Sunday, May 14, 2017

Coming Soon to a Bookshelf Near You: May 2017

Book Shelf

Loving this beautiful weather!   Time for lunches in the park with my favorite book.    What better time to share some books that have caught my eye.   These books will be available in May.  If you like, maybe even get on the waitlist at the library for these upcoming titles.

As a book blogger, I am able to request, read and provide feedback on upcoming titles.   I love being able to do this, but some months my ambitions are larger than what time allows.  I still have a full time job which interferes regularly with my reading/blogging schedule.  So I decided to share with you some upcoming releases that have caught my eye.    I would hate for you to miss an upcoming title due to my lack of time!!

Here are some books which were be available in bookstores in May 2017, that caught my eye!

And finally...the book I have pre-ordered as I can't wait to read it.............


Happy Reading!

*Note – if you would like to keep up with book reviews on Reading in White Bear Lake, please take a moment to like us on facebook!   If you are interested in my other loves: cooking, menu planning, organizing and my family check out our other blog, Living in White Bear Lake.   Living in White Bear Lake can also be found on facebook.

* This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Review: The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova


  Title:  The Shadow Land 
  Author: Elizabeth Kostova (Website)
  Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 11, 2017)
  Length: 496 pages
  Source: Good Reads and Random House


About the Book: (From Goodreads):
From the #1 bestselling author of The Historian comes an engrossing novel that spans the past and the present and unearths the dark secrets of Bulgaria, a beautiful and haunted country.

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by oppression and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Kostova's new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

My Review: The Shadow Land by Elizabeth is told from two points of view.  The view of Alexandra, an American that came to Sophia, Bulgaria to teach English.   The Shadow Land starts with Alexandra accidently becoming into possession of the ashes of Stroyan Lazarov.  She begins a wild goose chase of a trip to find the family of Stroyan Lazarov to return the ashes.  She starts this trip with a taxi driver, Bobby.  During their trip they escape danger, become close and meet many interesting individuals connected to Stroyan Lazarov.  Through their travels, we find out more and more about Stroyan.  Will they ever get Stroyan’s ashes back to his family???

Stroyan Lazarov also told the story of his life in Bulgaria during the communist regime.  Stroyan was very in loved with and married to Vera.  Stroyan was a very talented musician with his career derailed due to the communist regime.  Stroyan answers the door of his apartment one night and was met by the police and taken into custody.  The abuse and mistreatment that began is disturbing.  It is made even more disturbing by Elizabeth Kostova’s skillful, vivid descriptions.  Stroyan is a strong man with the ability to get lost in this thoughts.  Secrets are revealed and the connect between the past and present come to the forefront. 

Elizabeth Kostova’s writing and descriptions of Bulgaria are beautiful.  Kostova provides a very vivid snapshot of Bulgaria during two distinctly different times in history.  I found myself re-reading a sentence here and there due to skill of the writing.  I found The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova to be character driven.  The character, Stroyan Lazarov entered the story in an Urn and became my favorite and the most developed character.   Kostova provided such a detailed description of Stroyan’s life in the prison camp that you could even smell the scents of the camp.  Stroyan’s story was very compelling and moving as he struggled throughout life with the effect of the communist regime. 

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova is slow to build. Once Stroyan begins to tell his story,the pace increases and the pages fly by.  I decided to read a bit of The Shadowland this morning with my coffee at 6:30am….soon I find myself riveted to my seat until I finished the book around noon.  What a delightful way to spend a Saturday morning!!    The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova receives a 4 star rating from me.   I so enjoyed my travels around Bulgaria.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova was received from Ballantine Books through giveaway in exchange for a fair review.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware



Title:  The Woman in Cabin 10  
Author: Ruth Ware
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Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio; Unabridged edition (April 11, 2017)
Length: Audio CD Version
Source: White Bear Lake Library


About the Book: (From Goodreads):
In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read.

My Review:  I am a little late to the party as The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware came out in hard cover in the summer of 2016.  For whatever reason, I heard a lot about The Woman in Cabin 10, but didn’t pick it up.  This could be due to the fact that during that time, everything was compared to Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.   Ruth Ware is a new to me author, with The Woman in Cabin 10 being her sophomore book. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware comes out of the gate strong with the main character, Laura “Lo” Blacklock, being a victim of a break in, which understandably leaves her distressed.   Lo is a travel journalist and needs to leave for a cruise on a new luxury boat called the Aurora, despite the recent break in.   Lo struggles on the boat with feeling safe, which leads to her drinking too much.

One night she is awoken by a noise, she believes she sees a body being thrown overboard.  In typical mystery fashion, a murder happens with a witness, but everyone else denies it.   So did Lo really see this or was it a dream as a result of her drinking?   All the passengers are accounted for and the cruise staff begin to think Lo is making things up.  Lo is unreliable narrator with her drinking and history of mental health issues which adds to the confusion as to what is real.

The creep factor for me in The Woman in Cabin 10 was the setting!  A cruise ship in the middle of the sea and the sense of claustrophobia was very real for me.  ARGH!  Lo is certain a murder has happened, but she is trapped on a cruise ship with no way to contact the authorities.  She is unable to get ahold of her family or boyfriend due to not having internet access while out at sea.  I hate the feeling of being TRAPPED!

I listened to the audio of The Woman in Cabin 10, I loved the pace of the book and Lo seems even more unreliable when you listen to her.  There are many characters in The Woman in Cabin 10 and they are all pretty well developed.  I loved all the accents in the audio book!  You are never sure if you can believe Lo.  The suspense builds, twists happen and things start to fall into place.  The end had me on the edge of my seat.   The very last sentence or so of the book, made for the perfect ending!   I was very satisfied with the ending.   I finished The Woman in the Cabin 10 on my road trip to Duluth and give it 4 stars. 

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was also reviewed by Crime By The Book, Rebel Mommy, Mrs. B Book Reviews,  and Curled Up

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was checked out from the public library.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Review: One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

Title:  One Perfect Lie
Author: Lisa Scottoline (Facebook)
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Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (April 11, 2017)
Length: 368 pages



About the Book: (From Goodreads): On paper, Chris Brennan looks perfect. He's applying for a job as a high school government teacher, he's ready to step in as an assistant baseball coach, and his references are impeccable.
But everything about Chris Brennan is a lie.

Susan Sematov is proud of her son Raz, a high school pitcher so athletically talented that he's being recruited for a full-ride scholarship to a Division I college, with a future in major-league baseball. But Raz’s father died only a few months ago, leaving her son in a vulnerable place where any new father figure might influence him for good, or evil.

Heather Larkin is a struggling single mother who lives for her son Justin's baseball games. But Justin is shy, and Heather fears he is being lured down a dark path by one of his teammates, a young man from an affluent family whose fun-loving manner might possibly conceal his violent plans.

Mindy Kostis succumbs to the pressure of being a surgeon's wife by filling her days with social events and too many gin and tonics. But she doesn’t know that her husband and her son, Evan, are keeping secrets from her – secrets that might destroy all of them.
At the center of all of them is Chris Brennan. Why is he there? What does he want? And what is he willing to do to get it?

Enthralling and suspenseful, One Perfect Lie is an emotional thriller and a suburban crime story that will have readers riveted up to the shocking end, with killer twists and characters you won’t soon forget.

My Review:  Right from the beginning of One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline, I had an uneasy feeling about new school teacher Chris Brennan.  I had so many questions at the beginning, Who is this Chris Brennan?  Why is he is interested in these boys?  Why is he trying to turn the boys against themselves and gain their trust?  I didn’t like the way the story was going.  He was stalking a couple of students and now tries to befriend them.  The three boys from the base ball team, Raz, Justin and Evan are his main focus.  Chris Brennan is definitely not who the other teachers think he is.  Will he be able to keep up his charade to complete the steps of his plan??

Raz, Evan and Justin are friends on the high school baseball team.  Raz is impulsive and a bit of a live wire.  His father died within the last year.  His mother, Susan is struggling to keep her family together and understand her sons.  Then you have Heather, single mom and her son, Justin.  Justin is a sweet young man.  Heather tires so hard to keep her son in his school and maintain a home life for Justin.  She works very hard to provide what little she can for her little family. Finally, we have Mindy, everyone thinks she has it all. The wife of a surgeon with a very popular son, Evan.   Life isn’t always what is seems.  What possibly could be going on in this nice little suburban town? 

My uneasy feelings about Chris Brennan change about 1/2 through the book as the twists in the story start to be revealed. Secrets are revealed, crimes are realized, and everything comes together with a sense of urgency.  Once it starts to unravel you will not be able to put down, One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline.   I found myself actually holding my breathe.   For me, One Perfect Lie was slow to grab my attention, but had me as the action began.   As always, I think I will just read a few chapters with my morning coffee before going to work.  ARGH!!  Lisa Scottoline, you got me, I couldn’t put One Perfect Lie down and arrived at work later than planned!

This is my first time reading a book by Lisa Scottoline.  I have already loaded Most Wanted onto my kindle!   I give One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline 4 stars.  Any book that makes me late for work gets a 4 out of 5 rating from me!  If you are a fan of Jodi Picoult, I think you will really enjoy One Prefect Lie by Lisa Scottoline. 


One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline was also reviewed by Chick Lit Central, Red Carpet Crash, Librarian Laura, and BookFan. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline was received from St Martins Publishing through in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links

Friday, March 31, 2017

Review: The Child by Fiona Barton

The CHild


Title:The Child
Author: Fiona Barton
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Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Berkley (June 27, 2017)
Length: 384
Source: First To Read Reviewer Program



About the Book: (From Goodreads)

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell

About the Author: (From Author Website)

fionaFiona’s career has taken some surprising twists and turns over the years. She has been a journalist - senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards, gave up her job to volunteer in Sri Lanka and since 2008, have trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists all over the world.

Fiona and her husband are still living the good life in south-west France, where Fiona writes in bed, early in the morning when the only distraction is their cockerel, Titch, crowing.


My Review: I was very excited to have the opportunity to read, The Child by Fiona Barton.  I had read Fiona Barton’s debut novel, The Widow and love it!  In the beginning of The Child, there are a lot of characters and the narrative switches between them frequently.  It took me a little bit to get all the characters straight and feel a connection to them.   Three women are the main characters.   Katie is a journalist wanting to dig deeper into the story of a infant’s body found at a building site.  Emma is an Editor, she has some difficulty/anxiety.  She become very interested/obsessed in the infant.  Angela and Nick are parents of baby Alice who was abducted from the hospital shortly after birth. 

The character develop is great.  You have a good sense of each character and their inner thoughts while the story switches between past and present.  The Child by Fiona Barton starts off slow with giving you a glimpse into each woman’s life and you are also introduced to people in their lives as well.  Just as I began to feel like this story wasn’t going anywhere, my interest was peaked.   The small connections between the women’s life start to be skillfully revealed.  Ok, Ok…Fiona Barton you got me!  I am hooked.   Each connection brings you closer and closer to understanding the memories that haunt the women, with a few twist to keep you on your toes.

The suspense builds and builds.   I am reading the last few chapters in the morning before going to work.  Ok….I will have a second cup of coffee and read one more chapter.  Ok…. I will read one more chapter and work late tonight.  Ok…I am sitting on the edge of seat and on a total emotional roller coaster – tears and all!  I will finish this book before going to work.  Yes, I was late for work, but The Child by Fiona Barton was totally worth it.    Fiona Barton sure knows how to build the suspense and deliver a memorable ending! I give The Child by Fiona Barton 4 star – could I have a note for being late for work??

Pre-Order your copy today – The Child by Fiona Barton is being released June 27, 2017.

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Child by Fiona Barton was received from The First To Read Program at Penguin Random House in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff


Title:The Orphan's Tale: A Novel
Author: Pam Jenoff
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Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: MIRA (February 21, 2017)
Length: 368
Source: Netgalley

About the Book: (From Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Noa finds refuge with a German circus, but she must learn the flying trapeze act so she can blend in undetected, spurning the resentment of the lead aerialist, Astrid. At first rivals, Noa and Astrid soon forge a powerful bond. But as the fa├žade that protects them proves increasingly tenuous, Noa and Astrid must decide whether their friendship is enough to save one another—or if the secrets that burn between them will destroy everything.

My Review: The Orphan's Tale by Pam Jenoff captured me from the very beginning.  The Orphan's Tale follows the life of 2 women, Noa and Astrid.  You first meet Noa, a sixteen year old who recently had a child. The child was taken from her and now she finds herself abandoned.  She works in a train station for food and a room.  One night she saves a Jewish baby for a very difficult situation.  Now she is on the run to save the child. 

Noa finds her way to the circus owned by a German, Herr Neuhoff. Herr is one of those unsung heroes as he attempts to protect various Jewish individuals within his circus.  The circus, though in Hitler's Germany, continued to travel and bring entertainment around the country.  The circus brought a sense of escape to the attendees.  It is definitely a time in need of entertainment/escape to boost morale of those suffering the effects of war: hunger and poverty.
I found the circus life very interesting. Astrid had been with the circus all her life.  She started as a small child as an aerialist. Herr Neuhoff takes her into his circus, knowing she is Jewish.  She left her family circus after falling in love and marrying a German SS Officer.  The marriage is ended abruptly and Astrid is unable to find her family.  Astrid and Noa are never really sure who they can trust in Hitler's Germany, but have a strong bond that is tested numerous times.

I really liked Herr Neuhoff for his attempt to protect the Jewish performers in a very dangerous time.  The circus life was very close knit and interesting to read about.  I felt the characters were very well developed and I cared a great deal about a number of them.   The Orphan's Tale continues at a nice pace and the ending was very satisfying.  This is my first time reading a book by Pam Jenoff, but won't be my last.  

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff was also reviewed by Crime By the Book, Vilma’s Book Blog, and Clues and Reviews.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing
Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – The Orphan’s by Pam Jenoff was received from reviewer program and MIRA in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Review: Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens



Title:  Never Let You Go: A Novel
Author:   Chevy Stevens   (Facebook) (Website) (Twitter)
Genre:   Mystery, Thriller and Suspense
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (March 14, 2017)
Length:  416 pages



About Book: (From Good Reads) 

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband was sent to jail and she started over with a new life. Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When her ex-husband is finally released, Lindsey believes she’s cut all ties. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But can he really change? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?

My Review/Rating:  Young Lindsay meets the handsome, Andrew Nash.  They are young and in love.  They get married quickly and things start to change.   Andrew become possessive and psychologically abusive.  Chevy Stevens skillfully shows the progression of abuse in their relationship.  They have a baby, Sophie but the abuse does not stop.   Finally, Lindsay flees with Sophie in fear for her life.   Andrew is arrested and sent to prison.  Author, Chevy Stevens gives the reader a up close and personal look at domestic abuse.  Some of the scenes, may be difficult for some to read as they are very charged and powerful. 

With Andrew in prison, Lindsay is able to start a new life with Sophie.  Lindsay is a very resilient and strong character.  Even though she is fearful, she bravely continues on with her life.  She makes a nice little life for herself and her daughter.  Lindsay then hears that Andrew has been released from prison.   She knows he will come to find her and Sophie.

Andrew is released and does attempt to contact Lindsay and Sophie.  Strange things start to help and Lindsay believes that Andrew is stalking her and Sophie.   Things unravel and Lindsay seeks assistance from others in her inner circle that she trusts.

Never Let You Go by Chevy Steven is told in the voice of Lindsay and Sophie.  The story shifts between the past and present giving more clues of the past through out the story.   I love that Never Let You Go moves quickly and keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning.  Warning – if you get to the end of the book, plan on staying up until you finish the book!!   A very suspenseful, quick moving story with a bit of a twist.  

I have been a fan of Chevy Stevens for years and once again she does not disappoint.    Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens is a 4 star read for me!  You know a book is good, if  I am even reading it on my phone app!   The ending is intense… can’t stop reading and you have to finish the book!

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens was also reviewed by Crime By the Book, Vilma’s Book Blog, and Clues and Reviews.

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens was received from reviewer program and St Martin’s Press in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.