Review: The Blue Bath by Mary Waters-Sayer

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The Blue Bath by Mary Waters-Sayer is the story of Kat Lind, an American living in London with her husband Jonathan and their son Will. Kat comes from a privileged family and in her early twenties she lived in Paris where she was studying French literature. While studying in Paris, Kat meets David, a British young artist, who was also studying in Paris and they start a powerful and obsessive romance. Twenty years later Kat is now married to Jonathan and living in London. So when a friend invites her to attend an opening at a prestigious art gallery, Kat is shocked to see her face on the paintings, an evidence of her long-ago affair with the artist David Blake. Kat and David once again rekindle their passion, but when her portrait catches the attention of the press threatening to reveal not only her identity but her infidelity, Kat has to make a choice that could mean losing everything.

I want to start by saying what I really loved about this novel. The cover of this book is simply superb. The writing is beautiful, and Mary Waters-Sayer’s description of Paris and London really allows the reader to be transported to those places. The characters, although not super developed are believable, and the story is developed well enough to make it an easy read. The ending is probably the only part that lost points for me. It felt a little rushed, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

The Blue Bath is a novel that deals with themes of love, trust, obsession, betrayal, and tragedy. A novel that stays with you long after you are done reading it. I highly recommend it.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on May 3, 2016.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: Break in Case of Emergency by Jessica Winter

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Jen has reached her early thirties and has all but abandoned a once-promising painting career when spurred by the 2008 economic crisis, she takes a poorly defined job at a feminist nonprofit. The foundation’s ostensible aim is to empower women, but staffers spend all their time devising acronyms for imaginary programs, ruthlessly undermining one another, and stroking the ego of their boss, the larger-than-life celebrity philanthropist Leora Infinitas. Jen’s complicity in this passive-aggressive hellscape only intensifies her feelings of inferiority compared to her two best friends—one a wealthy attorney with a picture-perfect family, the other a passionately committed artist—as does Jen’s apparent inability to have a baby, a source of existential panic that begins to affect her marriage and her already precarious status at the office.

I loved Jessica Winter’s Break in Case of Emergency. Although the book started out a little slow for my taste and the story alone was not that interesting, Winter’s prose, her writing, and dialogues just really got a hold of me. Her story is funny, witty and it had me laughing out loud a few times. It was really refreshing to read something this different, fresh and invigorating. Definitely not your typical chick-lit. I highly recommend it as a great summer read.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House in exchange for my honest review. The new edition of this book is scheduled to be published on July 12, 2016.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

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This is the story of a young boy Will and his agoraphobic mother Diane. They live in Thunder Bay, a port city on Lake Superior. At the time of the novel, neither Will or his mother have ever left the house, and thanks to today’s technology they are able to order everything to be delivered to their house. Diane created an entire world for Will and even homeschooled him.

The book begins with young Will deciding to venture outside the house. He soon meets a boy named Marcus and realizes that outside is not as dangerous as his mother thinks. As Will becomes more fearless, his mother’s fears intensify and the inability to protect her son if she can’t leave the house is at the core of this book which deals with issues of anxiety and mental illness.

Micheal Christie did a superb job at creating these complex, real-life characters, and a wonderful and complex story that captured really well the difficult relationship between mother and son. I really enjoyed this book.

“And how dearly we depend on the lone muscle convulsing in our chests. On the two flimsy balloons that so narrowly rescue us from suffocation. On the wobbly paté in our heads that preserves our very selves. all of it so ad hoc, so absurd, so temporary.” 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

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On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

The book starts with a small plane that falls in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean with 11 people on board. Scott, a struggling middle-aged artist, and a four-year-old boy are the only survivors. The crux of the book is finding out the cause of the crash and events that led to the disaster.

I really enjoyed reading this book by Noah Hawley. The first couple of chapters are suspenseful and impossible to put down. There is a great message about the ridiculous power of media covering tragedies. It does slow down a bit as it alternates between the aftermath of the crash and the lives of the passengers before the accident (the fall), but overall a great summer read.

Before The Fall by Noah Hawley is one of those great suspenseful books that you can read in one sitting. A fast-paced, page-turner that keeps you guessing until the end. I’d definitely recommend it to fans of the genre.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This book is scheduled to be published on May 31, 2016.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

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Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

I should start by saying that this is not the sort of novel I’d gravitate towards, but the cover of this book had a lot to do with my decision to give this book a try and I don’t regret it a bit.

“because a rumor is like smoke. It will spread, it will seep through closed doors and latched shutters, and in the end the whole town will smell of it.”

This is the story of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman in the small town of Schongau, Bavaria. When some children are found dead, a local midwife is accused of witchcraft and arrested for the murders. Jakob and a local doctor believing in the midwife’s innocence set out to figure out the mystery. I’m not sure why the title of the book is the Hangman’s Daughter. She plays a part in the book but certainly not enough for a title. In any case, this is a very interesting historical mystery. Pötzsch really did a good job researching his family history and that period. I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book and the descriptions of the town and the people were excellent. It really transported me to that time. 

As for the mystery itself, I feel like many will be able to figure it out half-way through the book. It is still an interesting reading even though some of the torture scenes were rather graphic. Good pick for fans of historical fiction/thriller.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

 

Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

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Lauren Groff’s novel Fates and Furies is my book club’s pick for this month. It’s a book about marriage, about misconceptions of marriage and about the ultimate reality that you may never really know a partner regardless of how many years you stay together.

I’d like to start by saying what I liked about this novel. Most of the reviews out there are polarized, with some people absolutely loving it and others heavily disliking it. I feel that I’m somewhere in between. The book is marvelously written. Groff’s exquisite prose really impressed me.

“They had been married for seventeen years; she lived in the deepest room in his heart. And sometimes that meant that wife occurred to him before Mathilde, helpmeet before herself. Abstraction of her before the visceral being. But not now. When she came across the veranda, he saw Mathilde all of a sudden. The dark whip at the center of her. How, so gently, she flicked it and kept him spinning.”

The book is written from two perspectives. Lotto’s (Lancelot) point of view (the fates part of the book), and Mathilde’s side of the story (the furies part of the book). the novel has many symbols and themes throughout the narrative with Mathilde’s account of the story being the most interesting part.

Although there were beautiful parts to this novel, at times it just didn’t feel real. The characters were so unlikeable and unlikely to really exist in real life. Do people go on in life talking that way? I don’t want to give too much of it away, but there were parts in the story that I just couldn’t see how someone could have pulled that off for so many years. I still highly recommend this novel for its beautiful prose, its interesting themes of marriage, lies and betrayal.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty–Audiobook Review

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What would happen if you were visited by your younger self and got a chance for a do-over? Alice Love is twenty-nine years old, madly in love with her husband, and pregnant with their first child. So imagine her surprise when, after a fall, she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! she HATES the gym!) and discovers that she’s actually thirty-nine, has three children, and is in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.

Yes, she did it again! It is no news that Liane Moriarty is one of my top ten favorite authors, and one of the reasons I keep coming back to her books is the fact that she never disappoints me. She has an uncanny talent for making everyday life  interesting. Her character development is fantastic, and she is an amazing story-teller.

What Alice Forgot is one of those novels that although the premise is quite unlikely to happen, it is still written in a way that makes you ponder your own life and choices you make in relationships. I found myself constantly reviewing things I had or had not done in my previous marriage, and the things I used to take for granted in relationships.

My only issue with the audio version of this book was the narration. I felt that at times I could not distinguish between Alice and her sister’s voice, so I had to constantly rewind a few passages in order to understand what was going on. Overall a great read. I highly recommend it!

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: Swerve by Vicki Pettersson

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It’s high summer in the Mojave Desert and Kristine Rush and her fiancé, Daniel, are en route from Las Vegas to Lake Arrowhead, California, for the July Fourth holiday weekend. But when Daniel is abducted from a desolate rest stop, Kristine is forced to choose: return home unharmed, but never to see her fiancé again, or plunge forward into the searing desert to find him…where a killer lies in wait.

Wow! If I could give you a word of advice about this book is not to read it right before you go to bed. This is by far one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year. The narrative is extremely gripping, the storyline is compelling, intricate and full of twists and turns. The characters are a psychological mess, but all these elements somehow work together and what you end up with is an extremely graphic, right out shocking, story.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to the faint of heart, but if you like psychological thrillers with a pinch for the graphic and the macabre, you will definitely love this book.

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

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Book Details:

Title: Swerve/Author: Vicki Pettersson/Genre: Psychological Thriller/ ISBN:9781476798578/Publisher: Gallery Books/Rating: 4-Stars/Read: August, 2015.

Review: Miss Emily by Nuala O’Connor

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Eighteen-year-old Ada Concannon has just been hired by the respected but eccentric Dickinson family of Amherst, Massachusetts. Despite their difference in age and the upstairs-downstairs divide, Ada strikes up a deep friendship with Miss Emily, the gifted elder daughter living a spinster’s life at home. But Emily’s passion for words begins to dominate her life. She will wear only white and avoids the world outside the Dickinson homestead. When Ada’s safety and reputation are threatened, however, Emily must face down her own demons in order to help her friend, with shocking consequences.

Miss Emily is Nuala O’Connor’s debut novel in America. The book is a fictional story of Emily Dickson and her Irish maid Ada. This is a beautifully written book. I loved the way O’Connor writes in such a poetic way, and how she developed both Emily’s and Ada’s characters. The book is told from the perspective of both of the girls, alternating each chapter.

The story gets a little heavy towards the middle of the book, and it caught me by surprise. I can’t say much without giving away the plot, but the book has a nice happy ending and O’Connor’s writing will stay with you for some days to come. Miss Emily is a gorgeously written story about female friendship.

This is an excellent selection for a book club. I highly recommend it.

I received an early copy of this book for free from Penguin Random House First To Read in exchange for my honest review.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Book Details:

Title: Miss Emily/Author:Nuala O’Connor/Genre:Fiction/ ISBN:9780143126751/Publisher:Penguin Books/Rating: 4-Stars/Read:July, 2015.

Review: The Hypnotist by Gordon Snider (*TLC BOOK TOUR*)

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In 1906, San Francisco has reached the peak of its golden age. Fortunes have created a society that attracts European opera singers and cordon bleu chefs. It is a world defined by elegant balls, oysters, and champagne. But there are darker sides to the city as well. The Mission district south of Market Street houses tenements where shanties huddle together and rats plague the streets. And nearby sits Chinatown, an endless warren of dark alleys that offers gambling, prostitution, and opium, all controlled by vicious gangs, called tongs.

Into these disparate worlds steps Marta Baldwin, a young woman who has shunned her own social background to help the poor. She is confronted by a hypnotist, a man who hypnotizes young women from the tenements and delivers them to the tongs in Chinatown to work in their brothels. Marta escapes his hypnotic trance, but when her assistant, Missy, disappears, Marta realizes she has been taken by the evil man who confronted her. She seeks the help of Byron Wagner, one of San Francisco’s most prominent citizens. Marta finds herself drawn to Byron but knows his high social standing prevents any possibility of a relationship between them. This is confirmed when Marta discovers Byron having an intimate conversation with Lillie Collins, the daughter of one of the city’s most elite families. Marta is flushed with jealousy. However, Lillie defies social customs, and her rebellious nature fits naturally with Marta’s. Despite her envy, the two women become close friends. Marta is caught up in a whirlwind of opulent balls, opium dens and brothels, and police raids in Chinatown. She cannot deny her feelings for Byron, but she must save Missy and protect her new friends from harm. For lurking in the background is the hypnotist. He has become obsessed with Marta and will use all his guile to ensnare her. When he threatens those she loves, Marta is determined to stop him, even at her own peril. Will her boldness entrap her? If so, how can she hope to escape the man’s hypnotic embrace? Then the earth trembles, and Marta’s world will never be the same.

This was my first book from author Gordon Snider and I can say that I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. Set in San Francisco in the early 1900s, Snyder did an excellent job describing old San Francisco and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The book tells the chilling story of a man who hypnotizes young women on the streets and delivers them to criminals in Chinatown. Marta Baldwin is a wealthy young woman who makes a living helping the poor on the streets of San Francisco. Both the hypnotist’s and Marta’s lives intertwine in an exciting and well-crafted plot. Snider’s writing flows smoothly and the characters are really well developed. I found this book to be a fun and easy read.

I received this book free of charge from TLC Book Tours and the author in exchange for my honest review.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Helm Publishing

About Gordon Snider

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Gordon Snider has written three non-fiction books, including his latest, I’m Travelling as Fast as I Can, which takes a humorous journey to far-away-places around the world. When he moved to California’s Central Coast in 1999, he began writing fiction. The Origamist is his fifth novel and a sequel to his third, The Hypnotist, a very popular historical thriller that is set in San Francisco in 1906. The other novels include: Sigourney’s Quest, an adventure story about a woman’s harrowing journey across Tibet; The Separatist, a mystery/suspense novel set in modern San Francisco; and Venice Lost, an adventure/fantasy about a man who becomes lost in time in Venice, Italy.

Gordon has lived in California nearly his entire life. Home has ranged from Los Angeles to San Francisco, with stops in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach. Currently, he and his wife, Fe, enjoy walking the beaches and observing the migrating whales from their home in Pismo Beach. It is, he says, the perfect setting for creative writing.

Find out more about Gordon and his books on his website.

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