Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More than the Woman in the Photograph

The Woman in the Photograph by Dana Gynther
Gallery Books
August 2015
320 pages
The Woman in the Photograph is a fictionalized account of the life of Lee Miller - famed model who become a photographer in her own right.  Captivated by a photograph, she hunts down the photographer Man Ray for an apprenticeship.  Her beauty, wit, and fledgling knowledge of photography get her not only the apprenticeship but Ray's  romantic interest.
As she develops her skills and even sparks a new technique, Lee realizes that most people only see her as Man Ray's lover -- calling her his assistant when they are being polite. On top of that, Man takes credit for some of her photos and accuses her own feelings ungrateful for all the mentoring and jobs he gave her.  While her resentment increases, Lee starts looking for additional ways to get develop her own career.
Branching out on her own causes distress in her already troubled relationship with Man Ray.  He feels she should be appreciative of being part of the "Man Ray school' and attempts to stifle any outlets he cannot control. He is jealous of her newfound professional and personal contacts and become increasingly troublesome
Plagued with doubt regarding her solo career and her life with Man, Lee finally decides to branch out in both her career and her relationship. Leaving Man's shadow by shooting fashion collections and finally war reporting during World War II leads even Lee to see herself as more than the woman in the photograph.
It was a quick easy read.  Dana Gynther was able to create a fluid novel based that brought all the characters to life.  

**This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.  **

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Master by Kresley Cole
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: February 2015

Catarina Marin needs money now. Enough money to start again on the other side of the country. A random sighting of her estranged husband has her on edge and ready to run. Forced to live under the radar and deal with aplenty of people willing to exploit her, she decides to escort to make some quick cash. Her first "client" is a “drop dead gorgeous” Russian billionaire with mafiya connections. The one problem is she is not the girl he requested from the agency. She doesn't even work for the agency and fulfilled her friend's booking.

Cat only has the most basic idea about escorting and would really be doing anything other than catering to snotty rich dude. Max did not get the woman he booked but decides to go outside his comfort zone.  When Max thinks Cat is trying to trap him, he goes full mafiya on her. Now that she has a husband hunting her and a billionaire mad at her, we get a little more of Cat's back story and see how she ended up in her current situation.  We also learn more about Max and his family and why he reacts to her the way he does.  Gradually, we see them growing on each other and realizing that they have feelings for each other.

The Master was an enjoyable read. It gets sexually explicit very fast. Even though the book is called The Master, it isn't really any bondage or BDSM - basically it's not a 50 shades clone.  Compared to the pacing of the rest of the book, the ending seemed a little rushed. Granted the main male character being a billionaire helped the action along as he would have money to get all the loose ends tied up quickly.

Just a note, this is actually the second book in The Game Maker series and has spoilers of the first book in the series. You might want to read the first book to avoid being spoiled and have a full scope of the series.  Although based on the snippet in the book, the first book seems like a pretty good story of its own.

This review copy was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Review: The Bracelet by Roberta Gately

The Bracelet by Roberta Gately
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: Nov. 6, 2012

Abby Monroe is a woman looking for a mission. Losing her job and longtime boyfriend in one fell swoop sends her running as far away as possible. When a job for the evaluating a UN immunization program in Pakistan opens up, she jumps at the opportunity. Despite all the warnings about her safety, Abby feels the job is the best opportunity to get back on track.
After making a short stop in Geneva at UN headquarters, she will be on to Pakistan. Life is relatively uneventful until her last day in Geneva. The day before leaving for Pakistan, she overhears an argument during her morning jog. Suddenly, she observes a woman being tossed over a balcony. Ducking behind a bush, she see the killer remove a very distinctive bracelet from the woman's body. When she gets the police to come back and look for the woman, the body is gone. She starts to wonder if she hallucinated the whole thing.
In Pakistan, she arrives at the UN staff house and meets Najeela, the local helper, and Hana, the housekeeper. Immediately, she is overwhelmed by Najeela and her flighty manner. She accidentally offends Hana the housekeeper by assuming she couldn't understand English. Seeing the conditions in the refugee camp, breaks her heart. The minimum of staff to run the office in such a busy and needy place overwhelms her.
Still having nightmares about the incident in Geneva, Abby is more than a little reluctant to be interviewed by a New York Times reporter. Nick finally wears her down and she agrees to the interview. Eventually over time, he introduces her to Zara who runs a safe house for women rescued from the sex trade. A whole new world is opened to Abby and she starts to feel driven to help. Nick lets her in on his secret reason for being in Pakistan, an expose on the sex trafficking trade.
While Nick is investigating her story of the woman's murder in Geneva, powerful people in Pakistan and Geneva realize they are about to be exposed as part of the sex trafficking rings. Abby and Nick are in extreme danger due to the story and the murderer from Geneva tracking Abby to Pakistan. Things get even tighter when Abby realizes that she has a connection to people close to the murderer. Running for their lives, Abby and Nick are forced into direct confrontation with the murderous mastermind of the ring. Only sheer luck keeps them alive to tell the tale.
The Bracelet is a great read with a deep message. Roberta Gately worked with refugees and incorporated her experiences and the stories she heard into writing this tale. You can feel Abby's compassion for the women she meets and the way she treats them with dignity. It's also great to see her growing relationship with Nick and how it develops from irritation to companionship. The revelations at the end of the story show how everyone wear two faces. All in all the Bracelet is a worthy read.

**This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Phantom by Jo Nesbo

Phantom by Jo Nesbo
Publisher: Random House/Knopf
Publish Date: October 2, 2012

From the jacket:

When Harry left Oslo again for Hong Kong-fleeing the traumas of life as a cop-he thought he was there for good. But then the unthinkable happened. The son of the woman he loved, lost, and still loves is arrested for murder: Oleg, the boy Harry helped raise but couldn't help deserting when he fled. Harry has come back to prove that Oleg is not a killer. Barred from rejoining the police force, he sets out on a solitary, increasingly dangerous investigation that takes him deep into the world of the most virulent drug to ever hit the streets of Oslo (and the careers of some of the city's highest officials), and into the maze of his own past, where he will find the wrenching truth that finally matters to Oleg, and to himself.

Phantom kept me guessing the whole time I read it.  I haven't read every single Jo Nesbo book, but this was one of the best books I've read from him. Complicated but coherent, the plot incorporates and develops existing characters from his previous work while incorporating new and interesting characters.  Seeing the havoc that the drug Violin brings into the streets and people of Oslo as well as his beloved Oleg.  Harry has to comes to term with the results of leaving former love Raquel & her son Oleg and wonder whether sticking around might have helped Oleg.  Each discovery he makes and clues he uncovers bring him closer to a truth he might not want.  For me, the cherry on top of this delicious novel was the ending.  I love that Jo Nesbo was willing to go there.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Banned Book Week

Reprinted by permission of the American Library Association.  
Banned Books Week is an annual event promoting free access to information and freedom from censorship.  Every year, books are removed (usually temporarily, rarely permanently) from circulation at libraries and schools due to challenges by "concerned citizens".  For 30 years, this event has increased public knowledge of attempts at book banning and highlighted the ways to fight the ban attempts.  Check out the website for events and tips on how you can celebrate banned books week.

Recently challenged books include The Hunger Games, To Kill A Mockingbird, Twilight, The Color Purple, The Kite Runner.  Looking at the list the common theme seems to be anything that has even a hint of sexuality or violence.  The challenges very often are based on keeping the children away from inappropriate material.  Squeamishness about sex and violence is understandable but acting like teenagers or even children should be sheltered from even age appropriate discussions of these topics just doesn't reflect reality, particularly a reality where kids spend tons of time on the internet and many have phones with data plans.  What are some of the banned books you've enjoyed?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blog Tour: The Doula by Bridget Boland

The Doula by Bridget Boland
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: September 4, 2012

 Growing up in a family that owns a funeral home, Carolyn Connors chooses to be a doula.  Helping mothers through their childbirth is more to her liking than shuttling people to the gates of death.  When her best friend Mary Grace asks her to be her doula, she gladly moves to Milwaukee to help her despite her premonitions of doom.  Her worst fears come true when Mary Grace dies shortly after giving birth.  The nightmare is only beginning when Mary Grace's husband decides to sue her.

Carolyn lives her life for others.  Her brother Paulie dies when she is 12 and her mother who had just had a miscarriage enters an extended period of depression.  But Carolyn also finds a bottle of pills when her mother miscarries and realizes that her mom probably induced the miscarriage (aka home abortion).  Carolyn takes responsibility for running the family.  She even becomes a nurse and works with her mother.  All the while, Mary Grace and Carolyn's siblings leave the nest and make their own lives.  Carolyn stays at home -  even sleeping in bed with her mom!!! - until the death of one of her patients while she was in nursing school.  So it's not surprising that she would pack up her life and move states to help out her best friend.  Even when Mary Grace sports some unmentioned implants and Mary Grace's husband clearly has some unexplained hostility to her. Carolyn grows over the course of the novel.  I was flabbergasted by the lengths she goes to in order to protect her clearly mentally ill mother and her super unhealthy relationship with her mother.   From allowing everyone to use her a crutch, she stands up for herself literally. 

Bridget Boland's writing is great but Carolyn was a difficult character to get into.  She seems to have some sort of foresight or prescience which she just chooses to ignore.  Even when a colleague advises her to fall back from the Mary Grace situation, she still charges in.  What's the use of ESP if you choose to ignore it?  Almost every conflict in her life is caused by Carolyn making the worst possible decision in every situation.  

**This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.**

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

My choice this week

The Cutting Season: A Novel by Attica Locke
From Amazon
Caren Gray manages Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation that sits between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, where the past and the present coexist uneasily. The estate's owners have turned the place into an eerie tourist attraction, complete with full-dress re-enactments and carefully restored slave quarters. Outside the gates, a corporation with ambitious plans has been busy snapping up land from struggling families who have been growing sugar cane for generations, and now replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when the body of a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the edge of the property, her throat cut clean.
What can't you wait to read?