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! 

Monday, January 3, 2022

Blended Family: "The Unplanned Life" of Josie Hale by Stephanie Eding


Josie thought she had her happy ending. Until she found her husband with his assistant at the Veterinary clinic where they worked. This was after they tried to make a go of their marriage one more time! So she packed up, quit her job and left Chicago to head back to the small Illinois town where she grew up and  her parents' home. She never got to tell him the big news. That she was now pregnant. Instead, she's jobless, living with her parents, and feeling pretty pathetic.

To cheer herself up, she goes to the county fair, craving a corn dog, while also trying to keep a low profile from the home town friends she grew up with. No sooner does she park herself on a bench to eat when she is recognized by the last two people she expected to see, her old best friend, Kevin, and her high school crush, Ben.

Joining her table for lunch and catching up, she confesses all that happened to her and what a loser she feels like. Turns out, Ben had an equally sad past few years and Kevin is working for his dad at the family insurance company. The two friends are living in the house Ben bought for his own failed marriage. Kevin comes up with a plan, a pact whereby they would strive to improve their lives in a year. He calls it the "Corn Dog Pact".
Going back to her parents, and thinking things can't get much worse, she finds out they are selling their house and moving into a small condo. There would be no room for her to live, too. She was essentially homeless! 

Meeting up again, a short while later, with Kevin and Ben, they  make a proposal, that Josie move in with them.
Can this be a solution? Or will it bring more problems? Josie is a spunky, funny and smart young woman. And Kevin and Ben are both the kind of guy any girl would love to move in with! Unless they are jobless and 3 months pregnant.
This is such an engaging read with characters you will love and root for and cheer on as you follow their stories. I loved this one so much I was sad to finish it, as who wouldn't want to hang with those three? Highly recommended, but be warned... it will leave you craving a corn dog, even if you never had one! Thank you to Edelweiss for the DRC!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Off the Map: "Mexican Gothic" by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This is the first book by Silvia Moreno-Garcia that I've read and it is SO good! This is the kind of grab you and read till the very end even if it means staying up ALL night kind of book I love!
Our heroine, Noemi Taboada, is young woman used to a sophisticated lifestyle with many men falling for her as she makes the rounds of parties and dances as well as studying anthropology at college. She’s beautiful and smart and when her father tasks her with trying to find out what ails her beloved recently married cousin, she sets off on an unforgettable journey!
Noemi is everything you want in a star character. She's beautiful, and uses that and her ability at socializing and small talk to her advantage when faced with some unusual characters and disturbing circumstances. She's also smart, tough and loyal to her ill cousin. Be prepared for mystery, creepy goings on and an unexpected love story.

It’s a popular book and recently optioned for a Hulu series. Though I can’t imagine the TV version will do as good a job of recreating this story as the author did in print (and your imagination does when reading!)! Trust me when I say there are scenes when you will yell "What the heck?!" How they'll film that, I don't know. But don't wait for the series, read it first!

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Paradise Lost: "Of Love and Abuse" by Kayla Lowe


Spoiler alerts for anyone who hasn't read the first three volumes of Kayla Lowe's Tainted Love series!

Sara and Bruce are married! The beautiful young woman had fallen for the online man who intrigued her and won her heart when he played the Phantom to her Christine in messages that kept her from being the good, freshman student that she started out as, in book one. When the man she thought was her soulmate shows up in person, she finds he is 30 years older than her, and that is only the first of the deceits he used to win her heart.

Once she defies her concerned and caring parents by moving in with Bruce and then moving to Florida, far from home, she feels there is no turning back.

Now, they are husband and wife. Sara is trying to earn and save money, first with part time jobs outside their home and then with online writing and editing at which she excels. They finally have enough money to move to a beachside apartment. It's further from his friends with whom he spent most of his days drinking and smoking.

While they turn their new place into a home with Sara shopping for second hand, and affordable furnishings and decorations, she is also finding he is trying more and more to make her spend time with him, whether at the beach or drinking. Something she never would have thought to find herself doing, but is becoming a worrisome habit as part of their marriage. Even though her parents and Bruce come to a sort of peaceful understanding so they can visit and so Sara can in turn come home occasionally, he still gets in black rages about her calling them. Can they work things out and have the happy marriage Sara hopes for... or has it all been a terrible decision that she has to live with. Are there darker days  to come or will there be a happy ending? You will have to read this series to find out!

Powerfully written and intensely realistic, Ms. Lowe has created a character you care about in Sara, and Bruce has a magnetism that seems to be able to win her over despite common sense and  her parents fear for her safety. I can't wait to see what happens in volume 5! Highly recommended!

Join the Club: "The Final Girl Support Group" by Grady Hendrix


Lynette is a "Final Girl". She survived something terrible that happened when she was a teen. Something, or rather, someone, so horrible, that she is lucky to be alive. She lost her parents, her little sister and her boyfriend.  All in one night. Her Monster is behind bars. She should feel safe now, shouldn't she?

She is a member of the Final Girl Support Group. Along with 5 other Final Girls. Each a survivor of  some horrendous event which took out others, but somehow, they managed to make it out alive. There are movies based on their experiences, and documentaries and online forums that discuss the crimes and the killers, some of them are fan groups of the various murderers.

Besides her attendance at the support group, Lynette lives alone, with just a house plant as a companion. She is wary and paranoid and  always ready to make a quick getaway if she has to. Then something happens that might force her into action. What that something is and what follows is something you will have to find out for yourself.

This is a suspenseful and darkly funny story. I loved Grady Hendrix's previous book, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires and I'm looking forward to reading his older titles as he is great at capturing the various characters that occupy his fictional worlds. Highly recommended!