Monday, February 27, 2017

REVIEW of Laura Lippman's Novel WILDE LAKE

Wilde Lake
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (February 14, 2017)

An African-American man accused of rape by a humiliated girl.  A vengeful father.  A courageous attorney.  A worshipful daughter.  Think you know this story?  Think again.

Laura Lippman, the “extravagantly gifted” (Chicago Tribune) New York Times bestselling author, delivers “one of her best novels ” (Washington Post)—a modern twist on To Kill a Mockingbird. Scott Turow writes in the New York Times, “Wilde Lake is a real success.”

Luisa “Lu” Brant is the newly elected state’s attorney representing suburban Maryland—including the famous planned community of Columbia, created to be a utopia of racial and economic equality. Prosecuting a controversial case involving a disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death, the fiercely ambitious Lu is determined to avoid the traps that have destroyed other competitive, successful women. She’s going to play it smart to win this case—and win big—cementing her political future.

As she plunges deeper into the past, Lu is forced to face a troubling reality. The legal system, the bedrock of her entire life, does not have all the answers. But what happens when she realizes that, for the first time, she doesn’t want to know the whole truth?

This being the first Laura Lippman novel that I read, it impressed me how she is able to interweave multiple complex plot lines with it all cohering at the book's conclusion. Along with the book's mysterious nature, the story focuses upon the Brant family's secrets, including Columbia community members playing crucial roles within. Therefore, this tale is not only told from the viewpoint of Lu Brant yet also weaves between Lu’s childhood to today as she follows in her father's footsteps as state’s attorney of Howard County, Maryland. Unlike any other book I have read before two different fonts are used, one for the present and a different one used for the past. I do not know the names of the fonts, but it definitely catches the eye.

As the song reached it’s climax, a scrim depicting the Tree of Life fell...My father, in his seat next to me, allowed himself a quiet snort, which he masked with his handkerchief as if it were a sneeze.
“Wasn’t that great? Didn’t you love it?” I asked my father.
“I can’t help thinking of another tree of people, another song,” he said

“A much darker song, but a truer one, called ‘Strange Fruit*.’ I guess I’m just an old grouch.” My father squeezed my shoulder.

Masterfully written beyond a doubt in my eyes nevertheless at times it could be slightly complex. Occasionally, due to the plot containing a slew of characters and numerous twist and turns, confusion is a meager obstacle. Whereas, various in-depth subjects that are pertinent in our society take front and center, for example, rape, bigotry, psychiatric illness, including much more. As a reviewer, I try my hardest not to give away much of the story. One last thing, this is a mystery NOT a thriller. Therefore, that's all folks!

Since Laura Lippman’s debut, she has won multiple awards and critical acclaim for provocative, timely crime novels set in her beloved hometown of Baltimore. Laura has been nominated for more than 50 awards for crime fiction and won almost 20, including the Edgar. Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Now a perennial New York Times bestselling author, she lives in Baltimore and New Orleans with her family.

Connect with Laura on her websiteFacebook or Twitter

*Song mentioned above

Tuesday, February 21st: The many thoughts of a reader
Wednesday, February 22nd: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, February 23rd: Joyfully Retired
Monday, February 27th: Readaholic Zone
Tuesday, February 28th: Books and Bindings
Wednesday, March 1st: Booked on a Feeling
Thursday, March 2nd: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Friday, March 3rd: Stephany Writes
Monday, March 6th: Fictionophile
Tuesday, March 7th: Tina Says…
Wednesday, March 8th: Book by Book
Wednesday, March 8th: Thoughts On This ‘n That
Thursday, March 9th: Helen’s Book Blog
Friday, March 10th: Chaos is a Friend of Mine

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan Review & GIVEAWAY

The Mermaids of Lake Michigan
by Suzanne Kamata
Publication: February 14th, 2017 by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Paperback, 176 pages

Elise Faulkner is more at home in the waters of her beloved Lake Michigan than on land where her beauty queen mom is always on her back about her lack of a social life; her sister is dating the boy of her dreams; her favorite pen pal--the one who wrote about mermaids in Ghana--has gotten married and ended their correspondence; and no one's allowed to talk about her glamorous great-grandmother, the deep-sea wreck diver. Elise is biding her time with books until she can flee. But then crazy Chiara Hanover pops into her life, as does Miguel, a mysterious carnival worker whose dark future has been predicted by a gypsy.

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

This book is placed in the genre new adult fiction that is a newer genre of fiction with protagonists in the 18–30 age bracket which does not fit this book since the protagonist at the end might have reached 18. Consequently, it's more suitable for the young adult genre. The author does not convey to the reader when in time the story takes place or the protagonist's actual age. Nevertheless, it is after indoor plumbing, but before cell phones, my guess is the 70’s and/or the 80’s. I must admit I am a bit biased since most of it takes place in MI where I am from which is such a beautiful state.
I took my time pulling on the fishnet stocking, scenting my wrists with Chanel No. 5 borrowed from mom’s vanity, shimmying into my dress. Chiara sat on the bed smoking a cigarette and tapping her foot. I only half-listened as she rattled off a list of places to visit. I was trying to imagine myself into a new persona - a city girl with sass, a Midwestern Dorothy Parker.
The story is short, making it a quick read also the plot contains a pleasant flow. It is an interesting coming of age tale, learning life is not always as it seems to find out the individuals closest to you buried hurtful secrets and there is no such thing as a fairy tale ending. Furthermore, Elise seemed to me a strong willed girl who perseveres for what she desires never thinking of the consequences. Therefore, putting herself in difficult situations she glides right through the tough times such as how effortless it was for her to find the “Gypsy”. Occasionally, elements of the plot were left incomplete, leaving the reader to wonder what became of the situation. Anyhow, if you’re looking for a unique quick read grab a copy of THE MERMAIDS OF MICHIGAN I bet you will think it is groovy as I did.

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Monday, February 20, 2017


The Piper’s Price
Audrey Greathouse

(The Neverland Wars #2)
Published by: Clean Reads Publishing
Publication date: February 21st, 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Retelling, Young Adult

Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper.
Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she’s nearly home and meeting with Jay again.
The Piper isn’t the only one hiding from the adults’ war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she’ll have to confront one of Peter’s oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.
They found the forest’s hiking trail moments before breaking the tree line. “Where are we going, Peter?” He was heading toward a mobile home community next to the state park.
He continued to walk with confidence. His usual cocky stride looked surprisingly like the swagger of an ordinary teenage boy. “My friend lives here. Don’t worry. Don’t look like such a stranger here.”

She didn’t want to appear conspicuous, but Gwen was too baffled to help it. The unkempt lawns were boxed in by chain-link fences covered in varying degrees of rust. They passed a lawn littered with bicycles; on the other side of the gravel street, two different cars were parked on the lawn, clearly non-functional. Satellite dishes were on every trailer home. Despite all being painted differently, the track housing still managed to present a uniformity of depressing color.

Multiple houses had motorcycles out front or a dog milling around their yard. When she and Peter passed a pack of Rottweilers, the dogs ran up to the fence and began snarling until all the other dogs in the neighborhood were barking too. “Ignore it,” Peter advised her.

She was scared. This was not the sort of place she ever expected to visit with Peter. She didn’t trust his ability to protect her here. This wasn’t his world, but it wasn’t hers either. They were both out of their element. Peter just didn’t have the sense to realize it.

Winding down the gravel road, Gwen matched Peter’s pace almost step for step. They approached a blue-and-grey house. Like the others, it had wooden latticework around the bottom to help obscure the fact it didn’t have a foundation in the ground. The square house reminded Gwen of how she would take shoeboxes and try to turn them into homes for her dolls by decorating them. It was hard to fathom that she was walking up the plastic steps of the porch to knock on the door.

She waited, feeling her heartbeat in her throat, her toes, and everywhere besides her chest. Even the predictable noise of the door opening startled her.

A woman with a long, black braid and beige cardigan stood in the doorway. Gwen looked up at her, and then watched as the sharp features of her dark face dissolved into unadulterated shock.

The startled woman ushered them in. She was just as uncomfortable with their presence in the trailer park as Gwen. Once inside, they stood in a living room full of old furniture, facing a kitchen with old electric appliances. There was no unity or romance to the orange recliner, chipped mixing bowl, off-white blender, dull toaster, and sunken couch. It was a bunch of old stuff that looked like it represented several decades of objects abandoned at Goodwill. The chingadera and bric-a-brac wasn’t any more cohesive: porcelain angles, an antique pot, a vase full of bird feathers, and a stopped clock made the place confusing and strange in the same way her grandmother’s house had been.

“What are you doing here?” she hissed, pulling her cardigan close and tossing her thick braid over her shoulder and out of her way. She had a shapeless housedress underneath the beige sweater, and a pair of black leggings insulating her legs as she stomped around, heavy-footed in her leather slippers.

She looked comfortable, except for the unexpected guests who were putting her so ill at ease. “You shouldn’t be here.”

“I need your help,” Peter said.

“They’re still keeping tabs on me.”

“That’s why I came in disguise.”

“You’re being irresponsible. You’re jeopardizing us both, and Neverland to boot.”

“I took all the right precautions. This is important.” Hollyhock and Foxglove wrestled their way out of the pixie purse and came twinkling out now that they knew they were safely inside.

“You brought fairies here?” she exclaimed. She leaned down and grabbed a hold of his arm, forcing him to look her dead in her dark eyes. Gwen wanted to leave. This wasn’t a friend, not anymore. This was a grown-up, and unlike Antoine the aviator, she was not amused with Peter’s wartime antics.

“What happens if they figure it out and come to question me?”
Peter scoffed. “You won’t tell them.”

“What if they threaten to arrest me? They could put me away forever until I told them what they needed to know, and nobody here would stop them.”

Peter broke free of her hold with ease; she wasn’t actually trying to restrain him. “Preposterous,” he declared. “If they did that, you would sit, stone-faced and silent in your cell until they all died.”

“What if they beat me?”

“You’d take the blows as though you were made of rock, and you would not speak.” Peter seemed to disregard the question.

“What if they tortured me and stuck blades under my nails?” she demanded.

“Then you would not even scream, but stay silent as a stone!” Peter insisted, hopping up onto a wooden kitchen chair at her dining table, looking down at the woman.

“What if they bring knives and cut off my fingers, one at a time, until I told them how to find you?”

Peter yelled right back, “Then you would steal their knives and scalp them all like the redskin princess you are!”

Her anger slunk off her face and out of her shoulders. She shook her head, frowning as a sad laugh escaped her. She clung to her sweater, blinking back tears, until, at last, she flung her arms around Peter. Still on the chair, he had to bend down to return the embrace.

“Oh, Peter,” she muttered, unaware of the tears slipping off her smiling face. “Oh, Peter.”

“It’s good to see you, Tiger Lily.”

Author Bio:
Audrey Greathouse is a lost child in a perpetual and footloose quest for her own post-adolescent Neverland. Originally from Seattle, she earned her English B.A. from Southern New Hampshire University's online program while backpacking around the west coast and pretending to be a student at Stanford. A pianist, circus artist, fire-eater, street mime, swing dancer, and novelist, Audrey wears many hats wherever she is. She has grand hopes for the future which include publishing more books and owning a crockpot. You can find her at


Monday, February 13, 2017


Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Harper Wave (January 24, 2017)

A young woman follows winter across five continents on a physical and spiritual journey that tests her body and soul, in this transformative memoir, full of heart and courage, that speaks to the adventurousness in all of us.

Steph Jagger had always been a force of nature. Dissatisfied with the passive, limited roles she saw for women growing up, she emulated the men in her life—chasing success, climbing the corporate ladder, ticking the boxes, playing by the rules of a masculine ideal. She was accomplished. She was living "The Dream." But it wasn't her dream.

Then the universe caught her attention with a sign: Raise Restraining Device. Steph had seen this ski lift sign on countless occasions in the past, but the familiar words suddenly became a personal call to shake off the life she had built in a search for something different, something more.

Steph soon decided to walk away from the success and security she had worked long and hard to obtain. She quit her job, took a second mortgage on her house, sold everything except her ski equipment and her laptop, and bought a bundle of plane tickets. For the next year, she followed winter across North and South America, Asia, Europe, and New Zealand—and up and down the mountains of nine countries—on a mission to ski four million vertical feet in a year.

What hiking was for Cheryl Strayed, skiing became for Steph: a crucible in which to crack open her life and get to the very center of herself. But she would have to break herself down—first physically, then emotionally—before she could start to rebuild. And it was through this journey that she came to understand how to be a woman, how to love, and how to live authentically.

Electrifying, heartfelt, and full of humor, Unbound is Steph’s story—an odyssey of courage and self-discovery that, like Wild and Eat, Pray, Love, will inspire readers to remove their own restraining devices and pursue the life they are meant to lead.

HarperCollins | Amazon Barnes & Noble

*New Zealand's Mount Ruapehu largest and most active volcano.  

I now realized why I have never read a book pertaining to skiing before there is not much to it but going up and down mountains. That's not much of a fun book now is it? Wait! Don’t stop it gets better. As the story begins the motive behind Steff’s journey is to prove she is just as worthy as any “man” mainly her father who she inspires to impress including obtaining his approval. I found the writing rather philosophical the book's main focus goes beyond just skiing to what Steph is learning about herself and the changes that are taking place inside her such as her process of discovering her own femininity.

Perhaps it seemed easy because the conditions were perfect. Perhaps it was because my aura was vibrationally balanced from the gong therapy. Perhaps it was because I’d eaten close to a dozen bison burgers since arriving. Or perhaps it was because over the last two months, through Japan and all of Europe, I had placed all of my fears on the ground. I’d been carrying around so many ideas about success, and what I thought it meant to be a woman, and I’d finally pried all of that loose from the clutches of my precious little ego, pried it all out like you would a stubborn oyster from it’s shell, shucking, cracking, and scraping so it could be released and replaced with something true.

Although I had been looking for a more rugged tale the one told is not half bad. It is chocked full of humor, including some creative ways that get a skier to the top of the hill my favorite being the one in New Zealand called a Nutcracker. Oh no, I’m not even gonna give you a hint. Nope, you gotta read it for yourself. Whereas at points it did get redundant with the same atrocious hotel rooms, bad skiing conditions also how many times can you complain to the reader regarding your ski bag weighing 80 pounds. Nonetheless, if you are looking for an uplifting, inspiring book with some skiing mixed in this one could be for you.

Steph Jagger splits her time between Southern California and British Columbia where she dreams big dreams, writes her heart out, and runs an executive & life coaching practice. She holds a CEC (certified Executive Coach) degree from Royal Roads University and she believes courageous living doesn’t happen with one toe dangling in, but that we jump in, fully submerge, and sit in the juice. Think pickle, not cucumber.

You can find her at or on Instagram @stephjagger.
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Thursday, February 2nd: She’s Got Books On Her Mind
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Monday, February 20th: Book Dilettante
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