My best books of April involve some fairly alarming reads. Kidnapping, ransom, murder for hire, and an old hotel with fabulous mysteries to be solved. Also, a chick-lit book that was really good. And one that was a little too slow moving for me (about a book club)!
Hang on as we dive into 4 fabulous books and my least favorite of the month of April!
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The Chain by Adrian McKinty
Imagine. Your phone rings. The caller is unknown. You answer. A woman’s voice tells you that she has kidnapped your child. If you want to see your child again you have a list of things to do.
Pay the ransom and continue The Chain.
What is the chain? It’s a diabolical network of kidnappings that connect. If your child is selected you must pay the ransom and find another child to kidnap. You are the next mother (or father) that must grab someone’s child to continue the chain. If you try to break the chain, your child will be killed.
What would you do?
This is the premise of this fast-paced, chilling novel. Despite the unnerving setting, I raced through the pages. It was not-put-downable. It is an irresistible idea- that mothers and fathers will do anything to save their children. And it doesn’t stop with kidnapping another child. Maybe, the chain never ends. What else might you be asked to do?
How much money could you raise to save your child? And, who is profiting from this? Where does this money go? Who is the mastermind behind The Chain?
This thriller was one I kept seeing on Twitter and I finally decided to try it. Since I am a big Stephen King fan and this book had a tinge of his style in it I ended up calling it a definite page-turner. I give it 4.5 stars. It held my interest for sure. I did have one eyebrow-raising moment that involved an epi-pen…
Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
Finlay is a mom of two, divorced, and tying to write a book. Unfortunately, she is out of money, can’t pay her bills, and her ex has fired the nanny.
Then her literary agent calls. Where is her book?
Finlay meets her agent in a restaurant and they begin talking about the book. And, at a table nearby a woman is listening. As Finlay talks about a character killing someone the eavesdropper gets the wrong impression.
And, of course, the eavesdropper thinks Finlay is someone she can hire. She also just happens to need to kill her husband. And here is the beginning of this somewhat amusing little book!
I think you will be just like me when Finlay begins to google how to get rid of dead bodies. I have watched enough crime dramas to know that the police will find that evidence. Finlay also has a friend (the nanny) that helps her muddle through the difficulty of actually committing a crime.
Yes, the book is outrageous. It’s also funny and kept me glued to the story as much as possible. I listened to this book and loved it. 4.5 stars- only because it was a tad silly at times. I mean who sends their child to school with hair duct-taped in place?
Another Day in Winter by Shari Low
Four characters. One day.
One day to discover how the characters are intertwined and how it will all play out when they discover it!
Shauna had found some old letters of her grandmother’s that share a past her grandmother, Annie, had never revealed. She and her friend Lulu head to Glasgow to see if they can find out what happened in Annie’s past.
George is in palliative care as he nears the end of his life. He is carefully watched over by his grandson, Tom. Tom is distraught over finding out something from his past that he wishes to set right, but is so afraid it can’t be. Chrissie, a single mother, is being readied by dear friends for her first date in 12 years.
How are these four connected? The book is heart-warming and angering at times. There are relatives of some of the characters that you will want to just slap a few times. Yet there are warm moments between Tom and George as Tom tenderly takes care of his grandfather. You will laugh out loud at the antics of Chrissie’s friends as they try to get her through a very nervous day leading up to her date. There is frustration as Shauna and Lulu try to find lost relatives. And, you will discover how the main characters work it all out. (Don’t worry- there are a lot of characters, but the author includes a listing of them at the beginning of the book. You can check those notes if you get confused. To be honest, I learned who the characters were quickly and was not bothered by having so many!)
It’s a great little book that was a welcome story after the two reviewed above. After reading several “heavy” books in a row I was looking for something light-hearted and easy. This book did the trick! I loved it. In fact, I have read several books from this author and loved them all. After reading One Day in December I was delighted to find that the author continued this book-style with books 2 and 3- with different characters. Four and a half stars for this one!
Charlesgate Confidential by Scott Von Doviak
The Charlesgate Hotel was once a fine establishment. By the 1940’s it had deteriorated into a hideout for people that were down-on-their-luck, prostitutes, gamblers, and those looking for a little card game.
In the 1980’s the place was turned into a dorm for a local Boston college.
And by 2014 it had become upper-scale condos. So, what is the mystery of the Charlesgate?
First, let me explain why I tackled this book. It came highly recommended by… Stephen King. I figure if he likes a book I might, too. I was right!
The story of the famed Charlesgate Hotel is told in alternating chapters. The 1946 chapters tell the sordid story of a recurring card game that two shysters decided to break in on and rob. One thing led to another, including some mysterious deaths and the disappearance of some valuable paintings from a local museum. The paintings may or may not be hidden in the walls of the hotel.
The chapters labeled as 1986 tell the story of the college boys that lived in the hotel as a dorm. One boy, in particular, tells this part of the book from his point of view. He gets caught up in writing the story of the Charlesgate for the college newspaper. He interviews people that still live in the dorm as part of being “grandfathered” in since they were original occupants. There are normal college shenanigans and romances that are part of the story and, of course, the Red Sox trying to win the playoffs. And, there is the young man that uncovers the idea of some mysterious missing paintings…
The chapters about 2014 bring more former residents into the storyline as a college reunion is being planned. A detective comes face to face with old scandals and deaths as he investigates a new murder that has happened in the building. The new condominium complex still houses its share of secrets, including those still missing paintings. (Or are they still missing? Who stole them? Where were they hidden?)
I really enjoyed this romp of a book! You will find yourself reading along and then BAM a character from the past will surface. More than once I had to backtrack (thank you Kindle search feature) and note why the character sounded familiar. The book has brilliant writing in the way the three time intervals are woven together. I highly recommend the book with one disclaimer…
It was hard to get “into” this book at first. The multiple time periods and many characters was hard to keep track of. After about 50 pages I realized what was going on and then could not read fast enough. I did read a review of this book that compared the writing style to Stephen King and I had already thought that. It was easy to forget that he recommended the book but did not write it! 5 stars for this little gem!
My Least Favorite Book of the Month…
In a Book Club Far Away by Tif Marcelo
Three friends, Adelaide, Sophie, and Regina have been apart for many years. They first met on a military base as Army wives. Their friendship was nurtured through their on-base book club.
They had a secret code, SOS, which was sent out only when one of them was in real trouble and needed help. No questions asked, they dropped everything to help a friend.
Now, many years after a betrayal created a rift in their friendship Adelaide sends an SOS to the other two. Will they come and help her? Despite their dislike of one another, due to secrets from the past, Regina and Sophie arrive at Adelaide’s ready to help her through a difficult time. I will let you find out what Adelaide’s problem was as you read this novel.
The book alternates between present day and the year the women broke apart their friendship. Will they be able to talk through the hurt from the past? Will they become friends again? Or will they help Adelaide and move on?
To be honest, I chose this book to read because of the title. I love everything about books, book clubs, libraries, and reading. So, why is this my least favorite book of the month? Again, let’s be honest, it’s a good little book. But, if I have to list my April selections in order from best to worse, this one will be in the lower half. It was a really, slow-moving story. But, here is the thing that bothers me the most about today’s authors. Too many books have a “secret” in the background of the characters and the book promises to deliver a scorching tale of betrayal and angst. I find that 90% of books making that promise do not have a great revelation to share. It’s all very normal problems. And way too much of over-the-top drama that does not come to a powerful and promised conclusion. So, although I finished this book and can say it was good, I still give it 3 stars. If you like stories about friendships gone awry and enjoy the anticipation of the tale, you will love this book.
I know you will find something from my best books of April to enjoy as you read. Keep reading friends and join me in a month for my favorite books of May. See more details about the books reviewed in this post by clicking on the book covers or links in the reviews. You might also enjoy these blog posts: