Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Audiobook Review: Stay Close, by Harlan Coben

Stay Close by Harlan Coben book cover and review
I'm a big Coben fan and hadn't read one for a while so I was very entertained by Stay Close.

Megan, a suburban housewife with two kids, a handsome husband, and a beautiful house, has a secret past. When she decides to return to one of her old haunts -- where they know her as Cassie -- she ends up digging up more than she bargained for.

Ray, a two-bit photographer who is constantly down on his luck, is someone from Cassie's past. Ray inadvertently takes a picture of a man right before he disappears. He sends the picture anonymously to the police, and Detective Broome is on the case. 

These three characters will have their world turned upside down as they dig into this case. Turns out there are many more missing men, going all the way back to Cassie's and Ray's relationship.

Stay Close has also been turned into a Netflix series if you are interested. The audiobook narrator, Scott Brick, does a great job. The voices are distinct, but his narration doesn't get in the way.

As in all Coben stories, there are many twists and turns and lots of surprises. The characters are sympathetic, even with all their faults. The way these surprises are revealed is classic Coben, and if you haven't experienced his storytelling, you should try Stay Close. Or my favorite, Tell No One. Or really any of his mystery thrillers. You won't be disappointed. 

Published by Dutton, 2012
Audiobook obtained from
387 pages

Rating: 4.5/5

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Saturday, June 24, 2023

Book Review: Paradox, by Catherine Coulter

Paradox, by Catherine Coulter book cover and review
I almost forgot about this book!  A friend gave it to me and I read it on a camping trip and then left it in a Little Free Library.

Paradox is #22 in the FBI Thriller series, but the first one I've read. It was a quick, enjoyable read.

The main characters are Sherlock and Savich, a married couple, who thwart an attempted kidnapping of their young son. In the meantime, Chief Ty Christie witnesses a murder on the lake from the deck of her cottage.

When they drag the lake, they find a lot of old bones, and so the FBI (Savich) is called in. There are some twists and turns. The killer is known as the characters investigate. It has been a while since I read this and I don't remember many details. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but pretty much my experience with thrillers of this type.

I'm not a big detective series reader. Usually one or two books then I move on. I would be willing to experience these characters again, but not 21 more times! Also, just FYI, Savich has "visions" that help solve these crimes. I was OK with it, but some may think that is kind of a cop-out. Just sayin'...

If you are looking for a new set of police/detective characters to follow, Paradox would be worth a try. Nothing spectacular, but certainly kept my interest.

Published by Gallery Books, 2018
Copy obtained from a friend
448 pages

Rating: 3/5

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Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Book Review: Zero Days by Ruth Ware

Zero Days by Ruth Ware book cover and review
While Zero Days may not be my favorite Ware book, it can certainly be described as a page-turner!

Jack and her husband Gabe are experts at testing companies' security systems. Jack attempts to break into their facilities and get to the good stuff. Gabe tries to hack their computers. They are very good at what they do.

Jack arrives home very late from an assignment and finds Gabe murdered while sitting at his computer. The spouse is always the first suspect, and since Jack's alibi isn't airtight, she soon becomes the primary target of the investigation. In order to make sure that whoever did this pays for it, Jack goes on the run to try to solve the case herself.

At first, I thought the setup was a bit too cutsie, but soon things take a dramatic turn. At about 50% you begin to suspect the bad guy. But I think that is by design, and you are only at 50%, so trust me, there's a lot more to it. Jack is one of the most determined and resilient characters I have ever met. The length she goes to is astounding. The twists and turns are exciting.

And the end is a bit cutsie too. But all in all, I enjoyed Zero Days a lot and would recommend it. This was a very quick read for me, during times when I've not been reading quickly at all! That says a lot.

Published by Gallery/Scout Press, June 20, 2023
eARC obtained from Edelweiss+
368 pages

Rating: 4/5

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Thursday, June 15, 2023

Book Review: Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See

Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See book cover and review
I have enjoyed several of Lisa See's books, and Lady Tan's Circle of Women is no exception. She has a way of writing that draws you into the lives and environment of the characters in ancient China.

I'm going to copy the description from I don't usually do that, but this is a good one. Here's the thing. I went on a month-long camping trip and finished 80% of this book. Then, I got home a month ago and had the yard, the garden, the grandkids, and just generally catching up. So I just now finished this book. And we are leaving on another camping trip today. So that's my excuse (if you've made it this far.)

According to Confucius, “an educated woman is a worthless woman,” but Tan Yunxian—born into an elite family, yet haunted by death, separations, and loneliness—is being raised by her grandparents to be of use. Her grandmother is one of only a handful of female doctors in China, and she teaches Yunxian the pillars of Chinese medicine, the Four Examinations—looking, listening, touching, and asking—something a man can never do with a female patient.

From a young age, Yunxian learns about women’s illnesses, many of which relate to childbearing, alongside a young midwife-in-training, Meiling. The two girls find fast friendship and a mutual purpose—despite the prohibition that a doctor should never touch blood while a midwife comes in frequent contact with it—and they vow to be forever friends, sharing in each other’s joys and struggles. No mud, no lotus, they tell themselves: from adversity beauty can bloom.

But when Yunxian is sent into an arranged marriage, her mother-in-law forbids her from seeing Meiling and from helping the women and girls in the household. Yunxian is to act like a proper wife—embroider bound-foot slippers, pluck instruments, recite poetry, give birth to sons, and stay forever within the walls of the family compound, the Garden of Fragrant Delights.

How might a woman like Yunxian break free of these traditions, go on to treat women and girls from every level of society, and lead a life of such importance that many of her remedies are still used five centuries later? How might the power of friendship support or complicate these efforts? Lady Tan’s Circle of Women is a captivating story of women helping other women. It is also a triumphant reimagining of the life of a woman who was remarkable in the Ming dynasty and would be considered remarkable today.

See's books are so easy to read. The belief system of 15th-century China is fascinating. Foot binding, how women were treated, the class system, childbirth, all of it. If you are interested in the topic, I highly recommend Lady Tan's Circle of Women.

Published by Scribner, June 6, 2023
eARC obtained from Edelweiss+
368 pages

Rating: 5/5

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