Monthly Archives: April 2013

Unrivaled by Siri Mitchell Bethany House ISBN 978-0-7642-0797-6 387 Pages Paperback

Lucy Kendall returns to St. Louis from a European tour in September, 1910. It was her hope that she could use what she had learned about candy in Europe to create a new recipe in order to save her father’s failing candy making company. Unrivaled, written by Siri Mitchell, is the story of the circumstances Lucy comes home to and how they affect her life. She finds her father had suffered a heart attack and is now frail. Her mother threatens to sell the company and Lucy begs for time to develop a new recipe. Around the same time, Charlie Clarke arrives in St. Louis to reunite with his father. Lucy is a member of society. Charlie has recently been released from a jail in the South Side of Chicago. On the surface the two protagonists seemingly have little or nothing in common. But, in fact, they do. The commonality is candy. Charlie’s wealthy father now owns and produces the recipe for a wildly popular taffy that Mr. Kendall had once owned.

In the “A Note from the Author” section of the book the author writes “Candy is a surprisingly serious business” and this was true for Lucy and her father. Mr. Kendall had always maintained that Mr. Clarke had stolen the recipe from him, while Mr. Clarke maintained he obtained it legally. Suddenly, Mr. Clarke wants to put Mr. Kendall out of business and he expects Charlie to help him. Lucy will not give up her father’s business without a fight and she proves to be as creative as her competition when it comes to the battle. Mr. Kendall uses child labor in his factory while Mr. Kendall’s employees are treated like family. It becomes apparent someone from Mr. Kendall’s factory is giving their secrets to Mr. Clarke. Complicating life even further, Lucy and Charlie enter into a love-hate relationship actually comprised of more love than hate.

The story is alternately told in the voices of Lucy and Charlie. The dialogue is clear, precise and often witty. Tension runs high throughout this well crafted novel. Both protagonists deal with a variety of personal issues and the end result of the paths they take is a surprise to both of them. This is a book that is worth reading.
I received this book free of charge from Bethany House and I give this review of my own free will.

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Insane City by Dave Barry Putnam ISBN 978-0-399-15868-1

One would not call Seth Weinstein a high achiever. No matter. Much to even his own surprise, he becomes engaged to Tina who is beautiful, successful and the daughter of a billionaire. Insane City, by Dave Barry, opens with Seth and his “Groom Posse” traveling to Miami for an over the top destination wedding. He has no idea of what is about to befall him.
All that is really expected of him is that he shows up for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding ceremony bringing the custom made wedding band. These are not unreasonable expectations. However, he encounters a few obstacles. Through a series of events, his social group grows to include a stripper , her pimp, a man with an eleven-foot albino Burmese python, a frightened Haitian refugee and her young children and an orangutan named Trevor. With the addition of each character the story becomes more complicated and funnier. It is amazing how quickly things go from bad to worse.
Mr. Barry has written a novel that skillfully deals with serious social issues while being hysterical at the same time. The characters, for the most part, are unique and endearing in their own way. Some not so much. The end- well, it is a surprise. This is a laugh out loud read and I really enjoyed it-so much so that I am going to Miami.
I received this book for free through LibraryThing and I give this review of my own free will.

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A Matter Of Trust by Lis Wiehl with April Henry; Thomas Nelson ISBN 978-1-59544-903-7

A phone conversation between two friends, Mia and Colleen, is interrupted by a gunshot that leaves Colleen dead. So opens the mystery novel, A Matter of Trust, by Lis Wiehl with April Henry. Recently widowed Mia is the protagonist. Her husband’s unexpected death leaves her a single parent of a four year old daughter and a teenage son. All outward signs of affluence are quickly dispelled when she quickly learns that her husband had hid the fact that they were broke. She was able to get her old job back as a prosecutor and it was because of this she was able to renew her friendship with her former colleague, Colleen.

The District Attorney asks Mia to take charge of Colleen’s murder investigation. She is told she will be working with a detective- one that she has had difficulties with in the past. Her home life is troubled at best. Her daughter wakes screaming and her son is resentful of Mia as she relies on him to assume additional responsibilities. She is concerned her coworkers will resent her as she is a recent hire. She acknowledges that this opportunity could be an important career move, but she fears failure. She puts her fears aside because Colleen was her friend and she accepts the case with the stipulation that she can also work on another case that is close to her heart. She believes the suicide of young boy was as the result of bullying- both physical and through social media. She wants those responsible to be held accountable. Permission was granted and the investigations began.

Pace builds slowly and the narrative is filled with twists and turns. New characters are introduced when least expected and for surprising reasons. The reader watches believable characters struggle with the blows life has dealt them. The book does not feel like fiction and is cleverly written. In my opinion, best of all is that the ending was not at all predictable. I recommend reading this book as it is filled with important messages.

I received this book free from the publisher through BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Amidst Traffic by Michel Sauret One Way Street Productions ISBN:978-0-9883784-0-7 317 Pages Paperback

Amidst Traffic is a collection of twenty-two short stories written by Michel Sauret. Each powerful story stands alone, but eventually it becomes apparent that they are interconnected. Even though the subject matter varies from story to story, there are some commonalities which include introspection of the characters, a need for order and the search for answers.

All the stories are memorable. The first is Three Straws . Short order cook, Eli, is plagued by dreams of disfigured children chasing him. Unable to sleep, he begins digging a hole on his property. Exhausted, he finally sleeps but this is temporary. In the title story, Amidst Traffic, a young woman covers herself with unconventional tattoos which consist of words and phrases-the significance of which she no longer remembers. After much thought, I found the most poignant story to be When The Knife Opened. A young man with a knife on a New York City subway comes close to a life changing event.

This is a superbly written anthology. Mr. Sauret is a gifted writer who has a keen understanding of the human condition. Flawed and complex characters, originality and thought provoking themes make for fascinating reading. This is a collection that can be read more than once.

I received this book free of charge through Review The Book and I give this review of my own free will.

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