Berkley an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.   I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay


Defending Jacob by William Landy

Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House,  inc. New York, 2012

My Review (5 Stars: Loved it!)

Within just a few pages of reading Defending Jacob, I was hooked.  Author William Landy hits a perfectly mystifying tone.

Lead assistant district attorney Andrew Barber’s adolescent son, Jacob, is accussed of murdering a classmate.  In the beginning hours of the murder investigation, Mr. Barber is in charge of handling the DA’s case.  When it becomes apparent that his son is the main suspect, another assistant attorney, Neal Logiudice takes over.

This novel is peppered with transcripts of grand jury testimony where tense comments are traded between Mr. Logiudice and the ‘witness’, Andrew Barber.  This adds to building questions and suspense that surround Defending Jacob.

Andy holds on tight to the belief that his son did not comitt murder.  Despite strange revelations about his son and the strain on his wife, he still holds on to the belief that his son is innocent.  It is inconceivable to him that a father could think otherwise.

As a former district attorney, author, William Landy brings a realistic inside look into the criminal system.  I had read that this novel had a surprising conclusion.  I was trying to guess what it might be while reading.  In the end, I was surprised.

Continue reading “Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay”

Review: Cemetery Girl by David Bell

Cemetery Girl by David Bell

New American Library, A Division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2011

Description (from the author’s website)

Four years after Tom and Abby’s 12-year-old daughter vanishes, she is found alive but strangely calm. When the teen refuses to testify against the man connected to her disappearance, Tom decides to investigate the traumatizing case on his own. Nothing can prepare him for what he is about to discover.

Cemetery Girl is the winner of the prestigious 2013 Le Prix Polar International de Cognac.

My Review (4 Stars – Liked It A Lot!)

Twelve year old Catlin takes her rambuncsious dog for a walk in the park near home and disappears.  Author, David Bell explores the family’s pain, especially from the father, Tom’s, point of view.

Tom and his wife Abbey’s already strained marriage is pulled further apart after the disappearance of Catlin, their only child.  To complicate matters Tom’s half brother, Buster, is a person of interest in the investigation.  Buster has been in trouble with the law before.

One day, after four years missing, Catlin appears.  Author, David Bell gives the reader an engrossing, close up look of what this event might entail including interactions with Ryan, the officer investigating the case, counselors and witnesses.  Tom desperately wants to know what happened.  But, does he really want to know?  Tom knows life will never go back to the way it was before.

First Line

“Let me tell you something about my daughter.”

About the author (from amazon)

David Bell is an assistant professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He received an M.A. in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Ph.D. in American Literature and creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.