Monday, November 25, 2013

Hell Gate by Elizabeth Massie

Book: Hell Gate 
Author: Elizabeth Massie
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Coney Island ticket seller, Suzanne Heath, has some secrets. First, she ran away with a male patient, Cittie Parker, from the Colored Waif's Asylum. Although they are only best friends, it was still taboo in 1900 New York. Second, she witnessed the murder of a classmate of hers while she was a student at a boarding school. Her biggest secret though is that she is psychic and visions flood her. 

When a serial killer starts making rounds, she must come to terms with all three when she starts to see the killings and her past comes back to haunt her. 
My rating: 3 Stars
My opinion: While I must admit that I enjoyed this read, I thought the writing was a bit too melodramatic for my liking and what I normally get from this publisher.  This was supplemented by the overdramatization yet underdevelopment of the characters.

On that note, I definitely preferred the current story (1909) to that of the past. It seemed as though the author was able to tamper some of those issues in the current story and ramped it up in the book that was set in the past. 

Source:   DarkFuse
Would I recommend? : Yes, it was a pretty nifty read!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Out of the Black by John Rector

Book: Out of the Black
Author: John Rector
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Matt Caine has a several problems. First, he has a daughter who has survived a car crash that he lost his wife in. Second, his former in laws are trying to get custody of his daughter due to his lack of financial funds to support her. Third, a friend of his has a hair-brained kidnapping idea to get some money. Matt originally shoots down the idea, but then it starts to look good when money gets even tighter. 

The husband of the kidnapped woman has some ideas of his own and they won't work out for Matt or all that Matt loves. 
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: I am a John Rector fan and it is because of this type of writing. Rector weaves a story that one wonders what is real and what is twisted. There was a sense of realness to this book as well. One could honestly see it happen. 

One of the things that I loved about this book that normally isn't a favorite of mine is that it is told in first person narrative. It really helped to make the book pop and developed a connection with the narrator (Matt) to understand why he would participate in such a crazy idea.

Although I wouldn't say that this is my favorite Rector novel, it is a good one and not to be missed.
Source:  Amazon Publishing/ Thomas & Mercer
Would I recommend? : Always do!  A BONUS that I just noticed...have AMAZON PRIME? Borrow it for free!
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

Winning from Within: How to Create Lasting Change in Your Leadership and Your Life by Erica Ariel Fox

Book: Winning from Within: How to Create Lasting Change in Your Leadership
Author: Erica Ariel Fox
Narrator (if applicable): N/A

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: How do you make decisions in business and life? Leadership development expert Erica Ariel Fox identifies important concepts for being successful in such things as negotiations, decision making and conflict resolution that impact your skills as a leader and in life.
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: While good, the concepts in this book are used throughout leadership development using different terms. I have attended several leadership development conferences where this concept was used under different "terms".

One thing that I liked about the book was that the term was easily laid out with easy to grasp concepts. As I think that this book would apply more to early careerists or those not in leadership development, as an individual who is more established in my career, I found this book to be redundant to other leadership books out there.

I am not sure how much this would apply to "daily" life...think that is a grasp, but a must read/understand for working as a leader. 

Source:  HarperBusiness
Would I recommend? : Yes, but to who I identified above.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone

The Small Hand and The Dolly by Susan Hill

Book: The Small Hand and The Dolly
Author: Susan Hill
Narrator (if applicable): n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Two novellas in one book. I found the stories in this book to be a bit cliched in what is expected of an English ghost story. Haunted manors, lost victims who stumble into them and little munchkins who have failed to move on.
My rating: 2.5 Stars
My opinion: Ms. Hill's books always start off stronger than they end for me. It was no different with these two novellas. I had higher hopes for this two books, but they fell short to me again as they stumbled into the same type of storyline as her other books. 

I was telling a Goodreads friend that Ms. Hill's writing always starts off as being similar to the creepy, atmospheric writing of Henry James in The Turn of the Screw, but then it slides and becomes very modern and "uncreepy".
Source: Vintage for review
Would I recommend? : Yes, for ghost story lovers. I chase after ghost stories because I love them so much, but these came off as just a dime a dozen for me. 
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand alone

Weekends with Daisy by Sharron Kahn Luttrell

Book: Weekends with Daisy
Author: Sharron Kahn Luttrell
Narrator (if applicable):n/a

Release date (if applicable): Published

Synopsis: Grieving from the loss of her dog, Sharron Luttrell decided to work with a service dog training program which partnered convicts in state prisons. Weekends with Daisy is the chronicle of this time spent with a precocious pup. Yet, it is Ms. Luttrell who does all the learning.

Who says a new pup can't teach YOU new tricks?!?!
My rating: 4 Stars
My opinion: Gotta say that the first part of this where Ms. Luttrell discussed the death of her first dog made me cry like a baby. Losing my Mattie Dog, I was able to associate with all the emotions that she wrote about.  That isn't where the book stopped. There were so many life lessons wrapped up in a great story.

Reminding me slightly of Marley and Me, Weekends with Daisy was well written and gives life's lessons in a heartwarming, welcoming way. 
Source: Gallery Books
Would I recommend? : Most definitely.  There are SO many audiences that this book would be perfect for.
Stand Alone or Part of a Series: Stand Alone