Friday, January 25, 2019

Before We Were Strangers by Brenda Novak

Supermodel Sloane McBride returns to her small Central Texas hometown of Millcreek to personally discover what really happened 23 years ago when her mother disappeared without a trace. At the time, the police investigation – or what passed for it – blithely accepted her father’s story that Clara McBride had just walked away from the house and marriage in the dead of night probably to join the secret lover with whom she was having an affair. But Sloane, then five, had been home that night and awake, and had heard the final altercation between her parents.

As she’d grown, Sloane relived that night over and over in her mind, and based on those memories always secretly feared that her father had murdered and hidden her mother’s body. As soon as high school graduation was over, Sloane had fled town without a word to anyone including Micah, the boy she’d been going with, and her best friend, Paige.

Sloane had gone to New York City and, luckily for her, was discovered by a kind and honest agent who launched her into a highly successful modeling career. Now at loose ends after her beloved mentor’s death, Sloane is going back home for the first time in 10 years to ferret out the truth of the night her mother disappeared.

Sloane walked out without a word on the four most important people in her life: her father, her brother, her boyfriend, and her best friend – and must confront those relationships when she’s back in town. Her father and brother believe she’s back to ruin her father, now the town’s mayor, with her suspicions. Complicating matters, Micah and Paige had gotten together after her abrupt departure, had a child, and had only recently divorced.

With Micah now a police officer in town, and her father and brother both trying to block her probing into the past, Before We Were Strangers is tense, exciting, and provides a satisfying number of twists and turns. Part mystery, part thriller, part second-chance romance, author Brenda Novak has created an engrossing novel of what happened and who done it. Readers should be entertained!

Japanese Robots Love To Dance by Margret A. Treiber

Japanese Robots Love To Dance is a collection of seven stories centered mostly around attorney Gabe Siegel, legal defender of the poor, downtrodden, and mechanical members of society set some time in the future.

Gary, the scion of a wealthy political family, rejected the privileged life laid out for him in order to practice in various legal aid offices, at first in an effort to tweak the nose of his politically-connected father. However, as time passed, the challenge of the cases and a soft spot for his clients, both human and AIs, kept him at it.

Along the way, he was disbarred, changed his name to Gary Legal, and opened his own private law office. The collection explains Gary’s backstory and those of his clients and are quite entertaining. They also explore some thought-provoking situations dealing with artificial intelligence.

It is a very pleasant reading experience despite some typos overlooked during the editing process. I very much recommend this book to readers that enjoy light science fiction or maybe crime stories.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Babble (The Cosmic Conspiracy #1) by Orrin Jason Bradford

Angela and Brian Cagle were happy. An unlikely match, they had worked hard to make their marriage work, and when Bobbie was born, their happiness just expanded.

As Bobbie grows, he begins to exhibit some unusual traits. As an infant and toddler, he doesn’t develop speech as expected but babbles in an extraordinary way that the members of the Cagles’ charismatic church family claim is “speaking in tongues.” But the babbling doesn’t fit the known patterns for it to be glossolalia. Too, the boy doesn’t engage with others at all but has spells that come over him in which he repeatedly builds towers out of bits and pieces he finds at hand.

Against Brian’s wishes, Angie takes the boy to the nearby university medical research hospital to try and determine why their son is the way his is. But when Homeland Security takes an inexplicable interest in Bobbie, too, Angela grabs the boy and flees leaving Brian and everyone she knows and loves behind.

Now, after a decade on the run, they are closing in and Bobbie’s father is with them. As Bobbie approaches his sixteenth birthday, things are starting to come together, leading them to a mysterious location in the West Virginia mountains.

This story is definitely not over! The action was fast and tense and as much as Angie is in the dark about what is going on with her son, the reader is as well. Is the human race ready to evolve to a new level? Are aliens guiding our development? Is it God’s plan? The story is well written, entertaining, and fresh. Recommended for a variety of readers because this is a thriller, a mystery, and an epic scifi tale!

Go On, Girl by Hilary Grossman

Food import company executive Sydney Clayton and her husband, Craig, have lived comfortably in the exclusive community of Forest River for 15 years. They had found the house of their dreams and renovated it bit by bit until it was perfect. Their only child, Amanda, was born there but with a two hour one-way commute each day they may be ready for a move closer to work and family. After all, with their schedules, they haven’t made close friends in the community until a blow up among the school moms guilts Sydney into becoming the PTA Treasurer.

As Sydney becomes more and more a part of the PTA moms, and an appealing young couple considers the unimaginably high price Craig has set on the house, the Clayton’s already tough decision to stay or relocate becomes harder and harder.

Grossman has written a fun novel set in a small community where everyone knows everyone else’s business, the sharing of which escalates via the marvel of social media. It was entertaining to watch as Sydney is drawn into the drama that develops over the school year and her building relationship with the other moms especially with Jackie Martin, the local Queen B. First impressions are not always the truth of the matter. Sydney’s internal struggling with how much she should try and protect or insulate her daughter as she grows up may hit a chord with some readers, too. Although Sydney is the focus of Go On, Girl, the secondary characters shine as well. Recommended for readers of contemporary stories of family life.