THE CANDLE FACTORY GIRL by TANIA CROSSE

The Candle Factory Girl: A gritty story of deceit and betrayal...

1930’s London – A backstreet saga full of hopes, dreams and the fight for survival. Perfect for the fans of Rosie Clarke and Lindsey Hutchinson.

Work at Price’s Candle Factory in Battersea is tedious for intelligent, seventeen-year-old Hillie Hardwick, but she knows she is lucky to have a job at all.

Her home life is no better, as she constantly battles with her exacted and bullying father in order to protect her mother and five younger siblings from his tyranny of abuse.

Her only solace is her loving relationship with the chaotic Parker family and her best friend, Gert Parker.

When matters violently escalate for Hillie, smitten Jack-the-Lad Jimmy Baxter seems her only salvation.

But could this be the biggest mistake of her life, and should she be looking for protection nearer home?

A story that crackles with unease where courage and friendship are the only hope.

Set in a time where women and girls did not have much say in their lives. It was acceptable to leave school at 14 and go to work. And that is what Hillie did. Much to her own dismay. She works and must turn her paycheck over to her father, who in turn physically and verbally abuses her on a daily basis as well as her mum.

Hillie doesn’t understand why her father does this. Why he hates her so much. She just wants out. And in her desperation she makes a choice she may later come to regret.

This story of families, secrets, hardship and life in the 30’s was a little sad, but ultimately seeing Hillie free herself allows other girls to stand up to their overbearing parents and grab the life and love that they want.

Good, Solid story!

NetGalley/Aria   March 01, 2018

Boys Keep Swinging: A Memoir by Jake Shears

Boys Keep Swinging: A Memoir

In the bestselling tradition of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, the lead singer of the multiplatinum-selling band Scissor Sisters explores his evolution as a young artist: coming of age in the Pacific Northwest and Arizona, his entry into New York City’s electrifying, ever-changing music scene, and the Scissor Sisters’ rise as they reached international fame in the early 2000s.

Before hitting the stage as the lead singer of the iconic glam rock band Scissor Sisters, Jake Shears was Jason Sellards, a teenage boy in Arizona living a double life and unable to hide it any longer, resulting in a confusing and confining time in high school as his classmates bullied him and teachers showed little sympathy.

It wasn’t until years later, during a trip to visit a childhood friend in New York City, that Jake met a talented musician nicknamed Babydaddy—the stage name of Scott Hoffman. Jake had found a kindred spirit, someone thirsting for stardom and freedom. Their instant bond led them to form Scissor Sisters. First performing in the smoky gay nightclubs of New York City, then finding massive success in the United Kingdom, Scissor Sisters would become revered by the LGBTQ community, reach platinum status, and also win multiple accolades with hits like “Take Your Mama” and “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” as well as their cult-favorite cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”

Candid and courageous, Shears’s writing sings with the same powerful, spirited presence that he brings to his live performances. Following his development from a misfit boy who grew to a dazzling rock star, this entertaining and evocative memoir will be an inspiration to anyone with determination and a dream.

In his memoir, Jake takes us from his childhood in Arizona and the Pacific Northwest, and in neither place did he fit in. He was too flamboyant, too out there, just too over the top. But he didn’t know how to be anything other than what he was. Gay, in a time and place that could get you ostracized and hurt.

The relationship with his mother was one of total acceptance. His father more stoic silence.

Trying to find his own identity and voice, he realizes he wants to sing. On stage. Be the center of attention, which he loves. When he moves to New York, his meeting with Babydaddy is pivotal and begins the formation of the band Scissor Sisters.

The beginning was pretty good. The description of the gay community as well as the Seattle music scene was very interesting. Then we got to the middle and I was really trying hard to step over the names being dropped.

I would have liked to know more about his depression and how the band wasn’t that huge in the U.S. and why.  Were there parts that were a little slow? Yes. Was the gratuitous name dropping necessary? Not that I could tell. I would read the first half again.

Netgalley/Atria  February 20, 2018

A GRAVE ISSUE (A Funeral Parlor Mystery) by Lillian Bell

A Grave Issue (A Funeral Parlor Mystery #1)

After an on-air gaffe goes viral and jeopardizes her career, journalist Desiree Turner retreats home to Verbena, California for some peace and quiet. She begins working one of the quietest jobs around: presiding over funerals for her great-grandfather’s funeral parlor. But the action seems to follow her as a fist fight breaks out between neighbors Rosemarie Brewer and Lola Hansen at one of the first funerals she’s in charge of running. It exposes a nasty dispute and Rosemarie’s husband, Alan, is found murdered shortly after.

Lola’s husband, Kyle, is immediately arrested. Desiree, whose own father’s death was devastating, has always viewed Kyle as a second father. Determined to clear his name, Desiree jumps head first into the investigation and quickly discovers that Alan had several unsavory habits at his job and in his personal life, including putting assets into his mistress’s account to hide them from Rosemarie. People murder for money and love all the time, and there’s no telling who he offended just enough to push them over the edge.

Desiree is looking in all the right places, but she better catch the killer fast before they come for her next in A Grave Issue, the clever series debut by Lillian Bell.

Ms. Bell has gotten off to a very good start with this new series, featuring Deisree, an on air news reporter who got caught with a hot mic on. With the added stress of her father presumed dead over a year ago when he went out to surf and never returned. And a pregnant sister who has been placed on strict bed rest.

So Desiree heads home to Verbena to lick her wounds and figure out what she is going to do next. It looks as if bad luck has trailed her home however when one thing after another keeps her name in the paper.

This is a very clever cozy mystery! Part serious, part funny and pretty much exactly what I like in a story. A smart, tenacious, independent woman and a bunch of people keeping secrets, which we all know never stay hidden, especially when Desiree starts pulling on threads. People get a tad touchy! Or dead.

Underneath the story is the tale what really happened to her dad? Who is leaving mysterious gifts for Desiree and her sister? So there is a good bit of layering to this series and I like it.

Well Done Ms. Bell!

Netgalley/CrookedLaneBooks   February 13, 2018

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

The Philosopher's Flight

A thrilling debut from ER doctor turned novelist Tom Miller, The Philosopher’s Flight is an epic historical fantasy set in a World-War-I-era America where magic and science have blended into a single extraordinary art. “Like his characters, Tom Miller casts a spell.” (Matthew Pearl, author of The Dante Club and The Last Bookaneer)

Eighteen-year-old Robert Weekes is a practitioner of empirical philosophy—an arcane, female-dominated branch of science used to summon the wind, shape clouds of smoke, heal the injured, and even fly. Though he dreams of fighting in the Great War as the first male in the elite US Sigilry Corps Rescue and Evacuation Service—a team of flying medics—Robert is resigned to mixing batches of philosophical chemicals and keeping the books for the family business in rural Montana, where his mother, a former soldier and vigilante, aids the locals.

When a deadly accident puts his philosophical abilities to the test, Robert rises to the occasion and wins a scholarship to study at Radcliffe College, an all-women’s school. At Radcliffe, Robert hones his skills and strives to win the respect of his classmates, a host of formidable, unruly women.

Robert falls hard for Danielle Hardin, a disillusioned young war hero turned political radical. However, Danielle’s activism and Robert’s recklessness attract the attention of the same fanatical anti-philosophical group that Robert’s mother fought years before. With their lives in mounting danger, Robert and Danielle band together with a team of unlikely heroes to fight for Robert’s place among the next generation of empirical philosophers—and for philosophy’s very survival against the men who would destroy it.

In the tradition of Lev Grossman and Deborah Harkness, Tom Miller writes with unrivaled imagination, ambition, and humor. The Philosopher’s Flight is both a fantastical reimagining of American history and a beautifully composed coming-of-age tale for anyone who has ever felt like an outsider.

This fantastical tale is well written, but I just could not grab a connection to it. The words are inventions and why so many?

It was difficult for me to suspend belief and jump into this fantasy world when I had no idea what some of the words meant and they sure were not in the dictionary!

However I can see how it would appeal to hardcore, world building, fantasy lovers.

Netgalley/SimonandSchuster  February 13, 2018

 

WHO’S THAT GIRL? by Celia Hayes

Who's that Girl?

Sam Preston appears to be living the glamorous life of a journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle…

If only that was the case… in reality, she’s frustratingly single, stuck living in her parents’ house, and oh yeah, in love with her boss, Dave, who barely knows that she exists…

Life seems like it will never change… until the day Sam is put on an assignment with Dave, reporting on the San Francisco Fashion Week. She hopes this might be a turning point in their relationship…

But things never go to plan and practically overnight, Sam becomes an accidental contestant in the Beautiful Curvy pageant and life suddenly becomes very complicated.

How will she manage her new rise to stardom, her job, and her sudden irresistibility to not only Dave, but a new man on the scene?

Oh my goodness this was a fun read!

Sam wants to be a journalist. She’s working at The Chronicle but her job turns out to be everyone else’s jobs they don’t want. Not writing, no chasing stories.

As a matter of fact the only thing she is chasing is Dave. Dave who has never actually looked at her. But in her mind he is hers!

While Dave tries not to get into trouble and lose his job over fashion week, Sam has fallen into a beauty pageant for curvy gals! And underneath all of those sweats and baggy clothes is a stunner of a woman. Not the ideal thing when Dave is trying to behave.

I loved that Sam found her voice and figured out for herself that she was beautiful and curvy and she loved it! And now she has not one but two men fighting over her. Who will she choose? One? Neither?

Read it and be surprised. This was a fun read with a little moral of not judging people!

Good Job!

Netgalley/Aria   February 01,2018

By The Book a novel by Julia Sonneborn

By the Book

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

Billed as a modern look at Jane Austin’s Persuasion, the lead character, Anne, was possibly a Lit snob. A typical thirty something with enormous student debt, needing a book deal to secure tenure. Of course her book is on 19th century women authors.

In the book she is about as scatterbrained as most professors and although she has her PHD, why is it that the Jane Austen types are always so intelligent except for men. They are continually languishing over some troubled and large and unavailable men. This is rather a sore point with me.

How can you be so smart and fall into bed with someone you just met? Knowing absolutely nothing about them?

Along with her best friend/mentor, Larry, who is not only gay but was almost a cliched stereotype. And there’s the new Author in Residence who is my idea of a horrible author and person. It was difficult to like any of them but at least Larry made me laugh the entire time!

This will be released on February 06, 2018   Netgalley/SimonandSchuster

Perish(Gardiner and Renner Thriller) by Lisa Black

Perish (Gardiner and Renner, #3)

Bestselling author Lisa Black takes readers on a nail-biting journey to the dark side of justice as forensic expert Maggie Gardner discovers troubling new details about her colleague Jack Renner, a homicide detective with a brutal approach to law and order . . .

The scene of the crime is lavish but gruesome. In a luxurious mansion on the outskirts of Cleveland, a woman’s body lies gutted in a pool of blood on the marble floor. The victim is Joanna Moorehouse, founder of Sterling Financial. The killer could be any one of her associates.

Maggie knows that to crack the case, she and Jack will have to infiltrate the cutthroat world of high-stakes finance. But the offices of Sterling Financial seethe with potential suspects, every employee hellbent on making a killing. When another officer uncovers disturbing evidence in a series of unrelated murders, the investigation takes a surprising detour.

Only Maggie recognizes the blood-soaked handiwork of a killer who has committed the most heinous of crimes—and will continue killing until he is stopped. Burdened with unbearable secrets, Maggie must make an agonizing choice, while her conscience keeps telling her: she’s next.

Jack and Maggie have settled in to a somewhat shaky truce. He may have a rather unorthodox hobby, but he does work well with Maggie and his partner. I like to think of them as CSI meets Dexter.

There were suspects coming out of the woodwork here and all had different reasons for wanting to get rid of the boss. There were so many unlikable characters in this book that I was actually cheering for the serial killer cop!

The story revolves around Sterling, and we get more than a few lessons on finances and shady mortgage lenders and what is legal is not always ethical, and as much as I love a good Lisa Black novel, about half of that could be taken out. It detracted from the story and I found myself skimming over it and I don’t like to do that.

The motive and the killer were both a shocker in the end and we can only hope there will be another Jack and Maggie book!

Netgalley/Kensington  January 30.2018