gimmethatbook

Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: August 2017

Hunting Hour by Margaret Mizushima

Deputy Mattie Cobb is working through issues from her past and has withdrawn from Cole Walker and his family to focus on herself, when she and her K-9 partner Robo get called to track a missing junior high student. Until they find the girl on Smoker’s Hill behind the high school, dead. But that’s only the start of trouble in Timber Creek, because soon another girl goes missing–and this time it’s Sophie Walker. Hard as they search, Cole, Mattie, and Robo can’t find her anywhere. Mattie’s primary suspect, a strange man who lives near the wilderness area, calls to report he hears deer “screaming” in the woods. Suspecting the man might have lost touch with reality and is referring to something he’s done to Sophie, Mattie takes Robo into the dense pine forest, hoping to pick up a trace of her scent. But when Robo does catch Sophie’s trail, it leads them to another clue that challenges everything they thought they knew about the case. Now Mattie and Robo must rush to hunt down Sophie’s kidnapper before they’re too late in Hunting Hour, the third installment in critically acclaimed author Margaret Mizushima’s exhilarating mystery series.

Many thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC in exchange for a review!

Hunting Hour has the best of both worlds for me; a murder mystery plus a lot of canine activity. Not sure how I managed to miss this series, but I’m glad NetGalley decided to recommend it to me.

This book is number three in a series, which means that there are things alluded to from the first two books in order to flesh out the backstory. These flashbacks piqued my interest and I am going back to read the other books in the series, if only to see how Mattie was doing mentally before the history with her father came to light.

The author is brilliant, painting Mattie’s K9 partner as the only trustworthy companion she has. Despite her emotional issues, Mattie is a great cop. Some of her demons move to the forefront during this investigation, and she struggles to stay neutral and weigh all the evidence equally. Letting your personal history color your opinions is something that many people experience, and I found it refreshing that the story took this turn. Mattie truly wants to do the best she can for the victims, yet she can be blinded by personal issues. The other members of the police department understand what she is going through and are appropriately sympathetic.

There isn’t a lot of rollicking “cop talk” as you would find in a John Sandford book, but the action and suspense held my interest. The author threw in the required red herrings, but to my surprise, I managed to guess who the perpetrator was fairly early in the book. I had a strong suspicion, and was satisfied when it turned out to be who I suspected.

I absolutely loved that one of the main characters was a veterinarian! The animal medicine was true to life, not too gory, and added another dimension to the plot that was refreshing. The romance was part of the backstory, but kept at an acceptable level. (I’m not a fan of mixing mysteries and relationships.)

The inclusion of the animals makes this series stand out. Dogs are the best companions ever, and the human – animal bond shines through on nearly every page. Mizushima’s description of Robo’s facial expressions are perfect! I didn’t know what to expect, as some animal mysteries are written awkwardly; but there was nothing awkward about this one. I felt fully invested in the characters, the dialogue was smooth, and there were no gaping holes in the plot to make me cringe.

Hunting Hour was a great way to spend a few hours, and I look forward to the next adventure of Mattie and Robo.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

HOW TO BE AN EVEN BETTER MANAGER by Michael Armstrong

 

This new edition of How to be an Even Better Manager covers 50 topics organized into three key areas in which every manager needs to be competent: managing people, managing activities and processes, and managing and developing oneself. With new chapters on how to learn, achieve continuous improvement, foster engagement, make a business case, and prepare a business plan, this is an up-to-date handbook for existing and aspiring managers.
How to be an Even Better Manager provides sound guidelines that will help readers develop a broad base of managerial skills and knowledge and build on existing skills. Even the most experienced manager needs to keep abreast of new developments and brush up on essential skills. This new edition will continue to be a valuable aid.

 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an review!

New managers are inundated with books to read and advice from well meaning coworkers. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the best use of your time and which books to read. HOW TO BE AN EVEN BETTER MANAGER is not a new book per se; it’s been updated and modernized for today’s work world. The original edition has sold over 170,000 copies worldwide, so you know this is advice that gets results.

Wondering how to promote a learning culture? How to have those difficult conversations with an underperforming associate? How to gain confidence and engage your team? This book has those answers, and more!

There are 5 sections: Managing People, Developing People, Management Skills, Personal Skills, and Business and Financial Management. Armstrong provides a guideline for the new and seasoned manager alike by putting forth situations (something went wrong, here is how to fix it) in simple language with reasons why this works.

Another great thing about this book is that you don’t have to read it from chapter to chapter – you can pick and choose what you need to know and get to that section quickly. The sections are not overly long and are digested easily.

The final chapter gives an overview of reading balance sheets, financial ratios and what they are used for. I found this wonderful because a lot of beginner management books never touch on the money aspect of things; they just show you how to be more of a people person.

Taking a few moments each night to read a few pages at a time will help fledgling managers immensely, as well as encourage “old hats” to try some new things and think outside the box.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

 

The Child by Fiona Barton

the child

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

 

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for a review!

The Child brings back journalist Kate Waters, first seen in Fiona Barton’s The Widow. When a baby’s skeleton is found at a construction site, the lives of three women are affected. Kate Waters seizes the story and tries to figure out where the tiny body came from.

 

Delightfully British with well written characters, The Child is another treasure. Kate’s interaction with her coworkers are dead on, as Barton illustrates how print journalists must cope with 24 hour online news media. The women’s family dynamics are integral to the story; giving the reader the backstory slowly and tantalizingly. Each woman gets to tell her story – there are changing points of view throughout and we see firsthand what Kate, Emma, and Angela are going through. Emma’s mother, Jude, is also part of the dynamic. I found Jude to be annoying and narcissistic; she was easy to loathe. Emma and Angela were both dealing with their own mental issues as well, and at times all of the angst became overwhelming. That didn’t deter me from continuing to read – but at times I wished there was a bit less whining and a little more action.

Kate is an expert reporter, adept at the art of manipulation to get her story. As a matter of fact, almost every character manipulates someone in some way. Barton is a master of keeping a dark story hovering just above the despair line, tempering the distress with hope.

Some reviews have noted that the plot twists were easy to spot- not for me! I had a feeling that these women were going to be intertwined somehow (for plot purposes, of course), but could not predict what was going to happen until Barton gave the Big Reveal. I was appropriately shocked and enthralled. Everything came together in a satisfying way and I felt that there was room for Kate’s character to grow, possibly to be featured in another book.

Barton’s insight into the female psyche is peerless, and knows how to illustrate the seamy side of the human condition perfectly. I’ll be eagerly awaiting her next work.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

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