Monday, July 25, 2011

Lori's Book Sense

Lori's Reading Corner

Welcome to July's edition of Lori's Book Sense. I hope you like the hot titles I've got for you this month.

Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens ~ All her life, Sara Gallagher has wondered about her birth parents. As an adopted child with two sisters who were born naturally to her parents, Sara did not have an ideal home life. The question of why she was given up for adoption has always haunted her. Finally, she is ready to take steps and to find closure. But some questions are better left unanswered. After months of research, Sara locates her birth mother---only to be met with horror and rejection. Then she discovers the devastating truth: Her mother was the only victim ever to escape a killer who has been hunting women every summer for decades. But Sara soon realizes the only thing worse than finding out about her father is him finding out about her. What if murder is in your blood? Never Knowing is a complex and compelling portrayal of one woman’s quest to understand herself, her origins, and her family. That is, if she can survive. . . .

Never Knowing is told in the same vein as the author’s previous book Still Missing. It is told through Sara’s voice as she relates the day, days, or weeks past events to her therapist.  Each chapter starts with Sara apologizing for missing an appointment, thanking her for fitting her in so quickly, or maybe asking about her how she’s doing herself.  The chapter then moves you right back into the story as if you’re standing next to Sara, virtually holding her hand, as she relates the horrific events of what her life has become. I was a bit concerned as to how this book would play out compared to her first novel, wondering if the same format (of the chapter beginning in the therapist’s office, then moving to the story) could work again. Chevy Stevens was certainly not a one-hit-wonder with this format. Once again, she makes the concept work.  I had such a visceral experience when reading this book. I could feel the dislike coming from Sara’s father, I could see the distrust in Evan’s eyes with the male cop, I could hear the resentment in Julia’s voice when confronted with Sara reappearing in her life, and I could taste the bitterness in Sara’s mouth when having to deal with the man how fathered her. Never Knowing is one woman’s heart-wrenching search to find the truth and then having to deal with the consequences of what she finds. 

No Rest For The Dead - Andrew Guili (Editor) ~  Alexander McCall Smith. Sandra Brown. Faye Kellerman. J.A. Jance. Jeffery Deaver. Kathy Reichs. Lisa Scottoline. Jeff Lindsay. These are only a handful of the names that make up the all-star lineup of authors behind No Rest for the Dead, a tale of vengeance, greed, and love that flows seamlessly, in the words of David Baldacci, “as it passes from one creator's mind to the next.”  When Christopher Thomas, a ruthless curator at San Francisco’s McFall Art Museum, is murdered and his decaying body is found in an iron maiden in a Berlin museum, his wife, Rosemary, is the primary suspect, and she is tried, convicted and executed. Ten years later, Jon Nunn, the detective who cracked the case, is convinced that the wrong person was put to death. In the years since the case was closed, he's discovered a web of deceit and betrayal surrounding the Thomases that could implicate any number of people in the crime. With the help of the dead woman's friend, he plans to gather everyone who was there the night Christopher died and finally uncover the truth, suspect by suspect. Solving this case may be Nunn’s last chance for redemption … but the shadowy forces behind Christopher’s death will stop at nothing to silence the past forever. In this innovative storytelling approach, each of these twenty-five bestselling writers brings their distinctive voice to a chapter of the narrative, building the tension to a shocking, explosive finale. No Rest for the Dead is a thrilling, page-turning accomplishment that only America’s very best authors could achieve.

When I read the preview for this book I was immediately enticed. So many great authors all in one place?! A readers dream come true.  Was it possible for twenty-five different authors to write one seamless story? I would quickly find out that the answer was – Heck yeah!  Each author writes a different chapter in the book, and each one begins with the name of the author penning that particular chapter. Since some of my favorite authors (Faye Kellerman, Sandra Brown, Tess Gerritsen, to name a few) took part in this fantastic endeavor, I thought I would be able to differentiate their writing, their voice,  from the authors that I don’t know as well. That just wasn’t the case. All of these authors worked so well together that the chapters blended into one another beautifully. I’d love to know how it was done. Did one author write an outline the others worked off of? Did one author write a chapter and then pass if off to the next in line? Who decided which chapter each other would write? Did all of the authors know how it would end (by an outline), or did only the authors of the last few chapters know where the book would go?  If the authors name wasn’t at the beginning of each chapter, I would never have known that this book was written by so many different people. They all came together to emit one strong, fantastically woven tale. 

Eyes Wide Open by Andrew Gross ~   A horrible family tragedy that may not be what it seems . . .A past encounter with an infamous killer turns deadly today . . .An ordinary man must risk his own family to find the truth.Jay Erlich's nephew has been found at the bottom of a cliff at Morrow Bay. It's all just a tragic suicide, until secrets from the past begin to rear up again. Did a notorious killer, jailed for many decades, have his hand in this?Years ago, Jay Erlich's older brother, Charlie, a wayward child of the sixties, set out for California, where he fell under the sway of a charismatic but deeply disturbed cultlike figure. Tragedy ensued and lives were destroyed, but as the decades passed, Charlie married and raised a family and lived a quiet, secluded life under the radar. Yet the demons that nearly destroyed him never completely disappeared.When Jay heads out west to help his grieving brother, he is pulled back into Charlie's past—and begins to suspect that his nephew's suicide may not have been that at all. With eyes wide open, Jay puts his own life at risk to uncover the truth, a quest that goes beyond the edge of madness and a family haunted by a secret past . . . and into the depths of evil. Drawing on two real-life experiences from his own past, Gross has crafted a richly personal, yet utterly terrifying tale of two brothers, one successful, one wayward, trying to bridge the gap of what tore them apart.

Eyes Wide Open is full of murder, mystery, sadness, family, and forgiveness. But what truly makes this book stand out is that Andrew Gross has written an amazing, and extremely personal novel with Eyes Wide Open. The emotions that pour out of Jay, Charlie, and Gabriella are so raw, so real, that you can actually feel them coming off the pages of the book. You can literally feel how much each of those affected by Evan’s loss are truly hurting, because the author felt this hurt himself.  Eyes Wide Open is not your typical Andrew Gross book. This is a very personal story for him. He took the basis of his own family tragedy and turned it into a remarkable story that will make you hold your loved ones closer, think about what is most important in your life, and be more compassionate for those that may not be as perfect as you are. This story will stay with you for a long time to come. 

Until Next Month .........


  1. Lori, thanks for another great set of reviews! I am really looking forward to reading the new Chevy Stevens; her last book blew me away. Looking forward to more reviews next month! Maggie

  2. Yes, thanks, Lori! I love seeing what you have to say about hot new mysteries! I've been hearing so much about Chevy Stevens that I've got her on my "must read" list.

  3. I read Chevy Stevens' other book - Still Missing. Excellent. I'll have to get this second one. Interesting that she used the same format.

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David