Sunday, November 13, 2022

Encore! "The Second Ending" by Michelle Hoffman

Prudence Childs was a child pianist so gifted that her talent was noticed by her first piano teacher at the age of 3. After being abandoned by her hippie parents, she was raised by her ruthless and manipulative grandmother who pushed her to become a world renowned prodigy.

But that was years ago and Prudence has become an empty nester, with both her daughters now off to college. She loved being a mom, and now is suffering from an ennui that her devoted husband is at a loss to cure. She mopes around the house accompanied by her tiny dog, turning down even his offer for her to join him on his business trip to London. Then he has an idea for something to shake her up. He tracks down her one of a kind childhood piano.

Meanwhile, Alexei Petrov, an equally talented pianist, has gone from Russian obscurity to star of a highly rated TV reality series called Dueling Piano Wars. Living in LA, he has his own emotional issues, having been guided throughout his career by his mother, who controls most aspects of his life, even from thousands of miles away in Paris.

What happens to both these amazing musicians makes this one of the most enchanting and heartfelt stories the Recommender has read in ages. Prudence and Alexei are both such delightful characters you wish they were real so could hear them play! 

The Second Ending by Ms. Hoffman (a real pianist!) is a book I'll be talking about and recommending to all my favorite Library patrons! Thank you to NetGalley for the DRC!

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Puppet Master: "How to Sell a Haunted House": Grady Hendrix


Grady Hendrix is an author who will surprise you with normal, every day scenes and jump into the most insane thing you've ever read! His new book, How to Sell a Haunted House has to be one of the insaniest!

San Francisco based single mom, Louise, is happily raising her adorable daughter, Poppy, when she gets a call from her long estranged brother, Mark. Their parents have both been killed in a car accident! Oh no! He has plans for their funeral that she doesn't agree with! She will have to bring herself to return to her home, which she has avoided doing for years! So, after explaining what death is to Poppy, something her mother never did, and thinking a good mom should be open about these things, she now has to leave her traumatized daughter with her ex.

Landing in Charleston, she arrives at her parents place in her rented Kia.  Investigating the outside, she hears voices from within. Entering, she realizes the TV was on. Her parents must have left the house in a hurry. There was her Dad's cane, he wouldn't just leave that. Looking around she takes in all the dolls. Her mother's vast collection. The dolls fill every space, cabinet and shelf. And two of the biggest, named after her and her brother, occupy her Dad's chair. With the remote lodged between them. What could be creepier?

Maybe the fact that their mother was a Christian puppeteer, and that she had a work space filled floor to ceiling with her beloved characters, the ones she traveled with and did shows with. Louise hated the dolls. She hated the puppets. She maybe resented her brother, who her Mom always seemed to favor and make excuses for. But she was a grown-up now. She could work with him to settle everything and move on, and never look back.

Could things be that easy? People did these kinds of things every day. Except for... remember this name, PUPKIN! The beloved hand puppet their Mom had since she, herself, was a little girl. 

You will have to read How to Sell a Haunted House yourself and you should, because you will never forget Pupkin, one of the most memorable and creepy (and almost sympathetic) creations in fiction. If you think Grady Hendrix had done it all in The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires, he has even outdone that moment everyone remembers (one word: raccoon)! 

Thank you to NetGalley for letting me read this unforgettable craziness of a DRC!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Next Chapter: "The Roughest Draft" by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka


Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were once two friends who met at a Writer's Retreat and then became best selling co-authors. A lot happened in the 3 years since the end of their partnership. Things ended badly. Why, was a mystery neither would talk about. Nor have they spoken with each other since then.

Nathan's first novel  on his own didn't take off as he'd hoped. Meanwhile, Katrina, married to their former agent, hasn't written a word since.

Then their publisher tells them they owe one more book as co-writers to fulfill their contract. Katrina's husband wants her to be the literary superstar he was originally attracted to. He's pushing her to write with Nathan again. It doesn't seem like anyone cares about her feelings.

Nathan, too, has fears. His own book didn't sell the way their co-written titles did. Is he doomed to a life of co-authorship? And yet, their work together had a great chemistry that brought their characters alive for each other and for a vast readership.

So, they both agree, half-heartedly, to once again meet up in the Florida retreat where they wrote their mega-seller. 

What happens next makes for an absolutely engaging read! Nathan and Katrina come to life in these pages. We follow their ups and downs and tentative re-connection as writers.
It's a book that will pull you in and keep you reading till the very end! 

Also written by coauthors, who happen to be a husband and wife team, you wonder how much of Katrina and Nathan's life was based on their own! This one is highly recommended for anyone who wonders about the writing process when two authors write together, or just enjoy great characters who just happen to be writers!
Thank you to NetGalley for the DRC!

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Teen Angels: "Forgotten" by Laura DeLuca ( Dark Musicals: New Cast )


Lord Justyn Patko and his beautiful wife, Lady Rebecca, have been together since High School. They went from being the stars of  their drama club to becoming the darlings of Broadway. They have also faced their fair share of drama off the stage, with various real life villains.  
They are also parents. Their son, a superstar in his own right, Erik is now 16 and with a driver's license. He is given the best present ever! Justyn's vintage black mustang! Erik can hardly wait to take it out for a spin, and even though it's a winter night, he convinces his cautious family that he can handle it. Instead, after a spin through Central Park, he is t-boned by a drunk driver.

Now, months later, he is scarred for life with a damaged leg, leaving him limping. He is angry at himself and angry at his Dad, for gifting him with an unsafe vehicle. No matter what Justyn does, Erik blames him. Not only that, they have moved to their New Jersey beach home and Erik and his sister, Harmony, will be going to a local Catholic school. Can things get any worse for Erik?

The only bright spot, is realizing the first love of his life, Evie, goes there. They last saw each other as kids. Now, here they were. Evie had grown into a beautiful young woman. Will these two teens pick up where they left off, long ago? What's in store for the Patko family? The Dark Musical series by Laura DeLuca has been one of my favorites and Forgotten, with the "new cast" series is no exception! Start with Phanntom, and follow the saga of Justyn and Rebecca from the very beginning!

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Jungle Girl: "The Daughter of Doctor Moreau" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia


H. G. Wells Island of Dr. Moreau was one of my favorite books as a girl. The hybrid humans and their crazy creator was fascinating and the 1930's movie with Charles Laughton really captured the spirit of  Wells' characters.
Speaking of capturing Mr. Wells spirit, Silvia Moreno-Garcia's Daughter of Doctor Moreau  does it beautifully! Ms. Moreno-Garcia's new book is a brilliant, evocative take on the classic. 
Dr. Moreau's beautiful daughter, Carlota, grows up on the island paradise that is their home and also a compound with a hospital. Her best friends are about her age, Lupe and Cachita.  They are hybrids created by the doctor and engaging characters who will win your heart as you fall into the rhythm life in the exotic retreat. 
Disruptions to their every day life are caused by Doctor Moreau's patron, Hernando Lizalde. It's his money that keeps the place going and enables the doctor to carry on with his research and "experiments". One day he shows up and brings a new manager, or mayordomo, to oversee Lizalde's property, the doctor and everyone and everything else. The man who will be filling the role is Montgomery.
Montgomery is an alcoholic and a sardonic presence. He's a man who has seen it all and drinks to forget the beautiful, rich wife who left him in the Yucatan, where he could never make the kind of living she expected. 
An outsider, he is slowly drawn into life with the doctor and his creations and develops a special soft spot for Carlota.
Told in the alternating voices of Carlota and Montgomery we learn more about them both as time passes and with it possible changes and threats to their idyllic life. What happens will keep you reading until the last page! 
 I love Ms. Moreno-Garcia's work, having read Mexican Gothic and reviewed it on this blog. I will be looking forward to reading more of her titles. The Daughter of Doctor Moreau is one of the best books I've read recently and I was completely involved in the world and the characters the author created. If you are looking for a great book to enjoy this summer...or anytime, look no further! 
Thanks to NetGalley for the DRC!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Winners and Losers: "Why Would I Lie?" by Adi Rule


Viveca North is smart. And she has an unbelievably strong focus and work ethic. These things took her from her town High School to the more upscale, elite school where she is on track to becoming valedictorian. The highest honor a school bestows and those two things might make it possible to go to her dream college. The one her mother had gone to.

Meanwhile, she has to make it through Senior year. She has a wonderful friend, Wren, who is a theatre kid and a comics geek and has so many friends, that Viveca can't help but be drawn into this crowd, despite feeling like a loner the rest of her life.

All looks good until the arrival of a new kid. Jamison Sharpe. A blonde Adonis with a back story and creds that make him the new center of attention at Elton Prep. What is it he said to Viveca, on first meeting her, that makes her take a closer look at this super star? Something about being on line to be valedictorian at his previous school. The one in Paris. 

From this first meeting, author Adi Rule draws us into the story and we watch, well read, everything  Viveca has to deal with. Her home life is far from perfect. Her father is a man who likes to make himself seem more important to everyone on the outside, especially to his girlfriend, even if it's at the expense of his own daughter. And there's her suspicions about the ever charming Jamison Sharpe. Is she right to question his integrity? And why have so many of her classmates joined his ever growing fan base? Is it jealousy,  or is something sinister going on?

Viveca's not perfect, and she often acts before thinking things through, sometimes impulsively ignoring Wren's advice. Despite her flaws the reader is on Viveca's side! Will the future she fought so hard for slip away while Mr. Sharpe continues to climb? Get a copy of this riveting story! It will keep you up all night worrying about Viveca until you find out how it all plays out! Thank you to Edelweiss/ Above the Tree Line for the DRC!

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Tell-Tale Heart : "Nora Goes Off Script" by Annabel Monaghan

 I have read a string of great books, recently. Books I absolutely loved! But Annabel Monaghan's Nora Goes Off Script is perhaps my favorite of them. The author made me fall in love with her characters (Leo!!)  and the story around them and made me want to visit and hang out and be besties with them, too!

Nora Hamilton is living in the country on and old farm that has a unique feature, an old stone building with a fires place and a view of the woods that you can see straight through when the door is left open. It is here that Nora, a scriptwriter for a romance TV channel, does her writing.

She is now a single mom of two kids. Her husband blew through his trust fund and used up most of the money she earned on his failed ideas and business plans. Then, he has the audacity to dump HER! Then, she realizes she is relieved he's gone!

So, she does what any writer might do in her circumstances. She writes a script dealing with that disaster of a marriage and sells it, not to the Romance Channel, but to Hollywood! And then, not long after, a film crew shows up complete with maybe the two most famous actors in Hollywood or on the planet! Leo Vance and Naomi Sanchez will be playing Nora and her ex! Can her life get any crazier?

 We shall see! Because what follows is one of the funniest, heartbreaking-ist and endearing stories you will read next year (as it isn't released until June! Put that release date on your calendar!)! A BIG thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC! I'll be recommending this one a lot!