“Swann’s Way Out”–Review

51q6G4-8iKLGood evening, all! I finally had the opportunity to read the fourth Henry Swann novel. If you haven’t read the first three, I highly encourage you to do so, especially if you like some good detective fiction.

The story begins with skip tracer Henry Swann, at a poker game, who is trying to figure out what he’s supposed to do with his life. After all, he’s spent years taking on cases involving delinquents, runaways, thieves, etc. He wasn’t quite sure if being a skip tracer was actually his calling. After the game, however, Swann is offered a case which sends him to Hollywood in order to find Rusty Jacobs, the man responsible for embezzling $1,000,000 from his client. All Swann has to do is get the money back and all will be okay. Swann does find Jacobs, but learns that this wannabe film producer is convinced his movie project will make it big in the Christian market. As for the $1,000,000 that was used to make the movie trailer? It seems to have disappeared. While Swann’s client claims the money was stolen, Jacobs claims it was used as an investment. Although Swann’s motive is to just get the money back—he couldn’t really care less for the reason for the so-called investments—he can’t help wondering who’s telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Swann has another job thrown at him—thanks to his business partner, Goldblatt—where he has to help another client in the New York City art world who may have been defrauded on the purchase of a valuable painting that may or may not be a fake.

While it all seems to be one thing after another, Swann gets a call regarding his estranged teenage son who has run away from his grandparents’ home in Minnesota and has possibly joined a cult. Now a guilt-ridden Swann must take time out from his paying cases to find the son he hasn’t seen in years.

This installment is definitely worth reading. Henry Swann is the best! Like the first three books, this one also has excellent narration and dialogue. Everything just gets right to the point. I enjoyed the quirky relationship between Swann and Goldblatt. Great humor, sarcasm, and Swann doesn’t take BS from anyone.

Feel free to post your comments. Happy reading!

About the author: Charles Salzberg is the author of the Shamus Award-nominated Swann’s Last Song, as well as the sequels, Swann Dives In and Swann’s Lake of Despair. He is also the author of Devil in the Hole, which was chosen as one of the Best Crime Novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. He lives in New York City and teaches writing at the Writer’s Voice and the New York Writers Workshop, where he is proud to be a founding member. For more info about the author, click here. You can also follow him on Twitter.

“The St. Lucia Island Club”–Review

51Mt4PPgMlL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_This is Book 5 of the John Le Brun novels.

It is 1910, New York City, when retired sheriff-turned-detective John Le Brun and his wife, Lordis, travel to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia for a long-awaited honeymoon.  They expect to find paradise and relaxation, once they arrive.  However, they discover they’ve been lured in to solicit the island’s attributes as a vacation retreat to wealthy investors back home.  They, soon, find the land to be filled with racial, social, and economic tension.

John puts his detective skills to use when he learns of the brutal murders of a local plantation owner’s family.  He must figure out if the culprit is one of the white landowners of the exclusive St. Lucia Island Club, the descendants of former African slaves, or another person entirely.  John and Lordis race to uncover the mysteries as the body count rises.

Although I was unaware, at first, that this book is part of a series, I still gave it a chance.  After five chapters, to be honest, I couldn’t get into the story.  I like the idea behind it, but it didn’t work for me.  Perhaps I need to go back to the first book—The Jekyl Island Club—to get a better idea.  Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of John Le Brun, I encourage you to read this book, and I hope you enjoy it.  Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

*I received this book from Turner Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Brent Monahan was born in Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan in 1948, as a World War II occupation baby. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in Music and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Indiana University, Bloomington. He has performed, stage directed and taught music and writing professionally. He has authored fourteen published novels and a number of short stories. Two of his novels have been made into motion pictures. Brent lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Bonnie.

“The Dollhouse”–Review

51mlXpppkzL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, bloggers, and happy National Book Lovers Day!  I finished reading The Dollhouse, by Fiona Davis, and here’s my review.

The story goes back and forth from 1950s New York to the present year, revolving around the glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, filled with aspiring models, secretaries, and editors.  Coming all the way from Ohio, Darby McLaughlin arrives at the hotel, in 1952, to begin secretarial courses.  While she is homesick and self-conscious, Darby meets Esme, a Barbizon maid, who introduces Darby to different scenes in New York—places where the young girls at Barbizon aren’t allowed—that include seedy jazz clubs, filled with addictive music and drugs.  Esme is a hard worker, a risk-taker, and aspiring singer, showing Darby to seize new opportunities and to stop doing what others want her to do.  And that’s where Darby meets Sam.

It’s more than half a century later, the Barbizon has become a condo, and most of its residents from long ago are forgotten.  For years, however, there have been rumors that Darby was involved in a deadly incident involving a hotel maid in 1952.  The history and the rumors of the Barbizon become a great idea for a new story for the present-day journalist, Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor.  In fact, it happens to be a good distraction from Rose’s failing relationship and living situation.

The investigation becomes unclear, as Rose’s obsession with the project increases, and both the women’s lives are changed indefinitely when the truth finally comes out.

I, definitely, recommend this book.  It provided quite a twist and I like the occasional historical fiction.  New York sounds so exciting and I hope to visit, one day.  Feel free to comment, as always.  Happy reading!

The Dollhouse will be available on August 23, 2016.

*I received this copy from Dutton Books, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Fiona Davis lives in New York City and is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.  The Dollhouse is her first novel.

“In America”–Review

51Yi1la3zHL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Hello, all!  I just finished reading In America, the final installment of the Wayfarer Trilogy, by Nina Romano, so here’s my review.

This coming-of-age story introduces the beautiful Marcella Scimenti.  She’s headstrong, outspoken, and knows what she wants.  Oftentimes, she can be stubborn and drive her parents crazy.  She has the affection of a neighborhood boy and friend, Gianni Simoni, including the love of her large Italian family in 1920s Brooklyn.  Marcella also is a singer who aspires to one day have a singing career in Hollywood; however, a career in the performing arts is frowned upon by her parents.  Regardless of what anyone says, Marcella is determined to pursue her goals.

Throughout her journey, Marcella  learns to balance new friendships, new suitors, and her life in the working world with certain expectations of her tradition-bound family, all the while having to accept changes during the economic depression.  Just when she thinks things are starting to look up for her, Marcella learns of a devastating family secret, putting her to a test of loyalty, faith, and love. But can Marcella swallow her pride and see what’s been in front of her the whole time?

I’m happy to have had the opportunity to read this book.  I’d recently read Lemon Blossoms, which is the second book in the trilogy.  The first book is The Secret Language of Women.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to read that one (I couldn’t find it at my library).  Although the first two books should give you an idea of the stories and characters, I don’t think you’d have to read them in order.  Nevertheless, I did enjoy the stories.  It makes me want to see Italy, someday, as well as New York.  There also were particular Italian foods mentioned in the books, which sounded so tempting.  Aside from that, the characters were likable and the stories were beautiful, providing some advice to think about, in my opinion.

Feel free to post your comments.  Happy reading!

In America will be on sale July 19, 2016.

*I received this copy from Turner Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

About the author: Nina Romano earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU.  She’sa world traveler and lover of history.  She lived in Rome, Italy, for 20 years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish.  She authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks.  Her most recent collection is Westward: Guided by Starfalls and Moonbows.  Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize.  For more info, click here.

“Drag Teen”–Review

51uPedQ0VaL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_When life gets ugly, don’t wig out.  Drag it up.

This is the story of JT, an high school student who’s lived with a lifetime of insecurities and fears he’s doomed to live in Florida forever, working at his family’s gas station.  High school is coming to an end, yet he can’t afford to go to college.  His anti-supportive parents, including his part-time job, can’t pay for a tuition.  What adds to his insecurities is that his boyfriend, Seth, seems to have it all together and has a bright future ahead of him.

Just when he thinks he’s run out of options, JT learns of an opportunity from the Miss Drag Teen USA pageant in New York City, which will offer a full scholarship to the winner. Although JT wants to do it, he has a fear of failure, especially because he was booed off the stage during a school talent show.  But it is Seth who gives JT that push he needs.  After being convinced, JT, Seth, and their best friend, Heather, embark on a road trip to the Big Apple.  No matter how complicated it all becomes, JT is determined to become the next Miss Drag Teen and win his ticket to freedom.

This was a great story.  I enjoyed the whole idea of a road trip and the excitement of entering New York.  I’ve never been to New York, but I hope to see it, one day.  What I also liked about the story was Seth’s positive attitude.  He believes that, no matter, anything is possible.  Well, I won’t spoil anything for you, so I’ll just encourage you to get a copy of this book.  Feel free to post your comments.

Drag Teen, by Jeffery Self, will be available on April 26, 2016.

Happy reading!

*I received this advance copy from Scholastic, Inc., in a giveaway, for an honest review.

About the author: Jeffery Self is a writer, actor, and vlogger.  He’s appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, including 30 Rock, Desperate Housewives, and 90210.  Drag Teen is his first YA novel.  You can check him out on Twitter.

I Can’t Put These Books Down (Continued)

Hello, bloggers.  In my previous post, I spoke of the recommended books from the “Shopaholic” series.  First, there was Confessions of a Shopaholic, featuring Becky Bloomwood’s hilarious adventures in the world of high-end clothes, shoes, accessories, and all the must-haves that any woman would love to get her hands on.  In Becky’s world, “shopping is an investment.”  However, she can’t afford that kind of “investment,” since she’s thousands of pounds in debt and usually throws away every credit card bill that comes her way.  Things have to change, eventually, when a new, meaningful topic comes along and she has to act against Luke Brandon–the famous PR entrepreneur of Brandon Communications.  I won’t spoil it for you.

Second, there’s Shopaholic Takes Manhattan.  Becky and Luke Brandon are dating.  Not only is business going well for Luke’s firm, Becky is a financial advisor for a TV show, The Morning Coffee.  Eventually, Luke receives a business offer in New York and he asks Becky to go with him.  The New York life is great for Becky, as she’s surrounded by all the high-end clothing stores and Park Avenue penthouses.  Meanwhile, Luke remains caught up in his work.  However, stories begin to unravel that could pose a threat to Becky’s relationship with Luke and his career, her job, and her financial history.  This is a recommended read.

The third book in the series is Shopaholic Ties the KnotBecky and Luke are living in New York and everything is great.  Meanwhile, back in London, Becky’s best friend Suze is getting married.  Sure enough, to Becky’s surprise, Luke proposes.  Becky’s parents immediately handle all the wedding preparations for a beautiful, backyard wedding in  England.  However, Becky is under pressure when Luke’s high-society mother, Elinor, offers an all-expenses-paid wedding at the Plaza Hotel in New York.  Both weddings sound great, so how can she choose one without hurting the other?  Read on to find out more.

The next one is Shopaholic & Sister.  After taking a year off for their honeymoon, Becky Brandon and her husband, Luke, are back in London.  Becky can’t help feeling excited to tell everyone about her round-the-world honeymoon.  Luke, however, is at his wit’s end after he’s discovered the amount of souvenirs Becky has brought back home.  Not only did she spend so much, the stuff is accumulating in their home.  Becky’s excitement, eventually, fades when she realizes that she and Luke don’t  get the welcoming she’d hoped for when they’d returned from their honeymoon.  Also, she discovers that Suze has a new, close friend, leaving Becky feeling bummed.  However, Becky’s parents give her some news.  She has a long-lost, half-sister.  As Becky tries to bond with her new sister, Jess, she starts to realize that they’re just two, very different people and that Jess doesn’t see any point in bonding with a family that she never knew.  What shocks Becky the most is Jess’s hatred toward shopping.  Nevertheless, Becky is determined to show Jess that they can be sisters and that they are alike, no matter what anyone says.

Up next is Shopaholic & Baby.  It’s official.  Becky and Luke are going to be parents.  While Luke is in the process of buying a house, Becky can’t help feeling excited as she envisions introducing her new baby to all the high-end baby clothes, shoes, and expensive baby carriers.  She’s also excited about her new celebrity obstetrician, Venetia Carter.  However, it all comes crashing down when Becky finds out that Venetia is Luke’s ex-girlfriend.  Now Becky can’t help wondering if Venetia poses a threat to her marriage.  I’d recommend this book, so read on.

Last, but not least, is Mini Shopaholic.  It’s two years later.  Becky, Luke, and their two-year-old daughter, Minnie, are living with Becky’s parents.  Apparently, every deal for a home fell through.  Becky does her best to remain positive as she struggles to get an out-of-control Minnie to behave.  Minnie wreaks havoc everywhere she goes and shouts “Mine!” for every possession she gets her hands on.  When a big, financial crisis comes along, everyone is forced to cut back.  Then Becky decides to plan a surprise party to lift everyone’s spirits.  The only problem is that she has to do it on a budget.  When she realizes how much the preparations will cost her, she has to decide whether to accept help from an unexpected source.

There you have it.  I’ve finished reading the entire series.  I really enjoyed every character’s story, conflict, and the quirks that came with it.  I’ll keep you all posted for other, recommended books.