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Cross My Heart by James Patterson (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audio, 9.5 hours
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Cross My Heart by James Patterson, narrated by Michael Boatman from Spin City and Tom Wopat from the The Dukes of Hazzard, is a slowly evolving novel that demonstrates not only how much family anchors Det. Alex Cross, but how it can become a weakness when the wrong people decide to target you.  With one kid away at school, another child just getting a handle on her high school work, and a seven year-old son just looking forward to growing up, Alex Cross has a lot to loose when killers come knocking.  As a series of murders push the murder rate up across the city and the police department continues to feel the pressure of a possible federal government takeover, Cross is under even more pressure than usual.  In the midst of all this, a woman is kidnapping babies.

Thierry Mulch has stalked Cross and his family, and despite all the signs, Cross is simply spread to thin to put the evidence together in a clear picture.  His wife, Bree, Nana Mama, and his children Ali, Jannie, and Damon always have filled in the gaps left by Cross’ busy schedule as a detective, and while there are family resentments about his absences, they are all well aware that his job is important.  Patterson slowly unravels how Cross finds himself on the razor’s edge of revenge at the beginning of the novel, and readers are anxious throughout as the stalker gets closer and closer.  Many villains have tried and failed to beat Alex Cross, but Mulch has been studying a long time to become the perfect criminal.

The narrator for Cross and Sampson continues his good performance, though his voice for Sampson still seemed a bit forced and jarring.  Tom Wopat speaks for Mulch and the other criminals in the novel, and he does an excellent job of maintaining a cunning and dispassionate character.  His villains are practical and diabolical.

This novel shows Alex Cross at rock bottom, particularly as it comes to a close.  Cross My Heart by James Patterson, narrated by Michael Boatman from Spin City and Tom Wopat from the The Dukes of Hazzard, is a cliffhanger that will have readers chomping at the bit to read the next, Hope to Die.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 7 hrs
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Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson, narrated by Michael Boatman from Spin City and China Beach and Steven Boyer from The Wolf of Wall Street, is another suspenseful romp through D.C. chasing bad guys and trying to balance the life of a high-profile homicide detective with family life.  A new marriage, 1 son in college, 1 daughter and young son at home, and 1 foster child keeps the Cross house on its toes, but when a journalist has it out for Det. Cross, things get Topsy-turvy.

Meanwhile, plastic surgeon Elijah Creem has gotten away with things that even Alex Cross doesn’t know about, even though Cross busts him at a party with illicit drugs and underage models.  While dead girls are piling up who are slim with blond hair — or at least that’s the hair color the medical examiner thinks it is since these women’s locks are shorn off and they are nearly scalped — other bodies are discovered along the river.  Cross finds himself in the middle of several cases that could be the work of one or more serial killers.  Michael Boatman does a great job as the voice of Alex Cross, but his rendition of his pal Sampson is a bit forced and comes off a bit comic.  Steven Boyer who does the narration for the killers is fantastically creepy and eerie, and in many ways is the star of this production.

Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson, narrated by Michael Boatman from Spin City and China Beach and Steven Boyer from The Wolf of Wall Street, is a back to basics cop novel with killers on the loose in the city, and less about the FBI, which is good to see once in a while.  Cross still has trouble balancing home life and work life, but it’s good to see that his priorities are straight when their foster child goes missing.  The audio productions are a great way to spend a couple afternoons or a few commutes into work.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson (audio)

Source: Public library
Audiobook, 7 hrs
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Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson, narrated by Zach Grenier, David Lee on The Good Wife and Andre Braugher, Captain Ray Holt on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, has a number of plots going on at one time.  From the kidnapped children of President Coyle — a second high-profile kidnapping of children for Detective Alex Cross — to terrorists making their presence known in the nation’s capital.  Like police work in real life, not all of the cases are solved, and Alex is pushed past his ethical and moral limits as he struggles to find the kidnapped children.

The gem in this book was Zach Grenier’s narration as the kidnapper, who is diabolical and broken at the same time.  He’s shifty and he’s intelligent, and the voices he makes to differentiate between the kidnapper and the terrorists are fantastic.  Hiring actors to perform these books is a stroke of genius because it brings Patterson’s plots to life.  There are a ton of twists and turns, and while I may not approve of Cross’s methods in this one and believe they are out of step with the character he has become, the conclusion of these events was ok for me.

Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson is less about killing Cross than it is about the numerous threats facing our nation today.  Terrorists are often seen where there are none and there are threats that go unseen on a daily basis until it is too late.  Kidnappers are waiting in plain view in some places, while terrorists are blending in with the rest of society.  But then there are those who seem suspicious who are not threats at all.  Patterson’s novel does touch on the idea of perception and what threats we see and don’t see and why.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

Cross Fire by James Patterson (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 6.5 hours
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Cross Fire by James Patterson pits Alex Cross against his arch-nemesis, Kyle Craig, and other elements from his past.  While his private psychiatric practice has become more of a part-time gig with underprivileged kids, Cross still uses his skills to profile criminals loose on the city to capture them before they do further damage.  Ripped from the headlines, including the D.C. sniper case (which was a little too close for comfort for me), Patterson has done his homework on the police in the nation’s capitol and has a firm grasp of the ins-and-outs of the FBI.  I was pleased to see Kyle return because he is the kind of enemy that challenges the main character’s morality and wits, while remaining cunning enough to even gain the respect of readers.

These audio productions are more about the twists and turns of Cross and the puzzles he must unwind, rather than like in the Women’s Murder Club series where it is heavy on sound effects and music.  Those audio productions read like high-flying summer blockbusters, while these creep up on you like dark suspense dramas.  This one has two narrators, one for Alex Cross’ chapters and one for those with Kyle Craig, and both are excellent — though for some reason I kept picturing Cross as Tyler Perry because the narrator’s voice is close to his.  Previously, I had pictured Cross as Morgan Freeman, which is probably because those are the movies I saw first before reading the books.

I digress.  Cross Fire by James Patterson places the main protagonist in the middle of Craig’s sights, and his family is right there with him.  The terror permeating the city as the snipers travel around the city adds another layer of suspense, which is handled well in this production.  Patterson is good at creating suspenseful dramas, and this one is no slouch in that department.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook,  7.5 hours
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Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro has the women of the murder club scrambling away from terrorists and searching high and low for a killer bent on revenge.  San Francisco Detective Lindsay Boxer is enjoying her motherhood, even as her job continues to be demanding and murderers and terrorists remain on the loose in the city.  The FBI becomes involved in a belly bomb case that threatens the city, but Boxer is like a dog with a bone — she won’t let go and insists on investigating despite the restrictions.  Even this routine investigation is turned upside down as Mackie Morales reappears in an FBI photograph — she’s the one that got away and she’s been on the run since Boxer and the police killed her lover.

This is another spectacular audio production by Hachette with music and audio gunfire.  I enjoy listening to this adrenaline pumping series on audio more than reading them.  I tend to enjoy them for their pure entertainment, but this one had an oddball case that ensnares Yuki Castellano and her new husband while they are on their honeymoon.  The plot did not seem to be as well thought out, and it seemed like the resolution was a bit too out of character with the stories in this series.  Other than that, Unlucky 13 by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro is a fun listen when your doing the chores.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

About the Co-Author:

Maxine Paetro collaborates with best–selling author James Patterson, co–writing The 4th Of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, The 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment, 10th Anniversary and The 11th Hour, just released in May 2012. All are New York Times #1 best–sellers in the Women’s Murder Club Series.

12th of Never by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 7 hours
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12th of Never by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, narrated by January LaVoy, is a prime audio production with sound effects and music. This is like watching a fast-paced thriller without the images — but those images clearly come to mind.  There are occasions when the narrator forgets what voice should be used, but it is so rare, that readers will forgive the little slips.  This is how I prefer my Patterson these days.  These are adrenaline filled novels that will have readers eager to finish the books in one day.

While some books in the Women’s Murder Club series have fallen flat or have had too many mysteries going at once, 12th of Never is fantastic.  There was a great balance between the personal lives of the women and the cases they were working — from the case of the corpse missing from the morgue to the case of the husband on trial for murdering his wife and daughter.  Lindsay Boxer is on the sidelines for a big chunk of the book because of her family issues after the birth of her baby, but Cindy and Richie are front and center with their personal issues.  Claire is facing professional problems since the disappearance of the body, and Yuki is juggling her personal life with the high-profile trial of a husband who may have killed his wife and daughter.

12th of Never by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, narrated by January LaVoy, is a wild ride!  I was riveted from the beginning, probably because I’m invested in Boxer and her family.  I wanted to know what was going to happen with her and Joe and their baby, while I was disheartened by Cindy and Richie’s troubles.  Yuki is the only character I still am on the fence about, and that could be because I instantly liked the former assistant district attorney Jill Bernhardt from earlier in the series.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

About the Co-Author:

Maxine Paetro collaborates with best–selling author James Patterson, co–writing The 4th Of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, The 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment, 10th Anniversary and The 11th Hour, just released in May 2012. All are New York Times #1 best–sellers in the Women’s Murder Club Series.

11th Hour by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 7 hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

11th Hour by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro pits Lindsay Boxer against a couple of killers, and the Women’s Murder Club is on the case again.  The first killer, Revenge, clearly has skills and insider knowledge, but the second killer is obscured by the mysterious myths of an estate and its infamous owner.  From drug dealer bodies piling up on the city’s streets to the heads being turned up in the garden, Lindsay has no shortage of gruesome crime scenes to investigate.  As her personal life seems to fall apart, Lindsay has little choice but to throw herself into her work.

While there is more personal interaction between Lindsay and the girls, readers will likely be disappointed that her fledgling marriage is already on the rocks and the law enforcement group bends the rules in order to get a reporter off their backs.  The audio has some great effects, like gunshots, and the narrator does a good job differentiating between the girls.  Like all Patterson novels, it is heavy on plot but even that is not as well put together as it could have been.  There seems to be an overemphasis on drama, rather than on the reality of police procedures — particularly regarding pregnant police and bending the rules to get reporters out of the way (for which there should be real consequences).

11th Hour by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro is heart pumping and full of tension, and there are moments when the women are working really well together and their characters are evolving.  This series seems to have lost a lot of spark in terms of dynamic interactions and well thought out plots that aren’t too convoluted or ridiculous.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

About the Co-Author:

Maxine Paetro collaborates with best–selling author James Patterson, co–writing The 4th Of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, The 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment, 10th Anniversary and The 11th Hour, just released in May 2012. All are New York Times #1 best–sellers in the Women’s Murder Club Series.

10th Anniversary by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

Source: My Mom
Hardcover, 395 pgs
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10th Anniversary by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro brings the ladies of the Women’s Murder Club together for a wedding that Lindsay Boxer, herself, didn’t think would happen.  But shortly after the wedding, the ladies are caught up in two mysteries — a missing baby and the death of Dr. Candace Martin’s husband.  Patterson and Paetro continue to build on this franchise, and while Patterson’s style is sparse, clipped sentences to ramp up the action, these books will have readers turning the pages quickly on a lazy, rainy afternoon.  Boxer, Washburn, Thomas, and Castellano are always up to their necks in some murder mystery, but each of them brings a unique talent to the table.

“Now, the warm, salty air embraced me.  The great lawns flowed around the shining white gazebo and down to the bluff.  The Pacific crashed against the cliff side, and the setting sun tinted the clouds a glowing whiskey pink that you could never capture on film.  I’d never seen a more beautiful place.

‘Take it easy, now,’ Jacobi said. ‘No sprinting down the aisle.  Just keep step with the music.'” (page 8)

Lindsay is a no-nonsense cop, and she’s always unraveling a mystery using her gut instincts, but Castellano often relies on the hard facts of a case to get the convictions she needs for the district attorney’s office in San Francisco.  Washburn brings heart to the cases and reminds the ladies that there is a human element to every story, while Thomas seeks out the sensational headlines among the mix.  I’ve been reading this series a long time, and while some of the novels are less stellar than others, I was captivated from the start by this one.  I can always rely on Patterson to give me some junk food for the mind when I need something less burdensome to focus on.

10th Anniversary by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro is a race against time to save a missing child and sheds light on what it means to be a mother and protect her children.  Is it an innate instinct a mother has, or is it something that can be learned and cultivated? And can a woman who is not a biological mother feel that instant connection with a child she never carried?  These are the questions explored, but Patterson and Paetro keep the focus on these strong women and how they can reach out and grab their dreams.

About the Author:

James Patterson is a prolific author of thrillers, mysteries, young adult novels and more. His first successful series featured psychologist Alex Cross.

About the Co-Author:

Maxine Paetro collaborates with best–selling author James Patterson, co–writing The 4th Of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, The 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment, 10th Anniversary and The 11th Hour, just released in May 2012. All are New York Times #1 best–sellers in the Women’s Murder Club Series.

Who Are Your Auto-Buy Authors?

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Hello everyone! The holidays are nearly here, but I have a treat for you! If you haven’t liked the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page yet, go do it now.

Beginning Dec. 12 (sometime this afternoon the first pick will be revealed), I’ll reveal one of the books on my Best of 2014 book list, through Dec. 24.

That’s one book from the list per day, with a tidbit about why I loved the book and a link to where you can buy it.

Today, I wanted to talk about those authors we love so much that we buy their books automatically no matter what the subject.  I used to have just a few of those authors, but my list is now growing!  I thought today would be a good day to share not only the older ones on the list, but also the newer ones that have joined the ranks.

My previous list:

  1. Yusef Komunyakaa
  2. Tim O’Brien
  3. Stephen King
  4. Anita Shreve
  5. Amy Tan
  6. Isabel Allende
  7. James Patterson
  8. Anne Rice
  9. Mary Oliver
  10. Billy Collins

My additions to the list:

  1. Beth Kephart
  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey
  3. Jane Odiwe
  4. Syrie James
  5. Abigail Reynolds
  6. Karen White
  7. Beth Hoffman
  8. Jill Mansell
  9. Janel Gradowski
  10. Diana Raab
  11. C.W. Gortner
  12. John Shors

I find it interesting that there are many more female authors being added to my auto-buy list. 

I’m not really sure why so many great female authors are being added to my auto-buy list these days.  It isn’t that I haven’t read some great male authors, but perhaps I need to read more of them to get a true sense of their work and whether I want to buy it automatically no matter the subject.

Do you have auto-buy authors? Who are they?  What attracts you to their work?

Don’t forget to like the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page to find out over the next 12 days which books made the 2014 Best list.

Mailbox Monday #215

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Chaotic Compendiums.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

 

Here’s what I received from my mom:

1.  Alex Cross, Run by James Patterson

Top plastic surgeon Elijah Creem is renowned for his skills in the operating room, and for his wild, no-expense-spared “industry parties,” bringing in underage exotic dancers and models for nights of drugs, champagne, and uninhibited sex. That is, until Detective Alex Cross busts one of Creem’s lavish soirees and ruins his fun. Now Creem is willing to do anything to avoid going to jail.

But Alex doesn’t have time to dwell on that case. A beautiful woman has been found murdered in her car, a lock of her hair viciously ripped off. Then a second woman is found hanging from a sixth-floor window with a brutal scar slashed across her stomach. When a third mutilated body is discovered, rumors of three serial killers on the loose send Washington D.C. into an all-out frenzy.

2.  Francona by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy

From 2004 to 2011, Terry Francona managed the Boston Red Sox, perhaps the most scrutinized team in all of sports. During that time, every home game was a sellout. Every play, call, word, gesture—on the field and off—was analyzed by thousands. And every decision was either genius, or disastrous. In those eight years, the Red Sox were transformed from a cursed franchise to one of the most successful and profitable in baseball history—only to fall back to last place as soon as Francona was gone. Now, in Francona: The Red Sox Years, the decorated manager opens up for the first time about his tenure in Boston, unspooling the narrative of how this world-class organization reached such incredible highs and dipped to equally incredible lows. But through it all, there was always baseball, that beautiful game of which Francona never lost sight.

3.  Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction….Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she’s made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds—has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can’t hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life. And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is just what each of them needs. Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he’s hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he’s ever cared about. Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs? Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month that might just give it to them.

Here’s what I bought at AWP’s Writer’s Conference last week in Boston:

4.  Tipping Point: 20th Anniversary Edition by Fred Marchant

With his deft and timeless blend of the lyrical and narrative, Fred Marchant explores the wars inside us and the ones we wage in the world: spiritual, familial, political. Says Tom Sleigh, “In the spirit of Wilfred Owen, Tipping Point is a book seared by personal and historical fact.” This 20th Anniversary Edition, with a new introduction by Nick Flynn, celebrates what Sven Birkerts calls, “the larger contexts in which our deeds and gestures come to matter.” Flynn concludes, “Tipping Point arrives, twenty years or two thousand years later, eternal and utterly ever-present.”

 

5.  The Scabbard of Her Throat by Bernadette Geyer

“The poems in Bernadette Geyer’s The Scabbard of Her Throat are saturated by touch: fingers on a throat, hand on a door, wasp, clasped to a cicada’s back, fever to bodies, daughters to mothers, mythologies to linoleum. Her lines soothed, they bruised, they entered my ear and held.” — Cornelius Eady, author of Brutal Imagination

 

Here’s my unexpected review copy:

6.  Midnight Sacrifice by Melinda Leigh

One by one, people are mysteriously disappearing from a small Maine town.

Four months ago, a ruthless murderer killed two people and kidnapped three more, including Danny Sullivan’s sister, who barely escaped. Unfortunately so did the killer, vanishing without a trace into the vast wilderness. When the police fail to find his sister’s captor, Danny returns to Maine to hunt him down.

He begins his search with another survivor, bed and breakfast owner Mandy Brown, but her refusal to cooperate raises Danny’s suspicions. What is the beautiful innkeeper hiding?

Mandy Brown has a secret. But sexy Danny Sullivan, his relentless questions, and the desire that simmers between them threaten to expose the truth. A revelation that puts her family in danger. As more people disappear, it becomes clear the killer is planning another ritual…and that he’s circling in on Mandy.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #179

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Alternative Read.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received since vacation the previous couple of weeks:

1. Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank, unsolicited from William Morrow and I will find a new home for.

When Jimmy McMullen, a fireman with the NYFD, is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Charlie idolized his dad, and now the outgoing, curious boy has become quiet and reserved. Trusting in the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island.

Crossing the bridge from the mainland, Jackie and Charlie enter a world full of wonder and magic—lush green and chocolate grasslands and dazzling red, orange, and magenta evening skies; the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud and fresh seafood on the grill; bare toes snuggled in warm sand and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.

2.  Pride & Pyramids: Mr. Darcy in Egypt by Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb from Sourcebooks for review in July.

The Darcys get pulled into the Regency craze for Egypt in this romantic and adventurous Pride and Prejudice continuation by bestselling author Amanda Grange and Egyptology expert Jacqueline Webb.

When Elizabeth, Darcy and their lively children go to Egypt with Colonel Fitzwilliam’s younger brother, romantic interludes between Darcy and Elizabeth intertwine with the unraveling of a mystery dating back to an ancient Egyptian woman. They find long-hidden treasure, thwart a theft and betrayal by the ever villainous George Wickham, and lay to rest an ancient ghost.

3.  Ocean Beach by Wendy Wax from the publisher and Joan Schulhafer Publicity for review in June.

If you want to win a copy of your own, today is the last day to enter Wendy Wax’s giveaway for one of three advance reader copies of her upcoming OCEAN BEACH, to be sent to the winners prior to the June 26th on sale date. Best of luck to all!! Just go to http://www.writerspace.com/contests/ and scroll down to Wendy’s name!

Unlikely friends Madeline, Avery and Nicole have hit some speed bumps in their lives, but when they arrive in Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, they are all hoping for a do-over. Literally. They’ve been hired to bring a once-grand historic house back to its former glory on a new television show called Do-Over. If they can just get this show off the ground, Nikki would get back on her feet financially, Avery could restart her ruined career, and Maddie would have a shot at keeping her family together.

At least, that’s the plan – until the women realize that having their work broadcast is one thing, having their personal lives play out on TV is another thing entirely. Soon they are struggling to hold themselves, and the project, together. With a decades-old mystery—and the hurricane season—looming, the women are forced to figure out just how they’ll weather life’s storms…

4.  The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe from TLC Book Tours in August.

Macau: the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace. It was time to find a life for myself. To make something out of nothing. The end of hope and the beginning of it too.

After moving with her husband to the tiny, bustling island of Macau, Grace Miller finds herself a stranger in a foreign land—a lone redhead towering above the crowd on the busy Chinese streets. As she is forced to confront the devastating news of her infertility, Grace’s marriage is fraying and her dreams of family have been shattered. She resolves to do something bold, something her impetuous mother would do, and she turns to what she loves: baking and the pleasure of afternoon tea.

Grace opens a café where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons—the delectable, delicate French cookies colored like precious stones—to the women of Macau. There, among fellow expatriates and locals alike, Grace carves out a new definition of home and family. But when her marriage reaches a crisis, secrets Grace thought she had buried long ago rise to the surface. Grace realizes it’s now or never to lay old ghosts to rest and to begin to trust herself. With each mug of coffee brewed, each cup of tea steeped and macaron baked, Grace comes to learn that strength can be gleaned from the unlikeliest of places.

5. Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks Monte Carlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they’re free to live someone else’s life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known.

6. Private Games by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Private, the world’s most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect more than 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries.

7. Private #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro, which my mom lent to me after visiting her with “Wiggles.”

Since former Marine Jack Morgan started Private, it has become the world’s most effective investigation firm–sought out by the famous and the powerful to discreetly handle their most intimate problems. Private’s investigators are the smartest, the fastest, and the most technologically advanced in the world–and they always uncover the truth.

8. Flesh by Khanh Ha, which I received from TLC for a book tour in June.

The setting is Tonkin (northern Vietnam) at the turn of the 20th century. A boy, Tai, witnesses the beheading of his father, a notorious bandit, and sets out to recover his head and then to find the man who betrayed his father to the authorities. On this quest, Tai’s entire world will shift. FLESH takes the reader into dark and delightful places in the human condition, places where allies are not always your friends, true love hurts, and your worst enemy may bring you the most comfort. In that emotionally harrowing world, Tai must learn to deal with new responsibilities in his life while at the same time acknowledge his bond, and his resemblance, to a man he barely knew-his father. Through this story of revenge is woven a another story, one of love, but love purchased with the blood of murders Tai commits. A coming-of-age story, but also a love story, the sensuality of the author’s writing style belies the sometimes brutal world he depicts.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #145 and Library Loot #7

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is Amused by Books.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.  Both of these memes allow bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received this week:

1.  To Join the Lost by Seth Steinzor for a TLC Book Tour in November.

2.  The Time in Between by Maria Duenas from Shelf Awareness.

3. Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson and Marshall Karp from my mother.

4. I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, which I won from Caribousmom during BBAW.

5. Tracks by Eric D. Goodman, which I received for review from the author.

6. Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by David Soman and Jacky Davis, which I picked up from Penguin at the National Book Festival — first time books were given away for free.

7. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner, which I also picked up from Penguin for “Wiggles.”

8. Stagecoach Sal by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Carson Ellis, which is signed by the author and given away to 100 attendees at the Penguin tent.

9. The Chameleon Couch by Yusef Komunyakaa, which I purchased at the National Book Festival and got signed by one of my favorite poets.

Library Loot:

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

1.  Does the Noise in my Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler

What did you get this week?