Format: Paperback

Review: The Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan

Posted July 4, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 3 Comments

Review: The Endless Beach by Jenny ColganThe Endless Beach by Jenny Colgan
Series: The Summer Seaside Kitchen #2
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on May 22, 2018
Genres: Chick-Lit
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Heat:one-flame

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 New York Times bestselling author of The Bookshop on the Corner and The Cafe by the Sea comes another enchanting, unforgettable novel of a woman who makes a fresh start on the beautiful Scottish Island of Mure—only to discover life has more surprises in store for her.
When Flora MacKenzie traded her glum career in London for the remote Scottish island of Mure, she never dreamed that Joel—her difficult, adorable boss—would follow. Yet now, not only has Flora been reunited with her family and opened a charming café by the sea, but she and Joel are taking their first faltering steps into romance.
With Joel away on business in New York, Flora is preparing for the next stage in her life. And that would be…? Love? She’s feeling it. Security? In Joel’s arms, sure. Marriage? Not open to discussion.
In the meanwhile, Flora is finding pleasure in a magnificent sight: whales breaking waves off the beaches of Mure. But it also signals something less joyful. According to local superstition, it’s an omen—and a warning that Flora’s future could be as fleeting as the sea-spray…
A bracing season on the shore sets the stage for Jenny Colgan’s delightful novel that’s as funny, heartwarming, and unpredictable as love itself.

A character driven book that takes place on a Scottish Island of Mure.

The book follows Flora MacKenzie, who moved to Mure for a fresh start and opened up Cafe by the Sea. She never dreamt that her difficult but adorable boss would follow her. Joel is fed up with city life and is tired of sleeping with supermodels and is now looking for some peace and quiet and Mure seems to bring that peace to his soul. Joels walls are still pretty high due to his past and he is now harboring a secret that causes him to feel sick.

The book also follows Saif, a refugee doctor who is awaiting news of being reunited back with his wife and children. This storyline to me was my favorite, I really liked Saif’s, character and it just felt emotional and more interesting. It really hit me in the feels. There is a schoolteacher named Lorna who is absolutely in love with him, but things are complicated for Saif so it be interesting to see if there is another book.

The ending was kind of sad and happy at the same time, there is a bit of heartbreak added to the end of the story and as I did not read book one, it felt a bit like it was added for a shock factor or to add more substance to the story.

The book is character driven, so you kind of have to like the characters in order to enjoy the book. It follows these people in their life so not much happens for a while in the story and it can feel a little slow at points. I had a difficult time with Flora to be completely honest, she just could not seem to respect Joel’s wishes. I understand why she did it, but she felt pushy. Also, she was a complete push over and I wish should would stand up for herself in the end, and I was waiting for it to happen but it never did. What happened with her Cafe and the wedding, she should have used her voice.

Going to end this review on that note because at this point I am rambling. Overall, it’s a really great beach read.

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Review: All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle Teller

Posted June 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle TellerAll the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle Teller
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow on May 22, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, Fairy Tales
Pages: 384
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.

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.
We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?
As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .
A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.
Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

In general, I enjoy Fairy Tale retellings, so when I saw that this book is a take on the Stepmother from Cinderella, I was even more curious.
Let’s get this out of the way, people say this book is pretty bogged down and dense. It is, it is very character driven and very much focuses on building Agnes’ character. It is a fantasy book, that can also read almost like a historical fiction with its setting, but it does take you from watching Agnes grow as a child, to present day Agnes.
I felt like a lot of the things Agnes went through was very character shaping and as we see Agnes struggle through the life she was given, we can see where her attitude forms from. I really enjoyed how the author wrote relationships in this book and that not everything is black and white and not everything is what it seems.
Could this have been cut short? Maybe, but I personally really enjoyed following Agnes and her struggles and why she did the things she did. Her story was difficult, at times heartbreaking. At times I found myself rooting for her, at times against her.
I also enjoyed the take on Cinderella’s character and why she is the way she is in the book and her relationship with Agnes and how it unfolds.
Overall, I powered through it and ended up really enjoying the character development and the story. Also, the writing in this book I thought was really well done. But, I can acknowledge why this might not be for everyone, it is pretty slow paced but I enjoyed every moment of it.

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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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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: The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen

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

Review: The Girl I Used to Be by Mary TorjussenThe Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen
Series: standalone
Published by Berkley Books on April 24, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 368
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.

The morning after real estate agent Gemma Brogan has dinner with a prospective client, she's furious at herself for drinking so much. But there will be more to regret than a nasty hangover.
She starts receiving mementos from that night: A photo of a hallway kiss. A video of her complaining about her husband. And worse...much worse. The problem is she doesn't remember any of it.
As the blackmailing and menace ramp up, Gemma fears for her already shaky marriage. The paranoia, the feeling that her life is spiraling out of control, will take her back to another night--years ago--that changed everything. And Gemma will realize just how far the shadows from her past can reach...

An exciting, fast-paced, page turning thriller that had me gripped until the very last page.

The book mostly follows Gemma Brogan, a hard working real estate agent that is also a mom to a little boy that she hardly get’s to see. Gemma has worked hard for her business and it frustrates her that her husband is refusing to look for work and is instead a stay at home dad – something she wishes she could do.

One night while away on a work trip, Gemma runs into a prospective client, get’s a little too drunk and wakes up regretting a nasty hangover. But now strange letters addressed to her’s keep showing up, and Gemma must find out what happened that night and why it’s happening.

This was a really quick read, it was fast paced and it had me wanting more. I liked the characters, I could sympathize with Gemma when it came to her son, and I found myself frustrated with her husband that just did not seem to get it half the time.

I thought the story and the mystery was kind of exciting and the author’s writing was great. There was never really a dull moment. Thought a bit predictable in a sense, I did not find that it took away from the thrill of the story. There is an opening to the story that has you wondering how this ties into present day, so I found myself trying to put the pieces together through the book.

There seemed to have been a bit of overlooked or abandoned plot that happens with Gemma a couple of weeks after the trip that led me astray or the author decided not to go that route. Hard to explain it without giving much of it away, but if you read it and know what I am talking about, let me know if you felt the same. I got an opportunity to speak to the author about this and she clarified the plot for me, so I got to understand  what the author was thinking when she wrote this part and it wasn’t the direction that I thought it was going so, thank you Mary.

Overall, I think so far this is definitely the best thriller I read this year and it hit checks for me as far as what I enjoy in thrillers and I do recommend this.

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Review: Folded Notes from High School by Matthew Boren

Posted April 27, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: Folded Notes from High School by Matthew BorenFolded Notes from High School by Matthew Boren
Narrator: Taylor Spreitler, Ramy Youssef, Ryan Newman, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Rebecca Budig, Vicki Davis, Katie Lowes, Meredith Salenger, Adam Shapiro
Length: 4 hours and 49 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Razorbill on April 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 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 status-obsessed senior unexpectedly falls for a freshman because of his Danny Zuko audition in their high school's production of Grease in this epistolary novel set in 1991.
It's 1991, and Tara Maureen Murphy is finally on top. A frightening cross between Regina George and Tracy Flick, Tara Maureen Murphy is any high school's worst nightmare, bringing single-minded ambition, narcissism, manipulation, and jealousy to new extremes. She's got a hot jock boyfriend in Christopher Patrick Caparelli, her best friend Stef Campbell by her side, and she's a SENIOR, poised to star as Sandy in South High's production of Grease. Cinching the role is just one teensy step in Tara's plot to get out of her hometown and become the Broadway starlet she was born to be. She's grasping distance from the finish line--graduation and college are right around the corner--but she has to remain vigilant. It gets trickier with the arrival of freshman Matthew Bloom, whose dazzling audition for the role of Danny Zuko turns Tara's world upside down. Freshmen belong in the chorus, not the spotlight! But Tara's outrage is tinged with an unfamiliar emotion, at least to her: adoration. And what starts as a conniving ploy to "mentor" young Matt quickly turns into a romantic obsession that threatens to topple Tara's hard-won status at South High....

This book takes us back to high school in 1991 and is told in an interesting format of folded notes. The book follows a girl named Tara Maureen Murphy, who is inspired by the mean girls Regina George and Tracy Flick, her boyfriend Christopher Patrick Caparelli, best friend Stef Campbell, freshman Matt Bloom and several other teenagers that end up entwined in Tara’s world.

I liked the 1990’s feel to the book and I can see how movies such as Mean Girls ran an inspiration there. Thought I loved the setting of the year, I wasn’t sure how the teenager’s of today’s Era were really going to relate to this book. I do find that as far as subject matter goes, it does transcend time and although technology has changed, the action of some teenagers do not.

Tara was hard to follow, she was terrible. She ran hot and cold, flipped-flopped, so much that it gave me some serious whiplash and felt like she had some serious case of split personality. She was a classic mean girl and I found her grating. The things she did to the people around her, the way she lied was quiet a bit frustrating.

The other characters were fabulous, especially Tara’s friend Stef and Matt, I loved them as characters and I was glad they were able to stand up to Tara and her conniving ways.

Because this is told from folded notes, we don’t actually know why Tara is the type of character she is. Most the story centers on high school drama, such as dating and Tara not getting what she wants so she strikes back like a snake. She makes some really poor decisions with life choices and it makes you want to scream.

I did end up just listening to this book on Audio and I have to say, the audiobook saved it. The array of different narrators made this a much more addictive read and much easier to get through, they did an amazing job with capturing the different characters through their notes in this book. I do give the audio it four stars, even if I found the book just okay, because it definitely won me over.

The last page in the end, I think made me a bit angry because it felt like a cliffhanger of some kind that I felt was not needed. I don’t know if the author is planning on a spin-off based on that paragraph left at the end, but if he isn’t that part just left me annoyed. As far as I know, this is a standalone.

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Mini Book Reviews

Posted April 25, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Mini Book ReviewsNot That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Series: standalone
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 27, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 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.

When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.

Not That I Could Tell is a story about a group of neighborhood women, who one night get together at a campfire and some secrets fly. The next day, one of them disappears with her kids while in the middle of the road and no one seems to remember a chunk of time from that night. This was an okay read, I was honestly wishing for something a bit more. I think in general this book would be much better read in the summer, because there is this whole summer feel of the book which does not work with dreary mood. I was hoping it would be more thrilling, but I am not sure I would consider this a thriller. The ending was definitely surprising, but at the same time giving how the characters reactions are written in the book, felt kind of thrown together. Overall, this is a decent summer read.

Mini Book ReviewsCatacomb by Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #3
Published by HarperTeen on September 1, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3 Stars

Sometimes the past is better off buried.
Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they are apparently being followed.. And Dan starts receiving phone messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween.
As the strange occurrences escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence, but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister connection with a notorious killer from the past. Now, Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.
In this finale to the New York Times bestselling Asylum series, found photographs help tell the story of three teens who exist on the line between past and present, genius and insanity.

I finally finished this series. I think? I am not sure if there is supposed to be another book, but the way this one ended, it feels like there should have been another. This series really does have an addictive quality to it, for me, I think, is the format of the book. I really like the mixed format with the pictures thrown in because it adds to the whole experience and the atmosphere of the book. I did struggle with this one. I did not feel like there was any character growth in this series. The kids thought almost on their way to college feel very much younger than their age. Also, it’s repetitive in the way Dan’s friends react to them. Dan is constantly looking into his past and trouble, and his friends get angry at him over it and blame him for it, but in the end always show up to save him. The ending felt open with the possibility of a new book, but I don’t think one is coming. I did enjoy the setting of the book as this one is set in New Orleans.

Mini Book ReviewsLowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Series: A Liz Talbot Mystery #1
Published by Henery Press on September 13, 2012
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 316
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Gifted
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.

An interesting start to a new to me series. Liz Talbot is a private investigator and she moves back home upon her grandmother’s death. She is not only left with her grandmother’s house, but she was also left with the land it is on. When Liz finds out that her grandmother is murdered, she has no choice but stay home and try to find her killer. On top of, she in roped into more drama than she bargained for. This was a quick, fun read, it has a lot going on, probably a lot more than it should and features an array of different characters. Liz could be a little frustrating at times because of her not telling her cop brother much about the investigation and the ending and whodunit came out of no where. But, it’s full of southern charm, great characters and even a bit of the paranormal. I’ll continue with this series.

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Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman

Posted April 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna GoodmanThe Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
Series: standalone
Published by Harper Paperbacks on April 17, 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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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.

Philomena meets Orphan Train in this suspenseful, provocative novel filled with love, secrets, and deceit—the story of a young unwed mother who is forcibly separated from her daughter at birth and the lengths to which they go to find each other.
In 1950s Quebec, French and English tolerate each other with precarious civility—much like Maggie Hughes’ parents. Maggie’s English-speaking father has ambitions for his daughter that don’t include marriage to the poor French boy on the next farm over. But Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phénix. When she becomes pregnant at fifteen, her parents force her to give baby Elodie up for adoption and get her life ‘back on track’.
Elodie is raised in Quebec’s impoverished orphanage system. It’s a precarious enough existence that takes a tragic turn when Elodie, along with thousands of other orphans in Quebec, is declared mentally ill as the result of a new law that provides more funding to psychiatric hospitals than to orphanages. Bright and determined, Elodie withstands abysmal treatment at the nuns’ hands, finally earning her freedom at seventeen, when she is thrust into an alien, often unnerving world.
Maggie, married to a businessman eager to start a family, cannot forget the daughter she was forced to abandon, and a chance reconnection with Gabriel spurs a wrenching choice. As time passes, the stories of Maggie and Elodie intertwine but never touch, until Maggie realizes she must take what she wants from life and go in search of her long-lost daughter, finally reclaiming the truth that has been denied them both.

Trigger warning for rape

It’s 1950’s in Quebec and Maggie is the daughter of the local seed store owner. The French and the English just barely tolerate each other, the tensions are high. Maggie’s heart is captured by Gabriel Phenix, a poor french farmer from next door. When Maggie get’s pregnant at 15 years of age, her parents give up her baby Elodie for adoption so Maggie could get her life back on track.

Elodie is being raised in one of Quebec’s impoverished orphanage’s. When all the sudden the laws change, her orphanage is converted into a mental institution and hundred of orphans become trapped in that system, classified as mentally ill.

Years later, Maggie cannot stop thinking about Elodie, and hopes to find her daughter again.

This book follows both Maggie and Elodie and how they grow as people in the life they have been thrown in. This book also explores The Duplessis Orphans who were the children that were victimized and falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of Quebec, Canada mid 20th Century. It wasn’t easy to read at times, the beginning of the book especially was a bit rough for me, because it involves rape of Maggie as a teenager by an adult and it was very uncomfortable.

I thought the writing in this book was well done, the author did a fantastic telling both Maggie and Elodie’s stories, even if Elodie’s part was also difficult to read at times, you just cannot help but sympathize with the characters.

This topic was new to me, I did not know much about Canadian history prior to this book, nor about the animosity between the people. I found this whole topic fascinating and very heartbreaking, especially with what happened to these orphans.

There was a bit of a struggle with this book at times based on the misogyny of the male characters and how they kept assuming that children will make a bad marriage better. When Maggie first get’s married, I wanted to throttle her husband for disregarding Maggie’s dream and forcing her into producing babies. Thought given the time frame, it isn’t all that surprising, does not make it any less annoying.

The ending did feel like it wrapped up kind of weird and convenient, I didn’t expect it to be as neat but it was really touching.

Overall, the writing I found really good. The storytelling flowed. I did find myself invested in the characters and their storylines. I did enjoy it and looking forward to more from this author in the future.

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Review: Nil by Lynne Matson

Posted April 18, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Nil by Lynne MatsonNil by Lynne Matson
Series: Nil #1
Published by Henry Holt on March 4, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopia, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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Rating: 3 Stars

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days--to escape, or you die.
Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.
Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

A few points about Nil

 

  1. The basic premise of this book was kind of exciting, a bunch of teenagers trapped on an island that is not suppose to exist and they have to find their way off the island. There is danger on the island and as far as they know, no one survived more than a year on the island. The rules seem to be simple, you must catch a gate, or you die.
  2. There is a large cast of characters, but we only get two POVs in the book. We get Charlie’s POV and Thad’s. Charlie is a new arrival at the beginning of the book, Thad is the current leader of the group and he seems to keep everything running smoothly and fairly. Of course, there will always be a person or two who do not like following the rules.
  3. The romance was the most frustrating part of the book. It seemed to be instalove but the characters act like petulant children and refuse to give into their feelings. Honestly, they start pouting, brooding and avoiding each other. Other people on the island have to step up and tell them to get it over with because they are tired of their moods.I honestly found myself rooting against the romance because I just did not like it.
  4. The setting and the plot were interesting to me. I did feel this had a bit of holes that were left to uncover in other books, which I guess makes me want to read the other books. The author was brutal and did not hold back any punches when it came to character death. It kept me flipping through the pages and reading.
  5. Overall, not too bad of a story – if you can grit your teeth at the romance, because the premise and the setting I actually did find enjoyable.

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