Publisher: William Morrow

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: 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: The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

Posted May 25, 2017 by Lily B in Reviews / 32 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:  The Kept Woman by Karin SlaughterThe Kept Woman: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
Series: Will Trent #8
Published by William Morrow on January 3rd 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
Pages: 480
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.


Husbands and wives. Mothers and daughters. The past and the future.


Secrets bind them. And secrets can destroy them.

The author of Pretty Girls returns with an electrifying, emotionally complex thriller that plunges its fascinating protagonist into the darkest depths of a mystery that just might destroy him.
With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.
Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn't belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found.
Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.
But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.
Relentlessly suspenseful and furiously paced, peopled with conflicted, fallible characters who leap from the page, The Kept Woman is a seamless blend of twisty police procedural and ingenious psychological thriller -- a searing, unforgettable novel of love, loss, and redemption. 
 

Okay, I am kicking myself for not giving Karin Slaughter a try sooner. If you love Crime, Thriller or gritty Mystery and you have not read this author before, you really need to give her a try. This was my first book by Karin Slaughter, but it will not be my last.

The story follows a murder of an ex-cop at an abandoned construction site. A murder that might also be linked to a very wealthy, very powerful and politically connected athlete that has all the money in the world to protect him. A man that Will has already tried to put away due to a rape and has used that power to get away with.

But things are not always what they seem and the crew is about to step into something a lot more dangerous. When a ton of blood at the crime scene implicated Will’s “ex” wife, not only is this case a lot more personal, but a lot more is riding on it.

Wow.. Oh…Wow… I totally adored this. I loved the way the book started with a sneak peak into a scene that sets up the entire investigation. Just as Will, his boss Amanda and partner Faith start to uncover something – there is a brief pause as the author goes back and reveals what had actually transpired through Will wife Angie’s side of the story. It was so messy that it’s scary to think what people with enough money and power can get away with. Angie was a fixer, who got herself involved with the wrong group of people in order to save her daughter. I didn’t know how to feel about Angie, her character was seriously messed up. She had good intentions for sure, but her weird stalking of Sarah (Will’s new girlfriend) and possession of Will was a bit uncomfortable.

That being said, Slaughter is really good at making you feel uncomfortable. The book is definitely not for the faint of heart. The author is really good at the dark and gritty and messy murders. She has really amazing skill at unfolding the story and making the pieces fit together like a great big puzzle. I was left gaping by the end of the book because just as I was starting to think I knew what was going on, nope, she threw in a curve ball.

Her characters are amazing and so human. So flawed, but they feel super real and believable. The entire book was just enjoyable.

I did take a star off only because despite me loving the curve ball and the ending – I was a bit reserved on the plausibility of it.

Regardless, I am looking forward to more from this author and definitely revisiting her other books. Because her writing is great and just hooks you from the very first page.

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