Reader Profile – Dr. Anne Kress


Anne_KressDr. Anne Kress is President of Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY. She serves as Chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and is well-known nationally for her work in higher education. Dr. Kress is also a Reader. Here, she shares her views on everything from a life-changing book to why she reads.

Fiction or Non-Fiction, or both?

I read much more fiction than non-fiction.

Is there a book that you re-read again and again?

No. There’s so much to read and so little time that I almost feel that I can’t re-read a book. But, sometimes when I find an author I love, I just read everything he or she has written. I’ve read all of Austen and Hardy; all of Eudora Welty’s and John Cheever’s short stories; the novels and stories by Fitzgerald. When Lauren Groff or Helen Oyeyemi writes something, I’ll read it. It’s not all high lit, though: this summer, I powered through all of Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians series like they were candy.

Can you identify a book that changed your life?

Yes. I remember reading Susan Faludi’s book Backlash: the Undeclared War Against American Women in hardback when it came out and thought, “Yes!” It made me realize that I was not alone or crazy, and it was empowering. That was in 1991, over a quarter of a century ago, and sadly, her book is as current now as it was then.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Allegra Goodman’s The Chalk Artist, which is frightening and beautiful. I just love her novels; they’re at once timeless and timely. I’m about to start Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko.

What book should everyone read?

I should say something profound, but reading is very personal. For example, I don’t read mysteries or crime novels, so even if you told me that one was the best book on earth, I’d probably never read it. I’ll just say, everyone should read—and throw in a poem every once in a while to remind you of the power that comes from concision.

Is there a book you wish you never read?

No, but sometimes I quit a book when I just can’t push through and never feel bad about it.

Are you a solitary or a social reader?

Solitary. I get lost in reading. I’m most likely to read on planes, and when I do, the entire crowded, noisy plane disappears, and all that I’m aware of is the world of the book. I’ll sigh, cry, and laugh, so if you sit next to me, beware. The words on the page become a place and people and sounds and life. Because I studied literature for so many years, I can easily summarize, analyze, and critique, but that is not the magic of reading. The magic of reading is that it wraps me up and takes me away.

Is there a book that you hated and the world loved, or a book you loved that no one else appreciated?

There are lots of books and authors that I just do not get at all that are considered central to the canon of American literature, works by James Fennimore Cooper to Kurt Vonnegut to Cormac McCarthy. I used to call them “boy books.” In college, I convinced an Early American lit teacher to let me develop an alternate syllabus with all women authors: he hadn’t read most of the books I found, so it was enlightening for both of us.

Would you rather meet your favorite author or your favorite character?

Favorite author. I like the way the characters are in my head, and it would be odd and unfamiliar to see them out in the world.

Why do you read?

Horace wrote that the goal of poetry and drama was to delight and to instruct, and I read for both. I find true delight in reading: it brings light to my life. I also learn when I read: it makes my world bigger, deepens my understanding. Growing up, I lived in a small and narrow world. Reading let me know that a brighter, wider universe of possibilities was out there. My ticket out was a library card; my ride out was a bookmobile. I owe the life I have now to reading.

Bear & the Nightingale and Girl in Tower by Katherine Arden


82F05A68-C6D8-4CBF-9BE8-79BC4F3D83F7Folktales speak to us of ancient people, places and things. Dark caverns, spooky forests, mysterious voices that carry on the wind, power over life and death, and so much more. All these things confounded our ancestors, so they created stories to explain the “why” of things like snow, waxing and waning moons, flight of birds, and luck. Those long ago ancestors also believed that there were guardians, or house gods, or chyerti who protected the family from evil…as long as they were fed and cared for and believed in. And that’s where Katherine Arden’s glorious Winternight Trilogy begins.

In Book 1, The Bear and the Nightingale, we meet Vasilisa, the youngest daughter of Pyotr of Lesnaya Zemlya. Vasya, as her family calls her, can see the chyerti who are beginning to fade as the new Christian religion takes hold in Russia. Warned to always care for the chyerti, who keep evil away from the family and village, Vasya continues to practice the “old ways” until her father brings a new stepmother home from Moscow. Anna is a devout Christian who sees evil at every turn, but especially in Vasya, making it hard for Vasya to honor the chyerti. As the chyerti are neglected, an old evil awakens in the form of a monstrous Bear and terrible things begin to happen in the village. Vasya invokes Morozko, the Winter King, to help save her family and village from the Bear and his horrible minions, but also to save herself from a vengeful priest who seeks to burn her as a witch.

Girl in the Tower picks up where Bear & the Nightingale leaves off – with Lesnaya Zemlya safe, and Vasya setting off on her own with the magnificent horse Solvey, gifted to her by the Winter King. Her only wish is to see as much of the world as possible, but she quickly comes to realize just how difficult that will be without assistance. She seeks out the Winter King, who reluctantly helps her on her way, disguised as a boy. Along the way, Vasya stumbles upon her older brother, Sasha, and their cousin Dmitri, the Grand Prince of Moscow and joins forces with them to defeat a greater evil, Kaschei the Deathless. Their quest takes them back to Moscow, where Vasya is reunited with her older sister Olga, the Princess of Serpukhov. Olga lives in Moscow with her husband and children, one of whom has inherited the ability to see the chyerti. Vasya’s adventures in Moscow end in a thrilling showdown with Kaschei, and a very satisfying ending which foreshadows the final entry in the series.

Throughout both novels, Vasya struggles with her intense desire to be free. She doesn’t want to marry, nor does she wish to enter the convent which are the only two options for young women of her time. She relishes the danger and thrill of her relationship with Morozko, the Winter King, and Arden has done a masterful job of creating tension and attraction between the two. Arden has created interesting characters in Bear & the Nightingale, and has spent considerable time fleshing them out in Girl in the Tower. Vasya, Sasha, Dmitri, Olga, and now Marya create a world that will pull you in and envelop you with their spirit. While the story is captivating on it’s own, Arden’s writing is icing on the cake. Lyrical, lush, and full of magic and mystery, it will keep you reading well into the night. Truthfully, I haven’t loved a series as much since I first read Harry Potter. Highly recommended.

Ghosts of Greenglass House by Kate Milford


EE9F519E-E2AB-403F-A09B-3E3937C398BDMilo is back in a new adventure in Greenglass House, the coolest place in all of Nagspeake. Some of the characters from Greenglass House return (Georgie, Clem & Addie) in a similar setting. Milo is desperate for a quiet Christmas break with his family, but their lone guest just won’t leave. Milo just knows his vacation is going to be ruined as, once again, more people show up. The plot is similar to Greenglass House in that unexpected guests show up, get stranded, and are all looking for something special. What makes Ghosts different is the fascinating introduction of the concept of the Raw Nights performers, a troupe of “actors” who travel around performing and telling stories during the “raw nights” before Christmas when magic is wild. As a lover of folklore, this aspect of the story totally sucked me in. The usual hijinks ensue as Milo, Addie, Georgie, Clem, and the others search for hidden treasures in an effort to find a famous device created by a notorious smuggler that maps the Nagspeake shoreline.

Milford continues to build the fictional world of Nagspeake and it’s colorful inhabitants and ancestors, even going as far as creating a whole gorgeous website on Nagspeake tourism. The story is very similar to the first book in the series, but Milford continues to develop Milo in a really intriguing way. Milo has some issues with anger (e.g. feeling the scream building inside him) and Milford uses that aspect of his personality to let readers know it’s okay to be angry and that there are lots of ways to express that anger. In that way, this story can easily be labelled “bibliotherapy” (if you’re the kind of reader who likes to label things!). This will definitely appeal to middle grade readers. Highly entertaining and recommended.

October Micro-Reviews


CE38AF4E-3FC8-4A20-B43A-1CDEF146C375Clue in the Trees by Margi Preus – Second in what is shaping up to be a nice little YA mystery series, Clue in the Trees finds Francie from the author’s earlier Enchantment Lake, settling in to life in Minnesota. She’s a senior in high school, and is living in a sweet apartment paid for by her grandfather who seems to think she’s safer in Minnesota than in New York. How little does he know! Francie starts school, thinking she’s in for a quiet, uneventful year but is right away blindsided by the return of brother Theo AND the discovery of a dead body at a local archaeological site. Of course, Francie gets involved in solving the mysterious death, but she’s also drawn into a bigger mystery surrounding her mother, who may or may not be alive. The writing here is straightforward and uncomplicated, perfect for upper middle grade and reluctant teen readers. The story is compelling and suspenseful, and full of all the things you expect in high school. There is some subtle humor here as well, which adds a nice kick to the story, and the reveal of the villain was wonderfully creepy. I was reminded a bit of my own early teen years reading Nancy Drew and thought more than once that Francie and her friends are Nancy and the Gang for the 21st century. Recommended.

11395661-1E1A-4C57-B4EC-091CACFAB9EAA Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne – I love immersing myself in a well-constructed world, and Kevin Hearne took me there in A Plague of Giants, the first in a new fantasy series, Seven Kennings. No stranger to world-building, Hearne begins his story with the story of how the kingdom was invaded by giants and introduces us right away to the characters who will carry to story forward. For sure, this is dense, epic fantasy replete with unusual place and person names and people blessed with special gifts. The complex language and landscape alone will likely put off casual fantasy readers, but die-hards will lap this up. I look forward to the next entry in the series. Recommended.

C07C629F-BB62-42E3-B240-8333A651B957The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley – The prospect of a new Flavia de Luce book has always quickened my heart, but the last two books have been slightly disappointing. I had high hopes for this one, which were somewhat met. I think that Bradley has had a hard time transitioning Flavia from precocious child to teenager and that the last two books were awkward in the way real life is awkward when that transition happens. With The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place, I feel as though Bradley is finally starting to bring Flavia out of that awkward stage. While this was not the kind of clever, multi-layered mystery we’ve come to expect from the author, it was interesting and fun. Most importantly, it was a bridge to the next chapter of Flavia, her sisters, Dogger, and Buckshaw. I really enjoyed the bigger role here for Dogger, as well as the peek into his past, and I am totally looking forward to the adventures of Arthur W. Dogger & Associates – Discreet Investigations.

1C9872DA-530D-451E-9810-C9C73F270F8FThe Witches’ Tree by M.C. Beaton – Speaking as one who has not been a fan of the Agatha Raisin series I thought I’d give it a try again after watching the hugely entertaining series on Acorn.TV. I am very glad I did. The series is formulaic, to be sure, but the writing is witty and crisp, and the characters are a hoot. Recommended for fans of British cozy mysteries.

 

24C3B8AD-F453-45C0-A09F-337ED24E82B1What the Hell Did I Just Read. By David Wong – This is the first David Wong novel I’ve read and, OMG, it was fabulous! The action started immediately and never let up, and the writing is that kind of weird, twisty style I associate with graphic novels. Usually, that kind of writing doesn’t translate to a full blown novel, but it does here with no problem. The adventures of Dave, John, and Amy, residents of Undisclosed, reminded me of the cast of Eerie Indiana, all grown up. The monsters were irreverent and terrifying, and the trio of monster-hunters was hilarious and not as incompetent as Dave would like us to believe. I seem to be reading a lot of middle entries in series, and this is another one where I’m going to have to go back and read the earlier books, with pleasure. I would *love* to see this in movie or TV series form. Recommended.

Reader Profile – Chad Cunningham

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Chad for blogChad Cunningham is Head of Circulation Services at the Gates Public Library and is most definitely a Reader. Chad probably knows more about the Monroe County Library System than anyone, and he is known for his eclectic and varied reading recommendations. If you’re in the mood to talk books, go visit him at Gates!

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.

My name is Chad and I read because the alternative is not reading and that just doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

What are you reading right now?

  • Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez
  • Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
  • Promethea by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III
  • Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
  • Truants by Lee Markham
  • The Silence of the Flans by Laura Bradford

It is entirely possible that I read too many books at one time.

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Invisibles Omnibus by Grant Morrison and various artists
  • Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?

Absolutely not. Life is too short to finish books I hate. One of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes (and I think the fact that I have multiple favorite Dorothy Parker quotes says something about me) is

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

My all-time least favorite book of all-time for all of time is Moby Dick. I hated every single letter of it that I read. I was forced to read it for an English class, I skipped 100 pages, and I still did well on the test. That was the book that taught me that is perfectly acceptable to not finish a book.

The last book I decided not to finish was one of those incredibly silly cozy mysteries. This one featured a librarian as the main character. Her library was in a lighthouse. 20 pages in I realized that I was criticizing all the library-related information and that this book was going to be nothing but a headache. I mean, who puts a library in a lighthouse.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?

Nope! Never! That takes away the fun of following the story! Noooooooooo!

I have skipped to the end when I am ready to quit a book and I have vague curiosity about how it will turn out.

What is the funniest or strangest thing you have ever found returned inside a library book?

I once found an old postcard with nothing written on it. It had a picture of a woman standing in front of a storefront. It was in black and white. There was nothing overly unusual about it, but it really creeped me out.

What is at the top of your TBR pile?

Séance Infernale by Jonathan Skariton. One of my friends recommended it to me.

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

I recommend Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean a lot. Jacqueline Winspear is another author I recommend a lot. If someone has even a slight interest in science fiction I recommend my favorite sci-fi author: Octavia Butler.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…probably my favorite character. My favorite character is Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I would love to be able to unabashedly revel in my stubbornness the way Granny does.

What book do you wish you’d never read?

Have I mentioned that Moby Dick is a monstrous abomination and should be erased from history?

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

There are three books that have helped define me as a person:

  • A Wrinkle in Time (which I read at exactly the right time when I was a kid) helps me to see that our unique qualities are what give us the power to truly love one another.
  • Weetzie Bat inspired me to indulge my imagination and to embrace the fantastic all around me.
  • The Invisibles (which is a comic book series that is one very long story) really encouraged me to believe that anything is possible and that it’s perfectly acceptable to live a life of glamorous rebellion.

Is there a genre or type that you are over and wish would just go away?

Are they still making teen dystopian fiction books? If so, then that.

Describe your favorite place to read.

My absolutely favorite reading experience happens early on a Sunday morning. I sit at my dining room table with bagels and a cup of coffee and quietly read for an hour or so. That’s the most fulfilling reading experience of my week.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?

I usually prefer the book, but there have been times when the movie was better. I think the movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley – the one with Matt Damon- was an excellent complement to the book and I liked it a touch better.

Jurassic Park was also better as a movie- but mostly because you could see the dinosaurs.

What is your preferred format? Hardcover, paperback, digital, audio, doesn’t matter?

I don’t do audio books- they usually put me to sleep- but otherwise I’m good with whichever format. I just really love to read. There’s a character in Wonder Boys who loves to read so much that if she runs out of books she’ll read the back of cereal boxes. That’s me in a nutshell.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?

Mrs. Who’s glasses from A Wrinkle in Time.

Strange Sight by Syd Moore


IMG_0307Moore hits a 3-run homer in this second entry in the Essex Witch Museum series. We first met Rosie Strange in Strange Magic where she inherited the quirky Essex Witch Museum from her even quirkier, estranged grandfather.

Here, the story picks up a few weeks after the events of Strange Magic concluded, with Rosie and Sam accepting work as paranormal investigators. Rosie’s Auntie Babs has directed a friend to the duo to assess a possible haunting in his trendy new London restaurant. When they arrive, armed with their “ghostbusting” equipment, they find themselves smack in the middle of a gruesome murder that may be connected to the ghost. The restaurant, it seems, is the former site of a notorious murder from an earlier century, and the eerily charged atmosphere awakens a dormant sensing ability in Rosie.

To make things even doubly interesting, Rosie learns more about her mysterious family, including the disappearance of her clairaudient grandmother, Ethel-Rose. Rosie and Sam need all their wits about them as they try to outsmart the ghost, which they do in a very satisfying resolution where the murderer is unmasked.

Moore does a good job here building on the attraction between Rosie & Sam, but also in developing the story arc of Rosie’s family. What really happened to Ethel-Rose, and why is Rosie’s father utterly unwilling to talk about his parents? Combine that with a well-plotted mystery that skillfully blends the past and the present, and you’ve got a highly readable and entertaining modern mystery. I look forward to the next installment in this series. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Oneworld Publications
Thanks to Edelweiss for the review copy

Stock the Crock by Phyllis Good


stock the crockPhyllis Good can straighten her crown and easily claim the title of Slow Cooking Queen with this, her latest entry in a long trail of slow cookery cookbooks. Stock the Crock contains hundreds of recipes for old favorites with new twists, all using your crockpot.

Divided into seven chapters – Soups, Stews & Chowders; Vegetarian & Pasta Mains; Poultry; Beef & Pork; Fish & Seafood; Sides; and Sweets & Treats – this book has something for everyone. Good writes clearly, listing the ingredients in the order in which they are used, and uses everyday ingredients that most American cooks will have in their pantries. She also emphasizes the flexibility of cooking in a crockpot, often letting us know things like: “If you don’t have time to brown the meat before adding to the pot, don’t worry. It will be fine,” or “If you’re not there to stir the pot after 2 hours, don’t worry. It will be fine.” I love that.

I did learn some new things from this book, like Good recommends you grease the interior of your crockpot before you add the food. I’ve never done that, and I do wonder if it’s necessary. I also learned that you can BAKE in a crockpot, too, although again, I wonder who would want to do that.

There are some excellent recipes here – some that I tried and found delicious, and some that I plan to try soon. For example, Salsa Rice. Did you know you can cook rice in a crockpot? Rice is my cooking Achilles heel. I never get it right. Cooking it in a crockpot, though? Perfection! Good also provides recipes for homemade Cream of Mushroom and Chicken Soup, which are wonderful. Cider Baked Apples – sublime. I plan to try the Butternut Squash Soup with Apples & Red Onions, although I am quite certain I will be the only one in my home to eat it.

Good adds some extras to each recipe that make this book even more versatile. She provides instructions for making recipes gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian, as well offering tips for making the recipe for picky eaters. She also specifies the size of the crockpot needed for each recipe, which is a huge benefit (those of you who have tried cooking a turkey in a 4 quart pot will understand), as well as prep time estimates, and cooking time.

There is nothing not to love about this book. The photos are gorgeous, the instructions are clear and concise, and above all, the recipes are delicious. Highly recommended.

Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Oxmoor House Books
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller


IMG_0301Elizabeth and Zenobia are inseparable. Light and dark. Timid and brave. Yin and yang. So when Elizabeth’s father decides to move the family to Witheringe House after Elizabeth’s mother runs off with an opera singer, of course Zenobia comes along. The key, though, is that no one but Elizabeth can see Zenobia. Her father *knows* about Zenobia but dismisses her as an “imaginary friend,” even as he plays along with his daughter’s insistence that Zenobia is real.

When they arrive at Witheringe House, Elizabeth finds a dreary, dusty, isolated old house. Zenobia is thrilled at the decrepitude of the house because it fits perfectly with her current fascination, which is making contact with a “Spirit Presence.” Eventually, they uncover a mystery involving Elizabeth’s Aunt Tourmaline, her father’s sister who mysteriously disappeared at age seven. As the girls work through a number of clues, they discover what happened to Tourmaline, and ultimately rescue her from a dark and dangerous place.

Miller cleverly creates a world where Elizabeth and Zenobia certainly seem like two independent girls, while at the same time creating this undercurrent of emotion that suggests they are one in the same girl. Light and dark, timid and brave, yin and yang. Elizabeth is a timid child. She feels unloved and ignored by her botanist father, who would rather spend his time searching for plants in the fields than with his daughter. Zenobia fills a void in Elizabeth’s life. She is everything Elizabeth is not, until Elizabeth finds her courage, a moment captured in this lovely quote:

There is one good thing about hearing your deepest fear spoken out loud – nothing else that made you afraid before will ever seem so large or so terrible again.

Zenobia represents all the anger and hurt Elizabeth has experienced – her mother’s abandonment, her father’s disinterest in her, and her own fear…of everything from the black keys on a piano to certain types of food. Miller does a good job of conveying Elizabeth’s insecurities, and gradually builds her up until she takes charge of a very thrilling and scary situation. Middle grade readers will enjoy this. Recommended.

Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Abrams Kids; Amulet Books
Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy

 

Political Justice by Dennis Carstens


IMG_0297What happens when a politically driven couple is faced with an ugly, potentially campaign-derailing problem? It gets “handled” and someone else takes the blame, even when it involves the death of a 19 year old girl.

Thomas Jefferson Carver is well on his way to becoming the next President of the United States. Supported by his “hellcat” wife Darla, who has ambitions of her own, he is an odd’s on favorite to win the election. The only problem is, Carver is a “total, womanizing hound,” which is okay with Mrs. Carver as long as it doesn’t affect their political prospects. Darla Carver, you see, plans to become President after her husband, and won’t let anything get in her way.

The death of Abby Connolly in Carver’s hotel room is the first domino in a long progression of lies, betrayals, and death leading to a Carver White House. Both Carvers get what they want, but secrets never stay secret and they soon find everything falling apart, thanks to lawyer Marc Kadella, who defends the young man who becomes the fallguy accused of Connolly’s murder.

Carstens has written a tightly plotted legal thriller on par with Grisham and Turow. His experience as a trial lawyer lends credibility to the descriptions of the crimes and actions of both the good guys and the bad guys. Technically, his writing is skilled and well-paced, with great character development. Successful character development is at play when an author makes me actively dislike a character before chapter 3, and that definitely happened here.

Although there is the usual disclaimer at the beginning that this is a work of fiction, I would be remiss if I didn’t speculate that the Carvers *may* have been based on the Clintons, or at least on aspects of them. That may put some people off this book, but if you are the kind of reader who can totally suspend your disbelief despite your politics, I think you will enjoy this book. Recommended.

 

A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane

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A Face to Die For

by Andrea Kane

on Tour September 18th – October 20th, 2017

Synopsis:

A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane

Urban legend says that everyone has a double, or exact look-alike. Would you search for yours? And if you found them, would you risk your life for theirs?

When a chance encounter outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan results in mistaken identity, wedding planner Gia Russo is curious to find the person whose cell phone picture has been shown her—veterinarian Dr. Danielle Murano, her exact look-alike. A Facebook private message blossoms into a budding, long-distance friendship, and the two women agree to meet in New York and see the truth for their own eyes.

Shocked at the sight of one another, they quickly bond over drinks, childhood pictures and an uncanny feeling that they share more than just a visual resemblance. Together they decide to end the speculation and undergo DNA testing for siblingship. But when the tests confirm they’re identical twins, more questions are raised than answered.

And with good reason. The same mysterious forces that separated the sisters years ago are still at large, frantic to keep the two women apart. Their attempts to do so become more violent once it becomes clear that the two sisters have found each other. But when the danger escalates and the sisters fear for their lives, Gia turns to a former client of her wedding planning company, Marc Devereraux of Forensic Instincts, for help.

Despite being embroiled in another case, Forensic Instincts agrees to help Gia and Danielle discover who has been threatening them. And when Forensic Instincts discovers that this case is linked to the [Mafia, Organized Crime], they must dig up skeletons better left buried, and get at the frightening truth without destroying the sisters and the families they have grown to love.

How have I not read Andrea Kane before??? A Face to Die For is the fifth in the Forensic Instincts series, plus she has written several other suspense novels. The story here gripped me by the throat right from the start and never let go. Twists and turns and very satisfying resolutions combined with skillful writing make this one a winner. I read a lot of advanced reading copies and indie books where the quality of the writing is often uneven, so I really appreciate good writing. Kane writes dialog and description equally well, and keeps the plot moving along at a good pace. Her storytelling reminds me of a mashup of Elizabeth Lowell and Kathy Reichs and is every bit as good as those authors. Highly recommended.

Book Details:

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Published by: Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC

Publication Date: September 19, 2017

Number of Pages: 336

ISBN: 1682320103 (ISBN13: 9781682320105)

Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗 | Barnes & Noble 🔗 | Goodreads 🔗

Read an excerpt:

Prologue

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York

March 1990

Anthony slid behind the wheel of his Ford Taurus and started it up, cranking up the heat the instant the engine turned over. It was friggin’ freezing outside. Even in the five minutes it had taken him to walk the babysitter to her front door, the temperature outside felt like it had dropped ten degrees, and his car was an icebox.

Shivering, he zipped his parka up as far as it would go and gripped the steering wheel, maneuvering the car away from the curb. He’d finally shared an evening out with his wife. It should have eased the knot in his gut. After all, it had been the first time that he and Carla had left their infants with a sitter since the babies had been born a month ago. And Judy was the perfect babysitter—a good girl from a good family, one who studied rather than doing drugs and screwing horny guys.

Still, dinner had been strained.

Anthony had only picked at his manicotti, his favorite dish at Raimo’s. His mind was far away, and acid kept building up in his stomach.

Carla couldn’t stop worrying and talking about the babies. She’d checked her watch a dozen times, intermittently giving Anthony puzzled looks and asking if he was okay.

Each time she asked, he’d assure her that he was fine, just exhausted from work and midnight feedings.
As if to contradict his words, some new waiter had dropped a tray of dishes on the floor, and Anthony had nearly jumped out of his skin at the crash.

Carla rose, asking him to order her another drink and to get one for himself to calm his nerves. Giving in to her new-mother concerns, she went to the pay phone in the back to call Judy for an update. So far, so good, Judy had reported. But that didn’t totally erase Carla’s fretting. She tried her best to be bright and chatty, but the truth was that, as this point, she was ready to go. She’d fiddled with her napkin and sipped at her drink, making small talk and glancing at the door.

Getting the hell out of there had worked for Anthony. He was more than ready to be home with his family and not out in the open. He’d use his fatigue as an excuse. He had to continue keeping the inevitable from Carla, until he had no choice but to tell her. He’d soften the blow as best he could. But the important thing was that his family would be protected at all costs.

Now, the heat in his car roared to life, warming his body but doing nothing to extinguish his inner chill. He knew the rules. No transgression went unpunished.

Why the hell had he been so preoccupied with new fatherhood that he’d forgotten to make his collections from the designated list of construction foremen these past two weeks? That in itself was a huge black mark against him—one he’d be punished for. But the outcome of his stupidity opened the door to a far more lethal punishment. Someone else had been sent to handle his route, and his money. They would have collected and turned over twice the amount he’d been handing over. And that meant he’d better be able to explain the discrepancy—assuming he’d even be asked before he was killed.

Please God, let him have that chance. He was just on the verge of buying that gas station he’d been single-mindedly building his bank account for, just about to provide for his family’s future.

And now this.

With shaking hands, Anthony switched on the radio, gritting his teeth as Madonna’s voice blasted off the windows, followed by Michael Jackson’s. He turned the dial until finally the soothing tones of Frank Sinatra’s voice filled the car. Sinatra. Perfect. The Chairman of the Board’s crooning was just the right medicine to ease his clawing anxiety.

He reached his street and turned down the line of small brick row houses, all identical in their flat lines, gated fronts, and tiny gardens. There was a certain comfort and peace about the sameness of it all; it made it feel like a neighborhood.

Would he ever feel that sense of comfort and peace again?

He pulled into his narrow driveway and spotted Carla standing at the front door with a broad smile, giving him a thumbs-up. That meant the infants had come through their first babysitting experience with flying colors.

He forced himself to smile back, but even as he did, his gaze swept the area around the house to see if he was alone. It appeared so. Quickly, he turned off the car and then made the frigid dash to his house.

He couldn’t shut and lock the door behind him fast enough.

The soothing warmth from the heating system enveloped him when he stepped inside. Comfort in yet another form. He was home. Carla and the babies were safe. And for the moment, so was he.

With a wave of relief—however temporary—he let the tension in his body ease. He shrugged out of his jacket and hung it on the coatrack.

“You look happy,” he teased Carla. “What’s the final report?”

Carla’s eyes twinkled. “They were perfect. Judy said they’d only woken up once for their bottles and a diaper change. Now they’re sleeping like little angels.”

“Good.” Anthony looped an arm around his wife’s shoulders and led her toward the living room. “How about a nightcap before bed—to celebrate the success of our first night out?”

“That sounds wonderful.” Carla walked beside him, making a left into their comfortable living room.

They’d barely taken half a dozen steps when a tall masked man dressed in black rose from behind the large armchair, his .22 caliber pistol raised.

“Hello, Anthony.”

Anthony knew that voice only too well, and it elicited the chilling knowledge that there was no way out. No threats. Just death. “Welcome home.”

The man’s finger tightened around the trigger.

“No!” Carla screamed.

She threw herself in front of her husband just as the pistol fired.

The bullet pierced her skull, and with a shattering cry, she crumpled to the floor.

“Carla… no… Carla!” Anthony shouted. He dropped to his knees beside his wife’s lifeless body, grabbing her into his arms and openly weeping. “God forgive me. Oh, God forgive me.”

He looked up in dazed anguish, just as a second shot was fired.

The bullet struck Anthony between the eyes. His head jerked backward, and he fell over his wife, dead.
Upstairs, the babies started to cry.

The gunman shoved his pistol back in his waistband. He knew the mob code like he knew his own name. No women. No children. Omertà.

A woman lay dead before him, the taunting evidence of a fuckup.

He took the steps two at a time.

Tucked in their cribs, the babies were still crying as their parents’ killer entered the nursery and hovered over them.

Not even the nightlight could eradicate the darkness.

***

Excerpt from A Face to Die For by Andrea Kane.  Copyright © 2017 by Andrea Kane. Reproduced with permission from Bonnie Meadow Publishing LLC. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Andrea Kane

Andrea Kane is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including fourteen psychological thrillers and fourteen historical romantic suspense titles. With her signature style, Kane creates unforgettable characters and confronts them with life-threatening danger. As a master of suspense, she weaves them into exciting, carefully-researched stories, pushing them to the edge—and keeping her readers up all night.

Kane’s first contemporary suspense thriller, Run for Your Life, became an instant New York Times bestseller. She followed with a string of bestselling psychological thrillers including No Way Out, Twisted, and Drawn in Blood.

Her latest storytelling triumph, A Face To Die For, extends the Forensic Instincts legacy where a dynamic, eclectic team of maverick investigators continue to solve seemingly impossible cases while walking a fine line between assisting and enraging law enforcement. The first showcase of their talents came with the New York Times bestseller, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, followed by The Line Between Here and Gone, The Stranger You Know, The Silence that Speaks and The Murder That Never Was.

Kane’s beloved historical romantic suspense novels include My Heart’s Desire, Samantha, The Last Duke, and Wishes in the Wind.

With a worldwide following of passionate readers, her books have been published in more than twenty languages.

Kane lives in New Jersey with her husband and family. She’s an avid crossword puzzle solver and a diehard Yankees fan. Otherwise, she’s either writing or playing with her Pomeranian, Mischief, who does his best to keep her from writing.

Catch Up With Andrea Kane On:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

 

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