July Reads

Reviews Published

July is my favorite month of the year as it brings me to the beach house and relaxation. It is my time to destress, relax and catch up on my reading. It is the month in which I can read a book a day and that makes me so happy. My to read pile has gone down significantly this month and boy did I find some great reads for you all!  Some of these books are prerelease, but the nice thing about Amazon is when you order a prerelease you are not charged until it ships.
I always order them ahead because I know I’ll likely forget.

Between Lost and Found

This was the first book I’ve read by this author. I really enjoyed the story and found myself looking forward to returning to it. In this book we meet Janelle, an insecure city girl who is engaged to what she thinks is her dream man. From the first page, I didn’t like his arrogance and forget about the mother in law.

Janelle’s grandfather knows this is not the right man for her to marry so he devises a plan to lure her home. He has his girlfriend call to tell her he has gone missing and she must come home. Unfortunately what was meant to be a lure turns out to be the truth as Little Bill goes missing. I just loved the characters in this book and we got to know most of them. This book is about returning home and learning to love yourself. Janelle, Sam, Connie, Yvette and of course Little Bill are wonderful characters who come together to tell a story of finding and loving yourself. I hate comparing authors, but if you like Terry McMillan’s books you will like this.

Girl in Snow: A Novel

This debut novel has just been released. Thought this was a novel of suspense and who done it, its strength lay in character development. The book opens with a dead teenager, Lucinda who is found murdered on the school playground. Told in alternating chapters from the perspective of three characters who knew Lucinda and were being interviewed by the police each added a different perspective to the possible motives.

Cameron is a boy who loved Lucinda and was totally obsessed with her. He thinks he may have murdered her as he knows he was there watching her that night. He has some holes in his memory and is worried he may be the murdered. Jade a classmate who hated Lucinda because she stole her boyfriend and Russ, the copy assigned to investigate the murder. Each of these characters are the story and the author really develops them well. I was very surprised by the ending and totally did not guess ahead. My only wish was that she developed Lucinda as well as the other characters. It would have added some depth to the story.

The Visitors

Another debut novel that offers a creepy read. This is not a thriller, or a page turner. It’s a slow read, especially in the beginning, but stick with it as it all comes together to tell a great story of what we choose to overlook and why. This book is about Marion, a middle aged single woman, who lives with her brother. The book dives deeply into Marion’s psyche, including her childhood. It’s a tale of the damage life can do to someone and the lasting affects of that damage. Marion’s brother has been damaged too in a totally different way. What unravels in this book was disturbing and creepy and kept me turning the pages. Yes, I’d like a bit more twists and turns, but just the thought of it all was creepy enough for this one to be a worthy read.

The Story of Arthur Truluv: A Novel

I absolutely adored this little gem of a story. It may be because my dad is going through a similar time, but this quirky tale just touched my heart. Arthur (Truluv) is an 82 year old widower who sits at his wife’s grave every single day without fail. Maddy is a 17 year old high school student who is bullied and a loner. Her mom dies when she was young and her dad raised her but she hasn’t been loved. They meet at the cemetery, where Lucille loves to hang out alone. We also meet Lucille, Arthur’s neighbor who is quite the character.

These three come together to tell a tale of life, love and finding your tribe. A sweet tale that is worthy of your time. It will make you smile, laugh and cry.

Seeking Sarah: A Novel

Brooke discovers her mother,long thought dead, is very much alive. When her father dies this secret comes to life and Brooke finds herself searching for her mother. She went at first to find out why she was told her mother was dead, but upon seeing that her mother has a new family and life finds herself full of anger. She sets out on a path to destroy her mother. An emotional, fast paced read that will be devoured in one sitting.

The Rules of Magic: A Novel

I am a huge Alice Hoffman fan, but not a fan of magic books. I haven’t read Practical Magic and when I first started this book wasn’t sure if I was going to like it. But, afterall if was written by Ms. Hoffman who pulls me in every single time with her talent. She did not disappoint with this one either. I found myself unable to put the book down and read it in one day. Thankfully I’m down at the beach and was able to park in a chair for the day.

The Owens sisters and brother Vincent are enchanting and their story will linger with me for a bit as the characters in Hoffman’s books generally do. Their tale is quite sad and the curse put upon the family really led to much heartache and worry. Franny, Jet and Vincent leave me wanting more and I will now have to order Practical Magic to continue this saga.

I am not a fan of fantasy or magical tales, but this one is a winner.

Lies She Told

I read this book in one day on my beach vacation. When 3:00 came I was still sitting in my chair. My daughter asked if I was OK as I usually leave then to go up to the house and cook. I had to finish the book and literally sat there until I did. Liza was quite the interesting character and the story was quite unique. Told in alternating chapters, not unusual, but this one was one fictitious story and one the main story. As the plot progresses, they stories begin to blur and merge. There was a nice twist at the end as well to keep it interesting. Definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a book you can’t put down until you finish.

Emma in the Night: A Novel

This was a one day read for me on my beach vacation. I don’t think I moved all day. I was fascinated by the narcissistic personality disorder and it’s impact on the children. Wow. The book was for me a deeper read, which means though I read in one sitting I didn’t skim over any parts. I found it all gripping. What a dysfunctional family. The book says it has an unreliable narrator and I get why they say it, but I didn’t find Cass to be unreliable. I really felt her as she told her story. A twist at the end yes, but overall not a shock considering the story. I don’t want to say to much about the plot because it’s worth your reading for yourself. This is a must read and will likely be a best seller when released. GREAT read. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to preview the manuscript.

The Good Daughter: A Novel

This book opened with a bang, literally. A family watches their mother murdered and are taken out and shot. This opening was heart wrenching, but it sure did get my attention. And if that wasn’t enough they added next a school shooting. Wow. This was a can’t put down read with a slow point in the middle. The beginning and end pulled me in and kept me up late turning pages. The two sisters, Charlotte and Sam will linger with me awhile as I felt so entrenched in their story. I love books by Slaughter and this one does not disappoint. Great summer read.

The Marriage Pact: A Novel

Soon to be a movie!
Great read. The book was very different. There were some behaviors the characters exhibited – like a lawyer signing a contract without reading it – but I didn’t care! The book for me was gripping and kept me turning the pages. Partially because it was so unbelievable that this could happen I kept going.
In this book we meet Alice, a lawyer and Jake a psychiatrist who are newly married. Alice is afraid the marriage may not stand the test of time so they enter into a marriage pact to keep the relationship exciting. Wow, what a marriage pact the got themselves involved with. The ending really leaves you hanging so perhaps a sequel is in order. I’m not one who wants to make my own ending. I like to tie things up and know for sure what happens, but that’s just me. A definite book to read this summer!

Any Dream Will Do: A Novel

Another great read by Debbie Macomber. This book is a story about redemption and starting over. Shay is standing in a church, freshly released from prison with no money, family or plan. One step away from being homeless she is given a chance for recovery. This was a truly warm, fuzzy read as most of Macomber’s books are. Yes there is tragedy and bumps along the way, but you feel better about life at the end. I really can’t explain it, but her books always make me believe in happily ever after and in this crazy world who doesn’t need a little of that.
A perfect escape from life and a great beach read.

The Stolen Marriage: A Novel

I’ve read most of this author’s books and like her writing style. This book was no exception, as I was quickly pulled into the story of Tess and Henry. Tess was a compelling character and you felt her pain and sense of loss throughout the book. The backdrop of this story was Hickory during the time of the polio outbreak. Some of the story was set in a real life event – the building of the hospital.
Ultimately this story is about life and how the choices we make can have a lasting impact on those we love. I found this to be a quick, easy read, but one that will linger. I would say the only character that had true dimension was Tess and that’s OK because it was her story. I was surprised by the twist at the end as all the foreshadowing led me down a different path. Overall a great summer read from Diane Chamberlain.

There’s bound to be something to your liking in this group.  If you’ve read any, please share your thoughts.  On to August and another pile of books.  Don’t you just love summer reading?

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.

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.

 

 

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.

Broken Pieces

Broken Pieces: A Novel

Enjoyed reading this one.  It was a quick, yet powerful read.  I started it last night and just finished.  It wasn’t at all what I expected when I first started.  I kept sensing a foreshadowing of what was to be, but each time I was wrong.

The book opens with January getting an unexpected visit from her estranged dad, Albert.  Bit by bit we learn the sadness behind their estranged relationship which followed the death of her mother.  Bit by bit the author unravels a story of finding one’s family and possibly getting what is wanted.  Things in life are not what January ever expected them to be and she has the opportunity to really rethink her long held anger.

The book is not a thriller, or a sappy love story.  It’s a story of a women who has to come to terms with her painful past.  The manner in which she does that was interesting and kept me engaged.  The author has created strong characters and the plot has a few twists thrown in just to keep it different.  Albert, Sydney and Ella will stay with you long after you stop reading.  It’s a quick read, but it’s not light.  It also has an important message to readers and I for one have a new appreciation for the color teal.

Book will be out July 19th.  Available for preorder now.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me a copy to read and review.

 

 

 

Love Alice

Love, Alice, by Barbara Davis

It took me two weeks and six books to finally find one that held my attention.  A very sweet, unassuming book that will surprise you how readable it is.  Truly a simple story about a young girl forced to give up her baby in a convent home for unwed mothers.  The main character Alice’s story is told through a series of letters she wrote to her unborn child.

The story was really anything but simple.  There were so many layers to the plot.  On the surface you read about the mistreatment of young women in these unwed mother homes.  They were literally treated like slaves and abused, their babies sold to wealthy families in the United States.  On another level you have the main character, Dovie, trying to put her life together following the suicide of her fiancé.  Her relationship with Austin really had enough sexual tension to get your attention.  All of the characters really were well developed and likable.  It was Alice though, who grabs you by the heart strings and never lets go.  Not even at the bitter end.  She is still orchestrating the plot and quite masterfully at that.

I’ve not heard of this author, but will definitely be checking out any other books she has written.  Her attention to detail was not lost on me.  I truly enjoyed Alice’s story as sad as it was.  Due out in December 2016, this will make a wonderful gift for the readers on your list.  Available for preorder now.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me a copy to read and review.

 

 

Blame

This book is hard to put down. I was actually annoyed that I had plans and wasn’t going to be home to read.  I just finished it tonight and I believe you need to put this on your summer reading list.  Not sure of the release date as it’s not available yet for preorder.  But the good news is I discovered this author’s other books and can’t wait to dig in.  She’s got at least three others that look awesome. Three Hours Late is the one I just purchased.

In Blame, we meet two best friends, Caro and Anna.  The book alternates between the two and we get their perspective around the death of Anna’s daughter Maya.  The story unfolds gradually during simultaneous police interrogations.  Trope uses a lot of flashbacks to unravel and develop the story.   There was such depth to both of these women and their flaws made them perfectly imperfect.  The author truly captured their pain and anguish on a deep level.  The book has that disturbing characteristic reminiscent of We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel.  The emotional toll of autism and parental bonding are explored on a collision course with death.  I was left saddened for everyone involved and felt there were no true winners.

If you’re looking for a book that packs a punch, pulls you in and makes you think long after you are done, then Blame is your book. Five stars from me and a reminder when it’s released.  In the meantime, check out the author’s other books.

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

Faithful

Faithful: A Novel

Alice Hoffman’s newest book will not disappoint her fans.  A meaty read, full of emotion and depth will be hard to put down.

Shelby is driving when a crash on an icy road changes the trajectory of her life. Her best friend lies in a vegetative state and the guilt is to large a burden for her to manage.  Emotionally shot, she withdraws from life.

This is Shelby’s story and it will touch your heart.  You will root for her and wish you could wrap your arms around her, or slap her and say, “Snap out of it!”   But, if you’ve never experienced survivor’s guilt it’s hard to say how you’d handle it differently.

I totally was engrossed in this book and hate that it’s ended.  I say add this to the long summer reading list.  Could be a great rainy day vacation read because you won’t want to put it down.

Strong character development and a story that will allow you to emotionally connect.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me an advance copy to read and review. 5 stars for this one.