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Saturday, January 02, 2016

Catching UP

I'm so behind on everything, including reviewing books I read in 2015.  I've grouped some reviews I had drafts of together and am trying to get caught up on others.

Thorn by Vena Cork is set in London.  

A family disrupted and grieving after the father's death, has each member trying to deal with the loss in different ways as their lives have permanently changed.  Rosa Thorn must take a temporary teaching position at a nearby school.  Her children, Danny and Anna must leave their expensive private academy and join their mother at the same neighborhood school.

Thorn kept my interest up until the conclusion.  Unsure of the villain, I had suspected the actual culprit at times, but there were other possibilities that kept it interesting.  Until the very end, I was not sure who the guilty party was.  What bothered me was the long, feverish, and overdone finale.

Thorn (first published in 2003) is the first in a series, but I am surprised that the Thorn family saga continues, as it reads like a self-contained standalone.  The next in the series is The Art of Dying, and despite my discomfort with the conclusion of Thorn, I'm eager to read more by Cork.

Read in Dec.; review scheduled for Dec. 30, 2015.  Jan.

NetGalley/Endeavor Press

Mystery/Suspense.  2003; Dec. 18, 2015.  Print length:  352 pages.

Passenger 19 by Ward Larsen.  

Brief description:  Jammer Davis has spent most of his life investigating aircraft accidents. When a small regional jet disappears over the jungles of Colombia, it is a tragedy like dozens of others he has seen…but for one terrible detail—his young daughter, who was enroute to a semester abroad in South America, is listed on the passenger manifest.  

 Although it would seem that all aboard died in the crash, Jammer's investigation reveals that the crash was no accident and that at least two passengers are missing from the crash scene.  A search for their remains comes up empty.  Jammer is convinced that his daughter is still alive, but both Colombian officials and his own government appear to be thwarting his investigation.

Crime, corruption, and suspense make this fast-paced novel an engrossing read.

Read in August; review scheduled for Dec. Jan.

Thriller.  Jan. 5, 2016.  Print length:  368 pages.  

   Hillwilla by Melanie Forde is listed as literary/contemporary/women's fiction.  

Brief description:  Beatrice Desmond, 55, lives on a remote farm nestled in a deep hollow in southern West Virginia. A native of Boston and a graduate of an Ivy League college, Beatrice is a fish out of water in Seneca County; although she maintains contact with certain friends and family, too often, Beatrice retreats into her work as a translator and editor, or into the bottle of Jack Daniel’s she maintains nearby. Fate finally intervenes, requiring Beatrice to befriend and shelter Clara, an abused teenager, and accept the job of ghostwriting the memoir of her dashing but enigmatic neighbor, Tanner Fordyce.

I think I may have chosen this one because of the cover, but the description interested me as well.  I became quickly immersed in the novel and enjoyed.  Beatrice is an interesting (if crotchety) character, and I love the setting.

Read in December.

NetGalley/Mountain Lake Press

Contemporary Fiction.  2014.  Print length: 208 pages.

A Better World by Marcus Sakey is the second book in the Brilliance trilogy, but I have not read the first book.  No worries, this one gave just enough background to allow me to enjoy this one without having read the first one.

In the 1980's children began to be born who were gifted in a a wide range of ways and a wide range of levels (Tier 1-Tier 4).  As the children grew up, their gifts became more obvious, and the world had to admit that a small percentage of these individuals had abilities that ranged from the ability to anticipate movement, to being able to tell if someone is lying or telling the truth, to the ability to read patterns to the extent that they can predict what will happen.  At first, perhaps, a novelty, but eventually, some of "the normals" begin to perceive these individuals as threats.  
As the children have grown into adults with these gifts, they have become both sought after and discriminated against because of their skills.  In this second book in the series, the U.S. is on the verge of a civil war.  Normals hugely outnumber Brilliants, but Brilliants have innate talents that can, in some cases, protect them.  Terrorism and corruption escalate the division between the two groups...and the end result might be the destruction of the world for both groups.

Suspenseful.  Easy to make some comparisons to the world's current problems.  

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Suspense/Dystopian/Thriller.  2014.  Print length:  392 pages.


  1. I had some time off for the holidays and thought I would be all caught up but no such luck. So I understand! I remember reading the Vena Thorn book several years ago but had no idea it was going to be part of a series. Interesting!

    Hope you are having a wonderful start to the New Year!

    1. The book didn't read like the beginning of a series, and although I found the conclusion too long and drawn out, I would read the next one. If it, too, were on NetGalley and free.

      Happy New Year to you Austenites!

  2. These all sound good! Happy new year, Jen.

    1. An eclectic bunch of books, but I enjoyed them. Happy New Year to you, too, Stephanie!

  3. I've read another of Marcus Sakey's novels and enjoyed it--what I remember most was how much it read like a movie. I haven't read any in his series though. It sounds different than the book I read, but good. I am glad you enjoyed it. The others sound good too. The Passenger especially.

    Happy New Year, Jenclair!

  4. Passenger 19 sounds like an engrossing read! I'll have to add that to my wishlist. :-)

  5. I'm perpetually behind; know the feeling. The first book sounded interesting because I love anything set in London but darn it, too bad about the ending. Happy New Year!