Month: May 2018

Audiobook Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert

Posted May 30, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 14 Comments

Audiobook Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. ReichertThe Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert
Narrator: Teri Schnaubelt
Length: 8 hours and 12 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Tantor Audio on Tantor Audio
Genres: Womens Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Tantor Audio
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher, Tantor Audio in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

1. Get through to your daughter. 2. Buy more cheese. 3. Don't forget to call your mother.
Grilled G's Gourmet Food Truck is where chef, owner, obsessive list-maker, and recent widow Gina Zoberski finds the order and comfort she needs to struggle through each day, especially when confronted with her critical mother Lorraine and sullen daughter May.
Image-conscious Lorraine always knows best and expects her family to live up to her high expectations, no matter what. May just wants to be left alone to mourn her father in her own way. Gina always aims to please, but finds that her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys both her mother and her daughter, no matter how hard she tries.
But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

A lovely story that follows three generations of women, a mother-daughter relationship story told by three different women and their life-altering secrets.

This was a great book to listen to, I thought the narrator Teri Schnaubelt really brought the characters and the story to life, I was pulled in so much I did not even bother with the ebook, which I also had a copy with.

The writing was really cozy. I liked learning about Gina’s past and how the author chose to unfold her painful past as well as how her mother Lorraine might understand her daughter more than she shows.

I loved that this book focused on family and building or mending relationships, rather it’s by understand and talking about the past, accepting, and listening to how the other members of the family feel.

The only place I really struggled was Lorraine’s part of the book. I could understand where she was coming, but my biggest issue was her behavior towards Gina’s husband upon meeting her and how her own past wasn’t much different. She really felt like the worlds biggest hypocrite and that bothered me, I did not understand how someone that was so in love ones refused to accept the same for her daughter. Her own unhappiness in her marriage should have encouraged her daughter to marry whoever her heart desires, but her self-perseverance put a chasm between her and her daughter.

I found both stories to be really sad and pull on my heart strings.

I wish Lorraine’s ending was different than the one the author chose to give her, but overall, the ending in the book was pretty solid.

I really enjoyed this as an audiobook and definitely found it a great read with interesting characters overall.

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Review: Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir by Cinelle Barnes

Posted May 28, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Monsoon Mansion: A Memoir by Cinelle BarnesMonsoon Mansion: A Memoir by Cinelle Barnes
Series: standalone
Published by Little A on May 1, 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Pages: 252
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Told with a lyrical, almost-dreamlike voice as intoxicating as the moonflowers and orchids that inhabit this world, Monsoon Mansion is a harrowing yet triumphant coming-of-age memoir exploring the dark, troubled waters of a family’s rise and fall from grace in the Philippines. It would take a young warrior to survive it.
Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.
In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up.

Let me just say, I have never read a nonfiction book before, much less alone a memoir so I found myself a little hesitant when it came into dipping my toes into this book.

I liked the blurb and was pleasantly surprised that I found myself enjoying this book.

Monsoon Mansion is a memoir written by Cinelle Barnes in a form of fictional novelization. It follows Cinelle as a child living in a mansion in the Philippines and the rise and fall of her family. The writing was beautiful, the storytelling was well done and easy to follow since it read differently, I almost forgot at times that the book was based on recounts of Cinelle’s actual life. I got lost instantly and really sympathized for the little girl in the story and what she had to go through when everything around her came falling apart. Cinelle went from being rich to poor and the adjustments she had to make to her life by herself at the absents of her mother was really heartbreaking to read about. I found myself angry at her mother on many occasions, but joyful that Cinelle managed to make it out here and tell her story and share the beautiful writing with us.

Cinelle Barnes really knows how to write and I hope that one day she branches out into the world of fiction because I most definitely want to read

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Review: The Good Twin by Marti Green

Posted May 24, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: The Good Twin by Marti GreenThe Good Twin by Marti Green
Series: standalone
Published by Thomas & Mercer on May 15, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 272
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

In Marti Green’s twisting novel of psychological suspense, twin sisters become engaged in a dangerous deception…
Mallory Holcolm is an unfulfilled waitress and aspiring artist living in a Queens boardinghouse when she learns something astonishing about her past: she has an identical twin sister named Charly she never knew existed.
Charly is a Princeton graduate, a respected gallery owner, and an heiress married to her handsome college sweetheart, Ben. Charly got everything she ever wanted. Everything Mallory wanted, too. And now it might be easier than Mallory ever imagined. Because Ben has reasons of his own for wanting to help her.
It begins with his startling proposal. All Mallory has to do is say yes.
But as their devious plan falls into place, piece by piece, Mallory learns more about her sister and herself than she ever meant to—a discovery that comes with an unexpected twist. A chilling deception is about to become a dangerous double cross. And it’s going to change the rules of Ben and Mallory’s game to the very end.

I honestly don’t know where to start with this book, it was a bit of a mess.

Try to suspend your disbelief when reading this because this book definitely requires you to.

We have a young mother that was thrown out of the house because she was pregnant and refused to give up her baby. At the age of 16 a young girl made a hard choice when she found out that she had twins. She gave up her first born in adoption and kept the second twin to raise by herself. One grew up in a very rich family, the other grew up in poverty.

Years later, Mallory is a waitress and stumbles upon a man who confuses her for someone else. Curious, she tracks down the woman he thought she was only to discover, wow, she looks just like her. Too afraid to approach her in person, she decided to visit the woman at her house only to be greeted by her husband and spun a bunch of lies.

Now Mallory thinks her sister is heartless and that Charly (the sister) believes that Mallory only wants to meet her because she wants her money, she believes her husband Ben who is spinning these lies.

Ben offers Mallory a proposal that if all Mallory does is say yes, her life will be changed forever.

I don’t even know how to review this without spoiling everything.

All the things I found wrong and frustrating

1. I could not wrap my head around Mallory and her decision to go along with Ben’s plan and still claim that she is such a good person and is deserving of so much more because what she agreed to do wasn’t simple as blueberry picking. It’s not a decision that a “good” person would step into lightly and quiet frankly, her reasoning made me sick as well.

2. The end was just a mess piled upon a layer of another mess and turned me beyond angry. I wanted to throttle Mallory, who became the world’s BIGGEST freaking hypocrite, trust me guys, it is taking me a lot of self control here not to let out a string of curse words and how much I loathed that ending. I found it unrealistic, I found myself angry at everyone involved and in the end, I honestly just wanted to see them all burn. After everything that went down and how it went down and all the stupid lies and actions these two sisters did not deserve any kind of happiness.

The end kept kind of jumping forward in time quickly over and over again and I just could not wrap my head around who the hell did Mallory think she is, making those kind of decisions after what she herself tried to do and blah just no.

Overall, it was fast paced. Suspend your disbelief and you might enjoy it. For me? This book just made me angry beyond belief.

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Review: Regrets Only by Erin Duffy

Posted May 23, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: Regrets Only by Erin DuffyRegrets Only by Erin Duffy
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on May 8, 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From the author of Bond Girl and Lost Along the Way, comes a fiercely funny, insightful story of marriage, family, and the crooked path to figuring out who we really are.
Claire thought she had everything a woman was supposed to want—a loving husband, a newborn son, a beautiful home in the suburbs. Then she walks in on her husband canoodling with their realtor in their newly renovated kitchen, and in an instant, her perfect life comes crashing down.  
With her marriage heading for divorce, Claire knows it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. But how can she move on when she’s still stuck in the orbit of her husband’s world? For starters, she can get rid of her soon-to-be ex’s possessions—including his prized, gigantic foosball table—by dumping them onto the curb…until complaints from the neighbors get the police involved. Now Claire is busy dodging the mean mommies at story hour and hiding from her ex-husband’s girlfriend in the grocery store. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even lead to new love.
Desperate for a positive outlet to channel her frustrations, she turns to girlfriends Lissy and Antonia for help. Together they join forces to rebrand Lissy’s local stationery store and turn it into a thriving business. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even new love.
Featuring a second coming-of-age story, Regrets Only deftly explores the subtle nuances of marriage, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman today, while delighting readers as its unforgettable heroine acts on impulses we’ve all been guilty of having.

Regrets Only follows a woman named Claire. Claire thinks she is really happy, she has a perfect husband who she moved from Chicago to Connecticut to be with, and a baby boy. Just when she thought her marriage couldn’t be more perfect her husband surprises her with a night off in the city with a full spa treatment. When Claire accidentally forgets her keys and comes back home, she finds her realtor in lingerie making waffles and drinking in her kitchen. Claire ends up literally catching her husband with his pants down while their baby son is sleeping upstairs.

Hurt beyond belief Claire ends up going through divorce, dealing with her feelings and rebuilding her life with the help of some amazing friends.

This book doesn’t seem to get a lot of positivity on goodreads, but I found that I actually really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed Erin Duffy’s writing a whole lot. It was snarky, funny, light and entertaining. I found it fast paced and the conversations humorous. I never felt like she was trying so hard.

The story itself is definitely very character driven. Claire is a jaded character, she is hurt, she is furious, and she flies off the handle because her world completely fell apart. Given Claire’s situation, I totally understood where her wild emotions were coming from. Claire couldn’t go home to Chicago, where most of her support network is because her ex-husband wants her to stay in Connecticut due to their son. Claire doesn’t know anyone there so her awesome best friend Antonia (Erin Duffy if you are listening, this girl really needs a book) ends up moving in with Claire to help her. To top it off, Claire has to watch her soon to be ex, parade his new girlfriend around town and won’t let her sell the house and move. The house where Claire feels uncomfortable because that is where she found the affair happening. Claire is very emotional and does some although funny, but questionable things and sometimes you wonder if she will ever grow as a character, but she does. Her feelings very were real and human and I personally totally see where she was coming from and why she was letting her emotions run the show.

I was glad to see Claire grow as a person towards the ends of the book and finally start to build some sort of life for herself outside of the old one she left behind. It wasn’t an easy road, and given her ex-husband’s reasons for the affair, I don’t think we can all judge that moment in time how each of us would ever behave in those kind of situations, but I can imagine the pain that Claire went through. Though some people found her emotions and actions unjustifiable, I can honestly say that it was nothing compared to what I have seen other jaded women had done in their life.

Overall, this was a fun read that is perfect for the summer with interesting characters and humor. I am looking to reading more future books from this author.

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Tell Me Something Tuesday #4: Comparisons

Posted May 22, 2018 by Lily B in Tell Me Something Tuesday / 6 Comments

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post hosted by Heidi over at Rainy Day Ramblings   where we discuss a wide range of topics from books to blogging. If you would like to participate, grab the question and post it on your own website. Don’t forget to jump over to Rainy Day Ramblings and link your post in the comments!

Are you more inclined/ less inclined to read books that are compared to other popular books or authors?

Not sure, I think it depends on the book and my mood. I don’t like that the publishing world is using this kind of gimmick to trap us into buying the books. What happens if they compare to an author I did not particularly liked, so I did not buy the book, but could have really enjoyed the book? I feel that all authors have their own identity and individuality and hopefully no two authors will be the same, despite some similarities in their writing. Some will be better than their compared counterparts, some might be worse depending on the individual reading the book.

I do get it, okay? I understand why they do it. With the book industry saturated on the weekly basis with new releases they are trying to capture the attention of certain demographic similar to pointing a giant red finger yelling “Hey, you there! Did you enjoy Liane Moriarty? Well come check out this author with a similar style” I get it, but at the same time it feels a little lazy and a little bit like a trap simply because there at times that this kind of advertisement can really backfire. I have seen books that have this on their covers and it ends up targeting the wrong audience because the books will be nothing as promised. Plus, it raises the books expectation, so now it better be similar to the Hunger Games, or Harry Potter otherwise a book that could have gotten 5 stars given it a proper chance, now has 2 because it was nothing as advertised therefore lowered it’s chances.

Have I fallen for these kind of comparisons before? I have. Especially if I liked an author and wanted something similar to read based on her style I have picked up other books compared to other authors or style. I also have avoided books that I now will never know if I would have liked or not, simply because they got compared to books or authors that I did not even come close to enjoying.

Overall, I do wish as a reader that they put a lid on this new way of pushing books and just let them speak for themselves.

 

 

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Weekly Wrap Up #26 – Ugh

Posted May 20, 2018 by Lily B in Wrap Up / 14 Comments

Weekly Recap

 

Take 3! For some reason I been battling to post this today because it kept erasing everything I already typed out… I’ve been a little slow lately. One, my husband is back to work so it’s just me and the little one until the sun goes down. He wants to spend a lot of time in the park and I cannot read there because I have to watch him and not just let him run wild. Two, we had a very stressful week about two weeks ago. We can’t put on our AC because we got baby birds nesting on the box covering it, so we have to wait till they leave to uncover it. So I opened a window and accidentally let me toddlers favorite kitty escape. We barely got any sleep for two nights and between having to look for her and doing still what we had to do, we were dead on our feet. We did get her with a humane trap our friends let us borrow at about 3 am after catching two other neighboring cats. This week another cat that looks JUST like her and just as friendly showed up on our street and I have a feeling she was dumped here. She did find her way to our neighbors and I think they will take care of her.

I have also been buying books because my kindle is on it’s last legs so I have been reading and enjoying physical books again. I also found that I can get some books cheaper in physical over how much it costs to get a kindle copy, and since we are trying to save for a house it’s a big plus.

My Mystery Wrap book was – Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – I was kind of hoping to like it more than I am, but so far feeling kind of detached about it.

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer

Last Week On The Blog

 

Currently Reading/Listening to

     
     

  New Arrivals

There are but I lost all of what I did when I had to write this post up 3 times, I’ll post them at a later time.

 
 

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Audio Review: Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal, Justine Eyre(Narrator)

Posted May 18, 2018 by Lily B in Audio, Reviews / 7 Comments

Audio Review: Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal, Justine Eyre(Narrator)Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal
Narrator: Justine Eyre
Length: 7 hours and 20 minutes
Series: Kitty Weeks Mystery #2
Published by Tantor Audio on May 1st 2018
Genres: Historical Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher, Tantor Audio
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher, Tantor Audio in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Intrepid journalist Kitty Weeks returns to unearth a murderous conspiracy in this WWI saga

In the second book in the acclaimed Kitty Weeks Mystery series, Kitty is tasked with writing a story about Westfield Hall, a prestigious girls' boarding school. Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctors proclaim that the girl's sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn't so sure.

Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty must investigate a more chilling scenario—a murder that may involve Elspeth's scientist father and a new invention by Thomas Edison.

For fans of Susan Elia MacNeal and Jacqueline Winspear, Murder Between the Lines is a rich and spirited novel with irresistible charm, combining true historical events with a thrilling mystery.

Kitty is a reporter for a women’s page in a newspaper. When she is tasked with writing a story about Westfield Hall an all girls prestigious boarding school, a tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death. A doctor has proclaimed the death as an accident, saying Elspeth was sleepwalking, but upon further investigation, Kitty isn’t so sure it was an accident at all.

As Kitty dig into Elspeth’s life, she uncovers a world of politics that can lead more than one person into danger and that sometimes harmless accidents can turn into murder.

This was an interesting story, I found it enjoyable and the ending was surprising to me as it did not end in a traditional style that most murder mysteries do. It was kind of refreshing and left Kitty I think in a situation that is unpleasant.

The audio book was great. I think Justine Eyre did a good job with the voice and bringing Kitty’s personality forth, she also did a great job with some of the other characters and their accents when needed. Justine Eyre does have a sort of mellow undertone that can be very soothing.

The problem I ran into in this book is the choppy writing. I struggled at the beginning because I thought the audiobook was cutting off mid chapters. The transitions, or jumps, were uncomfortable at times and it might have not been too bad while reading it but it felt frustrated in the audiobook. We would in one place in the chapter and it would jump ahead into another scene then cut into another and it felt a bit disjointed so it ended up feeling a lot like the chapters kept getting cut off, especially if you sped up your listening speed.

Overall, I enjoyed this series, glad I met Kitty and hope to see where she will take us next.

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Guest Review: The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charleton

Posted May 17, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 7 Comments

Guest Review: The Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen CharletonThe Heiress of Linn Hagh by Karen Charlton
Series: Detective Lavender Mysteries #1
Published by Thomas & Mercer on June 9th 2015
Genres: Historical Mystery
Pages: 270
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4 Stars

Northumberland, November 1809: A menacing figure stalks women through Hareshaw Woods and a beautiful, young heiress disappears from her locked bedchamber at Linn Hagh.
The townsfolk cry 'witchcraft' and the local constabulary are baffled.
Fearing for her safety, Helen Carnaby's worried uncle sends out for help from Bow Street magistrates' court in London. Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Woods now face their toughest and most dangerous case. The servants and the local gypsies won’t speak to them, Helen’s siblings are sly and uncooperative and the sullen local farmers are about to take the law into their own hands.
Isolated in this beautiful but remote community, Lavender and Woods find themselves trapped in the middle of a simmering feud and are alarmed to discover a sinister world of madness and violence lurking behind the heavy oak door of the ancient pele tower at Linn Hagh. Helen Carnaby's disappearance is to prove one of the most perplexing mysteries of Lavender's career.
Why did she flee on that wintry October night? How did she get out of her locked bed chamber? And where is she now?
'The Heiress of Linn Hagh' is the first in a series of Regency mysteries featuring Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Edward Woods.
First published as 'The Missing Heiress.' (Knox Robinson Publishing (2012.)

Sophia Roses Review

A Regency era mystery with some Gothic overtones? ’nuff said! I wasn’t familiar with this series, but I was glad for the opportunity to pick up book one and meet Lavender and Woods in a case that took this pair of Bow Street Runners far from London into the Northumberland countryside.

The story opens with the introduction of the main pair of detectives and then drops back a little into the past and introduces the people and situation where the disappearance took place. It ends up going back and forth between the detectives and the family situation so the reader gets both aspects.

The details of historical setting and description of situation were good. The author didn’t skimp on painting in details of the Regency time period and police work in that time.

The characters were not as developed, but I liked how a little more detail was sketched in here and there as it went along. Lavender is something more than he seems and can be brooding while Woods is open and known from the start.

The mystery is a locked room type and relies heavily on atmosphere which was done well. It was not one that was hard to figure out the who or even the why – that is a given, but there are some details that come out later to make things even more interesting about the Carnaby family and how it was done.

I had a sense that I was dropped into an existing series because there were references back to other cases, but it was explained in the author notes at the end that Lavender and Woods were side characters in an unrelated book that she felt needed their own stories s0 this truly was the first of a new series.

There is an introduction to a romance interest for Lavender when he encounters a fiery Spanish woman on his journey north. She is above him in class and has her own secrets so it will be interesting to see where that series thread goes from there.

All in all, I enjoyed this introduction to a new to me historical mystery series and can definitely recommend it.

 

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

Posted May 16, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton FrankBy Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow on May 15, 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.
Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.
By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard -working Southern peach farmers.
Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate, when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?
By Invitation Only is classic Dorothea Benton Frank—a mesmerizing Lowcountry Tale that roars with spirit, humor, and truth, and forces us to reconsider our notions of what it means to be a Have or a Have Not.

A story that follows two different women, from two different worlds. Diane English Stiftel grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and now her only son Fred is getting married to a girl out of Chicago. Susan Kennedy Cambria is a socialite who dabbles in a world of public relation, married to a wealthy and powerful broker, and believes she deserves every inch of her expensive lives. When their children are on the verge of being married, their worlds collide in the most unexpected ways.

I found myself enjoying this book. It follows two different families. One that is struggling to get by and one that is very well off. One that lives on a farm and lives off the land and one that is immersed in the world of the rich and barely lifts a finger to make dinner.

I wanted to pick this book up because I myself am from New York City and although I did not move to the Lowcounty of South Carolina, I did move to a small farm town in PA to be with my husband. The transition is different, but I couldn’t identify with Susan. Susan at times was a very hard character to like and it felt like the author wanted to make her as horrible as she was to create a stark contrast with these women, until life hits them in the face and we get to see that if you strip away anyone down to their vulnerability we are not so different after all.

I did notice as I was reading the book that the author like following up bad news with good news right away, most often even within the same chapter. Now that could be constructed as a way that despite all the hardships and troubles, there is always a lighter part of life. I do have to say it tended to give me a bit of a whiplash, I didn’t feel like the characters had enough time to really process the news that got laid into them and feel emotional before they were given to deal with something else, which made it hard for me to really connect to the characters. I felt like it could have been handled a bit better as far as how they processed things and made them more genuine if they were given some time.

The ending was quite a bit more emotional, and satisfying at the same time. I found this book was perfect for this Spring night reads and just what I wanted at this time of year. I enjoyed the parts about the farm and how Diane and her family took care of themselves, it was at times touching and pleasant.

Overall, this was my first book by this author and I am looking forward to going back and reading more from her.

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Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Posted May 14, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer DonaldsonLies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson
Series: standalone
Published by Razorbill on May 29, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher, Bookish First
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher, Bookish First in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.
Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.
Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.
Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

A Young Adult novel that is told from two different characters, Elyse and Gabe.

Elyse is a quiet, shy girl with a ton of her own secrets that she is hiding, so she is shocked when she get’s lead as Juliet in the school play. But, there is someone at rehearsals that seems to catch her eye, even if Elyse known being close to them would be a big mistake.

After getting hit by a car and rescued by a stranger, Gabe breaks up with his girlfriend Sasha. Sasha is popular and headstrong, and she isn’t willing to let Gabe go. Sasha is willing to do anything to get her boyfriend back, even if it means crossing some lines.

Gabe is drawn to a new girl, Catherine in the school, but falling for the new girl might turn out to be a massive mistake.

This was really enjoyable, I liked that it was fast paced and I was never really bored. The author took some liberties of crossing some lines. Thought this is a Young Adult book, I felt like it did deal with some adult themes, so I would not recommend this for teenagers under 16 years old.

I did feel like Sasha being the mean girl scene could have been better handled by Gabe if he took a few second to think about his own actions instead of flying by the cuff. I also did not know how she can act the way she did and her own parents did not notice the unstableness of their own daughter because Sasha did some things that no sane person is capable of, there should have been signs and in the most obvious way there was.

I gave this book a 3.5 because the ending did shock me and threw me off. I kept wondering how Elyse and Gabe are tied into all of this and I couldn’t believe I did not see it. That was a great surprise and it worked out awesome.

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