FLAME IN THE MIST by Renee Ahdieh / YA / Released May 2017 by Penguin Random House
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan where Mulan meets Throne of Glass.
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor’s favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family’s standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.
Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and track down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN FLORENCE: A Story of Botticelli by Alyssa Palombo / Released April 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin
In the Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, Alyssa Palombo introduces us to the Renaissance beauty Simonetta, the woman Botticelli portrayed over and over again in his paintings. Of course, Palombo’s Simonetta is a very twenty-first century woman: she chortles, rolls her eyes, snorts, chats with her very best friend, takes baths and washes her hair on a whim. And, although ideas of sexual equality were generally unavailable at the time — few Renaissance women objected to the patriarchal culture — she, like any modern self-created woman, reacts with contemporary indignation when her honor is challenged.
Palombo has, nonetheless, created two delightful romantic characters (she has had to flesh out Simonetta from a few footnotes only): her Simonetta has a lively mind and excellent repartee; and the sensual, sensitive Botticelli is pretty well the only male in the book who doesn’t indulge in roguish behavior. Of course, reality might have been very different: Botticelli never married, wasn’t thought to be particularly fond of women, and he did become a follower of the radical and destructive Friar Savonarola; and portraits of the real Simonetta show a woman so bland, it’s hard to imagine her with a sparking personality.
Yes, Palombo’s Simonetta can be irritating — there’s barely a page where she doesn’t remind us of her beauty, or repeat the compliments she receives about her intelligence, and she does tend to name drop, to mention classical works she has read without telling us how they apply to life — yet this is a well written, clever, romantic historical fiction. It is also a book that might inspire readers to read further, to take an interest in a period of history that created much wondrous art, music, and was a new era of science and philosophy. And that’s one of the best things any good book can do.
Review provided by J. Arlene Culiner
RAZOR GIRL by Carl Hiaasen / Suspense & Thriller
Released May 2, 2017 by Penguin Random House
ONE PERFECT LIE by Lisa Scottoline / Suspense
Released April 11, 2017 by St. Martin’s Press
I’ve never been let down by any of Lisa Scottoline’s books I’ve read, and “One Perfect Lie” is no exception to that experience. Lisa’s trademark style of writing isn’t found in a unique flair of prose, but in an immediate immersion into a story that hits the ground running and takes the reader along with it.
Even though I gingerly dipped my toe into a story I worried might have more grit than I could handle, I was happily in over my head within the first few paragraphs and gladly stayed there until the end.
“One Perfect Lie” drops us into the careful planning of a domestic terrorist, only to shock the reader about half way through when unexpected character motives explode on the page. Built upon a quiet community and the close knit members of a high school baseball team and their teachers, Lisa stacks chapter next to chapter, a serial revelation of what makes up each boy, his family, and the teachers around him. The reader knows there is a terrorist plot brewing beneath the unfolding psychology of each person and family, but has to stay on the fast-paced ride of personal betrayal, success, insecurity, loss, and achievement to see these characters through to the end. A race against time and against individual demons, “One Perfect Lie” is a multidimensional story of broken hearts, broken lives, and the individual ways people choose to mend them.
This story is not gruesome or unpalatable for the weak-kneed, but it is gripping from beginning to end. Lisa did an excellent job of tying up every character and dilemma, bringing satisfaction even in heartache. Five stars for “One Perfect Lie.”
Review provided by Colleen L. Donnelly Amazon #1 Bestselling Author of “Mine to Tell”
A FATAL TWIST (A Downward Dog Mystery) by Tracy Weber / Released Jan 2017 by Midnight Ink
What is prevalent throughout this novel is a sense of responsibility. Led by the protagonist, Kate Davidson, who is a very honorable, upright person, those she holds near and dear either have a sense of responsibility or aspire to it. This theme is seen not only in their dealings with one another, but for those coming into the world. Natural childbirth is a large part of this book, as is responsibility toward animals. Murder and mayhem may ensue, but what needs to be done for those in our care comes first. The surrounding characters are interesting and multi-faceted. The story moves along, sometimes wrapping itself around the delivery of a child, or dealing with a challenged pet. But always hovering in the background is the whodunit, never far away. A really fun scene takes place in a fertility clinic. I think Ms. Weber’s fans will be quite pleased with her latest offering.
Reviewed provided by Heather Haven
Amazon #1 Best Seller
MINE TO TELL by Colleen L. Donnelly / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction / Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Annabelle Crouse is determined to reopen her great-grandmother’s boarded-up house – and her shunned life. Many years earlier, after an unexplained absence, Julianne was relegated to a separate home by a rigidly unforgiving husband, and the Crouse women have suffered the disgrace of her assumed guilt ever since.
Despite her family’s strong disapproval, Annabelle is driven to pursue her mission through cobwebs and dust, finding the clues and the coded story left behind by her great-grandmother – Why did she go? And why did she return? Anabelle has too know.
Only one person, a man she grew up with but never noticed, stands with Annabelle as she discovers the parallels between her story and her great-grandmother’s – two women, generations apart, experiencing what love truly is.
COLLEEN L. DONNELLY
Born and raised in the Midwest, Colleen earned a four-year degree in Medical Technology and used it to travel and explore other parts of the country while working in the field of science. Beyond the laboratory world, she delves deeply into literature, both reading and writing, her interest piqued by tales involving moral dilemmas and the choices people come up against. A lover of the outdoors as well as a comfy living room, Colleen is always searching inside and out for the next good story.
HEAR ME ROAR / By Joy Smith
Women’s Fiction/Thriller / Released Feb 10, 2017 by The Wild Rose Press
When crime strikes the neighborhood, a husband’s dark side comes to light, and a mother must find the strength to protect her children.
Jan Simmons never expected trouble to move into her quiet Charming Way cul-de-sac. Nor did she expect her husband Jeff’s weakness for fast money to drag their once happy family into danger. When her husband turns to crime, Jan, a people-pleaser with little self-worth, must release the death grip she has on her failing marriage for the sake of her children and draw on her inner strength. As Jan fights to free her family from a web of lies and deceit she also battles to save herself.
Bio: Joy Smith merged a successful career in nonfiction with fiction writing when she discovered making up stories and characters was more fun than sugarcoating facts. In addition to Hear Me Roar, Joy is the author of a romantic suspense and a children’s book, as well as four how-to books and a cookbook. When she is not glued to her computer or contriving plots, she might be out sailing with her handsome captain, at home crocheting shawls and blankets to donate to those in need, or at the gym trying to work off those danged extra pounds. http://www.joysmith.net