Genre: Thriller

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Book Review: Coptown

July 26, 2014 Book Review, reviews 5

Book Review: CoptownCoptown by Karin Slaughter
Published by Delacorte Press on June 24th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 416
Source: purchased
Amazon
Goodreads

 

Atlanta, Georgia, 1974.  Racial tensions are high.  Women are pushing the standard.  Anyone not white male is suspect and marginalized.  Enter Maggie, a female cop in a family of cops, but not one of the family.  Maggie is pushed, belittled, abused and in essence “encouraged” to find a man, have babies and let the men do the real jobs.  Maggie’s not giving in, not giving up.  Trained by Gail, a hardened chain-smoking undercover playing prostitute, Maggie has learned how to let most of the squad’s antics roll off of her back.  The antics of her bigoted self-righteous uncle and golden-boy brother not so much.

Coptown begins with Katy joining the force and Maggie stuck with the blonde, buxom Dutch from the ritzy side of town known to this day as Buckhead.  The day Katy enters the station for roll call is the first day after Maggie’s brother escaped “The Shooter” by carrying his injured partner ten blocks to Grady Hospital on a bum knee.  The station is in an uproar as this is the third pair of cops targeted by The Shooter.  The women on the force are expected to handle minor offenses while the ‘real men’ go after the bad guys.  That means all the male cops are rounding up anyone who moves or breathes on the street and not really doing any detecting.  Maggie’s not having that though – her brother was shot and, though they don’t speak, she’s got his back.  But Maggie is also stuck with a newbie.

The character development of Maggie and Kate weaves in and out like a beautiful tapestry.  The partners are completely different from one another yet their stories overlap to create this perfect symbiotic relationship.  The strength of both women awed me but it was their weaknesses that revealed the true strength of Kate and Maggie.

I’ve seen a couple of presentations by Karin Slaughter at the Decatur Book Festival and she is such an engaging speaker that immerses herself in research before writing her novels and, man, does it show.  Y’all know I’m from North Georgia so having Atlanta as the backdrop was especially great for me.  But Slaughter didn’t just make Atlanta a backdrop – she made Atlanta a living, breathing entity.  {from the author’s Acknowledgments: “Please keep in mind that Atlanta is not just one city — every experience is unique.}.  From Cabbage Town to Buckhead to Grady Hospital, Slaughter had me nodding my head and thankful she gets the city.  Of course she should as she’s from Atlanta!

Since finishing Coptown I’ve been asking those in the know about their experiences in the early 1970’s.  To see what these women went through in order to bust through the system and be on the police force it’s astonishing they survived!  Same with every other population not white male – the Jewish culture was still reeling from WWII AND prejudice on the home front not to mention what the blacks were going through.

Coptown is on my very short list of most favorite books for 2014.  Coptown has everything a good thriller should have and yet so much more – great characters, a plot that just does not slow down, evil bad guys and even evil good guys.  Don’t miss this one if you like a good thriller.  The only reason you’ll put it down is to take a deep breath between chapters {especially if you fit into any of the marginalized society populations – black, Jewish, female, Chinese, Japanese, purple dinosaur, etc}.

Do share – what sticks out in your memory of 1974?

 

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Book Review: That Night

June 17, 2014 Book Review, reviews 8

Book Review:  That NightThat Night by Chevy Stevens
Published by St. Martin's Press on June 17th, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Pages: 384
Source: complimentary review copy
Amazon
Goodreads

 

That Night opens with Toni being released from prison after serving sixteen years.  Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were both tried and convicted of Toni’s little sister, Nicole’s, death while they were in high school. Now that Toni is released she finally tries to figure out what really happened “that night.”

The novel goes between Ryan and Toni’s days in high school during the ’90s, Toni’s life in the penitentiary and finally Toni and Ryan’s release from prison.  Normally I really enjoy when a novel goes between time periods but in That Night I struggled with ‘liking’ Toni or even empathizing with her during her stint in high school and even in the pen.  Toni was horribly bullied by the mean girl clique in high school, and while incarcerated she suffered from the same fate.  I wanted her to stand up for herself; fight; tell; do something rather than continue to play the victim.  I was so frustrated for the first half of the book and the build up to discovering what really happened to sister Nicole but fortunately I held on. . . . .

Once the clues started unfolding, That Night became an unputdownable.  Discovering the clues alongside Toni and the slow realization of the truth is darkly gripping.  We finally begin to see a thread of growth and character in Toni which only adds to the tension of the storyline.  The Justice System is a character in itself and provides much fodder for disgust and frustration.  Having worked in the court systems and seen first hand the travesties only made That Night seem that much more real.  Stevens certainly did her homework on the pros and cons of the entire criminal justice system AND on mean girl mentalities; i.e. bullying.

This was not my favorite Chevy Stevens novel, Still Missing will probably always be my favorite; but That Night does deliver a heck of a last half.  It’s also one that had me reflecting on the time period my daughters were in high school and how bullying has become so prevalent {or is it that we are finally talking about it, naming it, and confronting the problem?}  So in the aspect of leaving the reader with a bit to think about, Stevens certainly succeeds.

For more information on bullying Jodee Blanco’s Please Stop Laughing at Me is an excellent resource.

Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the complimentary review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Book Review: The Accident

April 18, 2014 Book Review, reviews 8

Book Review:  The AccidentThe Accident by Chris Pavone
Published by Crown Publishing Group on March 11, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 400
Source: complimentary review copy
Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through the explosive revelations about powerful people, as well as long-hidden secrets about her own past. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals with publication of The Accident, while always looking over his shoulder.

The Accident is to publishing as The Devil Wears Prada is to fashion magazines.  It reads like an expose of the publishing industry and is a wild roller coaster ride following the assassinations and intrigue.  And there are quite a few bodies piling up throughout.  Each turn of the page brought a new plot detail into the open.  I was guessing all the way to the very last page.

I have not read The Expats (Pavone’s first novel) yet but intend to do so very soon.  If you like a good suspenseful thriller with lots of espionage, secrecy, and shock-value then you will probably enjoy The Accident.  It will have you asking questions like how well do we know the ones we love? and wow! is the publishing world really that intense?  And how well do we trust the government to serve the people?

Pavone’s writing is sharp.  The plot is fast-moving.  I read The Accident in one sitting because I could never get to a pausing point – I was afraid of missing something 😉  I did have to suspend belief somewhat because I really hate to think the publishing world is that cutthroat.  The Accident was entertaining, a wonderful escape and immense fun.

Have you read The Accident?  What are your thoughts on this one?

 

If you purchase The Accident from Amazon or IndieBound, I will receive a small percentage at no cost to you.  This is very helpful in paying for hosting fees, giveaways and postage.  Thank you!

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Book Review: The Collector of Dying Breaths

March 4, 2014 Book Review, reviews 4

Book Review: The Collector of Dying BreathsThe Collector of Dying Breaths by M. J. Rose
Published by Simon and Schuster on April 2014
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Supernatural, Thriller
Pages: 384
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From the internationally bestselling author, a lush and imaginative novel that crisscrosses time as passion and obsessions collide Florence, Italy—1533: An orphan named René le Florentin is plucked from poverty to become Catherine de Medici’s perfumer.   Traveling with the young duchessina from Italy to France, René brings with him a cache of secret documents from the monastery where he was trained: recipes for exotic fra­grances and potent medicines—and a formula for an alchemic process said to have the poten­tial to reanimate the dead.  In France, René becomes not only the greatest perfumer in the country, but also the most dangerous, creating deadly poisons for his Queen to use against her rivals.  But while mixing herbs and essences under the light of flickering candles, René doesn’t begin to imag­ine the tragic and personal consequences for which his lethal potions will be responsible.

Paris, France—The Present: A renowned mythologist, Jac L’Etoile—trying to recover from personal heartache by throw­ing herself into her work—learns of the sixteenth-century perfumer who may have been working on an elixir that would unlock the secret to immortality.  She becomes obsessed with René le Florentin’s work—particularly when she discovers the dying breaths he had collected during his lifetime.  Jac’s efforts put her in the path of her estranged lover, Griffin North, a linguist who has already begun translating René le Flo­rentin’s mysterious formula. Together they confront an eccentric heiress in possession of a world-class art collection, a woman who has her own dark purpose for the elixir . . . for which she believes the ends will justify her deadly means.

This mesmerizing gothic tale zigzags from the violent days of Catherine de Medici’s court to twenty-first-century France.  Fiery and lush, set against deep, wild forests and dimly lit cha­teaus, The Collector of Dying Breaths illuminates the true path to immortality: the legacies we leave behind.

The third novel featuring mythologist and perfumer, Jacinda {Jac} L’Etoile, reveals the depth of Rose’s talent.  In The Book of Lost Fragrances we were introduced to Jac and her unique ability to see past lives; to actually experience the past life – stepping into a time warp and feeling the emotions, smelling the scents of the time period, and reliving the tragedies over and over.  In Seduction Jac stepped back into Victor Hugo’s time while in the present Jac was in a frantic hunt for her brother and closest family member. {and only immediate family member}.

“Every man had two souls,” he said.  And he was watching mine wage a battle with each other.  “You are strong Rene.  Tragedy has tempered you.  Your determination can be either your salvation or your ruin.  Go after what you want, but not ruthlessly.  Explore the ramifications.  Pay attention to cause and effect.  Weight your actions against your desires.  It’s critical you understand.” (p. 34)

The Collector of Dying Breaths is a deeply sensual novel – almost like City of Dark Magic but more philosophical about love and passion.  The writing is flawless, the characters grow exponentially, the bad guy is really, really flawed and Jac especially seems to finally come to terms with her gift/curse.  The passages about Rene le Florentine and Catherine de Medici are fascinating – learning how perfumery was seen as alchemy and sometimes even dark magic in that era was like watching an exceptional documentary on the Medici’s.

It is not imperative to read all three books in order but why would you not want to – watching as an author grows and expands, becoming better and better with each consecutive book ~ and that’s saying a lot as I’ve read every one of M.J. Rose’s novels!  The Jac L’Etoile series has shown great depth to Rose’s writing, becoming more literary and less paperback novelish {does that even make sense?}

All this I do for you.  To see you again.  To be with you again.  Please God, it will work.  Because without you I am lost to the world. (p.153)

If you are looking for exceptional literary suspense with a bit of fascinating history intwined then please rush out to pick up this series – M.J. Rose does not disappoint at all with the three novels and by the third you will be blown away by her ability to draw you in {and I do mean draw you in – I finished the last half of the book while sitting for FOUR hours at the DMV and almost missed my turn because I was reading and so lost inside The Collector of Dying Breaths!}

And is this cover not the BEST?!?  It’s so evocative, lush, dangerous . . .just like the book!  Read it and tell me what you think!

the collector of dying breaths book tour

 

Many many thanks to Amy and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for including me in another great historical fiction read!

 

 

m.j. roseAbout the Author

M.J. Rose is the international best selling author of fourteen novels and two non-fiction books on marketing. Her fiction and non-fiction has appeared in many magazines and reviews including Oprah Magazine. She has been featured in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, USA Today and on the Today Show, and NPR radio. Rose graduated from Syracuse University, spent the ’80s in advertising, has a commercial in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and since 2005 has run the first marketing company for authors – Authorbuzz.com. The television series PAST LIFE, was based on Rose’s novels in the Renincarnationist series. She is one of the founding board members of International Thriller Writers and runs the blog- Buzz, Balls & Hype. She is also the co-founder of Peroozal.com and BookTrib.com.

Rose lives in CT with her husband the musician and composer, Doug Scofield, and their very spoiled and often photographed dog, Winka.

For more information on M.J. Rose and her novels, please visit her website. You can also find her on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

 

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Book Review: The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress

February 27, 2014 Book Review, reviews 12

Book Review:  The Wife, The Maid and The MistressThe Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
Published by Random House LLC on January, 2014
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Thriller
Pages: 320
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

Every now and then a book comes along that just blows me away. I remember finishing this one and researching the facts of Justice Joseph Crater’s disappearance in 1930. Reading the novel only worked at piquing my interest ~ I was like a mad dog on the trail of a tasty bone. And it took me forever to write a review because I got caught up in googling the case once again!

If you’re not familiar with the case, Judge Joseph Crater disappeared in New York City after withdrawing over $5000 {a much larger sum in 1930 than in 2014}. The Wife, The Maid & The Mistress takes that case and looks at it from the viewpoint of the three women who knew him best ~ Stella, the Wife; Maria, the Maid and Ritzi, the Mistress and showgirl. The story begins 39 years after the Judge’s disappearance. Stella is sitting in the same smoky underground bar that her husband used to haunt. She’s there with two whiskeys on the table ~ one for her and one for her missing husband – a tradition she started the year after his disappearance.

We learn of the Judge’s not so great business dealings and his ties to notorious gangster Owney “The Killer” Madden. We learn how each of the three women in his life are indebted to Justice Crater and we learn how the list is quite long of individuals who would like to see the Judge gone for good.

Justice Joseph Crater

Photo Credit: New York Times

A whodunit based on an actual case and one that will keep you breathless til the very last page. The writing is engaging, the characters are very humanly flawed, and the pacing is spot on. I haven’t read many historical fiction accounts based on the ’20s but this one has me ready to read more. The whiskey flows, the smokey bars disguise, the clothes, the mannerisms, even the gangsters – The Wife, The Maid and The Mistress left me eager to read anything by Ariel Lawhon.  Her ability to make characters and situations seem so real is astounding. I was in that smokey bar with Ritzi and Judge Crater sitting across from Owen Madden and I was at that dinner party at the Crater’s home that had Maria working late and Stella being hostess and I was in that dressing room with all the showgirls when the Judge came walking in the room.  A gem of a novel and one that should not be missed. Highly, highly recommended.

About the Author  Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus).

To connect with Ariel Lawhon visit Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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