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review 2018-06-20 20:32
Review: Look for Me
Look for Me (D. D. Warren) - Lisa Gardner

Review - Look For Me

 

I received a copy from Netgalley 

 

This was something I received from one of those read it now for the first 100 members or so. Is usually like murder mysteries and police procedurals so this one caught my eye and I was lucky and quick enough to get in on the read it now. 

 

However, I didn't realise at the time it was book 9 in an on going detective series. I did flit through some of the mixed reviews on Goodreads and it looks like each book can be read as a stand alone, but of course, coming in on book 9 there's background history to the characters and things about on going relationships you're just not going to know. 

 

And frankly, the whole thing was kind of bland. The mystery itself was intriguing enough, a family is found murdered, working mom and her boyfriend, and two young children, the teenage daughter and the family dogs are missing. Is the daughter a victim for is she the suspect? And as the investigation continues the narrative is twisted so it could be either one. 

 

It's a tough case, and the family and the teen girl in question were the only characters I really felt anything for. The mom was a recovering alcoholic who lost her children and worked really hard to get them back. The oldest daughter was the one who took care of the family until CPS got involved and the kids were forced into care. The two sisters stayed together but they were separated from the youngest child, a new kind of hell to deal with. The girls went through a nightmare in the foster care group home they were assigned to. The mom pulled herself together met the legal requirements for having her kids returned to her. Life wasn't easy but it was getting better. They moved and started fresh. 

 

Then mom met a new boyfriend. A decent guy, but he lived in the area where the nightmare group home was. 

 

And now there is a tragedy. The two detectives have to piece together what happened to the family. I didn't get much feeling for either of the two detectives, everything felt - at least to me -  two dimensional, boring and wooden. The emotion came from the family drama, and some of the history of what happened to them learned through a series of essays written by the missing teenager about what family means to her. 

 

There's a second non-official investigator on the case, a woman called Flora, who seems to be some sort of victims' advocate. She survived a horrible tragedy herself (the plot of a previous book in the series) linking her with the detectives. She's struggling to cope but getting on with her life by running a support group for other victims. She was an interesting character, I am actually kind of interested in knowing more about Flora. She became a key part in solving the mystery and helping unravel the case.

 

The end was a bit eye rolling and over dramatic for my tastes . I'm not interested in going out and get all the other books in this series. I may try this author again in a different series. While the characters were a little dull, there was enough intrigue in the case itself to keep reading to know what happened. And I didn't actually guess what happened.

 

Thank you Netgalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for the opportunity to view the title.

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review 2018-06-15 13:34
Stalker by Lisa Stone
Stalker - Lisa Stone

Stalker is the first book by Lisa Stone I have read, but I can guarantee it won't be the last. The premise of this book is simple enough - a Home Security man who gives his clients that little bit more, even though they don't know about it.

 

This was a well-paced novel, with plenty of action and suspense to guarantee you keep turning the pages. The scary part of this book is that it is all so simple, and in this day and age, so many options. There were parts that I knew were coming, however that didn't detract from the story in any way. There were still so many questions that needed answering.

 

With well-defined characters and situations, I found Stalker to be excellently written, with no editing or grammatical errors that jolted me out of the story. Absolutely recommended by me!

 

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and my comments here are my honest opinion. *

 

Merissa

Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

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review 2018-06-12 13:47
My one-hundred and fourth podcast is up!
 Margaret Cavendish: Gender, Science and Politics - Lisa M. Walters

My latest podcast is up on the New Books Network! In it I interview Lisa Walters about her study of the thought of the 17th century writer and philosopher Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Enjoy!

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text 2018-06-04 08:10
Book Blitz - Clutch

Clutch
Lisa Becker
Publication date: Original 2015; Re-release 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

** Now with five new bonus chapters **

Clutch is the laugh-out-loud, chick lit romance chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags – the “Hobo” starving artist, the “Diaper Bag” single dad, the “Briefcase” intense businessman, etc. With her best friend, bar owner Mike by her side, the overly-accommodating Caroline drinks a lot of Chardonnay, puts her heart on the line, endures her share of unworthy suitors and finds the courage to discover the “Clutch” or someone she wants to hold onto.

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Audiobook listeners can get a free copy of Clutch on Audible if you sign up for a 30 day trial!

 

 

 

 

 

EXCERPT:

 

Mimi Johnson was casually dressed in a brightly-colored blouse with enormous turquoise jewelry and equally-oversized glasses. Despite that largesse, the only thing truly bigger than her personality (and her bosom) was her handbag. Always perfectly matched to her clothing, shoes, and jewelry, she was like a walking Chico’s advertisement, if you added forty years, forty pounds, and a Virginia Slims cigarette. From her Mary Poppins-like bag, she pulled out a box, impeccably-wrapped in glossy pink paper with a white grosgrain ribbon bow. A cigarette teetered between her two fingers while she produced a lung-hacking cough.

 

“Open it… <cough, cough> …sweetie. Open it,” she said to her seven-year-old great niece, Caroline, a beautiful and vibrant girl with long blonde hair and oversized blue eyes.

 

Alive with anticipation, sweet young Caroline eagerly took the box and smiled up at Mimi. She gingerly removed the ribbon, planning to save it for later. The glossy paper was of less interest and she ripped through it quickly. She opened the box and gently lifted out a hot pink purse, adorned with pale pink flowers and rhinestones. An enormous smile overcame her. Caroline nearly set her own hair on fire from Mimi’s cigarette as she bounded into her aunt’s arms.

 

“Oh, thank you, Aunt Mimi. It’s lovely.”

 

And that was when Caroline’s love of handbags began. From big and loud ones that would make Mimi proud to unimposing wristlets, from bowler bags to satchels; it didn’t matter if they were made of canvas or calf-skin leather, were distressed or embellished with metal studs. Hell, she didn’t care if you called them pocketbooks or purses. She just loved them all – almost as much as she loved Mimi.

 

By the time she was a junior in high school and well on her way to being class valedictorian, it was the hundreds of bags Caroline owned that helped her conceptualize her ticket out of her suffocating small Georgian town. She would design handbags. And it was Mimi who was her steadfast cheerleader.

 

“Caroline, sweetie… <cough, cough> …you find something you love and you just hold onto it.” It had never mattered if Caroline was asking Mimi’s advice about a friend, lover, or career. The advice was always the same: “Find something you love and hold onto it.”

Mimi’s words ever-present in her mind, Caroline headed to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and spent four years in Los Angeles learning everything there was to know to pursue her passion. Then, right out of college, she spent three years working in the design and marketing departments of two of the world’s leading, high-end handbag designers.

 

She was schooled in beauty and how to accessorize the perfectly-coiffed women on the way to their Botox appointments. But Caroline was pulled by the nagging feeling that the very person who had inspired her career, Mimi, could never afford the bags she designed, even if Caroline used her generous employee discount on Mimi’s behalf. And God forbid Mimi would ever accept one as a gift, always preferring to give rather than receive. But Caroline believed there was no reason for anyone to be denied the ultimate in accessories. She saw an untapped market of designing beautiful and affordable bags, but she just wasn’t sure she was start-up potential. Again, it was Mimi who nudged her to learn the business side of things and apply to MBA programs. When Caroline was accepted to Harvard Business School, Mimi, of course, encouraged her.

 

“You’ve got this, sweetie. <cough, cough>,” she said. “It’s in the bag.”

 

 

•••

 

 

Caroline was sitting in Financial Reporting and Control on her first day of Harvard classes (and yes, the class turned out to be as boring as it sounded). That’s when she first eyed Mike, who was wearing a faded pair of Levi jeans, a washed-out vintage Rolling Stones T-shirt, and Converse sneakers. He oozed charisma. Turning her head away from him and back toward the front of the lecture hall, Caroline thought that if he were a handbag, he would be a grey leather tote – confident and dependable, but not trying too hard.

 

Mike surveyed the large lecture hall as he walked in, a Starbucks coffee cup in each hand. After descending the steps slowly, he took a seat next to Caroline and planted one of the white and green cups on her desk.

 

Flashing a wide, dimpled smile, which she mused he reserved for getting girls to drop their panties, he said, “Here. You look like you’re going to need this.”

 

“Thanks,” she replied in a suspicious tone, turning her head sideways to look at him and raising an eyebrow.

 

“I’m Mike,” he said, again flashing a smile and reaching out for a handshake.

 

“I’m Caroline. Thanks for the…”

 

“Latte.”

 

“Latte,” she confirmed. “Thanks. But just so you know, I’m not gonna sleep with you,” she said in an apparent attempt to establish up front she wasn’t taken in by his obvious charm.

 

“I know,” he replied matter-of-fact.

 

Before she could respond, Professor Beauregard, a stout man with excessive eyebrows, spoke up. “Please take note of where you are seated. I will send around a seating chart for you to mark your spot. This will be your seat for the remainder of the semester.”

 

“Looks like we’ll be seatmates,” Mike said, grinning at her.

 

“Looks like it.”

 

 

•••

 

 

About three months into the first semester, Caroline learned that her fun-loving, easy-going, new best buddy Mike wasn’t exactly who he appeared to be.

 

A blanket of white snow dusted the Harvard grounds and it was a particularly slow day in another mutual class, LEAD – Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Professor Moss, a frail man who weighed less than his years, was droning on and on about establishing productive relationships with subordinates or something to that effect. He initiated a discussion about what works better – the carrot or stick approach.

 

“Mr. Barnsworth,” he called, referring to his seating chart and scanning the room until he found Mike in the fifth row. “What are your thoughts?”

 

“Well, it seems to me that good management is all about empathy and being able to enthuse and inspire your staff. You know, appreciating them and respecting them. Showing you care,” he said, placing his hand over his heart in a gesture of true compassion and concern. “And if they can’t get that through their thick skulls, you fire ‘em,” he continued, drawing his finger across his throat.

 

Several students sitting around them started to chuckle while Caroline stifled a laugh. Mike looked around the room and nodded his head, soaking in the appreciation of his sense of humor.

 

“Mr. Barnsworth,” said Professor Moss in a menacing tone, “I would have expected a better answer from you, considering your family history.”

 

Confused by the conversation unfolding before her, Caroline leaned over and whispered to Mike, “What is he talkin’ about?” Mike put up a hand to quiet her.

 

“Later,” he hissed.

 

Twenty minutes later, the two shared a bench outside Baker Library, the chill of winter causing Caroline to pull her scarf closer around her neck.

 

“What was that all about?” she asked, scrunching up her nose in confusion.

 

Reluctantly, Mike began to speak. “My full name is Michael Frederick Barnsworth the Third. My family owns a large brokerage firm in New York,” he confessed, unsure of how Caroline would react.

 

Caroline listened as she took in just how old money his family really was. Mike’s great, great, great, great – actually it was hard to keep track of how many “greats” it went back – grandfather ran the first Bank of the United States, which Congress chartered in the early 1800s. His family had advised presidents, dined with royalty, and amassed a fortune that continued today through the Barnsworth Brokerage Firm.

 

“I’m the seventh person in my family to attend Harvard including my father, uncle, three cousins, and grandfather, who was a classmate of Professor Moss,” he continued.

 

Surprised by this unexpected news, she joked, “So you’re just slummin’ with a simple Southern girl like me – and makin’ me pay for drinks, mind you – until you go join the family business and marry someone named Muffy…”

 

“That’s my family’s plan,” Mike laughed. “There’s even an office in the Woolworth Building owned by my family, sitting empty, until I finish business school,” he said reluctantly.

 

“But…” she pressed, touching his hand gently, sensing the family plan may not actually be Mike’s plan – though they had never discussed his plans before.

 

“I want to open a bar,” he said, matter of fact and looking her square in the eye.

Caroline’s head leaned back as she let out a raucous laugh. “You want to own a bar?” she questioned, her shoulders shaking from laughter. “Now I get your goal to drink at every one of the six hundred bars in Boston before you graduate.”

 

“Yup, it’s research,” he said emphatically.

 

“Research?”

 

“Yeah. Every time my parents call, which isn’t very often – they are usually off with their snobby society friends or at Met Balls – I tell them I’m working hard and doing research.”

“Gotta give you credit. That’s pretty clever,” she replied, nodding her head.

 

“And true. If I’m going to open the best bar ever, I need to know what works and what doesn’t.”

 

“Okay. I get why you don’t want to be a wizard of Wall Street. But why a bar?” she asked, not understanding his desire for the life of a bar back.

 

“My parents weren’t around a lot growing up. My father spent more time in the office than my mother spent jetting between boutiques in Paris and ski chalets in Switzerland. And believe me, that was a lot,” he confessed. Caroline looked down in her lap, her heart sinking at the thought of the small boy with the winning smile being ignored by his family.

 

“I was pretty much raised by a series of au pairs. My favorite was Linnea who was nineteen when she came from Sweden to live with our family. She was obsessed with Tom Cruise movies and we would watch them all the time,” he explained, a wistful look on his face as he recalled fond memories.

 

“Cocktail!” Caroline exclaimed.

 

“Yup, I want to be the sole proprietor of a place where you can shake margaritas bare-chested,” Mike laughed. “It’s going to be called The Last Drop,” he stated, not looking for her approval.

 

“Great name,” she admitted, nodding her head. “Especially when your folks drop kick you out of the family.”

 

“I know. I’m preparing to be disowned, which is why I’m getting you used to buying the drinks,” he said, flashing her a smile.

 

“Well with any luck my business will allow me to continue payin’ for drinks.”

 

“The purse thing?”

 

“Yes. The purse thing,” she said, mocking him. “I aim to start a line called Clutch, because it’s one of my favorite handbag styles, and in honor of my aunt Mimi. She always says ‘Find somethin’ you love and just hold onto it.’”

 

“Sounds like a smart lady.”

 

 

 

Author Bio:

 

Lisa Becker is a romance writer whose previous novels include Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click. The books, about a young woman's search for love online in Los Angeles, have been called, “a fast read that will keep you entertained,” “a fun, quick read for fans of Sex and the City,” and “hard to put down.” The first in the series was optioned for a major motion picture.

 

Her latest novel, Links, is a second chance romance that explores what happens when two high school classmates have a chance encounter after 15 years. #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken called Links, "Witty, heartfelt and emotionally satisfying. Everything I want in a second chance romance! Once I picked it up I couldn't put it down!"

Lisa’s writings about online dating have been featured in Cupid’s Pulse, GalTime.com, Single Edition, The Perfect Soulmate, Chick Lit Central and numerous other book blogs and websites.

 

As Lisa's grandmother used to say, "For every chair, there's a rush." Lisa is now happily married to a man she met online and lives in Manhattan Beach with him and their two daughters. So, if it happened for her, there’s hope for anyone!

 

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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review 2018-05-27 16:43
The author presents parent/child conflicts using immigration as its driving force.
The Leavers: A Novel - Lisa Ko

The Leavers, The Leavers, Lisa Ko, author, Emily Woo Zeller, narrator

There are many reasons why this book received so many accolades, the foremost, I believe, is because it is about current political issues. It attempts to present the plight of the immigrant, emphasis not on immigrant, or illegal immigrant, but rather on undocumented workers. I believe that the author was actually sympathetic to the “undocumented worker ignoring the illegal status. If you are progressive in your beliefs, and you believe in open borders, this book is for you. If not, it may be very disturbing for other reasons. Each of the characters seemed to blame others for their missteps. Each ignored the fact that their troubles, although real and devastating, were caused by their own choices, choices to disobey the laws of the United States. Each seemed to believe that he/she had the right to break the law.

Gou Peilin was a willful and stubborn young teenager from Fuzhou, China. She did as she pleased, defying rules and regulations. Girls were not permitted to do many of the things that boys were, and she bristled and did them anyway. She rarely thought of the consequences of her actions. She went to Beijing to work in a factory and took up with her former boyfriend, Haifeng. She was unworldly and naïve. When she found herself pregnant, she decided she did not want to tell him, although he truly wanted to marry her. Desperate for freedom and a different life, she tried to abort the baby and never informed him that she was pregnant. In China, however, she encountered a bureaucracy she could not navigate, and so she could not end her pregnancy in a timely fashion.

In desperation, she borrowed money from loan sharks and obtained false papers, bought passage to America and began what she hoped would be a new life. Her debts were enormous, in the end, upwards of $50,000 that had to be repaid. Still, she was exhilarated when she arrived in America, and she gave little thought to motherhood or her future. She was painfully naïve and unaware of the fact that at seven months along, she could not abort the child, even in the United States where abortions were more accessible. She was soon to be a working, single mother, and her life was about to become even more difficult.

Her situation grew dire as she struggled to work and raise her son in New York City. However, one day, she met Leon and they fell in love. She moved in with him, to his apartment in the Bronx, and he cared for her and her son, Deming, now a toddler. Leon’s sister Vivian had been abandoned, and she also lived there with her son Michael. Peilin, worked as a nail technician, but as time passed, now known as Polly, Peilin had dreams of a better life. Leon, however, was not legal either, and he was content to stay where he was. He would not abandon his sister, and she also refused to move.   

When ICE raided the nail salon where Polly worked, she was rounded up and sent to a place called Ardsleyville, in Texas. It was a detention camp, based on the Willacy (County), detention camp in Texas. She was quickly lost in a system that was overwhelmed with illegals. No one could find her or help her. The telephone there did not work. When she was permitted one call, she did not accurately recall any phone number, so she could not reach out for help. For more than a year, she lived in terrible conditions, even solitary confinement. Although her own actions had caused her plight, she was angry with everyone else, and the horrific conditions she was forced to endure, changed her forever.

Deming, her son, was lost to her when he was adopted by a white couple, both academics, and brought up as an American, losing much of his Chinese heritage. His name was changed from Deming Guo to Daniel Wilkinson. His new parents, Kay and Peter, had their own ideas about what his future should be, but it did not match his own ideas, which, if truth be told, were all over the place. Still, his birth mom encouraged his music, and they discouraged it. His mom allowed him more freedom and they made more rules. Soon, he felt he did not fit in anywhere, not in the white world or the Chinese world, not in the United States or in China. He seemed destined to failure, as he, like his birth mother, made one foolish choice after another. Although his parents wanted a more traditional life for him, with a college degree and a stable future, he chose to drink too much, became addicted to gambling and had dreams of being a famous guitarist. He was talented, but seemed to always set himself up for failure by never adequately preparing for the task before him.

The fact that he was adopted into a different racial family seemed to weigh heavily upon him, and he didnot feel comfortable in most situations. He was also adopted as a boy of 12, so although grateful for his life and his new family, which was far different from the life of poverty he lived with his mother, both lifestyles offered different advantages to him, which he struggled to understand and appreciate.

As the decades passed, the reader was given a window into the world of the undocumented immigrant/illegal alien’s struggles in the United States. However, as they rail against the injustices that they must endure, they seem to fail to recognize their own complicity in the shaping of the situation.

I did not find myself liking the characters or their behavior. I found them self-serving and irresponsible. They made a choice to enter a country illegally and were upset when they were arrested for doing so. They contrived all sorts of ways to try and become legal, with false papers, through marriage, etc., once in the states, but often were unsuccessful. The illegality of their behavior seemed inconsequential. They came for the opportunity America offered, although in China they did not suffer terribly from deprivation. The problem was that there were few opportunities to leave the peasant class, in China, and that seemed to be the driving force behind Peilan’s often erratic behavior and dreams. She wanted to succeed, to get ahead, to accomplish something more.

I thought the book was too long. The timeline was often confusing, and the subject matter jumped from topic to topic, sometimes without fully exploring and developing the one before beginning another. When the book ended, I was surprised, since there were still many loose ends that were not tied up. Did Deming, now Daniel, ever find or meet his real biological father? Did his biological father, Haifeng, ever discover that Deming was his son? What happened to Yong, Polly’s husband, after she went to Hong Kong? Would she ever get to America to see Deming again? Which life did Daniel wind up identifying with, his Chinese or his American? Was the author for or against interracial adoption, for or against illegal immigration? Did Deming/Daniel or Peilin/Polly ever find out what they truly wanted, who they really wanted to be? Did they find what they were searching for? Did Daniel feel out of place because he was adopted into a white family? Could that white family truly understand what he needed as a young Chinese boy? Children who were adopted as infants seemed to fare better in the story. Was that a fact? Although the characters seem to take great risks, they seemed ignorant of the rules and completely naïve about the chances they were taking.

The struggles Deming felt about his parents and his responsibility toward each was troubling for him. To whom did he owe the most allegiance? Who was his true mother? Was it the mother who wanted him desperately and chose a grown boy to raise, or the mother who had never wanted to be a mother in the first place, who had been unable to find him and who stopped searching for him, eventually pretending he no longer existed?

The immigrant plight seemed to be conflated by the author with the illegal immigrant plight, and the issues were not clearly defined or developed. The characters were surprised when their foolish decisions had unpleasant consequences. It was as if they decided they could make their own rules and the laws of the country were immaterial. Should the laws of a country be defied or ignored? None of the questions I raised were ever answered.

In the end, there was one conclusion that stood out for me. Somewhere, someone in the book said, Americans were not all white. The converse is that in China, the Chinese are all Chinese. The book may actually have pointed out an interesting idea that is often not discussed. It is hard to assimilate; it is hard to overcome the stares and the inherent bias and confusion of people who see things they do not understand. We tend to oversimplify our problems in America with a one-size fits all solution.

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