Book Review: “Hide Away” by Iris Johansen (Eve Duncan #20)


Title:  Hide Away

Author:  Iris Johansen

Series:  Eve Duncan #20

Synopsis (from 


Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan lies in a well-guarded hospital room in Carmel, California. But she and Joe Quinn have sworn to protect an innocent young girl, Cara Delaney, whose enemies are getting closer by the hour. Weighing her own health against Cara’s safety, Eve decides they must disappear—and so she turns to her daughter, Jane MacGuire, for an unexpected solution.


After years of resistance, Jane has finally succumbed to the inevitable: John MacDuff’s insistent plea to track down a treasure presumed buried in Scotland. The remote mountains should be a perfect hiding place for Eve and Cara, but they soon realize there is nowhere distant enough from the ruthless predators who are on their trail. Greed and power war with honor and justice in this thrill-ride from the incomparable Iris Johansen.


My thoughts:

Oh man, what can I say about this book.  Again a book in a series that I have loved in the past, but in my opinion is really slipping and changing in ways I at least am not enjoying.

This Eve Duncan series started with really intriguing storylines of Eve’s work as a forensic sculptor, focusing on her work and just really good mysteries.   Now that we have moved beyond the incessant Bonnie storyline, somehow the series has moved lately into not focusing on Eve’s work or cases at all but rather having Eve/Joe/Jane chasing around various places trying to save different people.  This storyline (which by the way takes place over 3 different books. . . hmmmmm) felt to me to be a bit disjointed and repetitive, didn’t make me want to turn the next page.

I am also personally not enjoying how the author is weaving in the seemingly odd supernatural aspects to some of her characters – such as the character who can change bloodflow in a human to the point of healing someone and saving someone’s life.  I know these supernatural characters and storylines are all the rage recently, but don’t interweave them in what is normally a great mystery and psychological thriller.

Overall, clearly this wasn’t my favorite book in the series which really disappoints me since this really was one of my favorite series.  Ugh, oh well . . .you win some and you lose some.

And remember,

Books Are life,




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Filed under Book Reviews, Detective/Police, Fiction, Iris Johansen, Uncategorized

Book Review: “Dead Cold Brew” by Cleo Coyle (Coffeehouse Mystery #16)


Title:  Dead Cold Brew

Author:  Cleo Coyle

Series:  Coffeehouse Mystery #16

Synopsis (from  Coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi sheds tears of joy when her NYPD detective boyfriend surprises her with an engagement ring. But her bridal bliss is put on hold when a chilling mystery brings a wave of deadly danger to those she holds dear…
After everything Clare and Mike have been through, they deserve a little bit of happily ever after. So when Mike decides to put a ring on Clare’s finger, Clare’s eccentric octogenarian employer is there to help. She donates the perfect coffee-colored diamonds to include in the setting and the name of a world-famous jeweler who happens to be an old family friend. But while the engagement is steeped in perfection, the celebration is not long lived.

First, a grim-faced attorney interrupts their party with a mysterious letter bequeathing a strange, hidden treasure to Clare’s daughter. Next, the renowned jeweler who designed Clare’s ring is found poisoned in his shop. Both events appear to be connected to a cold case murder involving a sunken ship, an Italian curse, a suspiciously charming jewel thief, and a shocking family secret. With deadly trouble brewing, Clare must track down clues in some of New York’s most secret places before an old vendetta starts producing fresh corpses.

My thoughts:  I absolutely LOVE this series, in fact it is one of my favorite cozy mystery series – since I am an avid coffee drinker.  However, I can’t believe I’m typing this and admitting this, but this book in the series feel quite a bit short for me.  Not my favorite, by any means.

I felt like the whole storyline was just a bit disjointed for me.  It seemed to go all over the place for me.  Not to mention, I personally just didn’t enjoy the whole family history storyline so that didn’t help matters much.

And what bothered me most about this one is that Claire and the coffeehouse gang really never hung around the coffeehouse in this book, they were out and about in the city, etc.  I know this seems incredibly odd and petty perhaps, but one of my favorite parts about reading cozy mysteries is that they are set in their cozy places whether it be a bakery, a tea shop or in this case a coffeehouse.

Please take us back to the Coffeehouse!

All in all, just a so so book in this series for me! Not my favorite!

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Filed under Book Reviews, Cleo Coyle, Cozy, Cozy Mystery, Fiction, Uncategorized

Book Review: “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Title:  Eleanor & Park

Author:  Rainbow Rowell

Pages: 336

Synopsis (from

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.
So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be, she says, we’re 16.
What about Romeo and Juliet?
Shallow, confused, then dead.
I love you, Park says.
Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.
I’m not kidding, he says.
You should be.

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits-smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love-and just how hard it pulled you under.


My thoughts:

When I was working at Barnes & Noble, I remember seeing this book on the Young Adult Bestseller shelves directly to the right of the Customer Service desk.  I can’t tell you how often I moved that book as it changed spots/numbers on the list.  Now after reading it, I have to be brutally honest, I have absolutely no idea how it stayed as a Bestseller for so long.

Wow, this book fell completely flat for me.  I think this story of first love in all its odd, boring nuances was just completely lost on me as an adult, so perhaps this one just doesn’t cross over to us oldsters.

Frankly, I found the book just boring. . . page after page after page of the minute details of the lives of these teens.  I know that is apparently what it was supposed to be, it just wasn’t my thing.  I can’t imagine a teen in this fast paced day and age enjoying this book with no action – but what do I know.

I also found myself having no connection at all with either of the main characters – in fact I found myself disliking them a bit.  Instead of coming off as an outcast, outsider Eleanor came off to me as just plain mean and snotty.  Park was just well . . . boring.

Both main characters definitely had tough family situations in very different ways, which also should have left the reader feeling something – and I didn’t, I was just annoyed.

And for the ending . . . a little ridiculous in my opinion.  Yes I know it is fiction and a story, but it was quite unrealistic and for me at least didn’t give me the emotion I believe the author was going for.

Overall, a complete dud for me . . . slow pace, boring story, unlikeable main characters, unrealistic ending.  Not a combination for a winning read.

And remember,

Books Are Life,




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Book Review: “Extraordinary Means” by Robyn Schneider

extraordinary means

Title:  Extraordinary Means

Author:  Robyn Schneider

Pages: 324

Synopsis (from 

Up until his diagnosis, Lane lived a fairly predictable life. But when he finds himself at a tuberculosis sanatorium called Latham House, he discovers an insular world with paradoxical rules, med sensors, and an eccentric yet utterly compelling confidante named Sadie—and life as Lane knows it will never be the same.

Robyn Schneider’s Extraordinary Means is a heart-wrenching yet ultimately hopeful story about the miracles of first love and second chances.

My thoughts:

Well my obsession with Young Adult fiction continues with this book by Robyn Schneider.  This story follows a group of teens who are living at Latham House, a sanitorium for patients with incurable TB.

I picked up this book of course because of the teens in medical crisis story.   SPOILER ALERT – the author makes very clear in her notes that there is no resistant strain of TB of course so it left the whole premise of the book a little unreal and disappointing to me from the very beginning.

The overall plot of course included aspects of boy meets girl and falls for girl, but what I truly enjoyed about this book were the deeper, more meaningful themes of building friendships in unfortunate circumstances, looking at the meaning of your life in a different way, change, taking risk, facing death, and so many many more in this brief book.

I think many teens can identify with the main character, Lane, in this novel in terms of his strong drive to success and get in the best college with the best grades and the best everything, his perfectionism, his single goal in life . . . and hopefully can gain some adult life lessons throughout the book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book . . . wish the premise of the story had been at least build on a real situation at least but could get passed it.  Strong characters, great themes beyond simple teen falling in love story.

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Book Review: “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

we were liars

Title:  We Were Liars

Author:  E. Lockhart

Pages:  225

Synopsis (from 

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.
Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.


My thoughts:

What can I say about this book but . . . WOW!

I was enjoying the suspense, mystery, and thrill of the book . . . and then BAM I was hit with the ending.  It smacks you across the face and as the reader you mouth drops open and you find yourself saying “what did I just read?”  Loved it!

Before the ending – which of course I will not say one thing about – the book was solid in plot and characters.  I enjoyed the pace of the book and found the plot just the right amount of twisty, suspense, mystery, and drama.

This book really addresses the themes of lifelong friendships, change, family conflict, secrets, and ultimately the price of those conflicts and secrets.

I am not a huge fan of books to movie adaptations at all as of course usually as a reader the book is almost always much better – but in the right hands, this book could make a very, very interesting movie!

Overall a book I really, really enjoyed!  Fast read, solid plot, strong characters, and of course an ending that at least blew me away!  Buckle up and enjoy the ride.

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult Fiction

Book Review: “Everything Everything” by Nicola Yoon

Everything Everything

Title:  Everything, Everything

Author:  Nicola Yoon

Pages:  352

Synopsis (from 

Risk everything . . . for love.

What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face . . . or kiss the boy next door? In Everything, Everything, Maddy is a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly is the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken.

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Everything, Everything will make you laugh, cry, and feel everything in between. It’s an innovative,  inspiring, and heartbreakingly romantic debut novel that unfolds via vignettes, diary entries, illustrations, and more. 

My thoughts:

As I sit here on the couch recovering from a trio of “itis”s – pharyngitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis, I figure there is no time like the present to get caught up on my book reviews – and I am really, really behind at this point – WOW!

I am normally a cozy mystery/mystery/psychological suspense reader, but ever since joining the “Thirteen Reasons Why” craze recently (the review on that is coming later as I really have to formulate my thoughts on that one), I am completely addicted right now to Young Adult Fiction of a certain kind.  I’m not even sure what to call it – it is those books based on characters that are dealing with a particular problem such as a medical issue, mental illness issue, death/dying, grieving, drug problem, etc.  I am not interested in normal “boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl” fiction or any science fiction/dystopian type of young adult fiction.   Totally addicted to lets call it young adult problem literature right now – so if you are reading this and know of great books, please comment as I’m looking for more!!

Now on to Everything, Everything.  I saw a commercial that this was going to be a movie, read what the theme was about, and knew I needed to try it.  I am glad that I did.

I truly enjoyed almost all of this novel.  I loved the plot line of a young girl dealing with a disease that basically kept her inside, isolated away from the world, and how she dealt with this along the way.

I loved the themes in the book of resilience, isolation, relationships, and risk.

What I didn’t enjoy at all was the overall pace of the book particularly toward the end.  I thought the way the story ended was fantastic, but right before the end the book felt like it went from 0 – 60 mph not in any good way.  For me I felt that the book was rushed at the end with little explanation or closure for me – I wanted much,, much more in depth about this storyline.   I was left wanting more – again not in a good way – but feeling as if I had been cheated of a great story.  Perhaps the author can do a sequel so I feel more satisfied 🙂

Overall, a strong book worth reading in my opinion.  Great plot, great themes, and I want a sequel for that great ending twist.

And remember,

Books Are Life,





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Book Review: “While My Pretty One Knits” by Anne Canadeo (Black Sheep Knitters Mystery #1)


Title:  While My Pretty One Knits

Author:  Anne Canadeo

Series:  Black Sheep Knitters #1

Synopsis (from  The Black Sheep Knitters—Maggie, Lucy, Dana, Suzanne, and Phoebe—meet once a week without fail, sharing the varied and colorful skeins of their lives as much as knitting tips, recipes, and small-town gossip, and creating an intricate, durable pattern of friendship. Now a shocking murder has peaceful Plum Harbor, Massachusetts, in knots —and the Black Sheep women must herd together to protect one of their own from a scandalous frame-up.

Maggie Messina, beloved owner of the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, is thrilled to be hosting a workshop for one of her former students, now a celebrity in the knitting world. But the celebration is upstaged when Amanda Goran, the owner of the rival Knitting Nest, is found dead in her shop on the other side of town.

Maggie had reasons to dislike Amanda, a thorn in her side ever since Maggie’s shop surpassed Amanda’s in popularity. Then again, it wasn’t hard to dislike Amanda—the contentious woman, whose marriage was on the rocks, seemed to specialize in causing misery all over town. But the pointed evidence has a detective casting a suspicious eye on Maggie. She may be a whiz at knitting, but can she keep the police from needling her before her shop, her reputation, and her circle of friends become unraveled?


My thoughts:  This first book in the Black Sheep Knitters series offers some hope for another great cozy mystery series.

I must admit I’m not going to label this my favorite new cozy series by any means at this point.  I of course will read the rest of the series – because well that is the kind of reader I am, I can’t leave my characters hanging even after one book, and let’s face it I already have the rest of the series on my bookshelves 🙂

This series is going to take me a little while to get into.  I am just starting to know the characters, but they seem a bit blah and dull to me.  None of them stand out – they need a bit more kick at this point.  I am certain reading further into the series will correct this issue for me.

I did have the mystery figured out long before the end of the book which is a huge problem since I am NEVER the type to do this when I read.

I am going to continue to give this series a chance – it just doesn’t seem to have the cozy spirit and wonderfully memorable characters as some other series I’ve read.

Overall, an ok cozy series that needs some more memorable characters and a little bit more spunk.

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Filed under Book Reviews, Cozy, Cozy Mystery, Fiction