“The Dog Who Was There”–Review

51bjP8hjO+L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Set in first century Jerusalem, this story is told from the point-of-view of Barley, a dog who was abandoned and nearly drowned when he was a puppy, until a husband and wife rescued him and brought him to their home. While Barley grows up in the home of the compassionate woodcarver and his wife, tales of a special teacher from Galilee are spreading throughout the villages. While it causes quite a stir for many, others are influenced in positive ways and want to follow this teacher.

When life unexpectedly changes, however, Barley is on his own again, wandering the outskirts of Jerusalem. It is there that he meets Samid, a homeless and petty criminal. Soon the two become friends. With his new master, Barley experiences new struggles and new revelations. After his encounter with the Teacher, Barley learns the lessons of forgiveness, compassion, and love after witnessing events to what has been known as “the greatest story ever told.”

I enjoyed reading this book. It was so sad, yet it had some moments that made me smile. The ending really surprised me and that’s when I knew I already loved the book. In fact, when I got home from work, I immediately hugged my dog. Whether you’re a dog person or not, I still recommend this book. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Ron Marasco’s first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an Outstanding Book of 2008. He cowrote the book About Grief: Insights, Setbacks, Grace Notes, Taboos, which has been translated into multiple languages. His most recent work is Shakespeare: Portals to Prayer and he is currently writing a book about Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Ron has acted extensively on TV in everything from Last to West Wing to Entourage and has done recurring roles on Freaks and Greeks and Major Crimes. He appeared opposite screen legend, Kirk Douglas, in the movie Illusion, for which he cowrote the screenplay. He has a Ph.D in Theatre History from UCLA and is a professor at Loyola Marymount University.

“The Map That Leads to You”–Review

517U90EoYSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Good evening, bloggers! Here’s my review of The Map That Leads to You.

The main character, Heather, has just finished college. Now she and her best friends are about to travel throughout Europe, to enjoy life before beginning their new lives. When it comes to everyday life, Heather has always been organized. Everything will work out, she tells herself. During their train ride to Amsterdam, however, Heather meets Jack. Unlike Heather, Jack lives by his own rules, while following his grandfather’s journals throughout Europe.

It isn’t long before Heather and Jack are drawn to each other. During their travels, it is Jack who shows Heather how to truly live, to not live life based on daily itineraries. Although they have their many disagreements when it comes to living life and the corporate world, their feelings for each other become stronger, leading Heather to make new choices about her life. But, then, she learns of a secret Jack has kept for quite some time. Will it change everything, though?

I loved reading about all the many cities in Europe and I’m sure I’m not the only one to say this, but I really hope to, one day, visit these places, to fall in love with my surroundings.  I’ve stumbled upon dozens of beautiful travel journals and told myself that I’ll have the opportunity to use one, someday. It all sounds as wonderful and romantic as this book is. For all of the wanderlusts, I recommend this book. Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

The Map That Leads to You will be available on June 13, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: J.P. Monninger is an award-winning writer in New England and professor of English at Plymouth State University.

“Come Sundown”–Review

51FVfObxphL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Come Sundown takes place in the successful ranch and resort in western Montana, where the Bodine family business is thriving and filled with vacationers.  The 30,000-acre ranch has been a home to four generations and is now managed by Bodine Longbow, along with a large staff and a new hire, Callen Skinner.

While everything is going well at the ranch, every now and then the topic of Bodine’s estranged aunt, Alice Bodine, comes up.  Unfortunately, the other family members don’t want to speak of her, all the more arousing Bodine’s curiosity.  Is Alice dead or still alive? And what drove Alice away? But, then, it isn’t long before they all are informed of an unexpected death of a young woman.  And then another death.  No one is quite sure why these deaths occurred.

After 25 years, however, the family is in a state of shock when they learn that Alice has been found.  It was 25 years ago that Alice had rebelled and left the ranch to pursue an acting career in Hollywood.  Once her days in Hollywood were done, though, she was ready to come back home.  But she never did make it back.

Now that Alice is back, everyone has questions.  Alice, however, is no longer the same.  Half of her life has been taken, yet she won’t give anyone the entire story.  Only within time will it all test the bonds of the Bodine family and thrust Bodine into a darkness she never could have imagined.

This is my first read by Nora Roberts. Although I didn’t really love the story—especially because I feel some scenes were unnecessary—I still think the plot and story line were good.  The scenes from Alice’s past were so awful, they angered me, but I won’t spoil any of it.  I did like the closeness of the Bodine family and the description of the ranch and resort, including the food.  Montana sounds like a beautiful place, in my opinion.  Perhaps you’ll enjoy this book.  Along with suspense, there is some romance involved.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

Come Sundown will be available on June 6, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Nora Roberts is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than 200 novels, including The Obsession, The Liar, The Collector, Whiskey Beach, and many more.  She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series, written under the pen name J.D. Robb.  There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.  For more info on the author, click here.

“The Breakdown”–Review

51Va0R3MSWL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

One evening, after leaving a party, Cass lets her husband know she’s heading home and that she might take a shortcut along a rural road.  Her husband, however, advises her to not do it, that it could be dangerous, especially with the dangerous storm occurring.  Cass takes that road, anyhow.  During the downpour, she sees a car parked on the side of the road.  A woman is sitting alone in the car.  Cass pulls over and wonders if the woman is okay, if she’s having car trouble, anything.  The woman doesn’t even acknowledge Cass, so what’s going on?  While feeling concerned, Cass also fears the worst.  It could be a trap.  Cass ends up driving away.

It isn’t long before Cass hears the news of a woman who was killed on that same night.  And it happened to be the woman who was in that car.  Not a day goes by that Cass doesn’t feel guilty for not doing something.  The worst part is that she can’t even tell her own husband because she’d have to tell him she’d driven through that dangerous road.

It all seems to get worse when Cass starts forgetting things, even simple things.  For example, where she left her car, if she took her pills, even the alarm code, etc.  Despite her troubles, it’s the woman she can’t forget.  The woman she could have saved.  Then the silent phone calls she receives adds to her problems, making her fear that someone is watching her every move.

Although this one wasn’t as enjoyable as her previous book, Behind Closed Doors, I still liked this story.  The surprises had me turning the pages and I enjoyed the plot twist.  I was surprised when it all got to who was behind everything.  Of course, I won’t spoil it for you.  In need a good psychological thriller?  I recommend this story.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

The Breakdown will be available on July 18, 2017.

About the author:  B.A. PARIS is the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors. She grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. The Breakdown is her second novel.

“Lift and Separate”–Review

41+3RiLE6kLAfter 33 years of marriage, Marcy Hammer is shocked and heartbroken when her husband, Harvey, the head of a global lingerie empire, says that he’s leaving her.  Although his clothes have been removed from the closet, Marcy still has high hopes that he’ll reconsider.  It’s just a midlife crisis, he claims.  After all, they’ve been married for a long time and they could work out whatever the issues are.  However, Marcy learns that Harvey has been having an affair with his much younger, 32DD fitting model.

While they’re technically separated, Marcy now has to figure out how to go on living without Harvey.  But how will she do it, she wonders?  She’s in her late fifties and feels it’s almost impossible to start over.  With love and support from her friends and adult children, however, she starts learning how to be on her own—even on occasions when she’s close to falling apart.

Along the way, though, Marcy is struck with more surprises and family troubles, including one involving her new, once-in-a-lifetime best friend.  Will she be able to handle it all, along with the fact that her marriage is ending?

This was a great story, with excellent narration, as well.  I enjoyed the humor in each chapter.  With one surprise after another, I thought, “This poor woman.  Isn’t she already going through enough?” While she’s trying to cope, Harvey constantly returns with a new excuse.  What’s Marcy to do?

I’m happy that the author, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, sent me this copy for an honest review, so now I can share it with you all.  As always, feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

About the author:  For more than twenty-five years, Marilyn Simon Rothstein owned an advertising agency in Connecticut. She grew up in New York City, earned a degree in journalism from New York University, began her writing career at Seventeen magazine, and married a man she met in an elevator.

Marilyn received a Master of Arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan University and a Master of Arts in Judaic Studies from the University of Connecticut.

“He Said/She Said”–Review

51C2M6jShgL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_Who Do You Believe?

With chapters alternating from past to present, this is a story of Laura and Kit, a couple who were young and in love in the summer of 1999.  Kit has always been an eclipse chaser, so he and Laura travel to a festival in Cornwall to see a total eclipse of the sun.  It is also a first time that Laura’s witnessing an eclipse.

After the moment is over, Laura wanders about and then just happens to witness what looks like a rape.  Although the accused man, Jamie Balcombe, swears it’s not what it appears, the victim, Beth Taylor, is practically mute and in shock.  But Laura knows what she saw.  After Jamie is arrested and later convicted, an appreciative Beth moves in on Laura and Kit’s lives.  While showering them with gifts as a token of her gratitude, it isn’t long before Beth’s attitude changes.  Kit wants Beth out of their lives, while Laura wants to see the best in her.  However, Laura starts to see that Kit just might be right, so they go to great lengths to get away from Beth.

Fifteen years later, in 2015, Laura and Kit live in a new home and changed their names.  Laura is pregnant and Kit is preparing for his trip to see a new eclipse.  No matter, Beth couldn’t possibly find them.  They’ve been living as carefully as possible and have agreed to not have any social media accounts.  But why have they had to live this way?  And why do they still feel as if they’re being watched?

As the story progresses, more secrets are revealed, including some unexpected twists.

I enjoyed this story because each chapter made me wonder whose side I was going to take.  How far are people willing to go to save themselves?  And who was actually telling the truth?  With every surprise, I wasn’t quite sure whom to believe.  As for Beth and Jamie, was it rape or consent?  It gets interesting, in my opinion.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

He Said/She Said will be available on June 6, 2017.

*I received this copy from St. Martin’s Press, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Erin Kelly has worked as a freelance journalist for ten years. A regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Psychologies, Red, and Look, she has also written for Elle, Marie Claire, and Glamour.  She also is the author of The Poison Tree and The Burning Air.

“Definitions of Indefinable Things”–Review

51GZ8uMd5rL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_“My name’s Reggie. I’m seventeen. My worldview is that we’re all spiraling toward a vast and gaping obscurity we can’t escape, and if we’re lucky, we’re doing so alone. Also, I despise you. And by you, I mean the general human population.”

Reggie Mason believes that, as long as she doesn’t let anyone in, she can’t get hurt. It’s become her defense mechanism. During a quick trip to CVS to pick up her Zoloft prescription, she meets Snake, who happens to be waiting at the pharmacy for his Prozac refills. When Reggie actually lets Snake into her life, she seems to have mixed feelings for him. After all, Snake is smug, arrogant, and he can be a bit too forward. Needy, perhaps. He has an addiction to Twizzlers. And he’s an aspiring film-maker who wants to include Reggie in his work-in-progress. That’s just about everything that makes him attractive.

As the two get to know each other more, it isn’t long before Reggie finds out that Snake has an ex-girlfriend, Carla Banks—a popular queen bee and ex-childhood friend of Reggie’s—who is seven months pregnant. Now that the three of them are in each other’s lives, they endure an awkward journey of mental breakdowns, lame shopping trips, disappointed parents, boring proms, and one embarrassing birthing class. Throughout that journey, Reggie has to get to the bottom of everything that has led to her depression, and that even though—to her—people can be scary, they’re worth having in her life.

This story was worth the read, in my opinion. Oftentimes, I’d get annoyed with Reggie because of her constant mixed feelings toward Snake. She hated him, yet she loved him. He’d summon her and she’d go running to him, even though she swore they weren’t anything to each other. But I think that’s what made the story interesting. They both were struggling with their own problems and were in search of happiness, as well as trying to figure out what happiness was. If you love YA, check out this book.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

*Definitions of Indefinable Things will be available on April 4, 2017.

*I received this copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Whitney Taylor is an English and psychology major from Virginia, who likes to pretend she is a supermodel from New York City. This is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter. For more info on the author, click here.