Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

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Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined.

Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as an author. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever. A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies, this latest novel from a masterful storyteller is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read.

This is a novel I felt started really strong and somehow I lost some interest. I really wanted to love this book, but in reality, I didn’t. I liked it. I just couldn’t bring myself to love it. The narrative alternating between past and present is a technique that works for some novels, but one that also gets very tiresome to me. The book is long, but that was not the reason I couldn’t love it. The writing was beautiful and the characters were very well crafted. The plot is definitely unpredictable but difficult to understand at times. I can’t truly pinpoint why this novel didn’t do it for me except that the jumping back and forth between eras made it really hard for me to keep track of the story.

3 star

Review: Five Roses by Alice Zorn

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Fara and her husband buy a house with a disturbing history that reawakens memories of her own family tragedy. Maddy still lives in the house, once a hippie commune, where her daughter was kidnapped twenty-seven years ago. Rose grew up isolated with her mother in the backwoods north of Montreal. Now in the city, she questions the silence and deception that shaped her upbringing.

Fara, Maddy, and Rose meet in Montreal’s historic Pointe St-Charles, a rundown neighborhood on the cusp of gentrification. Against a backdrop of abandonment, loss, and revitalization, the women must confront troubling secrets in order to rebuild their lives. Zorn deftly interweaves the rich yet fragile lives of three very different people into a story of strength and friendship.

Alice Zorn writes a beautiful story against the backdrop of rural Quebec. Montreal is certainly on my bucket list of places to check out and thanks to Zorn’s description of the rural outskirts of Montreal as well as the city, the reader gets a chance to be transported to this side of the world. I loved the way Zorn depicted each one of these characters allowing the reader to truly empathize with each one of them.

This novel has some sad parts, some slow parts, but for most of the book, you get a well-crafted story with believable and captivating characters.

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

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Review: Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

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Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands. But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.
Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets…

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave was May’s book selection for my monthly book club, and let me start by saying that I really, truly, tried to like this book. Since this was my selection, I felt that a book about wine, vineyard, wine country and a bit of romance was a recipe for a great book club discussion. Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t.

This is the story of Georgia, who after finding out that her fiancé Ben has been keeping this “massive” (sorry, it really isn’t) secret from her, decides to leave L.A. on the same day she’s trying out her wedding dress and dashes back to her hometown of Sebastopol in Sonoma county. When she gets home, Georgia finds out that apparently her family has also been keeping some secrets of their own.

Let me start by saying what did not work for me in this novel. Laura Dave’s writing really did not impress me at all. I couldn’t relate or like any of her characters. The chapters were very short and choppy, and the whole back and forth between present and past and her father’s memory really didn’t do it for me. I must have put this book down at least three times and read a couple of other books in between. I eventually managed to finish the book in order to discuss it during book club meeting. Definitely not my cup of tea.

2 star

Review: Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes

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Anna Walsh is the youngest of four sisters in the Walsh Irish family. The book starts with Anna having survived a freakish car accident and recovering back home in Ireland in her parents’ house. When Anna finally heals, she is ready to move back to her real life in New York City, to her “best job in the world” job, and to her loving husband, Aidan. Most of the story is told through flashbacks of Anna’s memories, and when Aidan disappears Anna sets out to find him by consulting fortune-tellers, horoscopes, and psychics in an attempt to contact Aidan.

I friend of mine gave me this book to read at work one day. Well, unbeknownst to me this is book number four in a series. In all fairness, this is not really a continuation of the previous stories, so it can easily stand alone. I liked the way Keyes wrote this story, the book is quite sad a times and I would’ve appreciated her characters more had I read the previous novels, but overall I really liked this book. This novel has an interesting view on grieveing and how some people cope with it. I didn’t love it, but I really enjoyed reading it.

3 star

Review: Earthbound Bones: A psychic Seasons Novel by ReGina Welling

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After being tossed out of heaven, former guardian angel, Galmadriel isn’t like any other angel. Not quite human, yet not fully an angel, the best thing the PTBs can think to do with her is bounce her around so she can solve supernatural problems.

Ghosts that need to find their way home or that purposefully take the wrong path are her bread and butter. To add insult to injury, she is assigned a fledgling pair of guardian angels to train. Julius and Estelle are ready and willing to learn, but they also have a secondary agenda. One that Galmadriel is never supposed to find out about.

Helping the ghost of young Ben Allen find his way home reconnects Galmadriel with Kat, Amethyst, Gustavia, and Julie in the first of many adventures to come.

This is my first book by ReGina Welling and it is a spin-off of her other series. Although I didn’t read any of her previous books, this book sucked me right in. I loved the main character Galmadriel and I really enjoyed the fact that this book combined paranormal, romance, and cozy mystery. This is a fun and light read. A great start of a series. I’m looking forward to her next installments.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.3 star

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.

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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.

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Review: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows

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In the summer of 1938, Layla Beck’s father, a United States senator, cuts off her allowance and demands that she find employment on the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program. Within days, Layla finds herself far from her accustomed social whirl, assigned to cover the history of the remote mill town of Macedonia, West Virginia, and destined, in her own opinion, to go completely mad with boredom. However, once she secures a room in the home of the unconventional Romeyn family, she is completely drawn into their complex world and soon discovers that the truth of the town is deeply entangled in the thorny past of the Romeyn dynasty.

At the Romeyn house, twelve-year-old Willa is desperate to learn everything in her quest to acquire her favorite virtues—ferocity and devotion—a search that leads her into a thicket of mysteries, including the questionable business with which her charismatic father is always occupied and the reason her adored aunt Jottie never married. Layla’s arrival strikes a match to the family veneer, bringing to light buried secrets that will tell a different tale about the Romeyns, and the invisible threads linking them to the heart of Macedonia’s history. As Willa peels back the layers of her family’s past, and Layla delves deeper into town legend, everyone involved is transformed—and their personal histories completely rewritten.

The Truth According to Us is Annie Barrows debut novel. Written in an epistolary format, and alternating between twelve-year-old Willa and her aunt Jottie Romeyn’s point of view and thoughts on Layla Beck. Layla moves in with the Romeyn family after her father sends her off to work at the Federal Writers’ Project.

This novel is one of those books that as you read you can almost listen to the southern accent in the dialogues. The descriptions of the fictitious town of Macedonia really transports you to this quaint little southern town. The characters in this story are extremely colorful and funny. The book, however, was a little bit of a slow read for my taste, but overall a great read.

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

3 star

Book Details:

Title:The Truth According to Us /Author:Annie Barrows/Genre:Fiction/ ISBN:9780385342940/Publisher:The Dial Press/Rating: 3-Stars/Read:June, 2015.

Review: Constant Fear By Daniel Palmer

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In Daniel Palmer’s electrifying, brilliantly plotted new thriller, a private school campus becomes a battleground as a desperate father takes on a terrifying enemy….

Jake Dent lives with his diabetic teenage son Andy in the town of Winston, MA. Andy is a computer geek and part of the Shire–a group of hacker kids who steal money from rich people’s bank accounts to give to charity. It’s all nice and fun until the kids hack a drug cartel’s bank account and steal millions of dollars. When the drug dealers stage a chemical spill at the school and take the children hostage; Jake an ex-baseball player turned Rambo, goes on a race against time to save his son and the rest of the kids.

I really enjoyed Daniel Palmer’s new thriller Constant Fear. I wouldn’t call it a page-turner, but it certainly kept me interested. The story is really well-written and the book has a great premise. The characters were well developed, but I found some of the chapters with descriptions of the guns and ammo to be a little too long and boring. Overall, I definitely recommend this thriller.

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 26, 2015.

3 star

Book Details:

Title: Constant Fear/Author: Daniel Palmer/Pages: 416/Genre: Thriller/ ISBN: 9780758293466/Publisher: Kensington/Rating: 3-Stars/Read: May, 2015.