The Perfect Witness | by Iris Johansen

iris

The Perfect Witness by Iris Johansen
(St. Martin’s Press, 2014, 342 pages)

Overview:

She was the perfect witness–until they found her.

When Teresa Casali was young, she discovered that she could read people’s memories. But this strange gift became a curse when her mob boss father used Teresa to gain the upper hand in his world of corruption and violence. Exposed by her own family to the darkest impulses of mankind, Teresa finds herself defenseless and alone…until, from seemingly out of nowhere, she meets the mysterious Andre Mandak. Armed with a chilling set of skills, Mandak can protect Teresa and kill her pursuers. But can she trust him?

Now she’s the perfect target–and there’s nowhere left to hide…

With Mandak’s help, Teresa learns to control her power before it consumes her. It is his promise to get her into Witness Protection that convinces Teresa to assume a new identity: she becomes Allie Girard and tries to forget Teresa Casali ever existed. For years “Allie” lives a normal life with a new family…until the day her cover is blown and the truth spreads like wildfire. Now she will have to use her finely-honed gift to end the threat that began with her family’s betrayal. Nothing can stop her from revealing the truth…even if it kills her.

Review:

First, let me say, I really enjoy reading books by Iris Johansen.  Most of them keep me on the edge of my seat with all the twists and turns.  This one not so much.  This was not one of my favorites of hers.  It took me a while to get through it, which is unusual when I’m reading her books.  I kept asking myself, why it is taking me so long to get through this.  But at points it just seemed to drag on and on to the point of where I just wanted to get it read and over with.  I honestly think I finished it just because she is one of my favorite writer and out of respect for her.  I think she dropped the ball on this one though. Most of the writing was repetitive and didn’t move the story along. It didn’t really get my interest until almost the end of the book. There were several events in the book that I just found unbelievable.  She is truly a good writer though.  Maybe this was just a writer’s block or she was just having a bad moment.  We all have those moments.  Time to get over it Ms. Johansen and get back to the awesome writing that I know you do so well!

The Cinderella Murder | by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

cinder

The Cinderella Murder by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
(Simon & Schuster, 2014, 320 pages)

Overview:

Television producer Laurie Moran is delighted when the pilot for her reality drama, Under Suspicion, is a success. Even more, the program—a cold case series that revisits unsolved crimes by recreating them with those affected—is off to a fantastic start when it helps solve an infamous murder in the very first episode.

Now Laurie has the ideal case to feature in the next episode of Under Suspicion, the Cinderella Murder. When Susan Dempsey, a beautiful and multi-talented UCLA student, was found dead, her murder raised numerous questions. Why was her car parked miles from her body? Had she ever shown up for the acting audition she was due to attend at the home of an up-and-coming director? Why does Susan’s boyfriend want to avoid questions about their relationship? Was her disappearance connected to a controversial church that was active on campus? Was she close to her computer science professor because of her technological brilliance, or something more? And why was Susan missing one of her shoes when her body was discovered?

With the help of lawyer and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley, Laurie knows the case will attract great ratings, especially when the former suspects include Hollywood’s elite and tech billionaires. The suspense and drama are perfect for the silver screen—but is Cinderella’s murderer ready for a close-up?

My Review:

First of all let me say that Mary Higgins Clark is one of my all-time favorite writers.  I always like her books, but it seems that she’s happened upon a series with this one. This is the second book with the same core cast of characters; the TV producer, her father, (a retired cop), her son and a budding love interest! As a producer she creates shows where she tries to solve older unsolved mysteries. The mystery is good and the “guest” characters are interesting! I’m thoroughly enjoying this new concept and I can’t wait for the next one! Like her other books, it’s a fast and satisfying read. The characters are true to life, and the plot keeps you reading, wondering and guessing who committed the murder. A good page turner.

The Mistletoe Promise | by Richard Paul Evans

Misteltoe

The Mistletoe Promise:  by Richard Paul Evans
(Simon & Schuster, 2014, 272 pages)

Overview

Elise Dutton dreads the arrival of another holiday season. Three years earlier, her husband cheated on her with her best friend, resulting in a bitter divorce that left her alone, broken, and distrustful.

Then, one November day, a stranger approaches Elise in the mall food court. Though she recognizes the man from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks—until the evening of December 24—he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. He draws up a contract with four rules:

1.  No deep, probing personal questions
2. No drama
3. No telling anyone the truth about the relationship
4. The contract is void on Christmas Day

The lonely Elise surprises herself by agreeing to the idea. As the charade progresses, the safety of her fake relationship begins to mend her badly broken heart. But just as she begins to find joy again, her long-held secret threatens to unravel the emerging relationship. But she might not be the only one with secrets.

My Review

I really enjoy reading Richard Paul Evans novels.  He writes with great passion and his books just draw you into them.  This was one that I wanted to read over the Christmas Break.  A couple of my co-workers had read it and said how good it was.  They were so right.  This book delights the heart and is so full of love, grace and forgiveness.  His “Walk Series” was wonderful.  If you get a chance to read them, please do!!  So was this.  He has such a way with words that it makes you feel what his characters are feeling. This book was truly amazing and so powerful! It was all about wanting to change the past and trying to move on from the mistakes that you have made.  But it’s also about forgiveness. This book had me happy and in tears all at the same time. This is a Christmas story but I love that it wasn’t so over taken by the holiday but the holiday brought the characters together in a way that Elise never saw it coming. It was an enchanting & magical story of hope, pain, romance, forgiveness all in one! I could not put it down! A quick read.  If it wasn’t on your list of Christmas books to read in 2014, put it on your list to read for Christmas this year.  Believe me, you won’t be disappointed!  A beautiful story for Christmas!

Hope to Die | By James Patterson

Hope

Hope to Die By: James Patterson
(Century, 2014, 400 pages)

Overview:

Detective Alex Cross is being stalked by a psychotic genius, forced to play the deadliest game of his career. Cross’s family—his loving wife Bree, the wise and lively Nana Mama, and his precious children—have been ripped away. Terrified and desperate, Cross must give this mad man what he wants if he has any chance of saving the most important people in his life. The stakes have never been higher: What will Cross sacrifice to save the ones he loves?

Widely praised by the greatest crime and thriller writers of our time, Cross My Heart set a jaw-dropping story in motion. Hope to Die propels Alex Cross’s greatest challenge to its astonishing finish, proving why Jeffery Deaver says “nobody does it better” than James Patterson.

I am a fan of the entire Alex Cross series, however this one pulls out all stops.  Action filled from beginning to end, I could not put Hope to Die down.  His books are always quick reads.  While reading this book, James Patterson had me questioning things but never Alex himself. This book is a MUST READ for any thriller fan.  Please be sure to read Cross My Heart first to reap the full benefits of Hope to Die. I only have one question for James Patterson….when will the next Alex Cross novel be released ? It was hard to put down, it was just that good and you just wanted to read more and more of it.  And, I’m not just saying that because he is my favorite author.  When I think he doesn’t deliver in any of his books, I let it be known.  This book was GREAT!!!  It was full of suspense, excitement and overall was a good way to end Cross My Heart! It was fast paced and kept you guessing until the end. This is a must read for all the “James Patterson” fans out there!

Mr. Miracle | By Debbie Macomber

Miracle

Mr. Miracle By: Debbie Macomber
(Random House Publishing Group, 2014, 272 pages)

Overview:

Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track—and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store.

After trying to make it on her own, Addie has returned home to Tacoma for the holidays, but this time she plans to stay for good, enrolling in the local community college to earn her degree. What she doesn’t plan to do is run into Erich Simmons.

Addie and her next-door neighbor, Erich, are like night and day. Growing up, he was popular and outgoing while she was rebellious and headstrong, and he never missed an opportunity to tease her. Now she intends to avoid him entirely, yet when they’re suddenly forced to spend Christmas together, Addie braces for trouble.

Perhaps it’s the spirit of the season or the magic of mistletoe, but Addie and Erich soon find they have more in common than they thought—and that two people who seem so wrong for each other may actually be just right. With a little prompting from a certain angelic teacher, the two are in for a holiday miracle they’ll never forget.

I’m a big fan of Debbie Macomber and checked out her latest Christmas novel from the library to read while on Christmas break.  It was also made into a TV movie.  I couldn’t wait to delve into it.  It was a very enjoyable and uplifting story. It’s nothing too spectacular. It’s the kind of story you pick up, knowing what to expect, and you are not too disappointed.  It is a very sweet story about love and family and an angel’s first time on Earth and his perception of humans and love. Debbie delivers another delightful Christmas story to her fans. If you want a clean, easy-to-read, lovely holiday story, I believe you would enjoy Mr. Miracle. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mr. Miracle and unquestionably recommend this book.

The Longest Ride | by Nicholas Sparks

The Longest Ride

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
(Grand Central Publishing, 2013, 398 pages)

 Overview:

In the tradition of his beloved first novel, The Notebook, #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Sparks returns with the remarkable story of two couples whose lives intersect in profound and surprising ways.

Ira Levinson is in trouble. Ninety-one years old and stranded and injured after a car crash, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together – how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can’t possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.

A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans — a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he’s keeping doesn’t destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Sparks and I was not disappointed with this one. I enjoy reading his books, and The Longest Ride was a very good read! This was a believable book about love. I didn’t want to put the book down once I started reading. It had me laughing and crying. The format was a little different from how he usually writes, but the story was beautiful. As usual, the importance of love and priorities tied things together, and were especially appropriate in this book. I liked how he was able to take the reader from one character’s viewpoint to another, which made the book that much more interesting. I was pleasantly surprised with the ending, which made it that much more enjoyable. I would definitely recommend reading it if you’re  Sparks fan. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. 🙂

Big Little Lies | by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
(Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam, 2014, 480 pages)

Overview:

A murder . . . a tragic accident . . . or just parents behaving badly?  

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.  

But who did what?

Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

I really enjoy Liane Moriarty’s writing. She can write about a group of people in such a way that all of them are easy to relate to and memorable. I am impressed with her style of writing. I can say that I really ended up enjoying this one just as I enjoyed reading The Husband’s Secret. After reading The Husband’s Secret I knew I wanted to read more of her books. It is a superb read that you won’t be able to put down. It had humor, twists, and lots of suspense throughout the book. It truly grasped my interest and left me just wanting to keep reading it. The humor side of it was just the right amount without taking the seriousness of the subject matter away. Moriarty strikes again with a gripping story that insists you take a closer look at all relationships. It has an ending you will never guess and the characters are so alive. I enjoyed every minute of it 🙂

You can also check out Julia’s review.