A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Elizabeth is Missing — Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey is one of the longer works of fiction I have finished listening to in the past few months. I will say that I picked it up based on the cover, thinking it might be a cosy mystery, but I was surprised to find out it was something altogether different…

ElizabethIn this darkly riveting debut novel—a sophisticated psychological mystery that is also an heartbreakingly honest meditation on memory, identity, and aging—an elderly woman descending into dementia embarks on a desperate quest to find the best friend she believes has disappeared, and her search for the truth will go back decades and have shattering consequences.

Maud, an aging grandmother, is slowly losing her memory—and her grip on everyday life. Yet she refuses to forget her best friend Elizabeth, whom she is convinced is missing and in terrible danger.

But no one will listen to Maud—not her frustrated daughter, Helen, not her caretakers, not the police, and especially not Elizabeth’s mercurial son, Peter. Armed with handwritten notes she leaves for herself and an overwhelming feeling that Elizabeth needs her help, Maud resolves to discover the truth and save her beloved friend.

This singular obsession forms a cornerstone of Maud’s rapidly dissolving present. But the clues she discovers seem only to lead her deeper into her past, to another unsolved disappearance: her sister, Sukey, who vanished shortly after World War II.

As vivid memories of a tragedy that occurred more fifty years ago come flooding back, Maud discovers new momentum in her search for her friend. Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance hold the key to finding Elizabeth?

I did enjoy this book but I found myself a little bit lost at times. I’m not sure if it was due to listening to the words as opposed to reading them or a stylistic choice by the author used to put you directly into the shoes of Maud, the main character, who is losing her memory to dementia. Confusion aside, it was worth the listen as the story was engaging and well told.

Rating: 4 stars

BOOK BLAST: Protected by a SEAL — Makenna Jameison | #Romance #Suspense

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Protected by a SEALNavy SEAL Brent “Cobra” Rollins never met a woman he didn’t want. He’s gotten more action than his entire SEAL team combined, but the gorgeous brunette he barely even touched is the one he can’t get out of his head.

Ella Thompson is working her way through school, and the cocky, assertive Navy SEAL who stood up for her is also wrong in about a thousand different ways. Player? Check. Older man? Check. Interested in a relationship with her? Not a chance in hell.

When she’s all out of options, Ella returns to her former shift at a cocktail lounge to make ends meet. Her boss is willing to give her the job back—for a price. The only thing scarier than submitting to him is being pawned off as payment to his enemies. The man who can save her is the one she should never want, but he’s the only one who’d also protect her with his life.

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About the Author: Makenna Jameison is a bestselling romance author. She writes military romance and romantic suspense with hot alpha males, steamy scenes, and happily-ever-afters. Her debut series made it to #1 in Romance Stories on Amazon. Makenna loves reading, writing, the beach, and traveling to new places. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and two daughters.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website | Blog

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There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

$10 Amazon Gift Card

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COVER REVEAL: Storm Wolf – Stephen Morris | #Fantasy #Shapeshifting

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Stephen Morris.pngStephen has degrees in medieval history and theology from Yale and St. Vladmir’s Orthodox Theological Academy. A former priest, he served as the Eastern Orthodox chaplain at Columbia University. His previous academic writing has dealt primarily with ate Antiquity and Byzantine church life.

He is also the Chair of the CORE Executive of Inter-disciplinary.net and organizes annual conferences on aspects of the supernatural, evil and wickedness, and related subjects. The magical and fantastic elements in his books are all based on authentic medieval and Renaissance occult beliefs and practices, as well as local folklore, legends, and history.

Stephen, a Seattle native, is now a long-time New York resident and currently lives in Manhattan with his partner, Elliot. 

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

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So let’s get a look at this cover…

He was given the wolf-magic to save his neighbors; now it drives him to kill them.

“LIBAHUNT!” Alexei breaks the terms of the wolf-magic he inherited from his grandfather and loses the ability to control the shapeshifting. His grandfather’s magical wolf-pelt was meant to protect their rural village in 1880s Estonia by fighting the terrible storms in the sky but instead, it drives Alexei to kill, slaughtering his neighbors, his friends —even his family.

Heartbroken, Alexei flees his home in search of an enchanter to free him from this hideous curse. Wandering through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Bohemia, he encounters the Master of Wolves, who forces Alexei to terrorize and murder the local farmers, and the infamous Frau Bertha who traps all those who anger her by turning them into wolves. Will Alexei find a sorceror who can free him?

Thought I was going to play fair… You should know me better by now!

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A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Stationary Bike — Stephen King

So what have I been listening to lately? A whole heck of a lot of short stories interspersed with some longer works. There are times when I’m driving when I just want a quick tale to encompass my drive somewhere and the short story is the perfect length. While they’re hard to find in audio format, they do exist! The first of these I’m going to review is Stationary Bike by Stephen King.

StationaryWhen commercial artist Richard Sifkitz finally gets around to having that physical he’d been putting off for years, and his cholesterol comes back dangerously high, he does what so many thirty-something, junk food-eating couch potatoes have done before him: He buys a stationary bike, and vows to ride it regularly.

Unlike many a mid-life exercise convert, however, Richard actually starts to ride his new stationary bike. A lot. Soon he’s spending so much time on his bike that he decides to put his artistic talents to use and paint a mural on the wall opposite his stationary bike. But it turns out that Richard’s mural is no ordinary picture, and soon his stationary bike is taking him places he doesn’t want to go, and can’t stay away from.

A riveting take on artistic frustration, mid-life mortality, and hard-won redemption, Stationary Bike is a thrill ride that could come only from the mind of Stephen King.

I have to admit that I’ve not always been the biggest fan of King’s long fiction, but I do really enjoy his short fiction. Each tale is cleverly told and as such, very easy to listen to. I enjoyed the tale of Richard Sifkitz and his stationary bike, and found the way in which King wove his need for the bike into the story as both a character and the setting. Not typically horrific in any way, there was definitely a supernatural and horrifying element to it. Well worth the read or the listen.

Rating: 4 stars

COVER REVEAL: Oak & Mistletoe — J.Z.N McCauley

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JZN McCauley.pngJ.Z.N. McCauley resides in lovely New England, where she loves wearing jackets and boots in the unpredictable weather there. She is a wife and mother who enjoys life to the fullest. Also, being a nerd across many genres is something she expresses openly.

McCauley spends most of her spare time writing, drawing, or reading. She loves archeology, mythology, history, music and many other forms of art as well. Always having a variety of interests and talents, she could never pick just one. When the chance pops up to travel to any of her favorite places, she takes way too many pictures. Otherwise she is exploring a mystical land in a daydream. Which all provides fuel to her immense joy of writing.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

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And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…

A Druid Curse, A Prophesied Love, A Consuming Vengeance…

Catherine Green, along with her twin sister and older brother, travels to Ireland on a college graduation trip. Her vacation takes a permanent turn when she lands her dream job at an art and history museum on her beloved Emerald Isle. She meets a handsome stranger named Bowen, an expert of sorts on local ancient studies. Though their first meetings are turbulent at best, Catherine finds herself drawn to him.

Unaware that she is the key to breaking a hidden curse, Catherine unleashes the evil madman Conall and his druid followers, imprisoned since ancient times. Tragedy and loss ensue, sprouting within Catherine the deep seeds of rage that thrust her onto the damaging path of vengeance. Confused by the enigma that is Bowen, his mixed signals, and her own feelings, she is swept away with him on an unexpected journey surrounded by myth and long-forgotten knowledge. In order to stop the evil plans of Conall and his reunified army, Catherine must entwine her fate with peril. Her survival is trivial to her as long as Conall dies. She’ll do whatever it takes.

Amazon Pre-Order | Amazon UK | Goodreads | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Advance Reader Copy Requests:

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I know, I teased you a bit… I couldn’t resist😉

Here it really is!

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COVER REVEAL: Recipe for Lust — Alice Ward #ContemporyRomanceontheSteamySide

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Alice Ward LogoAlice Ward is an Amazon Bestselling author who loves to write hot & steamy contemporary romances.

Reading and Writing romance is her passion and she writes with her true heart.

Living in Miami, the beach is her favorite place to relax with her laptop and write her next spicy romance.

However, when she is not reading or writing romance, she also enjoys being with her beautiful family.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

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And now for what you’ve all been waiting for…

When Claire, a young and ambitious cook, decides to audition for Extreme Cuisine, she has no idea just how much her life will change in just nine weeks. Having just gotten out of a long term relationship, she is ready for a new chapter, and maybe even a hot fling or two. Though she’s never been formally trained as a chef, Claire holds her own in the competition which pairs amateurs and professional chefs side by side. Her biggest surprise comes when her celebrity chef crush, Scott Maxim, becomes a fellow competitor. Sparks fly between the two both on and off the screen, and her crush quickly grows for the kitchen bad boy.

As the competition continues, everything seems to be going well for Claire. She holds her own in the competition and gets along with the other chefs, including Shep Thompson, Extreme Cuisine’s host and chef to the stars. As Claire’s relationship with Scott grows, however, her other cast mates begin to get jealous, especially Shep. Shep is quiet and kind, and Claire hardly notices his advances until he takes out his jealousy on Scott in the competition. Tension between the three grows, and the drama it creates angers the other competitors who think Claire is receiving special treatment.

Claire is pulled away from the competition when she gets news that her pregnant friend, Kennedy, has been hospitalized. Claire joins her friends in Boston, but is shocked to learn that Shep has followed her there out of concern that she may not return to the show. The two get even closer over one steamy night.

Claire decides to return to the competition, but with only a few weeks left, secrets and betrayal begin to surface. She realizes that nothing is what it originally seemed. With all revealed, Claire faces her biggest challenge yet: beating the professional chefs at their own game.

GoodReads

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I know, I teased you a bit… I couldn’t resist😉

Here it really is!

Recipe for Lust

Title: Recipe for Lust

Author: Alice Ward

To Be Published: August 19, 2016

Genre: Romance

Recommended Age: 18+

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Second Opinion — Michael Palmer | #Medical #Thriller

The Second Opinion is the second book I’ve enjoyed from author Michael Palmer. Akin to Robin Cook, he writes medical thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat. Let’s take a look at the synopsis before I delve into what I thought of it…

9780099489788Dr. Thea Sperelakis has always been an outsider. She has a brilliant medical mind and a remarkable ability to recall details, but her difficulty in dealing with hidden agendas and interpersonal conflicts has led her to leave the complex, money-driven dynamics of a hospital and to embrace working with the poor. Her father, Petros, is one of the most celebrated internal medicine specialists in the world and the founder of the cutting-edge Sperelakis Center for Diagnostic Medicine at Boston’s sprawling, powerful Beaumont Clinic.

When Petros is severely injured by a hit-and-run driver, no one thinks he will survive. Two of Petros’s other children, both physicians, battle Thea and their eccentric brother, Dimitri, by demanding that treatment for their father be withheld. Meanwhile, Petros lingers in the Beaumont Clinic’s intensive care unit, where Thea is his only advocate.

As Thea uncovers the facts surrounding the disaster, it seems more and more to be no accident. Petros himself is the only witness. Who would want him dead? The answers are trapped in his brain…until he looks at Thea and begins to slowly blink a terrifying message.

In The Second Opinion, Michael Palmer has created a cat-and-mouse game where one woman must confront a conspiracy of doctors to uncover an evil practice that touches every single person who ever has a medical test. With unforgettable characters and twists and betrayals that come from the most unlikely places, The Second Opinion will keep you guessing…and looking over your shoulder.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Most of that is likely down to the main character Thea, who was so beautifully crafted by the author. While she has a developmental disorder, it’s not stopped her from achieving much of what she desired. In fact, thinking back on it for a second, Resistant, the first book I read by Palmer also contained a character who was brilliant but challenged in some way—I wonder if that’s an element that exists in most, if not all, of his work?

The Second Opinion was a riveting story that began fast paced and never let up. A definite page turner even though I technically listened to it as I drove. I love the blending of medical fiction with mystery and thriller elements and this is not likely to be the last book I pick up from Michael Palmer.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Invisible Monsters — Chuck Palahniuk | #Bizarre #Brillance

I’ve read Palahniuk before and I’ve always believed he has a way of twisting a story so that by the end of it, you’re not entirely sure what just happened. Invisible Monsters doesn’t disappoint in this regard…

InvisibleMonstersShe’s a fashion model who has everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend. But when a sudden freeway “accident” leaves her disfigured and incapable of speech, she goes from being the beautiful center of attention to being an invisible monster, so hideous that no one will acknowledge that she exists. Enter Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, one operation away from becoming a real woman, who will teach her that reinventing yourself means erasing your past and making up something better. And that salvation hides in the last places you’ll ever want to look.

If you want to invest yourself into a book that will seriously mess with what you thought you once knew (in relation to the story of course), this is the book for you. It’s got a cinematic sweep to it where you can almost believe you’re watching a movie instead of listening to it. It was fabulous.

And if you thought Fight Club was a little twisted, or a lot twisted, Invisible Monsters delivers that same punch.

Rating: 5+ out of 5

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: Scavenger — David Morrell | #Thriller #Mystery

When I read Creepers by David Morrell, I knew I wanted to read more from him. When I saw Scavenger on the shelf, I immediately grabbed it and was pleased to learn it carried on the stories of some of the characters from Creepers. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like life was getting any better for them…

ScavengerFrank Balenger, the resolute but damaged hero of David Morrell’s acclaimed Creepers, now finds himself trapped in a nightmarish game of fear and death. To save himself and the woman he loves, he must play by the rules of a god-like Game Master with an obsession for unearthing the past. But sometimes the past is buried for a reason. Scavenger is a brilliant, frightening hunter-hunted tale that layers modern technology over the dusty artifacts of earlier times. The result is a surreal palimpsest, one that contains the secret of survival for Balenger and a handful of unwilling players who race against the game’s clock to solve the puzzle of the time capsule, only to discover that time is the true scavenger.

Scavenger was a thrilling book filled with intrigue, puzzles, death, mystery — you name it! It was well written, easy to follow, and had such an inherent creepiness to it that at times, I felt I was being watched by the Game Master. If you’re into stories that leave you guessing, I recommend picking this one up.

Rating: 5 out of 5

A REVIEW FROM MY COMMUTE: The Returned — Jason Mott | #Mystery #SocialCommentary

Sometimes when I pick up a book, I’m struck by the title, or the blurb. Other times, it’s the cover or a favourite author. With The Returned, it was a little different. The idea intrigued me and as my own imagination whirred, I wanted to know where Jason Mott had taken the idea of this singular but life-changing event…

thereturned.jpg“Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.”

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time…. Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep ― flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old. All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human. With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

So what did I think of The Returned? It engaged me from the first moment to the last one and felt as if I truly knew the characters and their stories. It really was a superb book full of heartbreak, joy, and everything else you’d expect in a classic. Pick it up — you likely won’t be disappointed.

Rating: 5 out of 5