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Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne

Posted July 10, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: The Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne ThayneThe Cottages on Silver Beach by RaeAnne Thayne
Series: Haven Point #8
Published by HQN Books on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

Years after betraying her, he's back in Haven Point…and ready to learn the truth.
Megan Hamilton never really liked Elliot Bailey. He turned his back on her family when they needed him the most and it almost tore them all apart. So she's shocked when Elliot arrives at her family's inn, needing a place to stay and asking questions that dredge up the past. Megan will rent him a cottage, but that's where it ends-no matter how gorgeous Elliot has become.
Coming back home to Haven Point was the last thing bestselling writer Elliot Bailey thought he'd ever do. But the book he's writing now is his most personal one yet and it's drawn him back to the woman he can't get out of his mind. Seeing Megan again is harder than he expected and it brings up feelings he'd thought were long buried. Could this be his chance to win over his first love?

Elliot Bailey has always had some sort of feelings for Megan Hamilton, but wasn’t unable to do anything about it due to the fact that he came home one day to her dating her brother. Now, Megan Hamilton is not his biggest fan when Elliot turned his back on her family when her brother’s wife went missing because Elliot thought he was responsible for the disappearance. Now, year’s later, Megan’s brother is still living with the stigma as a walking criminal and Elliot Bailey is back in town, working on a new book, digging up old dirt, and causing all kinds of mixed feelings.
This was a cute read, I enjoyed Thayne’s easy writing a lot. She has a way that really makes me feel invested in the story and all the characters. A lot of the characters from the previous books make an appearance here because it’s just part of one big happy family.
The characters were easy to like and the romance was sweet. The story engaging and it really makes me want to know what is going to happen in the next book after the secret’s that Elliot has uncovered and how they will effect Megan’s brother.

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Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis

Posted July 5, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 13 Comments

Review: Rainy Day Friends by Jill ShalvisRainy Day Friends by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone #2
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on June 19, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

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.

Following the USA Today bestselling author of Lost and Found Sisters comes Jill Shalvis' moving story of heart, loss, betrayal, and friendship
Six months after Lanie Jacobs’ husband’s death, it’s hard to imagine anything could deepen her sense of pain and loss. But then Lanie discovers she isn’t the only one grieving his sudden passing. A serial adulterer, he left behind several other women who, like Lanie, each believe she was his legally wedded wife. 
Rocked by the infidelity, Lanie is left to grapple with searing questions. How could she be so wrong about a man she thought she knew better than anyone? Will she ever be able to trust another person?  Can she even trust herself?
Desperate to make a fresh start, Lanie impulsively takes a job at the family-run Capriotti Winery. At first, she feels like an outsider among the boisterous Capriottis. With no real family of her own, she’s bewildered by how quickly they all take her under their wing and make her feel like she belongs. Especially Mark Capriotti, a gruffly handsome Air Force veteran turned deputy sheriff who manages to wind his way into Lanie’s cold, broken heart—along with the rest of the clan.
Everything is finally going well for her, but the arrival of River Brown changes all that. The fresh-faced twenty-one-year old seems as sweet as they come…until her dark secrets come to light—secrets that could destroy the new life Lanie’s only just begun to build.

Oh my heart guys, I almost forgot how much I like Jill Shalvis romance.

I’ve struggled with some of the books in her Heartbreaker Bay series due to my disliking some of the characters in there that keep popping up, but Rainy Day Friends hit all the marks for me.

We follow Lanie Jacob’s whose husband’s death brought on a deep sense of pain and loss, until she discovers that she isn’t the only one grieving his death and that her husband apparently had an addiction to marrying a lot of women, four in fact.

Lanie takes a job to reinvent all the packaging for a very successful winery, where she meets the owner’s son, Mark an Air Force veteran turned sheriff who gave up his military career for his two twin daughters.

My heart. I adored this book. It was funny, it was charming, the romance was just right and awesome. I was a bit worried because I have completely struggled with romances lately and this just hit all the marks and pulled me out of the slump long enough to really enjoy it.

Now I know there is a mention that a lot of the jokes in here came from meme’s, I don’t follow meme’s enough to distinguish that fact, so I guess it did not bother me, but I can see how it can bother other people.

Overall, I think despite that little tidbit, I absolutely ended up adoring this. I adored the romance and how Mark’s daughters chipped down her walls. I loved the setting of the winery and the family. I struggled with the character of River and felt for Lanie with what she went through, it was unfortunate so it was awesome to see her find happiness.

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Review: An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annejet van der Zijl, Michele Hutchison

Posted June 4, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annejet van der Zijl, Michele HutchisonAn American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annejet van der Zijl, Michele Hutchison
Series: standalone
Published by AmazonCrossing on May 1, 2018
Genres: Non-Fiction, Biography
Pages: 234
Format: Hardcover
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 true story of a girl from the wilderness settlements of a burgeoning new America who became one of the most privileged figures of the Gilded Age.
Born to a pioneering family in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, Allene Tew was beautiful, impetuous, and frustrated by the confines of her small hometown. At eighteen, she met Tod Hostetter at a local dance, having no idea that the mercurial charmer she would impulsively wed was heir to one of the wealthiest families in America. But when he died twelve years later, Allene packed her bags for New York City. Never once did she look back.
From the vantage point of the American upper class, Allene embodied the tumultuous Gilded Age. Over the course of four more marriages, she weathered personal tragedies during World War I and the catastrophic financial reversals of the crash of 1929. From the castles and châteaus of Europe, she witnessed the Russian Revolution and became a princess. And from the hopes of a young girl from Jamestown, New York, Allene Tew would become the epitome of both a pursuer and survivor of the American Dream.

An American Princess tells the story of a woman named Allene Tew and how far she had come from being a young girl from Jamestown, what she had lived through in life and her ultimate demise.

The book definitely reads more like a nonfiction, biography, so the pace of the book did vary and we were hit with a ton of historical information based on the era that Allene had lived through. There were definitely some dry areas at the beginning and it took me a while to get into the book, but I enjoyed it when the book started to pick up and become more interesting once we got to the war bits.

Allene had lived through a lot, as far as her love life went. In this book, we learn a lot about Allene love life, her husbands, what they did, and what ultimately brought an end to that relationship. Allene was married about five times, 2 times because of her looks, 2 times because of her money and 1 time due to the fact that there was actual love.

As a whole I never really felt like we got to know Allene. This book was well written, probably very historically accurate, but very much about the love life of Allene and her husband more over just Allene. I wanted to know about the woman as a person and what she had done in life to become such a historical figure over just who she married, what her husband did, and why that ended.

Despite that, I felt for Allene when she lost both of her children in World War but for some reason I never felt like her character truly grieved over losing her offsprings, or at least it was not an impression I got from the book.

But goodness this woman went through a lot when it came to husbands and she had five of them, so her marriages in general bought her some happiness, some heartache, and a lot of money. She was even pegged as a gold digger of her time.

Overall, as my second nonfiction, ever… I did enjoy this. The writing was good. But, I wish it was a bit more.

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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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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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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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Review: Sleep Train by Jonathan London

Posted April 19, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 6 Comments

Review: Sleep Train by Jonathan LondonSleep Train by Jonathan London
Illustrator: Lauren Eldridge
Series: standalone
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on April 3, 2018
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Pages: 32
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.

A perfectly pitched bedtime story and counting book for sleepy train lovers, illustrated in dramatic 3D sculptures!
A little boy climbs into bed with a book and starts counting the train cars in it, between the engine and caboose. "Ten sleepy cars going clickety-clack," reads the refrain. But as the boy counts cars and gets sleepier and sleepier, his room looks more and more like one of the train cars from his book--the sleeping car, of course!
Rhythmically told by the author of the Froggy books, Sleep Train is also stunning to look at. 3D illustrator, Lauren Eldridge, has sculpted an entire train full of intricate details. Part bedtime story, part counting book, part children's fantasy, Sleep Train is a magical ride to dreamland.

When your little one is ready to sleep, and loves trains, Sleep Train is a great book to pull out during those night time hours.

It’s a quick story about a sleep train making its way through the night with a little boy on the train who counts the box cars to sleep instead of sheep.

My son really enjoyed the story, but he is also really in love with trains so it was perfect. He loves the part where the little boy in the book starts counting the train cars and has even remembered some of the names.

I do believe both girls and boys will enjoy the story. I like that it does rhyme for the most part, but it tends to end up a little choppy at times. My son obviously did not mind it, as he enjoyed the story overall.

The illustrations are pretty, I like the night time setting, it’s very catchy. I do wish that the little boy in this book was a bit better done, I found him myself to be a little on a creepy side as he looked like a wooden boy that belongs in Pinoccio.

Overall, this was a great addition to our nighttime routine and my son enjoy the train.

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Review: All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church

Posted April 17, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Review: All the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. ChurchAll the Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church
Series: standalone
Published by Ballantine Books on March 6th 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 2.5 Stars
Heat:two-half-flames

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.

A powerful novel about a gutsy showgirl who tries to conquer her past amongst the glamour of 1960s Las Vegas--and finds unexpected fortune, friendship, and love.
It was unimaginable. When she was eight years old, Lily Decker somehow survived the auto accident that killed her parents and sister, but neither her emotionally distant aunt nor her all-too-attentive uncle could ease her grief. Dancing proves to be Lily's only solace, and eventually, she receives a "scholarship" to a local dance academy--courtesy of a mysterious benefactor.
Grown and ready to leave home for good, Lily changes her name to Ruby Wilde and heads to Las Vegas to be a troupe dancer, but her sensual beauty and voluptuous figure land her work instead as a showgirl performing everywhere from Les Folies Bergere at the Tropicana to the Stardust's Lido de Paris. Wearing costumes dripping with feathers and rhinestones, five-inch heels, and sky-high headdresses, Ruby may have all the looks of a Sin City success story, but she still must learn to navigate the world of men--and figure out what real love looks like.
With her uncanny knack for understanding the hidden lives of women, Elizabeth J. Church captures both the iconic extravagance of an era and the bravery of a young woman who dances through her sadness to find connection, freedom, and, most important, herself.

TRIGGER WARNING for Child Abuse/Sexual Assult.

 

I wish I knew about the trigger warnings in this book before I started reading this. I love historical fiction and have read quite a bit of it in the past, so needless to say when the author dwells into parts of child sexual abuse as part of her story, it took me a bit by surprise. I never expected it to be so in my face and in a way, graphic. I would have appreciated it if the author had implied the fact, but this felt like it crossed a line when a scene between the main character and her uncle takes a very disturbing turn. Was it meant to shock people or make them aware of such incidents?

The story follows a young girl named Lily, she is the sole survivor after her family ends up in a car crash. She ends up living with her Aunt and Uncle and as a little girl, she always craves for her aunts love and approval. Only problem is? Her aunt never had children and does not really know how to give love in the way Lily craves it. Her uncle on the other hand, is a disgusting pig who visits Lily at night time and takes advantage of her. I found these parts really hard to read, but I have this bad habit of not finishing a book so I somehow managed to plow on through all the stomach rolling scenes. To top it off, the frustration mounted when Lily, as a teenager finally lets the secret slip in front of her Aunt and she does not believe her despite the shock that rolls through her.

I felt as a reader, I am aware of certain things and that the author wrote some of the scenes between Lily and her uncle as a shock value. If it’s meant to educate, I guess I can understand that, but I felt that implied would have been enough in the case that this is a historical fiction.

Moving on, Lily is in Vegas and is struggling. She is now going by the name of Ruby Wilde. She really wants to be a dancer, but is not cut out to be the type of dancer she wants. She is approached by a man asking her to reconsider being a showgirl and upon attending a show, Ruby Wilde changes her mind about how distasteful it is and becomes a showgirl.

This book started out rocky, it got a lot more interesting in the middle. I loved the entire part about her being the showgirl and her struggles with her past that she had to overcome in order to be comfortable around men and in her own skin. I have never read anything about Vegas in this era before so it was fascinating to learn about the type of bubble they lived, the glitz and the glamour while the rest of the world was going through reality and struggles.

I really loved how Ruby got close to her girlfriends and there was a struggle with drug use, but she managed to get past that with the help of her friend Rose.

It felt like it was going great, until Ruby meets a man and the book takes a disturbing turn into abuse category again. To top it off, it also proved that there was no character growth for Ruby until the last few chapters of the book. It was both infuriating and frustrating, especially since so many people who she trusts tried to warn her and help her.

I do have to say, the writing itself in this book was actually really well done. The author is a gifted writer, that is for certain, it’s just the story in general did not work for me.

Overall, once you bypass the first part that wasn’t just hard, but disturbing and disgusting to read – the Vegas parts of this book were informative – and then it takes a turn with the love interest I did not care for. I can’t say I recommend this book, but if your interested, a library is a great way to go.

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