Genre: Fiction

Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

Posted May 10, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 10 Comments

Review: Only Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew WhalenOnly Ever Her by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Series: standalone
Published by Lake Union Publishing on May 7th 2019
Genres: Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 279
Format: Kindle Edition
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.

It was to be the perfect wedding—until the bride disappeared.
Annie Taft’s wedding is four days away, and it will be one of the grandest anyone can remember in her small South Carolina town. Preparations are in order. Friends and family are gathering in anticipation. Everything is going according to plan. Except that Annie herself has vanished. Did she have second thoughts?
Or has something much worse happened to the bride-to-be?
As the days pass, the list of suspects in her disappearance grows. Could it be the recently released man a young Annie misidentified as her mother’s killer? Could it be someone even closer to her?
While her loved ones frantically try to track her down, they’re forced to grapple with their own secrets—secrets with the power to reframe entire relationships, leaving each to wonder how well they really knew Annie and how well they know themselves.

Annie’s wedding is only four days away and it’s a big event for the small town. Such a big event that the local reporter Laurel is doing her best to try and get the scoop. The wedding isn’t the only big event that happens. Annie is contacted by a lawyer about the man that went to prison for her mother’s murder, one that after all these years might be innocent and is serving a sentence he wasn’t meant to. Now Annie is missing, and her friends and family are trying to find her. While the search for Annie is moved into actions, the characters must come to terms with their own regrets and what it means to finally let them go.

I enjoyed this story. I thought it was a fast read. I loved the last book by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen. So while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I thought it was a good, quick read. That being said.  The book is classified as a thriller on goodreads and I don’t believe that this is a thriller but more of a general fiction.

The story mostly follows Clary, Annie’s cousin. Faye her aunt who raised her. Kenney, a kid that admired Annie since school and Laurel a reporter. It follows their lives as this situation unfolds and how they deal with Annie’s disappears as well as some major milestones in their lives.

I really wanted more character development. I think this had a lot more potential that it just did not seem to reach. While I liked the premise and the characters, I just really wanted more.

I was confused about how a town that took the testimony of a three-year-old and jailed an innocent man. She was three… How does that even happen?

Also, the revelation, in the end, felt completely out of the blue and perhaps added for shock value?

But I saw what the author mostly wanted to do with this. I appreciated that. I thought some of it was really sad and emotional and I do enjoy her writing. Overall, I am looking forward to see what she does next.

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Sophia Rose Review: There Will Be Sun by Dana Reinhardt

Posted March 12, 2019 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 14 Comments

Sophia Rose Review: There Will Be Sun by Dana ReinhardtTomorrow There Will Be Sun by Dana Reinhardt
Series: standalone
Published by Pamela Dorman Books on March 12, 2019
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 288
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 private Mexican villa is the backdrop to this smart, absorbing story of a milestone vacation in a tropical paradise gone wrong, wrong, wrong.
Two families arrive in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. Jenna has organized the trip to celebrate her husband's fiftieth birthday--she's been looking forward to it for months. She's sure everything is going to be just perfect--and the margarita refills delivered by the house staff certainly don't hurt, either. What could go wrong?
Yet as the families settle into their vacation routines, their best friends suddenly seem like annoying strangers, and even Jenna's reliable husband, Peter, is sharing clandestine phone calls with someone--but who? Jenna's teenage daughter, Clem, is spending an awful lot of time with Malcolm, whose questionable rep got him expelled from school. Jenna's dream of the ultimate celebration begins to crack and eventually crumbles completely, leaving her wondering whom she can trust, and whether her privileged life is about to be changed forever.
Readers of Emma Straub, Meg Wolitzer and Delia Ephron will love this sharply funny novel. Whether you're putting it in your carry-on to read on the beach or looking to escape the dead-of-winter blues, Tomorrow There Will Be Sun is the perfect companion.

Once in a while, I get in the mood for something far outside my usual reading habits.  This general fiction piece about two families of friends sharing a vacation villa in Puerta Vallarta and showcases that a truly horrid vacation story might be the one you never tell and never leaves you the same.

 

Jenna is the narrator of this story and she turns out to be an everyday, average middle-aged woman who has a penchant for needing control over everything, lots of worrying, and a confidence of being settled and satisfied in her life.  Okay, so she wished her husband, Peter, would be a little more assertive when it came to Solly getting his way and she wished she had a closer relationship with her daughter in the form of friendship, but nothing really beyond what she could handle in all that.  Unlike one of her good friend’s, Solly’s first wife, her husband isn’t planning to leave her for a younger model and her daughter wasn’t caught dealing drugs in school.

 

Yep, anyone can tell that poor Jenna, who has her faults though not dastardly ones, is being set up and this vacation trip is when it all starts to unravel.

 

The blurb might make this sound like a thriller or that it might be a humorous comedy of vacation errors.  Um, no, not even. Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple funny bits and there some real excitement happening that reminds me why I’ve shied away from this sort of vacation. The exciting stuff comes late and ends up in the background of what starts to happen in Jenna’s personal life.  That, my friends, is where the tension and crisis hits.

 

The reader goes through a long set up, getting to know the characters as the vacation gets rolling, and a lot of a middle-aged woman’s introspection to get there.  I won’t say its boring since the author writes in a way that kept me reading. I wasn’t exactly bored, but I wasn’t riveted, either, and I did get impatient. I was only so-so about Jenna or any of the characters for that matter.  They’re just… people. Nothing extraordinary. That is their appeal, but also not something that will keep ones interest indefinitely, as a result.

 

I think the part that struck me and probably will make this story stay in my mind longer than I thought when I was reading it, was the choice for the ending.  After all that came before it, the ending is open-ended though the reader can make an educated guess what will come after. Jenna has to decide what she wants to do with what she now knows about herself and about the others.

 

So, this was gently-paced, mostly introspective story of a middle-aged woman who goes on vacation thinking one thing about her life and comes back quite different.  An easy read with sunny setting turned out to be an engaging fiction that I can recommend to those who reach for slow and easy character-driven books.

 

My thanks to Pamela Dorman/Viking for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

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: Flying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown

Posted April 24, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: Flying at Night by Rebecca L. BrownFlying at Night by Rebecca L. Brown, Cassandra Campbell, Kivlighan de Montebello, Arthur Morey
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell, Kivlighan de Montebello, Arthur Morey
Length: 11 hours and 11 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Penguin Audio, Berkley on April 10, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Family
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook, Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 4.5 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.

An emotionally charged debut novel, told through the voices of three family members, who learn that when your world changes, so does your destination....
Stay-at-home mom Piper Whitman Hart is too close to her nine-year-old son Fred to realize that his idiosyncrasies are signs of something more. And just when his diagnosis of autism sends her life reeling, she's dragged back into the orbit of her emotionally abusive father, Lance, after a heart attack leaves him with brain damage.
Fred is in need of a friend. Lance is in need of care. And Piper just wants to feel stable ground beneath her feet. What she never expects is that Fred and Lance--both misunderstood by the world--will start to connect in the most miraculous of ways...

A beautifully written, emotionally charged novel about family.

Piper is a stay at home mom, who is very close to her son that she does not realize that his idiosyncrasies could be a sign of something more. Dealing with her own family drama, Piper’s world is thrown into a spin when her son is identified with Autism around the same time her emotionally abusive father, suffers a heart attack. When her father survives the heart attack, but is left with brain damage, Piper is left to take care of him after her mother bails out completely. Unable to leave him in a home, Piper ends up not only dealing with her father and his new state of being as well as with Fred.

This was a beautiful debut. I found the story for myself, extremely relatable, emotionally driven, raw, with wonderful writing and memorable characters. You can feel for Piper and all the stress she is under, the unfairness of it all. I found myself angry for Piper because of how her mother just unloaded everything on her at such a critical time in Piper’s life. This book deals with autism, it deals with family and depression, the struggles of ups and downs and it just flows so well.

I both read the book and listened to this on Audio. The audio was fantastic. There was a chapter for Piper, Fred and Lance (the father) read by three different narrators and they did a truly wonderful job, it made the emotions and the characters in this book that much more real. The narrators really gave these characters both personality and life.

The ending was just a tearjerker, I really did not see that coming. It was so heartbreaking, but the author still did such a wonderful job. She even used her own life experience with her son as an influence for her novel and you could tell that through the way she crafted her story. As someone who has Autism in the family, this book really hit close to home and something I was able to identify with. Just thinking about this book right now is making my eye water, it was great and if you have not heard of it I do recommend you give this one a shot.

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Guest Review: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery + Giveaway

Posted November 21, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 45 Comments

Good Morning Everyone! Hope you guys are having a great week so far. Sophia Rose is back on the blog today. She has a review of a classic and if you follow the instruction and rafflecopter below she also has a great giveaway for you! Enjoy!

Guest Review: Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery + GiveawayAnne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Benjamin Lefebvre, J. Courtney Sullivan
Series: Anne of Green Gables #1
Published by Penguin Classics on March 1st 2018
Genres: Fiction, Childrens
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating: 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 beloved coming-of-age tale of a spunky heroine named Anne "with an E," now for the first time in Penguin Classics and packaged in a Deluxe edition. L. M. Montgomery's novel Anne of Green Gables recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan mistakenly sent to a pair of siblings who intended to adopt a boy to help work on their farm in Prince Edward Island. Yet Anne's quirky personality and good-natured spirit causes the siblings to grow to love her anyway, and soon the entire town falls for the precocious little girl with bright red hair. Cherished by both children and adults, Anne of Green Gables is a celebration of fierce individualism, and the families we create, rather than the ones we are born into. This Deluxe edition is enhanced with a foreword by bestselling author J. Courtney Sullivan, and an introduction and suggestions for further reading by Benjamin Lefebvre, as well as reviews and a selection of early writing by L. M. Montgomery about the process of writing Anne.

Decades later and I still count Anne of Green Gables as one of my favorite all-time books. As a young girl, it was likely one of the three most influential books I read. Over and over. I delighted in the later TV film adaption, but still gravitated to the sparkling, light-filled prose of the print copy on my shelf. I have carried around that copy over thousands of miles and years.

I was all agasp when I was offered the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition knowing that 2018 marks the 110 year anniversary of the book’s release and 75 years since the gifted author’s death. The book’s whimsical cover and end papers made me sigh with happiness to see and touch them. I’m a sucker for the rougher cut style cream colored pages. And it was fascinating reading the author biography, forward, introduction, and later the discussion of how Montgomery came to write in the author’s own words.

But the piece de resistance was the ageless story about a little red-headed orphan girl brought by mistake into the colorless, lonely lives of older siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, of P.E.I.’s Green Gables farm.

Matthew, much to his own surprise, was enjoying himself. Like most quiet folks he liked talkative people when they were willing to do the talking themselves and did not expect him to keep up his end of it.”

You’re not eating anything,” said Marilla sharply, eying her as if it were a serious shortcoming. Anne sighed. I can’t. I’m in the depths of despair. Can you eat when you are in the depths of despair?”

I’ve never been in the depths of despair, so I can’t say,” responded Marilla.

Weren’t you? Well, did you ever try to IMAGINE you were in the depths of despair?”

No, I didn’t.”

Then I don’t think you can understand what it’s like. It’s very uncomfortable a feeling indeed.”

Anne with an ‘e’ makes her odd and endearing way into the hearts of many including readers because of her sincere, honest, but many times disastrous ways. Bosom friend Diana. Long bitter school rival Gilbert (at least on Anne’s part, wink). Mentor in teacher, Miss Stacy. Nosey, managing neighbor, Rachel Lynde. And oh so many more connections in the little village of Avonlea and beyond.

“Gilbert told Charlie Sloan that you were the smartest girl in school, right in front of Josie.”

“He did?”

“He told Charlie being smart was better than being good looking.”

“I should have known he meant to insult me.”

Miss Barry was a kindred spirit after all,” Anne confided to Marilla, “You wouldn’t think so to look at her, but she is. . . Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”

There are no flashes of swashbuckling danger or passion in this story, but there are universal themes of childhood, family, friendship, dreams, mistakes, and growing up from a child and adult perspective with which young and old, male or female can connect. The book still brings me to laugh, cry, and sigh throughout. I’ve been quoting Anne-isms now for years like ‘tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it’ or ‘I’m having a Jonah day’ or ‘bosom friends’ or ‘we’re kindred spirits’ or ‘I’m in the depths of dispair’. So many.

My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.”

I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does.”

Picking up this new edition with its classic tale was sheer joy. I meandered down to the Lake of Shining Waters and gasped at the beauty of the White Way of Delight, and sighed over the loveliness of October, and girlhood fancies and dreams. I was impacted by the uplift I got from reading of a more innocent time and place, but with real people going about their normal lives.

Whether you are a newbie or a long-time Anne lover, I can definitely recommend picking it up and losing yourself in the pages.

GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY

I have a treat today for US residents. Penguin Classics is offering up one print copy of the book to one of our US readers. Fill in the Rafflecopter for your opportunity to win.

  • U.S. residents 13 years of age or older (if you are underage have an adult enter on your behalf)
  • Must reply within 48 hours to collect your prize

Have you read or watched a film adaption of Anne of Green Gables? Do you have a favorite Anne-ism or favorite scene?

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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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