Author Archives: Anna at awondrousbookshelf

About Anna at awondrousbookshelf

Besides being an avid reader and running a monthly book club, I enjoy writing book reviews. I really like reading a vast array of book genres. Most of the books I review are fiction, fantasy, women’s fiction (chick-lit), mystery/thriller and young-adult.

The Outsider by Stephen King

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When a hideous crime happens to 11-year-old Frank Peterson in the fictitious town of Flint City, police immediately suspects the town’s little league coach Terry Maitland. Maitland is an upstanding citizen of Flint City, and his public arrest causes a significant amount of commotion. On the surface, it seems like a straight forward case and detective Ralph Anderson is confident of his arrest and Maitland’s guilt. But when Maitland comes up with an irrefutable alibi, detective Anderson will have to expand his investigation and face horrifying answers.

I initially struggled with starting The Outsider. I don’t particularly gravitate toward books with themes of sexual violence and rape, especially regarding children. But I couldn’t pass on the opportunity of reading one of Stephen King’s latest books. I love Stephen King’s seemingly easy way he tells his stories, his dark creativity, his wild imagination, and vivid scenes. The Outsider at times reads like an episode of Law and Order, but being Stephen King, you know that is not going to last very long, and pretty soon an element of the supernatural will rear its ugly head.

Although The Outsider is a hefty 560 pages novel, the amount of suspense and horror keeps you well engaged for a good ¾ of the book. The topic of the book, although dark, does not dwell too much on sexual abuse as it does in the investigation process. I didn’t feel the end was necessarily rushed; quite the opposite–he could have shaved off a few pages as it felt like it dragged a bit.

Overall The Outsider does not disappoint one bit, and if anything it solidifies my admiration for an author I’ve been reading for nearly 25 years, and which continues to be in my humble opinion the master of horror. I highly recommend this book to both fans of this genre as well as fans of well-written fiction.


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Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own. Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.

In 1920s Mexico, Caseopea lived a very unhappy life cleaning floors of her wealthy grandfather and dreaming of a better life away from her chores. One day she comes across a mysterious wooden box and accidently frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death who takes her on a journey in hopes of regaining back his throne from his treacherous brother.

Part Jane Eyre and part Cinderella story, Moreno-Garcia’s Gods of Jade and Shadow is a beautiful fantasy tale based on Mayan mythology. In a time with so much negative emphasis on Mexico, it’s easy to forget that Mexico is a country with a very rich heritage, mythology and folklore. Moreno-Garcia successfully retells this myth with a beautiful prose and description of a Mexico of the 1920s.

I highly recommend this novel which is scheduled to be published in August 2019.

I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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The Island Villa by Lily Graham

 

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When Charlotte’s husband James tragically dies, he leaves her an unexpected gift – her grandmother’s beautiful villa, Marisal, on the Spanish island of Formentera. As she begins to explore her new home and heal her broken heart in the warm golden sunshine, Charlotte discovers that her grandmother Alba has been keeping secrets about her life on the island. Intrigued by her family’s hidden history, Charlotte uncovers a devastating love affair that put many lives at risk and two sisters torn apart by loss. Can the heartbreaking truth of the island’s dark history finally be laid to rest? Or will the secrets of the past shake the new life and love that Charlotte is close to finding? 

Review

The book starts with Charlotte grieving her husband’s death and finding out that she has inherited a villa in the beautiful Spanish island of Formentera. The first part of the book started out slow and I thought the story was going to revolve around her grieving until she finds out that her grandmother Alba had some secrets Charlotte was about to discover. What attracted me to this book was the cover and the idea of reading a “feel-good summer read” and although the book was quite enjoyable, at times the narrative felt repetitive and stereotypical of what one thinks a Mediterranean island should look and smell like. Having lived in the Balearic Islands I thought a book about Formentera was going to transport me back to that time in my life, but it really didn’t. The historical part was very interesting, but overall I felt that the characters landed a bit flat on the pages and the middle of the story dragged a bit.

I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

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When Scottie’s Italian teacher–a teenager with secrets of his own–disappears, her search for him leads her to discover other, darker truths about herself, her husband and her country. Michael’s dedication to saving the world from communism crumbles as he begins to see that he is a pawn in a much different game. Driven apart by lies, Michael and Scottie must find their way through a maze of history, memory, hate, and love to a new kind of complicated truth. Half glamorous fun, half an examination of America’s role in the world, and filled with sun-dappled pasta lunches, prosecco, charming spies and horse racing, The Italian Party is a smart pleasure.

Review

How would you feel if you were newlywed in the 1950s and having to move to a foreign country, more specifically, Italy? That is how the Italian Party begins. You don’t know much about Michael and Scottie at first, but you get a sense that they are both not quite who they make themselves to be. Michael is a first-generation Italian-American, who moves to his family’s homeland on the pretense that he works for Ford. Scottie is the cute all-American blonde who has a secret of her own. On the surface, they look like the perfect couple, but when Scottie’s Italian teacher goes missing we embark on a series of events that take place in the 50s, in the middle of the Cold War, and the fight against communism.

This book was not quite what I was expecting. Just like Lynch’s characters in this book, the novel gives you an erroneous idea that this is another beautiful love story set against a beautiful backdrop of romantic Italy in the 1950s. As you get more and more involved in the book, you realize that nothing about this book is what it seems to be on the surface.

I really enjoyed being transported to this beautiful, and rather, innocent time. I loved all the descriptions of Italy, the Italian way of life, and all the wonderful food. This was a great read and a little history refresher for me. I highly recommend it.


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Stacking The Shelves

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Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga’s Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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I’ve acquired just a few books this week. I’m still on hold for a few other books I’m interested in reading.

Library Loans

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How To Find Love In A Bookshop by Veronica Henry

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The Italian Party by Christina Lynch

How about you? What have you added to your shelves? Have you read any of these titles? 🙂

Bring Me Back by B. A. Paris

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A young British couple is driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again. Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part of his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love. As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

Review

Layla and Finn are coming back from a skiing vacation in France when Finn stops at a picnic area to use the restroom. Upon his return, Layla is gone.

The book starts with Finn’s recollections of that night some ten years ago. He gives the impression that the description you read in the book is what was told to the cops at the time, but that in reality, the truth about that night is very different.

Now ten years later, Finn is living with Ellen who just happens to be his missing girlfriend Layla’s sister.

I have to say that I really enjoyed Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, and Bring Me Back was a book that had a solid four stars for most of the story, then it got to the end and I just could not believe how improbable the ending was. I was truly disappointed with the ending. I thought the story had such a great premise and I was completely hooked. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t believe the ending.

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Love, Lies, and Wedding Cake by Sue Watson

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Since Faye met her gorgeous Aussie boyfriend Dan, they’ve traveled all over the world to meet in amazing, crazy and romantic locations. They’ve eaten gateaux in a chateau, chocolate torte in a moonlit port, and even had stöllen kisses in a sparkling Christmas market. Neither of them wanted to settle down… until now. When Dan asks Faye to marry him and to move to Australia it throws a real spanner in the works. Faye’s daughter Emma needs her here, so moving to the other side of the world – even for a hunk like Dan – simply isn’t an option. Is it? 

Review

Love, Lies, and Wedding Cake is a sequel to Love, Lies, and Lemon Cake, which I haven’t read, but also didn’t feel it was necessary in order to understand this story. The book starts with Faye and her hunk Australian boyfriend Dan enjoying themselves on a beautiful beach. Faye is a 46-year-old divorced grandma and Dan is a carefree, single guy in his 30’s. Life seems absolutely perfect to this middle-age grandma and her wonderful boyfriend until tragedy hits home and Dan has to move back to Australia leaving Faye all alone and wondering if their relationship can endure the long-distance.

I really enjoyed Sue Watson’s writing. I’m not sure I would call it hilariously funny, but I found myself laughing out loud several times. I loved Faye and her attitude towards life. The characters were well developed and this was an overall easy read. The only thing I didn’t care for was how Dan and Faye ended up. I’m not sure I would have been as forgiving, but Watson did a good job exploring that drama.

This is a delightful romantic comedy, and I’m looking forward to reading more books from this author.

I would like to thank Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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The Sunday Post

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The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. A post to recap the past week, and share news about what is coming up for the week on our blog…

Happy Mother’s day to all the moms out there! Thankful for another busy week and great books read. I’m late on some of my reviews, but hoping to be able to catch up really soon.

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In case you missed it, here are last week’s reviews:

Still Lives by Maria Hummel

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A Summer Scandal by Kat French

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love,lies,and wedding cake

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So, that’s my plan for this upcoming week. How about you? What have you read this past week? 🙂

A Summer Scandal by Kat French

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When Violet moves to Swallow Beach, she inherits a small Victorian pier in with an empty arcade perched on the end of it and falls in love immediately. She wants nothing more than to rejuvenate it and make it grand again – When she meets hunky Calvin, inspiration strikes. What if she turned the arcade into an adult-themed arcade full of artisan shops?


Review

A Summer Scandal is a delightful romance. I loved Violet. She’s this super sassy character who inherits her grandfather’s pier and apartment in a seaside town in England. Violet soon moves to the apartment and gets a chance to know more about her grandmother and her secrets. She soon meets Calvin and a romance between the two begins to grow.  This was a very light read, and I really enjoyed reading it by the pool on a nice warm day in May. This book is much more than just a simple romance. This is a cute and funny chic-lit that will certainly please fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank Avon Books and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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Still Lives by Maria Hummel

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A young editor at a Los Angeles art museum finds herself pulled into the disturbing and dangerous world of a famous artist who goes missing on the opening night of her exhibition.

Review

Maggie Richter is a frustrated journalist who works as an editor for the prestigious Rocque Museum. The museum is in severe financial problems, so part of Maggie’s job is to guarantee that Kim Lord’s new exhibition Still Lives is a success.

Kim Lord is an avant-garde, feminist, artist with a ground-breaking and controversial exhibition, Still Lives, which depicts herself as famous murdered women. On the day of her much anticipation exhibition, Lord goes missing and when Maggie’s ex-boyfriend Greg becomes the main suspect, Maggie decides to start her own investigation.

Everyone seems to be giving this book at least 4 stars, but in reality just like art is subjective so are books. I really, and I mean, really struggled with this book at least until 60% of the story. It’s not that it is a badly written book, it was just boring and slow. The other half of the book gets a bit better, but the ending did not wow me, and by the time I was done with the book I was tired of reading it.

I’d like to thank Edelweiss for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.


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