May Reads

This has been a busy month of reading for me.  I’ve been enjoying my book shelf and have found some really good reads.  If you are getting ready to stock up your kindle for summer reading, here are a few recommendations.

I didn’t love this one, but it was quite a disturbing concept.  I didn’t realize until I started talking to people about it that it was actually written in the 1980s.  I’m not usually a fan of dystopian novels, but I’d heard so much buzz about the book I decided to give it a read.  I’d guess it’s popularity can be found in those who seek to make connections to today’s world.  The book kept me turning the pages, but I didn’t love it as much as my daughter did.  I think this is one you either love or hate, but definitely one you will be talking about.  It’s also heavily advertised as a new series.

This one kept me up late at night turning the pages.  An old house is knocked down in London and the remains of a baby unearthed.  Kate Waters is an investigative reporter who feels inexplicably drawn to report on the case.  As she investigates, we meet a couple whose daughter was stolen from the hospital long ago.  The couple never found closure and with each new find they relive the loss over again.  Then there is a young lady who is also obsessed with this case.  How these three lives are connected is the big reveal.  I will admit I figured it out prior to the conclusion, but I read a lot of these types of books and watch way too much Criminal Minds.  A definite must read book.

This author’s books make me feel like I’m going home. I’ve read her Lowcountry and Beach House series and the characters feel like my friends now.  This book doesn’t disappoint and would make a wonderful beach read.  Cara Rutledge rents out her beach house to Heather for the summer.  Soon tragedy strikes and the two women’s lives are changed forever.   If you read Beach House Memories you will be familiar with the characters and the Isle of Palms.  An easy read and one destined to be on this summer’s best seller list.

Ronni Sunshine a Hollywood star, invites her three daughters home to tell them she’s dying.  She has ALS and wants her estranged daughters to make peace with her and each other before she takes her own life.  Told in alternating chapters from each daughter’s perspective, we learn the back story and reason for the estrangements.  Ronni wasn’t a great mother and is running out of time.  Can she make things right with the girls?  This book was full of family drama, but at it’s core it’s about family, the bonds that tie us to each other and the love that is often found buried under all that baggage.  An endearing read by the best selling author of Falling.

Oh how I loved this one.  I must warn you, you will need tissues and it is an emotional read.  I came upon this title and was drawn to the – for fans of Me Before You.  I mean I seriously loved that book.  I purchased this and it went right to the top of my pile.  This was a gut wrenching tale of Lucy and Gabe.  They had the special kind of love that most people spend their whole lives looking for.  It’s a book about the choices we make and the forks in the road we travel.  How one decision often leads to many later consequences.  I couldn’t put this one down until it was finished.  Then I was sad it was over and today I’m missing Lucy’s voice.  The story is narrated entirely by Lucy.  It is her tale to tell and her love story to share.  I think you should read this one immediately, but warn you it is a gut wrenching tale.

The Light we Lost will be the blockbuster of the summer and likely a movie in the making.  If you can only pick just one from this list, this is the one to pick!  I hope you find something to your liking.  Happy Reading and welcome summer!  Can’t wait to be able to read on a beach chair.

If you’ve read any of these books, please leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear you take on them.

50 Book Reviews

April Reads

April has been a month of many rainy days and some great reads. Here’s my top reads this month:

The Perfect Stranger: A Novel

If you haven’t read Megan Miranda’s book All the Missing Girls: A Novel then you absolutely must do that right now!  It was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  I loved the unique style of the book.  You can read my review on that book here – All the Missing Girls .

This one is a good read too, though not as good as her first.  The characters are well developed and you truly feel a sense of madness throughout the book that leaves you guessing and wondering.  I was slightly disappointed with the ending, as what I imagined was coming would have been far more intense than what she wrote.  If you are a fan of suspense, then I think the book is well worth your time and you will be turning the pages long into the night.  I gave this a 3.5 star review on Goodreads.

And Then There Was Me: A Novel of Friendship, Secrets and Lies

This was a great read about a woman named Bea.  The character is one that you will love on many levels.  I truly enjoyed the book and read it in one sitting.  There were many things that spoke to me as Bea was wrestling through the issues of her life and there were many.   I enjoyed the friendship she shared with Awilda, one that spanned their life from childhood to present day.  The raw honesty portrayed by Bea as she struggled felt real.  I didn’t enjoy the betrayal that Bea endured.  As I read those parts, I became disappointed along with her.  At its core, this book is a story of friendship, personal struggle and the ultimate betrayal.  But for me, it was a story of perseverance and strength.  This book reminded me somewhat of those written by Terry Macmillan, so if you’re a fan of her work, give it a shot.

Always: A Novel

This is a love story that speaks to the power of true love.  Told in alternating chapters between past and present, we read Kailey and Cade’s love story.  This is a story about the one who got away, the one you never forgot.

Ten years earlier, Kailey and Cade were deeply in love.  One day, Cade disappears from Kailey’s life leaving her heartbroken and confused.  She goes on to put her life back together and is now engaged and deeply in love with Ryan.  As the story unfolds, we see just how deeply Kailey felt about Cade.  Can she be honest with Ryan about Cade?  Will their love endure Cade’s return?  Why did Cade leave in the first place?   This book was really good read.   It reminded me of Colleen Hoover’s style.  If you are fan of Hoover, then check out this book.  I think you’ll see some similarities and enjoy a real good read.  But, be sure to start it on a day when you have nowhere to be.

The Memory of Things: A Novel

I saved the best for last!  I bought this Young Adult, coming of age book, several months back.  It sat on my kindle for a long while before I was brave enough to start it.  The thing is September 11 is seared in my memory.  I don’t often read books on this topic as it was a traumatic event for me and many that I know.  I am so happy I finally opened it and read it.  What a unique and truly interesting read this was and I literally didn’t move until I finished it.  The book captures the emotions of that day quite well.  Written in a unique style of narrative with poetic text included that I felt truly captured the uncertainty and feeling of the day.

This book is special and Gae Polisher captured that day with honesty and sensitivity.  Told in alternating chapters by two teenagers personally affected by the tragedy that unfolded that day we are reminded of the heroic efforts of everyday people.  Kyle is a student who has to walk home from school after watching the events unfold from his school.  Along the way he sees something on the bridge, a girl who intends to jump.  He manages to get her to come home with him.  Kyle is left alone at home with a father who is a first responder, whereabouts unknown, and a mom who was flying home from California, whereabouts unknown.  You really feel inside these characters as you go through three days with them.  Beautifully written and deeply engaging, this is one you don’t wan to miss.

The author includes text at the end with her personal reflection on the day.   I knew just form the way she captured the story that she was a New Yorker.  This was my first book by this author and I plan to check out her others.

Lately, two series are getting a lot of buzz.   Recently, Thirteen Reasons has been trending on Facebook and the news.  Surprisingly, many don’t realize this series is based on the best selling book, Thirteen Reasons Why a truly great read.   If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you do.  Also, the series Big Little Lies has been trending.  This too, is based on a best selling book.  If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it – Big Little Lies .  Both series were good and I binge watched them over a weekend, but neither one holds a candle to the books they were based on.

What books did you read this month?  Please share some titles below as I’m always looking for my next great read!  If you check out any of these titles, please post to let me know what you thought.

March Reads

This was a slow reading month for me as I only read five books.  Two of them were professional reads for work, so I’m not including the review for those in my post.

The Princess Diarist

I grew up during the Star Wars generation.  Carrie Fisher may have been every guys dream princess, but for us young girls she was our hero.  She proved to the world that women could play strong characters in a man’s movie world.  With her sad passing, I was interested to read her books.  This is the second one I have read and it wasn’t my favorite.  I enjoyed reading the behind the scenes narration about life on the set of Star Wars.  I didn’t know til her passing that she had an affair with Harrison Ford so that felt like juicy gossip.  The warm relationship between the characters of this movie was evident when reading this book.  Their friendships lasted decades and it was truly touching to hear of the bonds.  This book felt like my last connection to the movie and the characters so I did savor reading it.  When reading Carrie’s books, you are treated to her sarcasm and wit.  Unfortunately, you also get a window, I feel, into her mental illness.  Must read for all Star Wars fans, but for others it may not be of interest.  I loved the narrative more than the actual diary entries.

Good as Gone: A Novel of Suspense

If you are a suspense junkie, then this book is for you.  Julie is kidnapped from her home and the only witness to the crime is her sister.  Years go by without a trace of Julie and the effects of this on her family are played out in the book.  The relationships are damaged, with her sister bearing the brunt, as her relationship with her mother have been forever altered.

Then suddenly, one day Julie rings the bell and returns home.  Her family is thrilled to have her back, but doubts begin to surface as to who she really is.  Did they just accept her wanting their daughter back?  Is it really Julie?  Would you be willing to lose your child all over again, or just accept what could be?  This novel is fast paced and suspenseful as you are pondering the fate of Julie throughout.  The past is told in snippets until the thrilling conclusion. Quick, one night read for me.

The Two-Family House: A Novel

I love multigenerational novels with strong characters.  The emotional sagas pull you in and tug at your heart as you follow the life of the novel’s families.  This one will not disappoint those who love this genre.  The strong narrative grabs you from the first page and pulls you right in.

The foreshadowing of the main event to come made it pretty obvious to me where we were heading, but that didn’t bother me as this is not a novel of suspense.  Rather, it’s a novel of emotional drama, a saga that will tug at your heart.  I highly recommend this one as well.  It was not a one night read though as I wanted to savor the book and not let it end.  My first read by this author and one that made the Popsugar’s 6 Books You Must Read list.

If you love family drama that spans generations, this book is for you.  If you are opposed to predictable plots then maybe not.  Considering the favorable reviews are strong and it’s made the 14 Most Buzzed About Books list, I think I’m in the majority on this one when I say – read it!

Hoping to have a better reading month in April.  I have a week off this month so I’m stocking up my Kindle now.  What have you been reading?  Please share some great titles with me as I’m always looking for new reads.

 

February Reads

February was such a short month for reading.  This month, I was craving some suspenseful reads.  I’m not a fan of television and needed some beautiful distraction from the craziness of the world.   I found some gripping thrillers that kept my mind busy and kept me up late many nights.  All of these books were 5 star rated on Goodreads and appeared on many of the must read book lists.  If thrillers are your thing, I believe you’ll find something here that you’ll like.  I enjoyed each of them and highly recommend you check them out.


The Marriage Lie: A Bestselling Novel of Domestic Suspense

Imagine if your husband of seven years, who you are still madly in love with, flies off for a business trip to Florida.  Next thing you know you receive a call from the airlines that he was a passenger on a plane headed for Seattle that has crashed into a field, killing everyone on board.  This is the premise of this fast paced book.

Iris and Will are happily married when her world is shaken to its core.  Iris refuses to believe Will is dead, or for that fact that he was even on that plane.  The book follows her on her quest to find out the truth about what happened.  She learns more than she bargained for about her seemingly perfect husband.  All in all a quick, enjoyable read.


Little Girl Lost: A gripping thriller that will have you hooked (Di Robin Carter)

Abigail seemingly has the perfect life.  Handsome, devoted husband and beautiful baby Izzy.  Suddenly, she starts feeling like something is off in her world.  She starts suspecting she’s losing her mind and someone is trying to kidnap her daughter.  She receives threatening texts and begins to doubt her life is as perfect as she once thought.  Unfortunately, she is hiding a dark past from her husband so she has nowhere to turn for help.

The plot of this book is told in alternating chapters centered around an investigator, DI Robyn Carter, trying to solve the murder of an actor and find a missing teacher.  The narrator of the other chapters is setting the back story for us of a little girl abused.  You wonder if she is Abigail as you try to connect these story lines.

DI Robyn Carter starts to delve deeper and her investigations into both cases lead her back to Abigail.  Robyn’s instincts tell her there’s a connection between these deaths.   This was a fast paced read.  Every time I thought I had it solved it took another twist.  Very enjoyable read.


This Is Not Over: A Novel

When 30-year old Dawn returns from her Getaway.com booked vacation, she fails to receive her deposit back.  She contacts the homeowner to inquire when it will arrive and receives word it should be coming shortly.  Then she gets another email that tells her she will get her deposit back, minus $200 to replace the stained sheets.  Dawn is insulted and angry at what she perceives as dishonest practices.  She contacts Miranda, the homeowner, about this deduction and soon the two are locked in a battle of wills.

The emails between the two women set the stage for the alternating chapters.  I loved this book.   The backstory of each women really carried me through quickly.  Each of these women had secrets they were keeping and real deep rooted reasons for their actions.  They continue to battle right up until the end.  Be prepared to read this in one setting and be totally surprised that it’s about more than just the back and forth between these two stubborn women.


Blink: A psychological thriller with a killer twist you’ll never forget

Three years ago, Toni’s five year old daughter went missing.  She has never been found and  seems to have vanished without a trace.  The book opens with a stroke victim lying in the hospital trapped inside her body.  Everyone thinks she is brain dead and plans are being made to pull the plug.  But this woman is very much alive.  As she struggles to let them know she is alive, we are taken back in time to the days before Evie’s abduction.

We soon learn that Toni was struggling with drug addiction following the death of her husband in Afghanistan.  As we begin to piece together the story of the past, we realize that Toni’s mind is trapped in a world of silence and her only chance to save herself is to find a way to make herself heard.  She must find Evie.

This one has a nice twist toward the end that I didn’t see coming.  I was pretty shocked by it and realized after that the clues were there.  A thriller that kept me turning the pages until I was finished.  A one day read that is perfect for fans of thrillers.

I wonder what genre I’ll be binge reading in March.  I love my psychological thrillers, but maybe it’s time for some historical fiction.  So many books, so little time!  Enjoy and if you read any of these titles I’d love to hear what you thought.

 

Second Chances

Life’s Golden Ticket: A Story About Second Chances

 

BRENDON BURCHARD is one of the most watched, quoted, and followed personal development trainers in the world.   Brendon received his second chance at life after surviving a car accident.  This book has 780 reviews on Amazon and 87% of them are 5 star ratings.  It’s also a New York Times best seller, so it’s obviously worth checking out.

This book is an inspirational parable, a tale that will inspire anyone who has felt that perhaps they’d like a second chance to do things differently.  I’m sure we’ve all at some point in our life thought about how things could have been different, if only…..  Well, what if you were handed a golden ticket that could magically start your life anew?

That question is at the heart of Life’s Golden Ticket. The story opens with a woman who has been missing 40 days and just found critically injured.  In her hospital bed she begs her husband to go to the park she has been to.  She gives him an envelope to bring with him.  The husband goes to this park, an abandoned amusement park in which her younger brother had died many years ago.

The man takes the envelope and embarks on a journey of self discovery.  In order to release himself from the issues in his life, he must face his troubling past.  The past has kept him from fulfilling his dreams and living the life he always wanted.  With each character he meets he must answer difficult questions and face up to his shortcomings.  He learns a lesson from each and begins to take a hard look at himself.

The lessons learned here are universal and can be applied to anyone’s life.  The journey had a magical quality to it.  A very enjoyable read with so many great connections to every day life.  Life is so short it would be wonderful for everyone to live the life they truly want.  This tale of love and redemption is a great frame around the wonderful lessons found in the book.  Definitely worth checking out and a very quick read, yet one you will return to to ponder over once you finish.  Best of all there is a present for all in the back of the book in an envelope.  But do not open it until you read the book!

 

 

Dear Mother by Angela Marsons

Dear Mother: A gripping and emotional story that will make you sob your heart out

 

I just knew the moment I started this one it was going to be great.   While I didn’t sob my heart out, as the title indicated I would, I was drawn into the story.  It was an emotional read for sure and thinking about the childhood of these three girls was tough.

Three sisters, Catherine, Alex and Beth.  Very different, yet all equally damaged in their own way from the abuse suffered at the hands of their mother.  Each deals with the effects of that abuse in quite different ways.  Upon the death of their mother, Beth summons the girls back for the funeral.  They have not seen or spoken to each other in many years.  This book is about the emotional toll of physical abuse on the girls that truly shaped who they became as adults.

Each sister has their own story line, but we truly only get to hear from Catherine and Alex. Parts are difficult to read for sure, but it’s a great story of self discovery.  I found it fascinating to read and felt the author did a wonderful job depicting the emotions these characters felt.  Of the two, I was drawn more to Catherine’s story and narration.  The relationship with her twin daughters really shaped my understanding of the long term repercussions of Catherine’s childhood.

My only regret is that we didn’t get to know more about Beth’s backstory.  She was the driving force in the book, yet there was much left unsaid about her.  Highly recommend this one and it’s currently on sale at Amazon for only $3.99.  What a steal.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a copy of this book to read and review.

New Summer Reads

The Sister: A psychological thriller with a brilliant twist you won’t see coming

This debut novel by Louis Jensen was an enjoyable read to kick off my beach vacation.  Told in alternating chapters of past and present, Grace narrates the tale of her life after losing her best friend Charlie.  The book opens with Grace going back to retrieve a time capsule the two young girls buried together long ago.  In it was a collection of items, including a letter Charlie made Grace promise not to read until they were grown up.  She also made her promise they’d read it together.  The book is about the impact of Charlie’s death on Grace and her quest to find answers about what happened to Charlie prior to her death.

I thought the character Grace was really well developed.  There was a lot of depth to her emotional struggles and I felt connected with her story throughout the book.  I think Grace’s story is what kept me turning the pages of this book.  The husband Dan was not as well developed and you could see immediately where the book was going with his story line.

I enjoyed the book, though there were some parts that were perhaps a bit much, no need for so many shocking events in one book.  I was able to figure out the twist a bit ahead of the end due to strong foreshadowing throughout the book, but not all of it.  There were still a few surprises.  All in all it’s a quick, enjoyable read and this author has great potential to become a best seller in this genre.  I look forward to reading her next novel.

 

To Have and to Hold (Wedding Belles)

My second read this vacation was the first book in a new series by Lauren Layne.  I loved this book and it’s not usually a genre I read.  This would appeal to those who like books by Lisa Renee Jones and even the Fifty Shades folks, though this is a much more vanilla read.  The book does have some steamy sex scenes for fans of those genre, just not as many and definitely not as descriptive.

The book opens with Seth finding out his younger sister Maya is engaged to her new, very short term boyfriend.  He is immediately suspicious of the relationship and worries it’s about gaining access to the family’s money.  Maya hires a wedding planner, Brooke Baldwin to help plan the wedding.  Brooke was a wedding planner in California and has just moved to NYC after her own wedding fell apart at the altar, literally.

Upon their first meeting, sexual sparks are flying between Seth and Brooke.  The book really captures their sexual tension well and you feel the angst of both characters.  All of the characters are likable and ones you’ll want to spend more time with in the anticipated future books of the series.  Personally, I liked Brooke the best and felt her character made the story come alive.  I liked her spunk and ability to get back up after being knocked down big time.  I liked the miscommunication and tension between her and Seth throughout the book.

The second book had a preview available and I was a bit disappointed that it appears to be focusing on a different character.  I had hoped for more of Seth and Brook, but that could come in the future.

A perfect beach read, a quick, steamy summer read.

Thank you to Netgalley and both publishers for providing me copies of these books to read and review.

 

 

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett

What a delightful, quirky book this was.  The narration by Hawthorne was hilarious at times and really deep at others.

This book is about the high school experience, as told by nerdy Hawthorne.   She’s not enjoying her time there and truly let’s you know why.   The quirkiness of the characters in this book reminded me of those in The Fault in Our Stars .  When the book opens we soon find out that Lizzie Lovett is missing.  Hawthorne becomes obsessed with this fact as Lizzie is somewhat of an obsession to her already.  She embarks on a mission to find Lizzie through no plan of her own.  It just kind of happens.  All of the characters in this book have a slight oddness about them.  Putting them together in one book is sheer genius.  I laughed out loud often in this book, yet was deeply touched by it as well.  As the editor’s note in the beginning said, I didn’t really want it to end and I highlighted many passages to reread and savor.

Two passages I highlighted speak to the deep emotions that can be found lurking in the pages of this book.  First, early in the book we get a sense of Hawthorne’s feelings about Lizzie,

“The thing is, Emily is right.  I was jealous of Lizzie, but not of how pretty and popular and perfect she was.  I envied Lizzie’s happiness.  It seemed unfair that she should have so much of it when other people had so little.”  

This passage really keyed us in to the depth of Hawthorne’s personal unhappiness.  It also gives us another way to think about what is happening in the minds of many high school geeks.  How many suffer in silence, sitting on the sidelines.

Second, toward the end of the book,

“”It’s weird.  After all this time searching for her and trying to understand her life, I still don’t feel like I know her.  Everyone I talked to saw her as a totally different person.  And I thought it was intentional.  Like Lizzie changed personalities depending on who she was with.  But now, I don’t know.”  Emily thought about it for a moment.  “Maybe people saw her the way they wanted to see her.  Maybe that’s how it always is.” If that was the case, I wondered how people saw me.  How many different versions of Hawthorn Creely were out there in the world, living in people’s heads?  How close were any of them to the actual me?”  

I mean I could go on and on and just share so many highlighted pieces.  Yes, it feels like a coined messages about life on some pages, but others like these two show just how much truly can be learned from these pages.

The book is a young adult read, but does have a sensitive topic, so more for middle school and up.  I highly recommend reading the book when it is released.  It’s not due out until January and I’ll surely remind you when that happens.  I even love the cover of this book, don’t you?

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an early copy of the book to read and review.

 

Remember the Ladies

Remember the Ladies

This fast paced, well written debut novel by Gina Mulligan came to me by surprise from the publisher.  I had missed the preview window, but they graciously sent me a copy anyway.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to future undertakings by Ms. Mulligan.

The book opens with a tragic wagon accident that leaves the main character, Amelia, orphaned.  She spends her youth living in an orphanage and becomes disillusioned with the limitations society places on her as a woman.  She is often caught stealing books that are not meant for the girls.  She exhibits a strong desire to learn more than “girl” life skills.  Fast forward to her release into adult life.  A chance meeting on a train will change the course of her life.  A simple act of kindness, coupled with a powerful mentor opens a whole new path for Amelia.

The book has a great flow with the strength and drive of Amelia driving the plot admirably.    Amelia is determined to make it in a man’s world, but at what cost.  The book is set around the time of the suffrage movement and Amelia becomes a lobbyist who works tirelessly to get this amendment passed.  Her life and her struggles were fascinating to me.  She had tenacity in a time when most women were not permitted to engage outside their roles as housewives.

I enjoyed reading about the inner workings of politics that unfortunately sound a lot like today’s political climate.  I guess things haven’t changed all that much.  Lot’s of deal making and backstabbing add excitement to the story. I believe this book will be a best seller for those who love the genre of historical fiction, but the plot and characters would interest fiction lovers as well.  A must read for the summer, so add it to your ever growing list.

Available now.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read and review this book.

 

 

 

In Twenty Years

In Twenty Years: A Novel

I really liked the premise of this book.  It opens on graduation eve from college.  Five college roommates, who are extremely close gather for their last night.  They write letters to their older selves and place them in a time capsule.

Fast forward twenty years and the five are now pretty much estranged.  They each receive a letter from the lawyer of one of the five who is now deceased.   They are to meet at the old college home on her 40th birthday.

Most of us have those long ago friends.  Some stayed in touch, others didn’t.  Many of us wonder if things might have been different, if only….

I enjoyed this book and the characters.  There were parts that felt dragged out and some that felt predictable.  But, I loved the idea of it and kept reading.

By the end, I felt connected to the group, even dear sweet Leon.  A light, easy read that would work well on a plane or beach.

Available now.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy to read and review.